Beaumaris Conservation Society History

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Beaumaris Conservation Society’s History and Context

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Formation of BCS

Gramatan Avenue

Heathland Sanctuary










Indigenous Land Occupancy prior to British
The Bayside City
Council website presented in 2016
the Council’s
of the indigenous land occupancy
in Bayside prior to the claim

by the British Crown, in 1770, which
included all the land in what is now Beaumaris
and the adjoining lands and sea. That claim was
extended at eastern Australia’s first British
settlement in
. See
a recently

reconsidered view of Australia’s indigenous


Original Land Grants: All the
land, in what is now Beaumaris, and the adjoining
lands and sea, was Crown land, in the then Colony of
New South Wales, until the first Crown

grants of freehold land were made
soon after the Colony of Victoria was established on
1st July 1851 by its

separation from the Colony of New South Wales.
The first grants, for the 1,117 acres (447 ha) of
all Beaumaris land, except for Government road
reserves and the coastal Crown land between Beach
Road and the sea, were:



Approximate General Road



roods and perches)

B Darling

Marlo, Balcombe, Reserve


0r, 0p

Stephen Charman

Balcombe, Marlo


0r, 0p




Beach, Keating/Surf


2r, 0p



Reserve, Beach, Haydens


0r, 0p

Frederick Dalgety


Beach, Reserve


1r, 0p




Cromer, Cloris,


2r, 20p



Cromer, Beach, Dalgetty


0r, 25p

Alexander Balcombe


Deauville/Hastings, Beach, Cromer


3r, 24p

G Luscombe


Wells, Beach, Deauville/Hastings


1r, 0p




Beach, Wells


2r, 0p


Hyperlinks in the table above are to the Kingston

Historical Website, a resource that Bayside City Council
regrettably lacks. Its Article 63 states that the
name, Beaumaris, was
suggested in 1853 by a Penrose Nevins Esq. See also
a table on the origin of
certain Beaumaris street names based on surnames.


Before BCS: Beaumaris was seen,
until the rapid and widespread expansion

of car ownership in the 1950s, as
being remote

from a railway station. Most people until then
had thought it to be impractical for residential
use, with that perceived transport deficiency, and
its sandy soil and reliance on tank water making it
difficult to maintain the introduced plants that
were all that most people wanted to grow in their
garden in those days. It nevertheless had a state

Primary School founded at the time of World
War 1. The Dunlop

Perdriau Rubber
Company owned most of the 180 hectares of the
central Beaumaris uncleared or agricultural land
that had been prematurely subdivided into
residential lots by earlier speculators. The 1930s
economic depression enabled it to buy many of the
unutilized subdivided residential lots for as little
as £25 each. Its

plans to consolidate them into one parcel to
relocate its Port Melbourne factory there, to build
a wharf on the coast at Black Rock, and to build a
new suburb for its workers, were announced on the front page of The Herald
on 2nd August 1939. When,
next month, Australia, with
Britain, declared war on Germany,
3rd September 1939, the company’s
proceeded no further, so the attractive
coastal land at Beaumaris was saved from being
primarily an industrial area.

of Dunlop’s land was burnt in the major

bushfire that devastated

Beaumaris on 14th January 1944. Beaumaris
changed in the 1950s from being mostly a sandy area
of indigenous trees with extensive heathlands, as the Lands
Department Aerial

Photograph of 28th January 1951
shows, and is well detailed in Dr Charles Sutton’s
1911 ‘Notes

on the Sandringham flora’, to quickly
become a Melbourne suburb. It was inaccurately
dismissed as just ‘tea

tree scrub’ by many less perceptive
or indifferent visitors, including The Herald
article’s writer in the link above, but it had many
more tree and heathland
and plant communities than
that disparaging term suggested, as was later made
clear by successful campaigns to reserve heathland,
which were strongly supported by the Professor of
Botany at the University of Melbourne, Professor

John Turner, and Mr

Robert Blackwood, as he then was, of the
Dunlop Perdriau Rubber Company.

World War II was
followed by Dunlop’s proposing
to revive its 1939 plan
for Beaumaris, but a
rising demand for residential land led to the
company’s abandoning its plans, and selling its land
for housing. Some of that land had been envisaged as
a spur

railway line from Highett that would have
terminated at a Beaumaris Railway Station in the
block bounded by Gramatan Avenue, Reserve Road,
Glenwood Avenue and Gareth Avenue. Dunlop’s 1945

plan for its land did not show that station or
line, but a 1963 aerial
shows its western half, intended
for the line, still undeveloped although the lots
around it were covered with houses.

differed from most of suburban Melbourne because
much of its land was so sandy that it had never been
cleared for agriculture, so there were indigenous
trees and heath for incoming home builders to
conserve, and many did so enthusiastically.

Formation of BTPS: The Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society (BTPS), which
changed its name to the Beaumaris Conservation
Society (BCS) in 1970,
was formed at its Inaugural

General Meeting on 28th February 1953
with the late Mrs Bea
, of Coronet Hill, 10 Coronet
Grove, Beaumaris, who died in 1997, as its first

President. The BTPS successfully
strove to help alter the accepted pattern of
Australian suburban development in which all
indigenous vegetation was removed before any land
was developed. Its brochure Beau-maris or Bare-maris?
subtly pointed out that
allotments with trees standing fetched higher prices
than those without. See the RECORDS
page for a list of BCS officers, minutes of General
Meetings, and annual records of BCS activities, from
1953 onwards.

conscious retention of indigenous trees in Beaumaris
gardens is mentioned in Robin Boyd’s important 1960
book The

Australian Ugliness (P.164), and helps account for
the distinctive indigenous vegetation still there.
The BTPS also produced publications, mounted
informative displays and forums and sold indigenous
plants for replanting. It successfully encouraged
planting of native trees in streets.

Gramatan Avenue Heathland
In 1953 BTPS
began its campaign to get the then Sandringham
City Council
to buy and reserve a Heathland Sanctuary,
assisted by persuasive support from Professor

John Turner, Professor of Botany at
the University of Melbourne – whose biography
on the Australian Academy of Sciences website
mentions his support for the Beaumaris Tree
Preservation Society – and also Dr Jim Willis, Assistant
Government Botanist. Mr

Robert Blackwood – later Sir Robert,
and the foundation Chancellor of Monash University –
but then the General Manager of the Dunlop Company,
which still owned the land after its plan above to
build an industrial suburb and port facilities was
abandoned, facilitated its
sale to the Council

the annual membership fee was 2 shillings ($2.85 in

dollars), compared with the 2016 individual
member fee of $10, the BTPS raised £463 (about
$12,700 in 2016

dollars) for the cost of most of the
fencing. It leased from
the Council and managed the 0.27 hectare piece of
original heathland
reserve that was established as the Gramatan Avenue Heathland Sanctuary
from 1960 until Sandringham City Council resumed
managing it in 1990.

It is now
managed by Sandringham Council’s successor, Bayside
City Council
. BCS proposed to
Sandringham Council in 1991 that it should alter its
Planning Scheme to give the Sanctuary a Conservation
zoning instead of its Residential zoning, as this
would help avert any precipitate sale of it, leading
to its destruction. Fortunately that alteration was
made, and it is now zoned Public Resource and
Conservation Zone. Even as late as 1991 there were
still some councillors that said it should be sold.
Fortunately Victoria’s Flora and Fauna
Guarantee Act 1988
protect the Sanctuary from official proposals
because of the important indigenous plants
among the fifty-odd species present.

1961-1990: Various large scale
coastal development proposals have been successfully
opposed by BCS. These included a large commercial Oceanariumbuilding

for Ricketts

Point in 1964 (the Ricketts

Point Marine Sanctuary has since been
declared there, it being fortunate that the
“Oceanarium” had not precluded that option)
, a
very large marina for Beaumaris

Bay in the early 1970s, and a
building to replace, and enlarge and diversify the
commercial scope of, the burnt-out Keefer’s Boat Shed
in the 1980s. An earlier simple and homely “Tea
House” at Ricketts Point, which burnt down, was
replaced by a larger all-year-round building in
1985. Creeping extensions of
it ever since
have impacted on the foreshore
reserve there.

In its
successful Cam
paign 1969A
to save a large area of indigenous trees on the
Black Rock foreshore from being cleared for a car
park, BCS also initiated the formation of the
neighbouring Black Rock and
Sandringham Conservation Association

Many of
these issues can be found reported in archival
copies of local journals such as the Beaumaris
and the Sandringham and
Brighton Advertiser
(later to become the Bayside Leader).

BCS was a foundation member, in 1970, of Port Phillip Conservation
Council Inc
, a federation of bayside conservation groups,
and has been a member ever since.

The BCS banner appeared in
the 1982

protest in Melbourne over the damming of
Tasmania’s Franklin River.

1991-2000: In 1991 BCS
successfully encouraged the former Sandringham
City Council
to adopt a policy on the choice
of trees to be planted in Beaumaris streets that set
a goal of at least 80% of street trees to be trees
that are indigenous to Beaumaris – that is local
native trees rather than exotic trees or trees
indigenous to other parts of Australia, but not to
Beaumaris. BCS supported Bayside
City Council’s improvement of its street tree
policy, which has led to its Bayside Street Tree
Management Strategy 2008
. That
strategy, since

superseded, did follow that important lead set
by its predecessor.

Society became an incorporated body in 1997, and
adopted its present

Constitution then. Because of a spate
of intensive overdevelopment of building blocks and
rapid and rampant removal of existing indigenous and
other vegetation from residential blocks, and the
land then being covered with buildings or paving,
facilitated by new planning regulations, some with
Orwellian names and rationales such as the Good

Design Guide and Melbourne 2030,
that had recently become excessively loose and
permissive, the Society gained a large number of new
members, reaching a membership of over 1,000.

2001-2010: BCS Inc. celebrated its Golden
Jubilee in 2003
, with the last
surviving member of the original 1953 Committee, Mrs

Catherine Carroll, as its Guest of
Honour. The Society maintains the BCS Inc. Indigenous Flora Register,
which lists the numbers and species of indigenous
plants our members report having on their land and
their nature strips. A summary of
the numbers of 12 particular indigenous plants in
that Register appears on the BCS Inc. Web site. More
details appear on our RECORDS page.


Society convinced Bayside
City Council that the Concourse Green
should not be intruded upon for either a car park or
a concrete skateboard
and that the ramp should not be
placed in either Balcombe Park or Beaumaris Reserve.
A significant advance in 2010 was
Bayside City Council and
Victoria’s Planning Minister agreeing to

BCS Inc’s suggestion that the Concourse Bushland
should be rezoned from Business 1 to Public Park and
Recreation. Its rezoning was gazetted

in February 2010.

A 2008 VNPA article
noted BCS’s longevity. BCS Inc. began two major
campaigns in this decade. The first was to protect
the foreshore reserve between Cromer and Charman Roads from incursion
into it by a bicycle road,
which it believed should be built on the Beach Road
road reserve. The
second, against a proposed large Beaumaris Motor
Yacht Squadron marina

in Beaumaris Bay, was marked by the
then Planning Minister’s welcome decision to require
an Environment Effects Statement for that proposal.


2011-2020: BCS Inc. had, in
2016, a total of 249 members, 56 of whom are Life
Members, and 3 of whom are Honorary

Life Members. BCS Inc. failed to
achieve a siting of the proposed extension of the bicycle

road on Beach Road to save the
foreshore reserve from losing a 4 m swathe of
established trees, and the replacement of their
habitat with a 3 m concrete swathe. An attempt is
planned to eventually plant equivalent replacement
, but no extra habitat
area, which might or might not survive on whatever
land is found elsewhere for that. Objections

to overdevelopment made to Bayside City Council and
VCAT continued to have some benefit. BCS Inc. gave its views
on Bayside City Council’s draft Management Plan for
Ricketts Point and Ricketts Point Landside in 2013.
The Society’s past and ongoing Campaigns are listed here.

BCS Inc. celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in
2013, with 61 members and guests attending,
including the MLA for Sandringham, Murray Thompson;
the Mayor of Bayside, three other Bayside City
councillors, and the son and daughter of the first
President, and a relative of the second, third and
fourth Presidents, plus certain other former

A consultants’ recommendation to significantly
reduce the area of trees and grass on the Concourse
Green, and change its intact character with various
supposed ‘improvements’ such as ‘boulder seats’, a
shade shelter, and ‘uplighting’ of trees was
unanimously rejected by Bayside City Council after public


The Environment Effects Statement for the BMYS Ltd. marina proposal,
which was first announced in 2008, is expected to be
lodged with the Minister for Planning in June 2017,

to the company, before its subsequent
placement on public exhibition for 30 days for
comment, following which the Minister would be
likely to appoint a Panel of Inquiry to make
recommendations to him as to the proposal’s future.
A strong response in opposition to this damaging
proposal will be needed from many people if
Beaumaris Bay is to be saved from the substantial
degradation and disfigurement that this quite
unacceptable marina would cause.