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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Dandenong Police Paddocks Reserve - History and a Hike

NOTE: Click any image for a full-size view and a Slideshow!

This article describes the history, evolution and current status of the Dandenong Police Paddocks Reserve at Churchill Park Drive, Endeavour Hills, within the City of Casey.

The photos were taken on May 4, 2015, on a 2 km circuit hike along the Wetland Walk,  which is reached from Wonga Track, Baden Powell Drive, off Power Rd, about 100 m north of the entrance to the Frank Holohan Soccer Complex. 

Bridge over dry Wetland!
Entrance to Wonga Rd, off Baden Powell Drive
Entrance to Wonga Rd, off Baden Powell Drive


On the Bridge!

Map of route

The Bridge

The Bridge

Police Paddocks is a 499 hectares site of state and national significance, and was the location of the Central Station of the Westernport Aboriginal Protectorate Station and the Native Police Corps Headquarters in the 1837-1853 period. From 1853 to 1931 it was the site of the Victoria Police Stud Depot.

The site has considerable significance for its associations with pre and post-contact Aboriginal heritage, and the area was originally part of the clan territory of the Wurundjeri and on the border of the country of the Bunurong tribe.

Most the buildings associated with the historic use of the Dandenong Police Paddocks have been demolished or are in ruins. In 1962 a stone house and barracks were pulled down to make the site safe for scouts attending the 1964-65 World Jamboree at the Police Paddocks. Many roads and services were constructed at this time.

In 1969 an area was set aside for a golf course and since 1973 Council tip sites in the area have operated.

Today many features of historical, social and archaeological significance remain in the Police Paddocks, dating from various periods in the history of the area. They include ruins of buildings, remains of an old bridge, Aboriginal stone artefacts, trees and rubbish dumps. 

The site of the headquarters buildings of the Native Police Corps has been reserved as an Historic Zone

Historical Background
Police Paddocks was the site which Aboriginal men of the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung selected in 1837 for the headquarters of the first Corps of Native Police, established by Christiaan de Villiers. The same site became the home station for the Westernport district of the Port Phillip Protectorate for the same two groups under Assistant Protector William Thomas in 1841. 

The Kulin People

The Bunerong and the Wawoorung clans of the Kulin nation were the original inhabitants of the Rowville and Lysterfield district. The white settlers referred to the Bunerong people as the Western Port tribe and the Wawoorung people as the Yarra Yarra tribe.

For most of the period 1842-53 the site functioned as the headquarters of the Native Police Corps raised by Henry Edmund Dana. It has a burial ground, as yet undiscovered, described by Assistant Protector William Thomas as containing graves of both Aboriginal and European persons. 

Following Dana's death in 1852 and the reorganisation of policing generally in Victoria, the site became the Stud Depot of the Victoria Police: horses were 195 bred, trained and spelled on the site. 

The breeding lines of the famous Victoria Police greys were established here in the 1920s from Sacedon, a retired racehorse, and Gorland, purchased from A.G. Hunter of Seymour. The stud moved to Bundoora in 1931. 

From 1869 to 1931 the site was home to a succession of Queensland Aboriginal trackers, brought down initially to assist in the search for bushranger Ned Kelly. 

Current Status
The Reserve is managed by Parks Victoria and includes areas of significant indigenous flora, and a network of gated walking/fire management tracks. Primary access is from Brady Rd (Narre Narre Warren Picnic area), Power Rd, and Churchill Park Drive. This is a very large Park, and the main tracks are well signposted. Parking is limited. Mobile phone coverage in the Park is good.

The main areas of interest to visitors include the Woodland Walk, the Historic Area Walk and Lookout, and the Wetland Walk.

Acknowledgements are extended to Parks Victoria, the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News, and the Victorian Heritage Database for background information used in this article.

1 comment:

  1. This is a most interesting area Bob and thank you for the great photos and the indepth description of the place! Best regards! Michael