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YMCA Lady Northcote Recreation Camp (VIC)

Continued from 27 February 2016

Next stop on our camps visit journey was Lady Northcote Recreation Camp (last visited by me some four years ago). Lady Northcote is located in Rowsley, 18 km from Bacchus Marsh. It felt like we drove through dry pasture land before the camp just emerged out of nowhere.

The camp is vast, (250 beds) with buildings with accommodation arranged in an arc on the hill overlooking the communal dining hall block. A total of 84 acres including conservation land. Activities basically dispersed across the entire property allowing for multiple groups to use the facilities/activities without feeling they are on top of each other.

A new addition- a ‘human foosball court’ should be on every camps activities list.

The camp has fascinating historical significance. It was the only institution in Victoria to have been constructed as a Farm School for underprivileged British child migrants, to train boys for farm work and girls for domestic service. For these young orphaned children it must have felt like a million miles from nowhere.

From 1937 to 1958, the Northcote Farm School received a total of 273 child migrants. It was closed in 1973. Former residents of the Farm School have formed the Old Northcotians’ Association and continue to maintain a link with the place. The beginnings of a very special museum have been created in a heritage listed building. It has a number of original buildings which have been renovated and upgraded. It also once contained a former hospital, staff quarters, Principal’s residence and the last operating blue-stone sewerage treatment system, among other structures.