I could hardly believe the setting of this camp. Nestled in the middle of the largest of Melbourne’s parks, Royal Park, at 180 hectares, on the outskirts of Melbourne CBD is mostly native bush. There are wide vistas of grassland and lightly timbered areas with eucalypts, casuarinas and acacias. The eucalypts with their wrinkled skin could tell a few stories, such as when in 1860 Burke & Wills set off on the ill fated expedition or in 1941 when used by American troops stationed in Australia. Troops slept under canvas on army stretchers, cooking facilities were limited and there was no hot water.
It is reported they dug a tunnel and bunker under the park for storing ammunition’s. Stories also suggest that MacArthur’s Bunker is still intact under Royal Park and still contains most of the documentation from the Second World War. It makes you wonder if the camp is sitting on top of this? The large open spaces make it hard to believe you are still in the city but the excellent facilities make it a popular place for recreation and relaxation. A stones throw from the Melbourne Zoo. You can barely hear the nearby trams rattling along yet it appeared as if you where somewhere completely different, like up in rural Victoria. Paddy, who has been the manager for 17 years explained how the camp is steeped in history and how it has progressed in time into a true environmentally conscious building.
The original Anzac Hall now used as the dinning room and performing arts stage was completed in 1941 for the RSL as a cinema, lecture and recreation hall. Extensive refurbishment has taken place in the last 15 years. The dormitories or bunk rooms look like state-of-the-art facilities with the majority of them surrounding a central courtyard. Natural light filters in through the multitude of windows. As far as activities go there are a limitless number of them and these are of course, on the footsteps of one of most liveable cities in the world.