STONY Creek Reserve is celebrating its 100th birthday by inviting its future to uncover its past.
Children from across South Gippsland are being asked to collect memories of the racing and sports precinct to help commemorate the anniversary.
And there is plenty of incentive for youngsters to quiz their aunts, uncles, grandparents or older friends about the good times that have been had at the recreation reserve over the past century.
The best recorded oral history in two age groups will receive $200 worth of books for their school library to be chosen from Foster’s Little Bookshop. The winners themselves will each receive a prize of a digital sports camera.
Relatives of Daisy Helms may have a head-start in the competition.
The 83-year-old is a walking, talking encyclopedia of Stony Creek’s past, having collated (along with husband Frank) a written history for the township’s centenary.
Daisy, who spent most of her life in Meeniyan but now lives in Foster, was more than happy to share some of the rich history of racing and football from the iconic South Gippsland town.
“I believe the first ever race in Stony Creek was held from the old Cottees bus sheds with a finish line at the railway station,” she said.
“It was quite a big event with a trapeze artist, other competitions and they even had a ball.”
Daisy’s own family were integral to the development of the Stony Creek Reserve – the first ever committee meeting was held in her Great Uncle Bill’s house.
Her own commitment extended to many years of washing dishes and baking scones at the races, while her daughter Helen Boyle is still part of the volunteer army that keeps Stony Creek Reserve open for business.
An intimate knowledge of Stony Creek’s history gives Daisy an insight into the reserve’s ever-increasing importance to the town.
“It is the town,” she said.
Thankfully for the future, local children seemed fascinated to hear Daisy’s recollections of Stony Creek’s halcyon days.
Foster Primary School students Leith Green and Jonty Westaway are looking forward to delving into the rich history of the Reserve.
Leith said he already had his own happy memories of days spent at the races.
“I reckon it’s more fun than the Melbourne races, where there is an unsettling feeling,” he said. “I feel much more relaxed at Stony Creek.”
Stony Creek Racing Club chief executive Ralph Gallagher said he was looking forward to reading the collected personal histories from the reserve.
“This is a great opportunity to preserve the stories and memories from a century of activity at Stony Creek Reserve,” he said.
“And who better to delve into this history than the young people who will one day be the custodians of this vital community asset in South Gippsland.”
The collection of stories will be published in early 2011 as a booklet recording the history of the area. Entries will be judged in the following age group categories: 5 years to 8 years and 9 years to 11 years.
Winners will be announced at the Stony Creek Family Day races on Tuesday, December 28.
Further information can be found at the competition blogspot address of stonycreekreservehistory.blogspot.com or by contacting the Stony Creek Racing Club (tel. 5664 0099).