Roses Gap Recreation Centre
Grampians, Western Victoria
I clearly remember the Sutherland’s contacting the ACA office immediately after the devastating Grampians fires of January 2014 that partly destroyed the camp, and caused it to close whilst they undertook repairs and replacement of infrastructure. Lynda and Drew’s immediate concern was to find replacement venues for all the schools due to go on camp with them within a few weeks. Under no circumstances did they want schools losing momentum of the benefits of going on camp, even if it meant that, they never returned to Rose’s Gap after having enjoyed the services of another facility. I remain humbled by how genuine they were in their concern considering how much loss they had just suffered.
The camp is located just below the Briggs Bluff in the Grampians National Park, a mammoth imposing rock face. I have climbed this on numerous occasions for the view from the top. On arrival at the entrance the newly designed and freshly replaced camp signs indicated that some serious recovery work had taken place. February in the Grampians is always hot and dry and the camp was just that, although, it was a little oasis in this dry landscape. The recovery of the surrounding forest is well under way, but will still take a number of years to return to its former state.
Roses Gap is a large 250 bed camp set out on 120 acres. The Sutherland family have been running the camp since 2005 and with the recent rebuild they have made some serious improvements. With the loss of so many buildings and sheds they replaced most buildings. Most of the sheds got replaced with one massive recreational hall, aptly named ‘Bob’s Shed’, named after the late Bob Sutherland. ‘Bob’s Shed’ has been sound proofed and can be used for almost any event and is large enough to host a entire school in the event of a wet weather program.
Many accommodation buildings needed replacing and even the ones that weren’t destroyed, got freshened up. New staff accommodation has been thoughtfully placed in its own separate little village (we all know how important it is to remove ourselves from work!).
What completely blew me away was the fact that the camp completely runs off-grid. The solar-system in place is serious stuff- 96,000 mA.h capacity in the batteries. With the bank of batteries fully charged they have enough capacity to run an average sized house for 8.5 days! No wonder they were finalists in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards. Water is sourced and treated from the nearby Briggs Bluff spring and as such they are able to keep the canoeing dam, which sits in the middle of the camp, full. The dinning hall tin roof is kept cool by sprinklers. I was at the camp on a mid 30 degree day and this really worked.
Activities utilise the rock walls and walking trails of the Grampians National Park, but high-ropes, low-ropes, flying -fox are all located on-site. The beginnings of a Glamping Village are underway within the camp, giving an option of staying under canvas.
It takes a lot of effort and heart to rebuild after such destruction (this has happened to a number of ACA members), but you really have to salute the Sutherland family and staff as to what they they have achieved at Roses Gap Recreation Centre.