Okay, this may appear a bit far-fetched, but the heritage homestead & garden of ‘The Briars’ park, one of the earliest farms on the Mornington Peninsula, where Briars Outdoor Education Camp is located has some connections to Napoleon.
That’s right, the Napoleon Bonaparte of the Battle at Waterloo. Briars is the name of the small pavilion which belonged to the Balcombe family in which Napoleon stayed for the first few weeks of his captivity on Saint Helena, an island in the South Atlantic Ocean.
William Balcombe, was offered a post in Australia and the family finally settled on the property on the Mornington Peninsula. Napoleon gifted scores of items, including furniture, crockery, locks of hair, etchings and paintings to the Balcombe family and some of these can be viewed at ‘The Briars’ homestead located adjacent to the camp.
The camp, built in the mid 1990’s is set above the homestead and is almost camouflaged. On 5 hectares of lightly wooded land it sits proudly overlooking the estate. The main building consists of a dining hall and recreation hall, and directly outside are the bunk rooms arranged in a horse-shoe configuration. They have been tastefully refurbished from the old army barracks from Balcombe Army Camp, located across the road. I would never of guessed this.
Alternative accommodation is also offered in a huge canvas multi-roomed tent. The giant swing incorporates astro turf which helps eliminate the worn path of thousands of trundling feet. It looked neat. Low-ropes course, flying fox, archery, billy carts, canoeing and leap of faith are just a few of the various activities. The beach is of course within easy proximity.