Sixty years ago the Rosebud community gathered on Jetty Rd to watch World Chief Guide Lady Baden-Powell open the Rosebud Girl Guide Hall. It was, by all accounts, a significant celebration. Earlier this year – on Sunday, February 25 – the community gathered at the same location, this time to mark the diamond jubilee of this iconic building.
On a prominent double block at the corner of Jetty Rd and Morgan St, it is one of only a few Girl Guide halls in the country not on council-owned land. Both the land and building are owned by the Girl Guides Association of Victoria and Rosebud is home to one of the longest-running Girl Guide units in Australia – it was registered in 1931. At the 60th anniversary, current and past Girl Guides, Leaders, dignitaries and others gathered to celebrate a significant part of Rosebud’s history.
This world-wide movement, which exists to build confident, self-respecting, responsible community members, is as fresh today as it was when the hall was opened. Mornington Peninsula Girl Guides volunteer district manager and Seawinds Community Hub chief executive Heather Barton explains: “In essence, yes, it’s as fresh today as it ever was and that’s because it’s girl-driven. If the girls aren’t involved in designing and implementing the program then the units generally don’t survive.”
It is also about values. “Parents are looking for something that’s values-driven and that’s what we’ve always stood for. Girl Guides sets girls up for life,” Ms Barton says.
Those who gathered at the reunion and high tea heard how Lady Baden-Powell visited Rosebud on November 26, 1958, to open the building during a visit from the UK.
“On the Saturday when I was setting up I put the DVD of the opening on and burst into tears because you could see these people carrying children in calipers, obviously with polio,” Ms Barton says. “They were placing them on groundsheets at the front of the hall where the opening was to take place so the children could be part of it. You don’t realise how far we’ve come in such a short time. It’s really quite something.”
When organisers put word out about the planned reunion, the “jungle drums” led them to the daughter of Eddie Brady, who helped plan and build the hall. To Ms Barton’s delight, Maureen Marshall (nee Brady) accepted an invitation to speak and to help cut the anniversary cake.
The hall is, Ms Barton explains, now heritage listed and continues to be used almost daily by Guides as well as other community groups. Endless fundraising has been held over the years to pay for its ongoing maintenance. “Over the past 60 years, a great many people have been involved in getting the hall established and in continuing to operate it as a community resource. This celebration gave us an opportunity to acknowledge the support of the whole community and thank those involved.”
Rosebud Girl Guides currently has three units – ages 5-7, 7-11 (juniors) and 11-14 (seniors). The programs include outdoor education, environmental education, leadership, service, craft and more. “Parents want their daughters to broaden their horizons in a safe environment,” Ms Barton says.
Girl Guides Victoria is connected globally to more than 10 million members in 150 countries through Girl Guides Australia, which is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. More at guidesvic.org.au