• Island Ark for extinct Bandicoots
  • Churchill Island's rich legacy
  • Community Information Sessions - Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan
  • Community Open Day 2015
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks Annual Report 2013-14
  • Community Sessions for Phillip Island South and North Coast Beaches Key Area Plan a Success
  • Churchill Island Key Area Plan update session
  • Community Information Guide
  • Local Pass


Last night, sixteen Eastern Barred Bandicoots settled into their new home on Churchill Island in Phillip Island Nature Parks, as part of a trial release designed to save the species from extinction.

Considered extinct in the wild on the mainland since 1991, this small marsupial has been surviving behind predator-proof fences designed to keep them safe from foxes and feral cats.

Thanks to Phillip Island Nature Parks’ efforts over the past 10 years to ensure Churchill Island is fox and feral-cat free, the 57-hectare island in Victoria’s east is considered to be ideal habitat for Eastern Barred Bandicoots.

The trial release of eight male and eight female Eastern Barred Bandicoots onto Churchill Island will be run by Phillip Island Nature Parks and supported by Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team. The suitability of the island will be assessed over two years with the findings informing potential future releases of Eastern Barred Bandicoots onto larger fox-free islands, such as Phillip Island and French Island.

The trial release is part of a wider program aimed at saving the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from extinction, including a $146,800 gene pool widening project that will mix captive-bred Eastern Barred Bandicoots from Victoria with individuals from the Tasmanian sub-species to increase genetic diversity amongst the Victorian population, which has suffered due to their critically low population size.

The project has been supported by the Andrews Labor Government together with the Australian Government, Tasmanian Government and Zoos Victoria.

The Australian Government contributed $55,000 to this project as part of the action plan under its new Threatened Species Strategy.

Quotes attributable to Minister Neville

“These amazing marsupials have survived as only captive animals for over 20 years, but thanks to recovery efforts of many partner organisations and communities we have the very real possibility of returning this species back to the wild.” 

“This is an exciting step towards having large, self-sustaining populations of Eastern Barred Bandicoots on islands where they can be secure and flourish.”


Churchill Island’s rich legacy

Churchill Island’s rich history has been documented in the release of the ‘Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan’ which was showcased at a series of community information sessions in late July.

Over 25 community members attended the sessions where Anita Brady from ‘Lovell Chen’ gave participants an overview of the plan’s findings and recommendations. Ms Brady explained that the plan was developed following an accepted methodology, as practised across Australia, and endorsed by the heritage agencies and authorities.

The plan scope included buildings and structures, gardens and the broader landscape, archaeology (not Indigenous) and the collection of machinery and objects. It involved input from several disciplines including historians, architects, historic landscape specialists, archaeologists, interpretation consultants and historic farm machinery specialists.

The team undertook thorough research of historical records including survey maps dating from 1801 and a recently completed PhD study.  Aerial photos were also used to illustrate how the landscape has changed over time: “and these photos do not lie”, said Ms Brady.

The findings revealed that the Island has both ‘State’ and ‘Local’ significance. At a state level, it represents evidence of the early European exploration of Victoria and has the first documented planting of European crops and structure or building in the state of Victoria. At a local level, the island demonstrates ‘retreat’ history, with important owners including Melbourne identity Samuel Amess (1870s to 1920s) and Gerald Buckley (of the Buckley and Nunn Melbourne department stores from the 1920s).

It also is an example of the era of the early conservation movement including Victoria Conservation Trust (1970s to 1980s) and demonstrates the survival of the remnant Moonah trees and their integration into the modified landscape.

The plan clearly identifies original elements and recommends that ‘items of significance be retained and conserved’. It endorses emphasising what is authentic about the island, to enhance awareness and understanding of the history.  It also states that ‘change can be considered where it supports the ongoing viability and operation of the island’.

“In summary, the Conservation Management Plan will provide a guiding document to assist in the future planning of Churchill Island,” said Matthew Jackson, Phillip Island Nature Parks CEO.

“Now that this study has been completed, we are able to make informed decisions about Churchill Island to ensure that its important history and landscape are protected and appropriately showcased. It demonstrates that change can occur as long as it is managed in a way that has regard for heritage values.”

The plan will now be endorsed by the Phillip Island Nature Parks Board. 

Please click here to view a summary of the draft plan.

Churchill Island – a brief history

The Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan details the fascinating eras of history on this tiny island in Western Port:

Pre 1798: Boon Wurrung people visit the area. (Note: Indigenous history was not included in the plan scope, this will be undertaken in a further study.)

1798 Surgeon George Bass enters and names Western Port. The bay was at that time Sydney’s furthest-known harbour to its west.

1801 Lieutenant James Grant, Captain of the HMS Lady Nelson, explores Western Port in greater detail. Grant and his men row over to Churchill Island and, under his orders, a blockhouse is erected and a garden planted. Grant names the island ‘Churchill’ after one of his benefactors (John Churchill of Dawlish, Devon) who supplied him with seed, including wheat, corn and other vegetables, to plant in the new colony.

His first mate, John Murray, assists Ensign Francis Barrallier in drawing a chart of the bay, which includes a dashed outline marking the area where ground was cleared for the blockhouse and garden on Churchill Island. The exact location of this has never been found, yet it is thought to be in the south-west corner of the island near the Moonah forest.

1801-2 Acting Lieutenant John Murray returns to Western Port the following summer to finish the survey for Bass Strait’s northern coastline and islands visited by Grant. Murray records his return visit to Churchill Island, where he noted that the corn and wheat planted earlier that year under Grant’s orders had matured and ripened and the garden and the blockhouse were as they left it.

1802-1842 Churchill Island is variously depicted as an island in its own right, as an isthmus or just left off maps produced by both British and French explorers during this time.

1842 Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice, assistant surveyor to John Lort Stokes surveys Western Port. The map Stokes produced from Fitzmaurice’s survey shows Churchill Island as wooded, with the exception of two small portions in its centre, most likely due to the fact the island was not explored on foot, but only from a small boat. No sign of Grant’s garden appears on the map.

1854 John Rogers acquires the pastoral lease for the Sandstone Island Run and becomes a squatter (The accepted term at the time, and since for a lessee of a pastoral run is a squatter). The run originally comprised of Sandstone, Elizabeth and Churchill Islands – all in Western Port. Evidence suggests that Elizabeth Island became a run in its own right in 1855, and Churchill Island was added in 1860. Until 1863 Rogers paid £10 per annum for the privilege of de-pasturing each separate Run.

1860 The Pickersgill family begin living on Churchill Island, occupying it in their own right and later sharing it with the Rogers.

1861 A Coastal Plan indicates a ‘White House’ on Churchill Island – exact location not recorded, but it was nominated as a navigational aid so would have been obvious, most likely on the top of the hill and could be where Rogers Cottages is today.

1865 Rogers purchases Churchill Island as a special lot at auction at the upset price of one pound ten shillings per acre, for 140 acres.

1866 Rogers receives title and his family continue farming Churchill Island. Sheep are de-pastured in large numbers and agriculture appears to continue. Records show that potatoes were a major crop grown.

1867 Rogers takes out a mortgage to JD Mc Haffie – likely to fund further buildings and improvements.

1869 First series of advertisements for the sale of Churchill Island - it fails to sell.

1869-72 John Rogers selects land on the mainland. It is said that the island is leased back to McHaffie.

1872 - 1929 Samuel Amess, (building contractor and Mayor of Melbourne 1869-70) purchases Churchill Island. Writings from the 1880s and 1890s strongly support the contention that Samuel Amess used the island as his private rural seaside retreat. He built the homestead and planted orchard and gardens. Farming continued and the Island remained in the family, being passed from father to son until 1929.

1929 Gerald Neville Buckley (of the Buckley and Nunn department stores in Melbourne) purchased Churchill Island. Under Buckley the island is run as a dairy farm. Buckley leaves the management of the island to local brothers Bob and Ted Jeffrey.

1932 Jeffrey brothers win the better farming award for their work on Churchill Island.

1935 Gerald Buckley dies.

1936 Churchill Island purchased by Edward Harry Jenkins for his son, Ted, who had been incapacitated due to a diving accident. Prior to the war the Jenkins family used the island as weekender, leaving its care to Eve and Ern Garratt. During the war years it seems that Ted Jenkins and Margaret Campbell, his nurse, ran the island themselves as a dairy farm. Sister Campbell cared for Ted Jenkins until his death in 1960.

1959 The first bridge from Phillip Island to Churchill Island is built, although its construction was marred by the death of one of the contractors hired to build it.

1963 Harry Jenkins dies and leaves the island to Margaret Campbell. Eve and Ern Garratt return to the island under her employ to help manage it. During this time the island was used as a primary home by its owner for the first time since the 1860s.

1973 Margaret Campbell sells Churchill Island after illness reduces her capacity to manage it. Although the newly formed Victorian Conservation Trust are interested in the property, and enlist State Government aid to purchase it, they are outbid at the auction by Alex Classou.

1976 After some years of negotiation with Alex Classou, the Victorian Conservation Trust, with the aid of the Hamer State Government purchases Churchill Island as a heritage and natural conservation site. Carroll Schulz begins work as the site’s first manager in 1978. Restoration works are carried out on the cottages, house and outbuildings.

1983 Victoria Conservation trust hands over the management of the island to Victorian National Parks.

1985 Churchill Island management changes to the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

1996 Phillip Island Nature Parks is given management of Churchill Island.

2000 Restoration work is completed on the homestead, this time in accordance with ICAMOS and the Burra Charter heritage guidelines. The National Trust loans period furniture to furnish the homestead and cottages. New bridge completed.

2014 Churchill Island Key Area Plan completed.

2015 Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan completed.

CMP Sessions


Horse Team

Community Information Sessions - Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan

Interested community members are invited to attend one of two sessions that will present a summary of the draft Churchill Island Conservation Management Plan.

The Churchill Island Key Area Plan was completed in March 2014. The Plan provides a 15-year strategic overview for Churchill Island detailing a ‘big picture’ vision that maximises the Island’s potential, caters for varying user groups and ensures Churchill Island’s existing values are upheld. 

A key action of this Plan was to develop a ‘Conservation Management Plan’. This document establishes principles such as site design and management, for managing existing assets, new development and the restructuring of existing site features.  The final draft is now completed and a summary will be presented at this session where you will be able to ask questions and learn more about this important planning document.

When: Monday 27 July
Session 1  - 3.30pm - 5pm
Session 2 - 6pm - 7.30pm

Where: Koala Conservation Centre - Chisholm Education Centre
            1810 Phillip Island Rd

Bookings are not required, but If you require further information, contact Hayley Smith at executiveassistant@penguins.org.au or by calling 5951 2804.

Community Open Day 2015

All Bass Coast Shire residents are invited to join the fun of Phillip Island Nature Parks’ fifth annual Community Open Day on Sunday 1 March 2015.

There will be walks, talks and activities with the Nature Parks’ rangers and researchers throughout the day along with free entry to all Nature Parks attractions. This includes the evening Penguin Parade (general admission), Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island. 

Download the Full Event Programme which will also be published in local papers in February 2015.

Note, proof of residency such as your rates notice or drivers licence is required for entry on the day. Entry to all of the activities, attractions and walks and talks is free throughout the day for residents and landholders of the Bass Coast Shire*. To gain your free entry, please bring some form of proof of your residency such as a rates notice, bill, drivers licence etc. Householders only, accompanying friends are welcome, but must pay entry fees as apply. There is no limit to how many activities you can attend and no bookings are required. Please just come along and enjoy the fun!

* Excluding premium products, tours and boat tours.

For further information, call 5951 2804 or email executiveassistant@penguins.org.au 

Event: Phillip Island Nature Parks Community Open Day 2015
Date: Sunday 1 March 2015
Cost: Free entry to all locations and activities for Bass Coast Shire Council residents.

Phillip Island Nature Parks Annual Report 2013-14

Our Annual Report 2013-14 was tabled in State Parliament in October 2014.We are proud to present our year in summary. Once again, we worked hard to ensure that our ‘shareholders’ – Phillip Island’s environment, wildlife and community - received maximum benefits and returns. On behalf of the Board and our team, we thank you for your contribution to Phillip Island Nature Parks’ outstanding achievements this year.

pdf1Annual Report summary 2013-14 pdf1Annual Report 2013-14

Community Sessions for Phillip Island South and North Coast Beaches Key Area Plan A Success

pdf1South and North Coast Key Area Plan presentation 8.10.14

pdf1South and North Coast Key Area Plan

pdf1Coastal Process Study presentation 8.10.14

pdf1Coastal Process Study 2014

Phillip Island Nature Parks presented the final draft of their South and North Coast Beaches Key Area Plan to stakeholders and community members in a series of information sessions held this week. The plan was well received and will now be presented to Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Board for approval.

Over 60 people attended the sessions held at the Newhaven Hall representing Bass Coast Shire Councillors, representatives of key community groups along with interested community members.

The session began with a summary of findings of the ‘Coastal Processes Study’ recently commissioned by the Nature Parks. The extensive study, undertaken by leading experts in the field, provides a comprehensive understanding of Phillip Island’s geology and geomorphology and the coastal processes affecting the coastline. It was well received by participants with one community member  describing it as: “very important work for Phillip Island”.

“This comprehensive study provides the evidence we need to make informed decisions about managing our coastline,” said Matthew Jackson, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Chief Executive Officer. 

Participants were then provided with a summary of the final draft ‘South and North Coast Key Area Plan’.

“It is important to note that nature conservation is the key guiding principle for this plan,” said Mr Jackson. “Along with the premise that people should be able to enjoy reasonable and safe access to the coast.”

The plan identifies key guiding principles and a high level strategic framework for managing the beaches along the south coast of Phillip Island from Woolamai to Summerland Peninsula, and in the north from Ventnor to Summerland Peninsula. 

It includes a site-by-site analysis of issues and opportunities for each location such as Cape Woolamai, Forrest Caves, Smiths Beach, YCW and Summerland Beach. It also focuses on more strategic actions including the need for reviewing management jurisdiction and focussing on improved connections between areas for visitors and locals.

The community engaged in lively discussion about the presentations asking many questions and offering their ideas and input. Topics of discussion included meeting the demands of increased visitors to the island, changing coastal weather patterns and walking paths.

The Key Area Plan will now be presented to the Phillip Island Nature Parks Board at the October meeting where it is expected that it will be endorsed.

Once the plan is approved, the Nature Parks will commence implementation of the strategies including more detailed assessments of each site in line with the overall guiding principles.

“The community will remain informed throughout the implementation process and have the opportunity to be involved as we work through the actions outlined in the plan. We thank everyone for attending and their support for this important planning work for Phillip Island Nature Parks,” said Mr Jackson.

Copies of the presentations given at the sessions, along with ongoing updates can now be found at www.penguins.org.au/local-community with a final summary of the South and North Coast Beaches Key Area Plan estimated by the end of October.

If you require further information, contact Hayley Smith at executiveassistant@penguins.org.au or by calling 5951 2804.


Media Enquiries:
Sally O’Neill - Community and Communications, Phillip Island Nature Parks
Call 0408 101 976
Email: sally.oneill@bigpond.com

Churchill Island Key Area Plan

pdf1Churchill Island Key Area Plan (5MB)

Phillip Island Nature Parks recently held a Community Information Session about the exciting future plans for Churchill Island.

“The session completed over seven months of work including extensive development with a wide range of key stakeholders,” said Matthew Jackson, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Chief Executive Officer.

“This Plan details a positive future for Churchill Island which maximises Churchill Island’s potential and where each user group is catered for and the Island’s values are not compromised.”

The Plan was received positively by the small gathering of community members. It was explained that it is not a Master Plan, but a 15-year strategic overview that outlines the exciting ‘big picture’ for Churchill Island.

As well as identifying Churchill Island’s key attributes and their value to the community, the Plan offers the concept of unique ‘precincts’ to showcase these special attributes including heritage, environment, events and functions.

This will be achieved through working with partners such as Bass Coast Shire Council to create a ‘hub’ for the Bass Coast community and a place for people to discover the region’s history, beauty, produce and talents. The Plan outlines a modest, sensible investment strategy using high quality infrastructure.

“It is important to note that, once the Plan is finalised, we are committed to developing a detailed Conservation Management Plan” said Mr Jackson.

As per existing conditions, no permanent accommodation will be created on the Island.

The group agreed that one of the main challenges is the entry to Churchill Island from Phillip Island Tourist Road. The Nature Parks intends to work with community, Bass Coast Shire Council and Vic Roads towards a future solution.

If you require further information, contact Hayley Smith at executiveassistant@penguins.org.au or by calling 5951 2804.

Your Free Community Information Guide

The Phillip Island Nature Parks team is proud to release their first Community Information Guide and your free copy is now available.

The booklet aims to provide the community with as much information as possible about the Nature Parks’ role, departments and the areas it manages. The booklet details the history and current activities of the Nature Parks and contains important handy information including the yearly cycle of the little penguins and contact numbers such as who to call if you find injured wildlife or see a fox on the island.

Pick up a copy of the free guide from a Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre or any Nature Parks outlet: Penguin Parade, Nobbies Centre, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island, or download a copy. 

pdf1Community Information Guide (2.16MB)

Local Pass

Do you live in the Bass Coast Shire?  Phillip Island Nature Parks has launched an exclusive Bass Coast Shire residents 'Local Pass'.

For the cost of one single 3 Parks Pass the new Local Pass gives unlimited 12 month entry into the Nature Parks’ 3 major attractions - the Penguin Parade, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and the Koala Conservation Centre. (Nobbies Centre is free). Local Passes are only available for purchase at any of the Nature Parks venues. 

$41.60 per adult
$20.80 per child (4 to 15 years)

To ensure the pass is exclusive to Bass Coast Shire residents, you must show identification of your residency within the Bass Coast Shire – driver’s licence, rates notice etc. The pass is available for purchase from the Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and the Nobbies Centre. Photo ID needs to be presented with the pass to gain entry at all locations.

Contact us for more information:
Email: bookings@penguins.org.au
Ph: 5951 2830