Gilwell Park Heritage
The Gilwell Park Heritage team provides support to the management of Gilwell Park, near Gembrook specifically for Heritage related matters. All Leaders past and present are welcome to become affiliated with a division of the Australian Scout Fellowship formed to permit all to register. The team offers advice, expertise and effort to many aspects of the Park and meets on site every Wednesday.
As well as assisting in the preservation of iconic structures in the park, such as the recently restored Hoadley gates and the Mockler-Ferryman pergola they are currently involved in the restoration of the Cleve Cole Hut. The team is also in the process of establishing an Interpretation Centre in Sycamore Lodge which will tell the story of Gilwell Park and its surrounds.
Gilwell Park – The Beginning
Edmund Henry Cecil Russell, known as Tom, was born in New Zealand of English migrants. On moving to Australia six years later Tom and his family eventually settled at the farming property “Swallowfield” in Gembrook.
Tom became a keen Scouter who was particularly interested in training. He travelled to England in 1924 as the Australian Contingent Leader for the Wembley Jamboree and whilst there completed his Woodbadge training at Gilwell Park in the UK. On arriving home he quickly realised the need for a permanent training site in Victoria and that the Gembrook area was ideal. So at his own expense and labour, he started to develop a site adjacent to his home.
In the Easter of 1925, the first short training course for Scouters was held at the campsite. It was during this year Tom started work on what is now knows as the Russell Troop Hall, as well as building four log cabin patrol sleeping huts. In 1926 the 2nd Australian Woodbadge course was held at Gilwell and was catered for by Tom's mother at Swallowfield.
Later that year the land now known as the Training Ground was offered as a gift to the Boy Scout Association by the Russell family and was named Gilwell Park.
Tom Russell was appointed “Estate Manager” in 1926.
For more information on Gilwell Park and its iconic structures, click here.