The history of Cockatoo has twice been recognised at an official level recently. Firstly, the fight to have the McBride Street kindergarten placed on the Victorian Heritage Register has been successful and secondly the community has received a Local History Grant. The kindergarten had been nominated to be included on the Victorian Heritage Register in 2011 and it was rejected on the grounds that it wasn’t of State significance. The decision was appealed and in April 2012 the Heritage Council reversed the decision and the kindergarten was placed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The Kindergarten was built in 1976 in an interesting twelve sided design, designed by Richard Allen. However, its importance to the Cockatoo community is its role as a refuge during the Ash Wednesday fires of February 16, 1983 when 300 people, including 129 children, sheltered inside and survived the fires that devastated the Cockatoo community and much of the rest of Victoria.
In the end the Appeals Committee found that the kindergarten was of historical and social, significance to the state of Victoria and meets the significance threshold for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register. The battle to save the kindergarten is a testament to the strength and tenacity of the people of Cockatoo to stand up and fight for their community.To see the Statement of Significance for the Kindergarten, click here or go to the Victorian Heritage Register http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au and type Cockatoo into the search box.
There is an interesting community website, called Victoria's Heritage and Cockatoo's Ash Wednesday story, at https://sites.google.com/site/cockatoosheritageashwednesday/ which was set up during the battle for Heritage listing, which has photographs and the history of the kindergarten and information about the township and the bushfires.The picture of the kindergarten,below, is taken from the website.
Source: Victoria's Heritage and Cockatoo's Ash Wednesday story website
The other goods news for the Cockatoo community is that the Cockatoo History Committee has been awarded a $4,729 Local History Grant. These grants are presented each year and are administered by the Public Records Office of Victoria. The Grant for the Cockatoo History Committee is to undertake a project to preserve Cockatoo’s existing oral, photographic and documentary history and make widely available for the community. Funds will be used to transfer interviews from cassette tapes to CD, to have audio files transcribed and purchase archival supplies.
In the end that’s good news for Cockatoo and good news for history.