In 1934, at the request of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, the City of Melbourne Council made available a small area in the King's Domain for a Rotary "Grove of Friendship" where trees could be planted or ‘dedicated’ to honour distinguished Rotarians or mark significant Rotary occasions.
The Park was inaugurated in March 1935 when Paul Harris, founder of Rotary, planted a Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) that is today a fine specimen of this species.
His wife, Mrs Jean Harris, also planted a tree on that occasion as did Angus Mitchell, the then District Governor and later first Australian President of Rotary International, and his wife, Mrs Teena Mitchell. Professor William Osborne, the Foundation President of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, and Alfred Holtz, a past President of the Club and past District Governor were other notables who planted trees on that occasion.
Not all the trees survived the ravages of time and vandals, but replacements have been made, and the Park has become a much loved and used venue for walking, jogging, reading and sylvan contemplation.
The Park later became known as the Rotary Park of Remembrance and in 2023 with the installation of the Peace Bells, the Park was renamed the Rotary Melbourne Peace Park.
Over the 90 years since Paul Harris and other notables planted those first six trees, a red granite seat has been erected as a memorial to the work of Paul Harris and Angus Mitchell, and additional trees have been planted or dedicated by:
Click below for more information about those commemorated at the Park.
In 1953, a massive and beautiful red granite seat, designed by Past President Percy Oakley was placed in the Park to acknowledge the work of friends Paul Harris and Angus Mitchell. The seat bears the inscription:
Erected by the Rotary Club of Melbourne
to commemorate the work of Rotary's Founder
and of Angus S. Mitchell
the first Australian President of Rotary International
Sir Angus Mitchell (seated); the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councill R. Solly (centre); and Sir John Reid at the presentation of the Granite Seat to the Rotary Park of Remembrance, 1953.
Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammer, President Rotary International 2005-06, 2004
K.R. 'Ravi' Ravindran, President of Rotary International, 2015-16 (left); and Rotary Melbourne President Kevin Sheehan, 2019.
The City of Melbourne Council continues to manage and protect the Park, providing another example of the enduring and supportive relationship between the Rotary Club of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne. The Rotary Park Committee hopes that Melburnians will long continue to enjoy and respect this living piece of Rotary history.
Our Rotary Melbourne Peace Park volunteers were busy on Saturday 13th May 2023 readying the park for all our incoming visitors in less than 2 weeks for the Rotary International Convention. We want it looking its best for the launch of the new Peace Bells.