Churchill Island - Cities, Towns and Localities
Churchill Island is Phillip Island’s main historic attraction.
Built on a foundation of basalt rocks, Churchill Island was originally part of Phillip
Island, before the sea levels rose some 10-15,000 years ago. The land linking them was
then submerged. You can see some of the basalt bedrock at the northern end of the island.
Access to the island was originally by barge at high tide. Today, the bridge
makes it easier for visitors to enjoy the history and scenic beauty of the
• circa 1872
• Samuel Amess, Master Stonemason and
building contractor for many Melbourne landmarks, had this
house built as his beach holiday residence. the family
enjoyed the house for 57 years, spanning three decades of
‘Samuels’, including his son and grandson.
In 1929, the
island was sold to Gerald Buckley, the wealthy son of
founder of Buckley and Nunn department stores in Melbourne.
He too used it as a ‘weekender’. The main bedroom was ‘Mr
Buckley’s room’. A very private room which always remained
set up for him. Nobody except Mrs Burton, the housekeeper,
dared enter it whilst he was away.
Buckley sold the house in 1936 to Dr Harry Jenkins, a
Melbourne dentist who treasured the island as his haven. His
son Ted, was in a wheelchair due to a spinal injury and they
both were cared for by their personal nurse, Sister
Campbell. Upon Harry and Ted’s death, the island was
bequeathed to Sister Campbell who lived there happily until
she was forced to sell due to illness in 1973.
The island was sold to Mr. Alex Claasou in 1973 who, only
three short years later, sold the island to the government
and the people of Victoria.
|Churchill Island Heritage
• Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm and from 2 pm - 5 pm Christmas Day (opening
hours may vary, so please contact Churchill Island to confirm).
Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
• Planted in 1872
by Samuel Amess to mark the completion of Amess House, and
is listed on the National Trust’s Victorian Register of
Significant Trees. The tree was propagated by Ferdinand von
Mueller at Melbourne Botanic Gardens.
• At the base of the Norfolk Island Pine you can view the
Shenandoah Cannon (c 1865).
It is said that while Samuel Amess was a member of the
Melbourne City Council, the American Civil War was still in
progress. Melbourne was visited by a fully rigged steam
sloop, the Shenandoah, which was flying the Confederate
flag. Controversy raged, but Samuel and the city’s high
society treated the crew to dinners in Melbourne and
Legend has it that the sloop’s captain, James Waddell,
showed his appreciation by presenting Samuel with a small
cannon and cannonballs. He brought the cannon to Churchill
Island, where it has sat proudly ever since.
• There is a circuit track that starts and end
through the gate behind the horseworks. The track offers
magnificent views across the Western Port. The water and
mudflats surrounding Churchill Island are listed under the
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the
The entire circuit is about 5 km and
takes about 1.5 hrs return.
The North Point Loop is 2 km and takes about 50 minutes
the Moonah Forest and Monument Loop is about 1 km and takes
30 minutes return.
All paths are wheelchair, prams and pushbike friendly.
Don't forget to close all gates and bring your binoculars.
• The northern-most tip of the island is one of
the best places to see birdlife, especially at low tide,
when the mud flats are revealed. Birds that have been
sighted include Spoonbills, Pied Oyster Catcher, herons,
ibis, cormorants and gulls. To-date there have been recorded
ninety-two different birds on and around the island.
• From the observation deck you can
see a number of waders and seabirds. If you hear a strange
whistle above, it may well be a pair of Whistling Kites.
These birds of prey, nest high in the trees during spring.
Mangrove (Avicennia marina)
• Churchill Island is
surrounded by some of the southern-most mangroves found in
the world. They are rare fragments of the original landscape
of Western Port and provide an important home and shelter
for marine life, including breeding and feeding grounds for
fish and birds. These mangroves are the smallest found in
Australia. With so little oxygen in the dense mud, the roots
stick up to help the tree ‘breathe air’.
• Moonahs (Melaleuca lanceolata)
• The gnarled
trees with trunks that look like twisted rope are Moonahs,
with some of the oldest Moonahs being between 400 to 500
Several of the trees have been classified by
the National Trust because of their age and historic value.
Moonahs are common on sandy soils and were found along
the southern coast of Australia. They have a creamy
bottlebrush type of flower during summer to autumn period.
The farmers who followed Grant cleared most of the
island’s trees. The Moonah timber was used for stumps in the
homestead, for fence posts and for building a ford to the
mainland. There are now only a few clumps of older Moonah’s
With the help of the Friends of Churchill Island and the
rangers, the island has been cleared of rabbits. Extensive
replanting of Moonahs, She-oaks and Boobialla has been
completed to restore some of the original vegetation.
Friends of Churchill Island Society Inc
FOCIS • Contact: see website
• Members work in many areas on church Island and over the
years have done much to preserve and enhance its history and
Churchill Island Events
• Victoria Events
|Churchill Island Working
• Ph: 03 9802 7996 •
• Held in early April
• This significant local festival
celebrates and showcases the natural and cultural values of Churchill Island. It
is a two-day festival that includes working horse and pioneering skill
demonstrations, market stalls, musical entertainment and related exhibitors.