The Rejuvenation of the South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve


Photo: Becky McCann


The South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve has been a sorry sight for close to twenty years. Abandoned, overgrown, unloved. The home ground for the long gone South Purrumbete Cricket Club, the even longer gone South Purrumbete Athletics Club, home for the final years of the Carpendeit Cricket Club. Most famously the home of the South Purrumbete Football Club until the Panthers, or the ‘Beters as they were probably better known, went under after the 1999 season. The last organisation to use the oval was the Pomborneit Cricket Club, who used it for it’s 3rd XI in the 1999/2000 and 2000/01 seasons.


Photo: Becky McCann


Becky McCann is a local with incredible energy. Involved in every aspect of her community. The arts, conservation, events. Pretty sure she is someone who would attend meetings every day of the week. Plus, she plays a mean double bass in her band. Every community needs a Becky McCann. So when the South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve, home of so many memories to the black and green faithful, was in danger of being sold off, Becky donned her cape and set about saving the iconic venue.


These are Becky’s words on the newly created South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve Facebook page-


“The South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve. Home of the ‘Beters and many a gathering for over a century. Locals are banding together to bring this community hub back to life….slowly. Works have started, but there’s lots (&lots) to do. Power. Water. Fences. Mowing. Oh and the buildings and the ground. Help be part of the rejuvenation!


In the space of a decade the local hall and churches were sold and the footy oval disused and fell into disrepair, meaning anyone who identified themselves as part of the South Purrumbete community (past and present) lost their collective space that they could call their own and come together.


After an eight year hiatus, years of neglect following the folding of the South Purrumbete Football Club after the 1999 season, and at risk of being sold, local community members took the initiative in 2015 to hold a public meeting and reform the voluntary South Purrumbete Recreation Reserve Committee of Management, undertaking large amounts of hazardous tree, fencing, revegetation and week work to date. The Reserve now represents the last remaining community asset in this small dairy community.


Making the Reserve safe, reaching standards suitable for recreational use and becoming financially sustainable are key priorities. Limited funds and resources, costs for the works required to get things safe and in working order, and limited access to funds due to the nature of the work required not fitting within 95% of funding programs offered has greatly hindered achieving priorities.


To say we’re starting behind the eight ball could be a bit of an understatement, but lucky we’re a determined and patient bunch.


Keep an eye out for working bees and community gatherings, or contact Becky McCann, President of the Committee of Management, if you can help out in any way.”


Becky and her crew have a massive task ahead. This is all that South Purrumbete has left, apart from it’s magnificent farming soil. As mentioned, the hall and the two local churches have been sold off. The school was forced to shut in the 1990s. The butter factory is long gone. All sporting clubs are gone, including the tennis club not previously mentioned.



Photo: Luke Reynolds


The Recreation Reserve has much potential. Events, community gatherings, South Purrumbete reunions, music, a home for the football club’s history and memorabilia are just some of the possibilities. Maybe, after much work, sport of some kind could make a return. Like the world in general right now, it’s all up in the air. The South Purrumbete flame still flickers.





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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    I remember watching my dad playing footy for the Colac Imperials against South Purrumbete there in the late 50s/early 60s. Wet, muddy, cold & windy, and very few goals kicked!

  2. Elizabeth Fryers says

    well done Luke you keep memories alive for the Black & Green

  3. Les Harrison says

    A great read. Memories came flooding back of footy and cricket games at the ground. Pre season training, the old ground bustling on a Saturday in winter for home games. And the roar of the supporters when we kicked a goal. Good luck Becky.

  4. Good luck,Becky,Luke and the community huge amount of work ahead

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks everyone. The ground is a far cry from it’s heyday of busy, year round use. Glad it didn’t get sold, hope it can indeed again serve the community and become a hub.

  6. Footy grounds should never be sold. Should be a law against it. Well done Luke.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Dips, should be the first law passed post COVID-19.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’m surprised that the IPA isn’t spruiking to build a railway station carpark there.

  9. A story of hope.
    My best wishes to Becky and all the volunteers.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Swish- that’s who we are saving it from.

    Cheers Smokie

  11. I played footy there in the seventies -playing for the opposition. The visitors rooms were really dilapidated with missing lining boards so that when you sat down to put your boots on, the wind would whistle through the gaps in the boards at about kidney level. The showers were in a small corrugated iron out building with a concrete slab for the base…nothing fancy like a shower rose…just a trickle straight out of the pipe. and a warm shower was considered to be a minor miracle.The ground was rough with a steep slope in the forward flank down to the pocket so you’d have to chase the ball down hill, then pulled up and run back up the slope as the cavalry arrived, streaming down the hill towards you with violent intent. They had a young kid who’d won the league B and F the year before and he was very handy. It was rough and tumble footy down there and there were other grounds in the league that were just as rough…but for all that it was great fun and that league (CDFL) had sixteen teams when I first started playing…and was the largest in the state…sadly, six of them have gone, some have merged, some will recover but some like Sth Purrumbete are gone for good.

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