History

History of Camp

In 1938 the Cooriemungle Prison Farm was opened and helped the Forest Commission to clear bush in the Heytesbury area. Accommodation was provided for 60 prisoners who were generally serving out the last term of their sentences. In this remote area they had the opportunity to learn new skills, as the farm was to be self-sufficient with dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, a sawmill and its own orchard and vegetable garden. the main camp administration
The original Prison Admin Buildings,
featuring the "Governor's Office"


Changing attitudes to prisons meant that by the early 1970 ′s fewer prisoners were suitable to open prisons and the prison farm closed on 1st December 1977.


In June 1981, 20 hectares of the site was handed over to the Department of Conservation and Environment and reserved for public recreation to utilise the existing facilities while retaining the original atmosphere and preserving the historically significant buildings.




The Camp complex
Most of the original buildings are still in place with some being restored. The Prisoners′ Mess is now the Dining Room, the Officers′ Quarters have become the bunk rooms for campers. A large semi circle of huts, the original prisoners′ cells face the other buildings. Of the original 60 prisoner cells only 26 remain and are used to accommodation and a museum. A detailed story about the history of the Camp is available for download.

From 1989 the camp property was leased to private enterprise to conduct a holiday camp. Joan Scott and Russ Haythorpe, the Camp operators at that time, subsequently purchased it from the government, and demonstrated the commercial viability of the Camp operation through high levels of occupancy by school groups, backpackers, tourists, and other travellers, and proved the Camp's popularity as a special venue for celebrations, conferences etc. In 2005 John and Karen Knee purchased the property and operated the Camp for the next six years

Following their purchase of Camp Cooriemungle from John and Karen in late 2010, the Oberin and Payne families moved from the city life, to take up residence on one of the most beautiful and natural bush surroundings around. They have added additional adventure, educational, personal-growth activities to the previous Camp regime without losing the long-standing appeal and atmosphere (and great food) that scores of school groups and corporate teams have already enjoyed.

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