Berwick set for milestone birthday

Berwick Shire Councillors and staff in 1965.

By Brendan Rees

Casey Council will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Shire of Berwick will plans underway to host a community event at a historic site.

At their 3 July meeting, councillors approved the milestone event to be held on Saturday 1 September at Pioneer’s Park. The budget for the proposed big event is $10,300.

A report before councillors said the event would feature an 1868 themed family fun day – which is the year the Berwick Shire was formed.

A community BBQ, carnival rides, face painting and display of historic local photos is proposed for the event. The rotunda would house speeches, performances and a mock re-enactment from the first Council meeting in 1868.

“Other 19th century activities could consist of games such as bobbing for apples, egg tossing and sack races and themed activities such as costume dress ups and wood chopping,” the report said.

Council believes the site would have plenty of flat open space with ample parking.

Marquees for displays, food stalls and local organisations taking part in the event will also be arranged.Other venues council had considered in hosting the event was High Street, Berwick and the Old Cheese Factory.

Details regarding the celebration will be announced by council later in the year.

Berwick Pakenham Historical Society secretary Audrey Dodson said she was pleased Casey Council was recognising the anniversary because “It’s important to know how far we’ve come in 150 years – it’s really quite amazing.”

Ms Dodson said, growing up in the area she had watched Berwick change from a small country town with a single lane highway to a populating suburb.

“I don’t know if there would be many countries that could’ve developed that much in 150 years,” she said.

“I came to the area in 1952 and it’s come ahead a lot in that time. You would walk down the street and you would just about to talk to everybody,” she said.

“There weren’t any high schools around – there was only Dandenong and Warragul.”

Casey Cardinia Libraries local history librarian Heather Arnold said census records from 1861 showed 60 people called Berwick home.

Now, 155 years later, the population has grown to 46674 according to the 2016 census.

Ms Arnold said she grew up at Cora Lynn but recalled driving through Berwick to travel to Melbourne before the Berwick by-pass existed.

“I do remember when there was nothing much on the Princes Highway between Dandenong and Berwick,” she said.

A timeline of significant events from Ms Arnold’s research include:

• The town of Berwick proclaimed on February 25, 1861.

• Berwick Road Board proclaimed September 29, 1862.

• Shire of Berwick Council chambers built in High Street, 1865.

• Shire of Berwick proclaimed, May 5 1868. The Road Board members then became the first Councillors. They were James Wilson, Shire President; John Brisbane, David Connor, Joseph Smith, H. Smith, John T. Dobson (who later became a member of the Ferntree Gully Council when the Scoresby Ward was annexed to the new Shire in 1889), Francis Barr, Thomas Henty, owner of Pakenham Park at Pakenham and James Buchanan.

• The Scoresby Ward of the Shire of Berwick, including Scoresby, Fern Tree Gully, Clematis, parts of Emerald and Avonsleigh was severed from Berwick and became the Shire of Fern Tree Gully on May 23 1889.

• Shire of Berwick Offices moved to Pakenham Mechanics’ Institute in 1902.

• Shire of Berwick Offices open in Main Street Pakenham, corner of John Street, 1912.

• The City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham were formed on October 1, 1973 when the Shire of Berwick split. The Shire of Pakenham continued to use the Main Street Offices and the City of Berwick used temporary buildings in Kays Avenue, Hallam until the Civic Centre opened in 1978.

• Civic Centre at Narre Warren opened December 8, 1978. Demolished in 2018

• Cr Jeune Matthews first female Shire President of the Shire of Pakenham in 1979.

• Cr Jan Bateman, City of Berwick’s first female Mayor of the City of Berwick in 1980.

• Shire of Pakenham Offices opened July 28 in Henty Way in 1983

• City of Cranbourne created on April 22 1994.

• City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire officially came into being on the December 15 at 4pm in 1994.

• City of Casey was created from the western section of the short-lived City of Cranbourne (Cranbourne, Tooradin, Pearcedale, Devon Meadows, Hampton Park etc) and the entire City of Berwick in 1994.

• The Cardinia Shire was created from the Shire of Pakenham, the eastern end of the City of Cranbourne (Koo-Wee-Rup, Lang Lang, Yannathan, Bayles, Catani etc) plus Emerald, Clematis and Avonsleigh which were annexed from the Shire of Sherbrooke in 1994. Langwarrin and Carrum Downs went to the City of Frankston from the City of Cranbourne.

• The City of Cranbourne, Shire of Pakenham and City of Berwick ceased to exist on December 15, 1994.

• Cardinia Shire Offices opened on November 17 in Officer in 2014.

• Cardinia and Casey both turn 20 on December 15, 2014.

• Bunjil Place opened in October in 2017.


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