History preserved

May 03, 2018

It was 1970 when a group of Mooroopna residents entered into a political battle to redevelop Mooroopna’s recreation reserve into a sporting precinct.

The 32.3ha block had once been the centre of galloping and trots in Victoria, with a racecourse and trots course located on the land from 1904 to the late-1960s.

The journey of the dedicated redevelopment committee has been documented by Mooroopna’s Ian Pleydell in his new history book Reserved for the People (of Mooroopna).

‘‘It was a difficult period,’’ Mr Pleydell said. ‘‘While racing had moved to Tatura and the trots to Shepparton, they thought (the recreation reserve) would have still been available for training.’’

This was coupled with the competing interests of different sporting bodies who would use the precinct.

It was a set of minutes from an old committee meeting that prompted Mr Pleydell to write the book, which he began researching five years ago.

‘‘One of their priorities had been recording their history,’’ he said.

Committee of management secretary Norm Davis said he had been a part of the committee for 18 years and in that time he had seen a number of changes.

‘‘We’ve got a new scoreboard, new lights, there’s been updates to the Sir Ian McLennan Centre too,’’ he said.

Mr Pleydell said a huge source of information had been the late Leon Williams who was on the reserve committee for 50 years.

Among the many changes at the reserve over the years, one landmark has remained.

‘‘There’s a tree that has an interesting history,’’ Mr Davis said.

Featured on the front cover of the history book, the tree stands tall and was estimated to be close to 300 years old.

The book will be officially launched in July at the Sir Ian McLennan Centre when the Mooroopna Cats take on Rochester. It is available for purchase for $15 at the Mooroopna Post Office.

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