National Trust Heritage Festival

Govinda Valley hosted their 2nd Annual National Trust Heritage Festival this month.  It was an opportunity for local historians to share their knowledge and memories of what has gone into making their community.

Warren played the Didgeridoo as guests arrived. The Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery gave the Opening Address, informing the audience of his personal experiences when the Christian Crusaders utilized the property.


Andre Melis, Govinda Valley Director’s address outlined the property’s long spiritual history, with 67 years with the Methodist Church/ Uniting Church who utilized the property as a camp, then a Conference centre before selling to Govinda Valley Retreat Centre which has been hosting yoga, meditation, music, art, healing, permaculture retreats, special events, weddings and funerals for the past 10 years.

Each presenter had a table providing the opportunity to share photos, books, documents and stories with visitors, including the Helensburgh Historical Museum, Wollongong Library, Royal National Park and Bulgo Beach Shacks.

KerrieAnne Christian’s presentation outlined the “Croker Island’ Mission, Aboriginal children stay in Otford during WW11 until the end of WW11.

Sarah James from the James Family outlined the family’s history.  They were one of Otford’s pioneering families who owned numerous businesses including the Post Office, Hotel and Timber Mills.

Bob Crombie, former Chief & Senior Royal National Park Ranger, outlined the Royal National Park’s World Heritage Status as of May 2018, stating that “We continue to request that the Federal Government place the Royal Reserves onto their Tentative List for World Heritage now.”

Helensburgh historian, John Arney, presented a concise history of the Helensburgh Colliery, Ian Hill gave a comprehensive history of the Otford Tunnels and Trains, Dorothy Rook outlined Otford’s history, with photos from her lifetime involvement with the Otford Rural Fire Brigade.  Jim Powell’s presentation shared historic photos of Otford, along with photos of his mother Rona Powell who taught the Aboriginal children during WW11.

With the morning’s presentations complete, Debbie Hannan gave a Peace environmental meditation with the sounds of the Didgeridoo sound bath in the background. Guests then enjoyed a sumptuous vegetarian banquet upstairs at the Govinda Valley Retreat dining room, overlooking the Royal National Park.

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If you have any questions or would like to be involved in next year’s Heritage Festival, please contact Wendy, Projects & Events Coordinator  on 0412 614 684 or email