In the 1960s land was acquired by the then Croydon City Council to form a public park on Gracedale Avenue East Ringwood. This was to become Gracedale Park and it is a tribute to all who had input along the way to today’s presentation of the Oval, Tennis Club, Kindergarten Playground and surrounds.
In about 1968, the land was divided into two sections, one for grazing cows, the other with a large planting of pumpkins on it, was bought by the council.
A meeting of enthusiastic local residents was called and people came from the then unmade streets, Hume, Hender, Gracedale and beyond to form the first Park Committee. At that time there were only about 30% of the homes that are in the area today.
Nothing much could be done for use in those early days, so the Committee got together for fund raising for some playground equipment to be placed on the top area near Gracedale Avenue, with fathers mowing to keep it clear. Progressive dinners, trips to wineries and many a cake stall in Main Street, Croydon were held (where goods home baked by mothers always sold out). Then there were the bonfires and cracker nights with good crowds in November, also sausage sizzles, etc. were enjoyed by all.
There were many discussions on what should be allowed in the park, the Council proposed the Kindergarten and a Tennis Club was a favourite idea. The considerations for the Oval were that there was to be NO Aussie Rules. A running track for little athletics was proposed, but, as Bayswater North and Croydon groups had already been formed, this was not viable for the park. Cricket, and later Soccer, are certainly putting the oval to good use.
There was a bit of a sigh of relief, when a few years later, notification came about the commencement of road making. The earthworks were used to build up the area to form the oval, especially near the creek, now a piped drain, to overcome possible flooding. There had been times when Tintern Avenue, before the Primary School was even thought of, where access to Bayswater Road was impossible. The dip in Hume Street also experienced the same problem.
Progress on the oval continued with levelling and sustainable grass was sewn. The galvanized pipe fence also acts as a water supply for maintenance. The Kindergarten/ Baby Health Centre and the Tennis Courts were built in the mid 1970’s along with public toilets and a utility room for the Tennis and Cricket Clubs. Extensions to the building in 1981 became the Gracedale Park Tennis Club as we know it today.
A great playground has been built up over the years, together with a barbeque area and all are in regular use. The upkeep of the surrounds by Maroondah Council is excellent and the way the Tennis Club volunteer members maintain their area is an absolute credit to them. Visitors constantly comment about the great park and this is reinforced by the walking clubs and dog walkers that are found there every day of the year.
I hope I have been able to give some insight into the birth of Gracedale Park. The park continues to have a Committee of Management, and together with Maroondah Council oversee its use and upkeep.