South Gippsland - Victoria - Australia
- photographs, information, interesting things to see and do -
Mount Best History Plaque - You will find a plaque attached to a rock right at the top of Mount Best, that tells the interesting but tragic history from the early 1900's, of a devastating bushfire that claimed the lives of several of the local people including a number from just one family. It also remembers the bravery of several others and reminds us of the potential devastation that bushfires in Australia can produce.
History Of Mount Best - Written history of the area dates back to 1892 when properties were advertised for selection in approximately 80 acre lots. This land was given free to the first settlers who began arriving the following year. It would have been challenging in those days as they made the painstaking effort to clear the land in order to produce crops and carry livestock as well as constructing their own dwellings and roads.
In 1898, some 5 years later, The Minister For Lands Sir Robert Best visited the area and agreed to have the district named after him. At a meeting of the residents the following month they declared the name change from the original 'Mount A' to 'Mount Best'.
The first public hall was built close to the top of the mountain in 1902 and the first school opened at Mount Best in the same year. In 1905 a Methodist church was also constructed but on January 23rd the following year (Black Thursday), several homes plus the church and school were destroyed by bush fire. There were fires throughout Victoria on that day and 6 adults and 3 children tragically lost their lives in the Mount Best region.
Mount Best Lookout - A relaxing and very scenic 15 minute drive from the South Gippsland Highway inland towards the mountains (from Foster, Toora or Welshpool) will take you to the top of Mount Best. From the lookout you have 360 degree views encapsulating Wilson Promontory and Mount Oberon, Barry's Beach, Foster North hilltops and magnificent valley views across to Mount Fatigue.
Mount Best Art, Craft & Photography Exhibition - This event is officially opened every Eastern Saturday when the Judges Prizes are announced. It runs until Easter Monday with the presentation of 'The peoples Choice Award' at around 4pm. Prizes in all sections total over $1500 and it is highly recommended to visit at least once, so you get to see the talent and quality demonstrated by their local art community.
Snow In Victoria - On the odd occasion it snows at Mount Best and other areas in the higher altitudes of South Gippsland. The snow in winter 2005 made it down to Foster lookout and a few flakes were seen in the township itself. People living on the top of the mountain were knee deep in snow at it’s peak and were unable to drive their vehicles out. The local school bus only just made it up the hill on the first day and didn't attempt the trip at all for several days after that for safety reasons.
Mount Best Airstrip - In 1959 the Mount Best Airstrip Committee formed for the purpose of constructing an airstrip used for crop-dusting. It is still used occasionally for agricultural purposes as well as a much needed emergency landing area.
Mount Best Hall - This is the main meeting and social gathering place on the mountain and is host to the famous Mount Best Art Show held every Easter. A very popular event which showcases art, photography and craft work from the talented local 'tree-changers' (people who have moved from the city to retire in the peaceful surrounds) as well as the long time local folk.
The first public hall was built close to the top of the mountain in 1902 and in 1906 was burnt to the ground in the Black Thursday bushfires. A new hall was built in 1909 on a different site and school was held there with a rent of 12 pounds 10 shillings per annum. In 1933 the South Gippsland Eisteddfod was held at the Mount Best Hall which then burnt down again after the dramatic society performed a play called "All A Mistake".
The present hall was constructed in 1938. In 1958 they celebrated the installation of gas lights and cypress trees were planted around the hall. The trees were then removed in 2007. 1961 saw tennis courts built next to the hall and in 1966 all of the surrounding district celebrated the connection of electricity.
Many thanks to Meryl Agars who provided this Mount Best history information.
This hall now provides a picturesque venue for weddings, parties, family reunions, meetings, indoor carpet bowls, table tennis, outdoor bocce (particularly for the men) and many other interesting activities. Of course the catered home-made food is a major talking-point, and especially appreciated by out-of-town visitors.
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