FOSTER Station Park, on the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT), has become one of the town’s main entry points, according to the Rotary Club of Foster.
“So many people are now using the Rail Trail for recreation, and the Foster Station Park is often the very first thing they see when they arrive,” Rotary Club secretary Bruce Standfield said.
“This area used to be a paddock on the very outskirts of Foster, and now it’s quite distinctly not that anymore,” he said, waving at all the new houses rapidly going up on the neighbouring, recently subdivided Parkside Estate.
The Rotary Club has been actively interested in Foster Station Park for the past several years and worked with the former community based GSRT Committee of Management to add to the amenity of the area.
Rotary constructed the roofed tourist information bay next to the Rail Trail, close to where it crosses Station Road, with the help of Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VICAL) students from Foster Secondary College in 2016.
That same year Rotary members planted 20 or so London Plane trees on South Gippsland Shire land on the south-east side of the Rail Trail, following a line parallel with Lower Franklin Road, of which 18 have survived, with most of those thriving.
Around 2017, the Rotary Club also built the rotunda next to the Rail Trail on part of the former Foster railway station building site, now home to the Corner Inlet Men’s Shed whose actual shed stands on what was the platform.
The rotunda is used regularly by the wider community; as a shelter from the weather, as a picnic spot, as a meeting or resting place for both residents and visitors, and as a rallying, starting and finishing waypoint for walkers, bike-riders, and equestrians.
There’s even a wooden indicator in the form of an arrow fitted to a beam inside the rotunda that swivels to show any stragglers in which direction the peloton of a local cycling group happens to have gone that particular day!
Rotary Club resident Rod Lomax said the rotunda had been located north of the Rail Trail on a portion of the original railway reservation currently under the stewardship of the Men’s Shed.
“The Men’s Shed members kept us going with cups of tea and encouragement while we were building the rotunda and they also made the big table that’s inside the structure,” he said.
“The Foster Station Park rotunda, and the new one the Rotary Club of Foster has just built at the Foster Showgrounds, were both made possible because of grants the Club received from Rotary International, as well as through funds raised by our members and their practical skills.
“The Rotary Club currently has 24 members and together we raise about $30,000 annually through our firewood raffles and working alongside the Lions Club of Toora to run the Promontory Produce and Craft Markets, among other activities.
“Our Rotary Club is always thinking about other ways to further improve the Foster Station Park, and some of our ideas include putting in an exercise station for people to use before they head off on a walk or a ride.
“We’ve also been looking at the remnants of the Great Southern Railway turntable that you can still see over from the information bay beside Station Road,” Rod said.
“We’re thinking we might approach the Foster and District Historical Society for some more details about the turntable and the train service we used to have here, and perhaps put some information and a photograph or two up in the rotunda.”
The Rotary Club of Foster recently wrote to the South Gippsland Shire commending the community-minded efforts of a local resident who has just announced to the shire his intention to retire from his individual voluntary lawn-mowing contribution to Foster Station Park.
The volunteer has asked the council to be in charge of the area of shire-controlled land between the Rail Trail and Lower Franklin Road that he has been mowing for the past 18 months.
In the letter the Rotary Club stated that “we support his [the volunteer’s] request that the shire take over the mowing of this area … which is no longer an out-of-town eyesore as the town is now on its boundary.
“At his own expense [the volunteer] has transformed this area from a rough paddock into a park-like area and our Rotary Club members would like to see this area maintained,” the letter continued.
“Our Club is not in a position to take on the maintenance of this land [however we] would like to have some input in future planning of Station Park and may be able to help with other improvements.”
The Rotary Club of Foster’s latest community project is working in collaboration with Prom Country Aged Care and Prom Country House, the Foster and Toora Medical Centre and the South Gippsland Hospital Foster to install a concrete footpath linking the three facilities.
Club president Rod said the members have allocated $5000 towards the footpath, and that the three organisations are at present identifying the best route for the path.
For more information about the Rotary Club of Foster and to become a member, contact Club secretary Bruce Standfield on 0429 832 350.