Lovell Chen’s heritage consultants, working in association with a multi-disciplinary team, completed a conservation management plan in 2015 for the whole of Churchill Island in Western Port — an intriguing place for the layers of history that have shaped its story. Producing the CMP assisted in better understanding the significance of the place and provided a level of precision and clarity for our client, Nature Parks.
Churchill Island covers some 50 hectares, and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. An aim of the CMP was to clarify its heritage significance, unpicking the layers and focusing on the elements of importance. The island is the site of the state’s first documented planting of European crops and the first non-indigenous structure (1801). Eventually cleared for farming, it was also for many years a private island retreat for notable wealthy Melbournians (1870s onwards), and later associated with the fledgling conservation movement of the 1970s.
Traditional home to the Boon Wurrung people, who attributed special significance to its Moonah tree vegetation, Churchill Island was give its European name by navigator James Grant (1772-1833), who surveyed Western Port for the British Government. He had his crew clear the ground for a garden, sown with fruit, vegetable and grain seed entrusted to him by a Mr Churchill of Dawlish, Cornwall. The crew also constructed two timber buildings, now gone.
In 1976, the island passed into public ownership and became one of the first actively managed conservation reserves in the state. Under the Victoria Conservation Trust, conservation activities thought important at the time were undertaken.
The project team included archaeological advisors ArchLink, mechanical engineer Rowan Lamb, landscape consultant John Patrick Pty Ltd and David Huxtable of interpretation design company LookEar. The report was commissioned by Nature Parks, and sets up a heritage policy framework to guide the island’s management and development.
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