Baden-Powell Scout Centre

Alfie is continuing on in his scouting pursuits.  He is in awe of the creator of the worldwide movement, Lord Baden-Powell (BP) and feels very special that they share the same birthday.  Alfie’s other hero isn’t me, it’s Bear Grylls, and Bear has escalated even further in hero status since Alfie found out he’s the current Chief Scout.

The entrance is heritage-listed

The entrance is heritage-listed

Yesterday there was a scouting excursion to the Baden-Powell Scout Centre in Pennant Hills.  I’d never been there nor even heard of it.  I loaded up my people-mover with a bunch of extras and out we went for an afternoon of orienteering.

One of many cottages on the property

One of many cottages on the property

I didn’t know what to expect except for perhaps an antique and very basic hall.

A cottage on the property where the orienteering began

A cottage on the property where the orienteering began

I was very surprised to find that the scout centre is situated on 36 hectares (88 acres) of land that back onto the Lane Cove National Park.  It was a lovely surprise to find such large and beautiful and spacious grounds in a medium-density area of Sydney.

View from the house to the Parade Ground

View from the house to the Parade Ground

The centre was in full-swing when we arrived with it being used by not just the scouts but by multiple groups from the community.  One of the homes on the property is where the verger lives and she greeted me enthusiastically with a wide smile and took me on a quick tour.

Sandstone paths and walls lead to peaceful places to sit

Sandstone paths and walls lead to peaceful places to sit

The centre was built in 1929 under the direction of Hartley MacAllister who led a team of very dedicated scouts who donated their time and services for free.  During the Great Depression the centre became a permanent camp site for those who were out of work.  Grateful to have a place to live, they used their skills and worked hard to create beautiful gardens with sandstone flagging, an outdoor chapel, sandstone paths, and ampitheatre and camping flats.  A lot of these features are today, Heritage Listed.  The Centre has a very rich history with it’s most significant event being when Lord and Lady Baden-Powell visited the centre in 1931. 14.05.25.16One of the original buildings on the site is Pax Hill and it is full of charm and character.  Apparently this building was created to be a replica of BP’s home in Kenya.  I loved the wide verandah and the proportions of the rooms.  The formal lounge opens onto the verandah and a feature of this room is an enormous stone fireplace.  I was unable to photograph it as the room was being used by musicians rehearsing for an upcoming musical.  The house has commercial cooking facilities and is often used for weddings and other formal occasions.

House

Pax Hill House

As I wandered around, snooping into every nook and cranny, it became very obvious that so much of what is there today is because of all the people who have donated their time and skills and labour to create something very special.  So selfless!  As you walk around you see a lot of people who are all giving their time to teach young boys and girls new skills and they’re all doing it with such enthusiasm and dedication that it’s quite humbling.

The house designed to be a replica of BP's home in Kenya

The house designed to be a replica of BP’s home in Kenya

The verandah

The verandah

Alfie loved his first experience of orienteering.  He was in a group of four boys his age and off they ran with a map and a walkie-talkie.  They had to find clues that were hidden somewhere amongst the 36 hectares.  I followed along taking photos.  His group was back at the base first and then they sorted their clues of letters to form a sentence that became part of a story.

The arbour

The arbour

Lord Baden-Powell died in 1941 at the age of 83.  His wife continued on his work until she died in 1977.  (She must have been considerably younger as he was 55 when they married and they raised three children).

The ampitheatre built by the homeless in the depression seats 200

The ampitheatre built by the homeless in the depression seats 200

Somewhere to sit and enjoy a rip-roaring bonfire

Somewhere to sit and enjoy a rip-roaring bonfire

BP’s final message to his scouts was, ‘Try to leave the world a little better than you found it’.  That is as relevant today as it was back then and those final words continue to inspire young people all over the world.

The outdoor chapel built by the homeless during the depression

The outdoor chapel built by the homeless during the depression

Long live the scouts!

One of the chapel walls

One of the chapel walls

Baden-Powell Scout Centre:  Pomona Street, Pennant Hills, NSW Ph:  02 9484 2278

Comments

  1. Long live the Scouts! What a lovely place, and a great resource for the kids! :)

  2. Scouting has done a lot for many boys and this is a lovely story, Charlie.

  3. Gorgeous place and what a fine legacy for B-P to leave for the young boys of the future. I especially like the amphitheatre.

  4. Such a great story and a beautiful place too. It’s great that Alfie is enjoying being a scout so much; were your other two scouts as well? The scouts inToronto usually meet in a church basement or community hall so it’s lovely to have such a gorgeous venue to meet.

  5. The Scout experience is so great for young boys (or older ones!) and this looks like a beautiful place to have such experience.

  6. What a wonderful place with such a selfless history behind it, a wonderful legacy for today’s scouts to live up to indeed Charlie. I remember orienteering when I was younger, running around in the bush was more fun than looking for clues- though I was always scared we’d trip over a snake! Xox

  7. I think scouts is such a fantastic thing for kids to be involved in. Love that Alfie is so enthusiastic about it too.

  8. What a gorgeous space for kids to be kids. Lovely story Charlie.

  9. This looks like a gorgeous place for kids to have adventures!

  10. What a lovely place to explore – regardless of age and orienteering efforts. I confess to knowing relatively little about the origins of the scouts; I did brownies briefly as a child but my brother never really got into the scout community. There is a lot to admire.

  11. Bear Grylls is bad ass, no wonder Alfie likes him :) This is such a lovely place and so perfect for teaching our younger generations to respect the world around them.

  12. G’day! I LOVED being part of the Girl Scouts in the US when I was little; memories that last a lifetime Charlie!
    Glad Alfie enjoyed and orienteering can be such fun!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. Good for little Alfie! Scouts teaches kids a lot of the real basic things that our busy lives seems to overlook. For example; sewing on their own patches. It looks like a fun exploration. Here in HK hiking in scouts is really intense and can be some very difficult hills to climb and endurance and speed are instrumental. Enjoy these early years as they go by so fast.

  14. Hehe Mr NQN’s hero is also Bear Grylls! It must be a boy thing. I usually get up and do something else when it is on although he assures me that it is very interesting. I should perhaps stay and watch an episode one day :)

  15. What a beautiful place! I love those gorgeous stone steps. :-)

  16. Sure is a gorgeous place, Alfie seems to be having a great time and you as well.

  17. I love when people donate their time and skills.
    What a lovely, cool place.
    xxx

  18. If I was a better mom, I’d have already signed up a boy scout for my son…but I’ve been so busy that I failed to sign him up…. My kids school has a girl scout, so that was easy but somehow not boy scout. This is a wonderful story, and what an awesome place! My son would love to join if we were there!

  19. Just beautiful, Charlie! And what a great thing for Alfie to aspire to! Wonderful! :) xo

  20. Love this place, this space in nature.

  21. A great place surrounded by nature, of course Alfie would be inspired to be Bear Grylls here! He is so awesome :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  22. What an inspiring and lovely post. What a great human being BP must have been. My boy absolutely loves scouts.
    Carolyn

  23. Bear Grylls is AWESOME, seems an all round solid bloke too. Scouts are wonderful, go Alfie aspiring to that. Lovely little neck of the woods, you have all the brilliant places near you. :)

  24. What a beautiful place to learn about the outdoors and enjoy Scouting. It brings back memories to think of all these little boys engaged in activity acquiring their merit badges. We had some lovely mountain area scout camps, but nothing that resembled this gorgeous place. I admit I don’t know that much about Baden-Powell, but you have me curious to read a little bit more about this fascinating man. And I kind of admire Bear Grylls, too. I understand Aflie’s fascination!

  25. Good on Alfie for getting involved! They teach such great skills. J climbed with Bear once, apparently he’s lovely.

  26. So cool to see – thanks for sharing the photos – I was in the “cubs”… never bothered going through to the scouts which was the next level up because it wasn’t really my thing. I might have changed my mind if we’d done such cool stuff as this… all we seemed to do was sit in a hall and tie knots :(

Speak Your Mind

*