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Narmbool Environmental Discovery Camp (VIC)

Narmbool Environmental Discovery Camps
Elaine, Victoria

The driveway (2.3 km in length) into the property parallels the original Avenue of Honour driveway planted in 1884. Albeit some of these ancient elms are looking a little tired, but noticeable is the replanting that is taking place of sick ones. This 1839 historical pastoral property is owned and managed by the Sovereign Hill Museums Association. Set on over 5,000 acres it has an historical homestead, a working farm with over 15,000 head of sheep, a pioneer camp and several pioneer buildings spread over the acreage. The last owners of the property handed over custodianship of the property of Narmbool to Sovereign Hill Museums Association in the year 2000 so that it could be developed as an educational resource.

On arrival, Students are guided through a visual gallery of the significance of the land, homestead and the special nature of the environment. This presentation which is located in the oldest bluestone building on the property is world-class. I could have spent hours here, just reading the boards. The time-line of the property from family generation to the next is fascinating. Spread over the 5,000 acres is an environmental centre, accommodation, a remote bush camp with pioneer style huts and other pioneer settlements. I suppose it is reminiscent of historic Sovereign Hill itself but so much more spread out.

The camp is mainly focused Environmental Education for school students, complete with laboratories and learning centre. Lots of taxidermy exhibits and jars with various reptiles or things in them. Full-time teachers are on hand to make sure students are well educated on such things. Students also visit the sheep shearing sheds for demonstrations, collect water samples, soil samples and collect data on endangered species.

Narmbool Lodge is a modern looking eco-friendly accommodation complex that can sleep over 60. The views from every angle of these buildings a really amazing. The escarpments offer superb views across pasture, wetlands and in the distance Mt Buninyong. The building is really modern, yet simple. However, if you prefer to rough it a bit more, then Tea Tree Gully Bush Camp is a timber slab and bark building which replicates a 19th century settlers residence. It is set way, way away from the lodge. It requires a 7km walk-in to reach it. Students walk in carrying what they need. Life on camp here is basic (as it should be). Bush showers and toilets and sparsely located sleeping huts are made of timber and canvas. They can sleep 40 out here. Nothing is nearby. Isolation is assured.

Back at the main homestead, the grass out the front of this grand house looks so delicious and edible. Like what you’d expect out of a scene out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. This area is mainly used for weddings and conferences and has the most magnificent ornamental and native gardens. Large sculptures and works of art are spread throughout this area. Campers have the freedom to roam this and it is used as an activity for identification of the fauna and flora. Some of the fauna being on the endangered lists. Lillie ponds, topiary hedges and ornaments spread everywhere. If this property is opened for viewing, then don’t miss your chance of visiting.

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