In 1967, when I was 10, my parents moved our family from Carlton out to Bundoora. Bundoora at the time was the end of the universe. On the north side of Grimshaw Street, there was nothing but vacant paddocks, thistle farms and the occasional cow. Plenty Road was nothing more than a track, no wider than the tram tracks that now run down the middle of it today and the last set of traffic lights were on the corner of Bell Street and Plenty Road. The tram line ended at the corner of Plenty Road and Tyler Street Preston and it was referred to as the Terminus, then there were only Dyson Buses from there.
One of the major reasons my parents decided to move from Carlton was that the Bolte Government was engaging in a dedicated program of slum clearing which basically consisted of knocking down the existing terrace houses and building high rise flats which were called the ‘Commission Flats.’ The flats would now be referred to as apartment living and you can’t afford a surviving terrace house today. However, at the time, this was part of a worldwide trend of draining the cities by driving people out of the centre and onto the fringes, as well as how the Governments responded to the post war migrant boom.
Inner urban families were encouraged to move to the new burgeoning outer suburbs to seek a better life in the wide open spaces. Basically families were moving from areas where there were schools, health services, made roads, sewerage and public transport, to a new suburb where there were none of these facilities. A housing estate was basically that, an estate full of houses.
Being young and football mad, I watched a show on Channel 7 on Saturday nights called ‘Football Inquest’ which was hosted by Michael Williamson. A panellist by the name of Jack Edwards would regularly say when referring to a match, that “Even the Bundoora Bunnies would have played better than them today”. So here we were out in Bundoora, interested in playing footy, having no knowledge as to how to contact the fabled Bundoora Bunnies. So my mother did what any pragmatic working class women would do, she contacted Channel 7 and asked where and how she could locate these Bundoora Bunnies, to which the information was supplied.
The Bundoora Junior Football Club played in the Preston and District Junior Football Association (PDJFA) and played at an oval that was located in the Mont Park Hospital grounds. The oval was no more than a rolled paddock, surrounded by gum trees, with goal posts shaped from the pruned trunks of white painted trees. The club and changing rooms were nothing but a stringy bark hut, which was better than the opposition rooms which appeared to be nothing more than a converted wood shed. It was quite surreal to play football in such a rustic environment having grown up in inner urban Melbourne and having moved to the new manicured AJ Jennings suburb of Bundoora.
In 1969 the club moved to the newly created oval in the NJ Telfer reserve, and shared the ground with the Bundoora Cricket Club, which had previously played on a ground where the Bundoora Extended Care Centre and Nursing Homes are now located. The new ground was located in the middle of the Jennings Estate just off Greenwood Drive, and it should be noted that when we moved to Bundoora, Greenwood Drive did not go through to Watsonia, but it did by this time.
Like everybody at the time, we were captured by the new and the shiny so we never gave the old Mont Park oval a second thought. So the old oval was able to regenerate into the woodland it was before Europeans came to this country. It is now located within the La Trobe University Wildlife Reserve and can be identified from aerial photographs of the area.
By Stephen Paul