Oral History Interviews

Oral History of the lower Bellarine Peninsula recorded by the

Rotary Club of Ocean Grove


During last year’s COVID lockdown, the Rotary Club of Ocean Grove began an Oral History project to record the memories of long-term residents of the lower Bellarine Peninsula. The first seven interviews were released in January 2021. Club members have been continuing to interview people who lived or holidayed in the area during the 1940s to 1970s period, and some memories go to even earlier times. There are now eighteen interviews which can be viewed on the Club’s website rotaryoceangrove.org.au. Video and audio versions of each interview are available. So far, there have been almost 500 views of these interviews. More will be added as they come available.  Project leader, Ann Hodgkinson said "This project has made an important contribution to recording the history of the lower Bellarine area from the point of view of the local residents. I thank all the narrators and Rotarians who gave their time to make it happen."


The project aims to bring the histories of the towns of the lower Bellarine alive for the newer residents of the area who have moved there in more recent times to give them a greater understanding of their new home. The narrators describe the physical environment, social life and facilities in these towns when the populations were much smaller than today. They describe the arrival of post-war immigrants, their school days, and the development of community infrastructure such as surf lifesaving, the fire brigades, and the maternal health centre. They also discuss the social activities of the times, where the local cinemas, card playing, dancing, fishing and rabbit shooting were the main activities.


There are now five interviews describing early Queenscliff covering different aspects of the development of this historic town. Queenscliff had been a strategic location during the second world war but had languished in the post-war period as a small fishing village. The grandeur of its 1880s heyday as a major tourist destination almost forgotten. Narrators recount their memories of this period contrasting it with the current situation where tourism is again a major part of the local economy. The new interviews include the first from Wallington which discusses the area’s development as a farming area specialising in potatoes and fruit orchards. There are several new interviews from Ocean Grove, one of which traces its development from the earliest European occupation in the 1860s by Tom Blackwell. Descendants of this family has lived in the area ever since, witnessing the historical development of the town. There are also two new interviews from Barwon Heads. One includes memories of its early fishing community which was the mainstay of this area in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Watch interviews

RYLA Applications Open

Sponsorship available for people aged 18 to 25 to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award program.


The Rotary Club of Ocean Grove is currently accepting applications for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) program.  RYLA is a six-day Leadership and Personal Development camp for young adults aged between 18 and 25 years who are nominated and sponsored by their local Rotary club to attend. The program is organised by Rotary district 9780 and will include participants from this district which covers South West Victoria and South Australia.


The program involves a six day residential camp between Sunday 26 September and Friday 1 October 2021 at `Kangaroobie’, near Princetown in the Otway ranges. It is important that participants can make the commitment to attending the full RYLA program. 

This program is organised by Co-Directors and their team of past RYLA participants and covers topics such as leadership, motivation, goal setting, value based decision making, confidence, self-esteem, community contribution and resilience. Further information is available on the web site https://ryla9780.org.

Young people who are interested in this camp are requested to send an expression of interest and their contact details to


Please mark the subject line: RYLAMeredith and forward this information by Friday 9th July.

Interested applicants will then be contacted by a Rotary representative and an interview will be arranged prior to submission of the application form. If young people are in employment the Rotary representatives may be able to assist with communicating about this camp to their employer. The Rotary Club of Ocean Grove will fund the program registration costs of successful applicants. Past participants have rated this program highly and the local Rotary Club is encouraging future involvement.

An information brochure can be downloaded by clicking the link.

Our band of intrepid interviewers got together at a recent meeting to share experiences and lessons learnt. 

Photograph of some of the interviewers from the Rotary Club

First row L to R: Margaret Campbell, Pearl Macmillan, Judy Greer, Coral Barker

Second row L to R: Rod Greer, Heather Wilson, Noel Emselle, Rod Bush