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Churchill Island

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Churchill Island
Churchill Island Info

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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 island.

Churchill Island Attractions

View from the back of the Amess House.Amess House
• 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 Farm
• 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).
Shenandoah Cannon (c 1865).Norfolk 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.

Norfolk Island Pine, planted in 1872 by Samuel Amess.Shenandoah Cannon
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 Ballarat.

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.

Moonahs (Melaleuca lanceolata)Island Walks
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 Ramsar Convention).

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 return.
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.

North Point
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.
Observation Point
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.
Moonahs (Melaleuca lanceolata)White 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’.

Moonah Sanctuary
• 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 years old.

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 left.

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
• Secretary 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 its surroundings.
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Churchill Island Events

Victoria Events
Churchill Island Working Horse Festival
• Ph: 03 9802 7996 • Email
• 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.
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