In 1973 a small group of citizens undertook first steps in a scheme to preserve and rehabilitate twenty-six hectares of land lying across the boundary between the Melbourne suburbs of Alphington and Ivanhoe, administered by local councils of the City of Northcote and the City of Heidelberg, respectively. The area concerned contained a small public park, a municipal tip, a stretch of industrially-zoned land and a flood plain.
Forming themselves into the Rockbeare Park Conservation Group, those involved embarked on a program of action to draw public attention to the project and to enlist the assistance that would become necessary at various steps in the overall plan for the parklands.
The scheme, which had the support of both councils and envisaged as an immediate objective the retrieval of the entire area to public ownership, and over following years the City of Northcote purchased the Alphington section lying within the boundaries, with assistance from State and Federal Government funds. Negotiations were continued for acquisition of the rest.
Concurrent with these considerations, a start was made on photographing and recording the area. Plans were formulated for weed eradication and for planting, which in turn required enlistment of volunteer labour and arrangement for its efficient direction if the work was to proceed without delay.
A major problem was the spread of noxious weeds which included blackberry, boxthorn, artichoke thistle and boneseed, among a list of more than twenty different varieties of noxious weeds recorded. Following on-site inspections by experts, experimental areas were established and an eradication program formulated. Prior to 1977, no funds were available and all work was done by hand with borrowed tools until Heidelberg Council supplied suitable equipment. The hand eradication program was achieved largely through the work of staff and boys of the Ivanhoe Grammar School. The school maintained a practice of providing groups of up to sixteen boys under the supervision of two teachers to work in the park each week, as a Community Service Project. It has been due to these efforts that boneseed has virtually disappeared from the area.
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The above history excerpt was written in 1980 and has been reproduced, with permission of the author, Sue Course and the Darebin Parklands Association.