History In Brief
1946: Essendon Rotary Club commenced a Youth Service Project, which aimed to establish a camp for youth, where trees could be planted, tendered and appreciated by youth, to offset the rapid destruction of forests and consequent erosion. Eleven Rotarians paid ₤50 each to purchase 180 acres of land in Catherine Valley, Gisborne for a youth forestry camp.
1947: Shire of Romsey constructed a road to the campsite.
1948: ‘Prisoner of War’ huts in Nathalia purchased, and erected on site.
1950: Scouts and Girl Guides of Essendon area accepted the gift from Essendon Rotary Club of the site for indoor and outdoor recreation and training of its members.
December: Official Ceremony for handing over the camp, officially named Rowallan Rotary Camp after Lord Rowallan Second Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth.
1955: March 13: General Secretary of the Scout Association, F. R. G. Sanders received the documents of ‘Transfer of Deeds’ from Rotarian
November: Inaugural meeting of Western Suburbs Camp Committee. Guide camping began indoors, using Scout facilities, and outdoors under the regulations of the Camping Department at Guide Headquarters.
1958: Committee name changed to “Sheila Cameron Camp Committee,” after Sheila Cameron, who was District Commissioner for Essendon 1944 - 1947, at the same time, holding the position of Deputy State Commissioner.
1961: Guide site building plans and ideas were formulated.
1964: Three years hard work and the house was completed, due to the work of Miss Joan McNab and her team of workers. The house was named “Minda” meaning house, and “Killara” which was Miss McNab’s guide name and means ‘always there’.
So “Minda Killara” became the indoor camping home for Brownies and Guides.
1965: Mrs. M. F. Alston, Division Commissioner officiated the official opening of the now completed house.
1966: Opportunity Shop opened in Napier Street, Essendon. House extensions commenced.
1967: April: State Commissioner, Mrs. Joyce Price (now Lady Price) officially opened extensions and planted a special tree. The entry road to Minda Killara named Showers Drive as a token of respect to Mr Alan Showers, one of the original Rotarians who purchased the land.
1974: Plans were laid for an ablution block for outdoor campers. Our dear Scouting friend, Walter Murphy supervised this project.
1975: October: Building of kitchen, showers and toilets completed.
November: Region Commissioner, Mrs. Dorothy Hepburn presided over the opening of the Walter Murphy Campsite for Guide Outdoor Camping. Walter had the privilege of turning the key in the door. He then named the entry and exit road to the site Mills Crescent in appreciation of the work of Joan Mills, District Commissioner of Essendon.
1978: Badge Competition within the Division to design a badge for the campsite was won by Karen Butterworth of 1st Keilor Guide Company.
1980: “The Quiet Place” overlooking Minda Killara was dedicated in memory of Mrs M. F. Alston, a Commissioner who motivated the development of the campsite.( Due to erosion this area is now out of bounds.) The storage and drying area, ‘The Aerie’ was completed.
1983: Tragic bushfires caused total destruction of Minda Killara and surrounding bushland. Heavy losses to both Scouts and Guides at Riddells Creek and throughout the State. Then, the funds started rolling in – from small Brownies, from Guides of all ages, leaders, service clubs, business houses, people unknown. Eighteen months of superb effort by the Committee headed by Brenda and Alan Young and Joyce and Mal Morrison followed.
1984: October 14: Minda Killara officially opened by Mrs. Maren Chandler, State Commissioner of the Girl Guides Association of Victoria.
1990: A shelter was planned to be built on the Walter Murphy site to assist the Outdoor campers in both the hot or wet weather.
1991: March: Opening of the Yvonne Drake Shelter named to remember the dedication to outdoor camping and its development in North Metropolitan Region and at Rowallan Camp along with her assistance as the Camp Committee Treasurer.
1993: Establishment of a Workshop situated near the Aerie to house the general maintenance equipment – built with the assistance of a generous donation from Town and Country Trefoil Guild.
1994: October 16: Celebration to mark ten years since the reopening of Minda Killara after the bushfires attended by the State Commissioner,
Mrs. Heather Barton and many members of Guides Victoria who have enjoyed camping here along with parents and friends.
November: The Hayes Bushfire Protection Sprinkler System situated on the roof of Minda Killara to help protect both people and property
in case of further fires, was officially turned on. This was built with the financial assistance of the Rotary Club of Essendon.
1995: Mezzanine floor built in the Aerie to increase its storing capacity as well as making the area more workable for all concerned. Water diversion on the Walter Murphy site to facilitate drainage following the heavy rains.
1996: The handicapped shower/toilet area remodelled. Heating in the house replaced from the smoky old fireplace to an enclosed fire.
1997: Together with the Rowallan Scout Committee brought the water directly to the campsite instead of via a neighbouring property.
1998: Campsite Accreditation granted to Sheila Cameron Rowallan Camp by the Victorian Camping Association.
2001: October: The dedication of the landscaping wall at the rear of Minda Killara, the “Murphy Wall” by the State Commissioner Mrs. Jane Scarlett, so named to remember the work and support of the entire Murphy family – Walter, Margaret and Elaine.
Celebration with the Scouts, Rotarians, past and present Leaders, Guides and friends, 50 years since the official handing over of the Camp to the Scouts and Guides by the Rotary Club of Essendon. The occasion was marked with a presentation to the Rotary Club of a facsimile plaque of the one given to them in 1955 and destroyed in the fire at Edenhope, their meeting place at that time.
2004: October: Celebration to mark 20 years since the reopening of this wonderful campsite in 1985 after the bushfire destruction of 1983 and the opening of the Wheeler Wilson BBQ Shelter. The shelter stands as a thank you to the dedicated work given to the campsite by Sandra & Jim Wheeler and Dorothy & Barry Wilson.
2007: December : Opening of the Multi-Purpose Outdoor Learning Centre including Campfire Circle, known as “Skip’s Place” dedicated in recognition of Lillian Beard, O.A.M. for her many years of service to Guiding.
2012: Kitchen upgrade – Minda Killara.
2013: Installation of potable water supply for both indoor and outdoor campsites.
2015: Rowallan campsite website established.
2018: Opportunity Shop in Russell Street Essendon closed due to upgrades at the railway station.