BAG HISTORY GROUP

State Library of South Australia - Melbourne Express [B 56432]

History Articles / Legacy of Past Residents

Following the turbulent events of 2020 and the tremendous kindness of our community giving to bushfire victims (human, animal and botanical) and supporting those affected by Covid our 2021 history articles celebrate the generosity of past residents and the legacy they have left for us to enjoy.

Early European landholders donated significant parcels of land to the community for recreation and open space. Significant examples include A.G. Downer who donated land for ‘The Boys Club’ (today the site of the Baptist Church), the Mill Family donating land to Flinders University and the Ashby Family’s donation of Wittunga. Sometimes these donations come with encumbrances that over time are at odds with modern expectations. When Gibbs Park at Eden Hills was transferred to Council in 1978 it was done so with an encumbrance ‘…that Council must … Not permit any sport to be played on the said land on any Sunday; and… Not permit any intoxicating liquor to be brought onto or consumed on said land’.

The community and organisations such as the Red Cross pulled together to fundraise and provide comfort packs for soldiers during WW1 later acknowledging the fallen by donating to construct The Soldier and a Bandstand at the Blackwood roundabout.

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Working together. Tree planting near Coles on Main Road mid 1990s. From left: Mayor Joy O'Hazy, Wendy Moynihan (community representative), John Messer (traders representative) with Mitcham Council Crew.

Residents raised funds to build iconic local buildings including the Memorial Hall and Belair Community Centre. In the 1960s local businesses and residents donated to create the Over 50s Club on Young Street- today the Blackwood Community Centre. These donors were publicly acknowledged in the Coromandel Newspaper and included businesses still flourishing today such as the Belair Hotel, Coles, Commonwealth Bank, Fairley Shoe Store, Foodland, Kambitsis Pty Ltd and Woolworths.

Service Clubs, Schools and Churches all played their part in strengthening our community through fundraising and community events such as the Floral and Industrial Exhibitions, Rotary Fairs, Christmas Tree Festivals, fetes, art exhibitions and concerts. Volunteer work to beautify the streets took place from the early 1900s while both the ‘Blackwood and District Tree Preservation and Gardening Society’ and the ‘Field Naturalists Society’ worked to maintain the natural environment.

Over the years we as residents have spread our ‘giving’ to causes across the world – tsunamis, childhood poverty, earthquakes, refugees, bushfires and more. At the same time major corporations have established broad philanthropic programs while donating modest amounts to local community projects and events. Local groups and individuals continue to volunteer to improve our district with plantings, historical story boards, Bargain Sheds and community events such as the Christmas pageant and those run by the Circle of Friends for Refugees and the Blackwood Reconciliation Group. BAG and Council have worked to improve the aesthetics of the Blackwood Shopping precinct by planter box and verge plantings. As Council progresses the Blackwood Community Hub and beautification of Waite Street Reserve there may be opportunities for residents, businesses and philanthropists to get involved, building on the generous legacy of the past.

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