1st Hawthorn Scout Troop
This article describes the history of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Troop.
The principal of Scotch College, Dr Littlejohn, announced at morning assembly
on Friday November 12th, 1926, that a Scout Troop would be formed at the
school under the leadership of the School Chaplain, Rev Rowan Macneil.
A few days later, the first Scouts enrolled. This ened several months of
preparatory work for the new Scout Master, 'Padre' Macneil, and it also
introduced to Scouting, in the 'Padre', a man who was destined to become
one of Victoria's greatest Scouts. Indeed, he became famous as a Scout
throughout the world.
The District Commissioner of No. 10 District, Captain Peowrie, gave the
Troop two names: the official '1st Hawthorn', and the alternative '1st
Scotch College' - the later being the most often used in the early days.
The first outdoor activity of the Troop was a camp held towards the end
of term. It was reported in the Group Log as follows; "Under a bright sky
on the morning of Saturday, December 11th, 1926, we held our first open
air meeting, trying in our amateurish was to do the sort of things we thought
Scouts would do. Enthusiasm was boundless, and at the close of the morning's
work and play, we held our first investiture, under the trees by our beloved
river, unseen, and unsung."
From it's beginnings, 1st Hawthorn showed signs of quickly growing into
what would be Victoria's largest Group, and probably the largest in Australia.
At it's peak the Group consisted of two Cub Packs each of about 30 Junior
School boys, six Scout Troops each with about 50 boys, four senior Scout
Troops of about 20 boys each, and a Rover Crew of around 25 (approx. 465
youth members plus Leaders). There was also talk of starting a Scout Troop
in the Junior School.
By 1928, the Troop had already grown to such a size that Rev. Macneil
worked on the formation of a second Troop (1st Hawthorn - 2nd Scotch College),
of which Mr L.P. Fox became the first Scout Master.
For the first few years of the Group's existence, meetings were held on
Friday nights in the College Gymnasium, and in a wooden hut known as the
'chalet'. World War II brough blackout restrictions, and the Group was
forced to adopt afternoon meetings. This saw a sudden spurt of growth in
the number of boys in both the Troops and the Packs. To overcome the problem arising
out of these developments, a Cub and Scout hut was built by the parents
of the Junior School.
The continued growth of the Group and the need for storage and maintenance
of the very extensive range of camping equipment led to the building of
the 'Rown Mecneil Memorial Scotch Hall', which was opened by Lady Baden-Powell
on the 1st of December, 1957.
1928 saw another turning point in the history of the Group. In that year,
Major-General Elliott (known to the diggers of the 1914-15 War as 'Pompey'
Elliott) presented the Scouts with about five acres of land along the Chum
Creek Road, some nine kilometres north of Healesville. This gift was made
in apreciation of what Scouting meant in the development of his some, Neil
A hut was built in 1929 close to the creek which runs through the property,
with timber supplied from a mill on what is known today as the 'Old Mill
Site'. The hut, named 'Elliott Lodge', was remodelled in 1938, but was
burnt down during the disasterous bushfires on 'Black Friday' on the 13th
of January, 1939. A new hut, designed by architects Roy Simpsons and Llyod
Ordon, was opened on Saturday the 11th of May, 1940. On that same occasion
a memorial tablet was uinveiled to Neil Elliott, who was killed in New
Guinea whilst on duty as a patrol officer. In more recent years, 'Elliott
Lodge' has been re-stumped and re-roofed, while in March 1963 quite extenisve
improvements to the kitchen, living area, Q-Store and shower room were
The Scouts and their parents raised money and bought another block of
land adjacent to the property in 1936, comprising of about 10 acres. This
embraced the sports area commonly known as the 'MCG'. In 1963, the College
aquired a further 177 acres at a 'forced realisation auction', the former
owners being the Reid Murray Group. Then in 1967 the school purchased a
single acre of land adjoining the Scout Property, which had a little hut
('Old Willy's') which still stands, and had been used for many years by
a Troop of White Russian Scouts. A pipeline along the Old Chum Creek Road,
installed by the Healsville Water Trust, still supplies the property with
fresh water and a garage, 'The Myer Chalet' (or 'Biology Hut'), was erected
by the 'Pioneers' in August 1966. The latter are features which have assisted
in putting this extended area to good use.
At about the time that the designations of 1st Scotch College and 2nd
Scotch College were dropped from the 1st Hawthorn name, a new section of
the Group was formed - the Rover Crew. Since it's first meeting on the
8th of June, 1931, the 1st Hawthorn (Old Scotch) Rover Crew has met continuously,
the first Rover Scotch Leader being Mr Ron Wilson, who was also Group Scout
Master for many years.
The Cub Pack at the College was formed in 1932, under the guidance of
Cub Master Miss Dale. Because Scotch College is a school group, the Pack
had to serve the Junior School. The Cub Pack's history has been rather
chequered as at various times it was decided to confine Scouting to the
Senior School only.
The original Pack closed in 1933, after only a few months operation, but
a new Pack was opened early in 1935 and run by two of the older Scouts.
Mr Ron Wilson took over the Pack as Cub Master in 1938.
An experiment begun in 1940 was the supplementary section between the
Junior School Cub Pack and the Senior School Scout Troops. This was the
third Scout Troop, attached to the Junior School and catering for boys
in that school over the age of eleven years.
The third Troop had as it's first Scout Master, Mr R.G. Rowlands, who
later became the Group Scout Master. But by 1943 this Troop had been transferred
to the Senior School, and a second Cub Pack was formed in the Junior School
to take it's place.
The two Cub Packs were merged in 1952, and operated as the combined 1st
Hawthorn Cub Pack until 1963, when it again closed down. In 1944 a cub
den had been opened, and when the Pack ceased to function the floor of
the den was used at Wishart Lodge, the District Campsite at Lilydale. For
some years during the 1952-63 period the Cub Pack was, as earlier, without
a Warranted Cub Master and was run by Senior Scouts.
The fourth Troop was formed at Scotch in 1943 at the same time as the
third Troop but was originally attached to the Senior School, its purpose
being to absorb boys on the waiting lists for the frist and second Troops.
However, in 1944 the fourth Troop was reformed within the Junior School.
The Troop closed down in 1948, leaving the Junior School without a Troop.
In 1945, two old Scouts of the Group formed a Senior Scout Troop at the
School, and this section has been active ever since.
The fourth Troop was reformed in the Senior School in 1960.
Because of its huge size, 1st Hawthorn has been organised and run slightly
different from the average Group, in fact, in many ways 1st Hawthorn could
be described as a District within a District. Two unusual features of the
Group in past years have been, firstly, its use of Troop Leaders virtually
as Assistant Scout Masters. Secondly, the formation of a Pioneer Patrol
which operated at 1st Hawthorn as an alternative to the Senior Scout Troop.
A Sea Scout Troop was formed, as part of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Group
in 1969. In 1985, this Troop was restructured, and operated outside the
aegis of the Scout Association.
In 1985, due to total reorganisation of Service activities at the school,
the number of Troops dropped from four to two, but in 1986 had increased
to three Troops of twenty four Scouts each. The four Venturer Units disappeared
- the Venturers being absorbed into the newly created Adventure Program.
In fact, it was the Venturer Leaders who took over initial leadership of
this new program, with many activities offered having been part of the
Venturer program. However, an increasing number of boys elected to form
a Queen's Scout Venturer Unit as part of the Adventurer Program - their
main aim being to work towards the coveted award.
The members of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Group wear a maroon scarf with yellow
piping around the edge, and the school badge on the back.