The Kurth Kiln Timeline

From 1940 to Today

Time-line of Kurth Kiln and the Friends Group

• 1940 Professor Ernest Kurth’s revolutionary design for a kiln to mass-produce charcoal for motor fuel is acquired by the government.
• 1941 Kurth Kiln established by the Forests Commission of Victoria on Tomahawk Creek.
• 1942 The first firing of the kiln takes place on the 18 March 1942. The kiln was 15% more efficient and able to produced 20 tonnes of charcoal per week from 120 tonnes of wood.
• 1943 The easing of petrol rationing results in continuous operations at the Kiln coming to a halt. In all, some 1000 tonnes of charcoal were produced at Kurth Kiln.
• 1946 the Forests Commission of Victoria installs ex Army Huts and Kurth Kiln becomes the base camp for the region, housing 80 -100men in 18 huts.
• 1963 The FCV operations are scaled down. The site becomes neglected and fire destroys several of the huts.
• 1978 The site is developed as a picnic and camping ground. A further three huts are demolished and the material used to modify a remaining one as a Caretaker’s Residence.
• 1982 A traditional picket fence is installed around the remaining huts.
• 1984 Ron Thornton moves into the Residence and assumes the role of Caretaker.
• 1993 The Land Conservation Council officially names “Kurth Kiln Regional Park”.
• 1996 A Conservation Plan is prepared for Kurth Kiln by the Department of Natural Resourcesand Environment; (Daniel Catrice).
• 1997 Parks Victoria carry out repair to the Flue and Chimney structure of the Kiln.
• 1999 Formation of the Friends of Kurth Kiln as an Incorporated Association. Seeding grants.
• 2000 Repair to Steel work of Kiln, replacement of two missing steel charcoal chute doors.Re-establish retaining dam for Waterwheel.Install a 5000 litre rainwater collection Tank. In June Ron Thornton dies. Commission a plaqueat the site of the old Beenak Post Office Red Letter Box
• 2001 Construct a new 6 foot waterwheel and flume as a working exhibit to symbolise the historic past. Construct three new Interpretation Display Windows on Big Shed. Assist the Helmeted Honeyeater Group in re-locating aviaries.
• 2002 Parks Victoria commissions Kurth KilnHeritage Action Plan; BIOSIS (Gary Vines).Nomination of Kurth Kiln for the Victorian HeritageRegister. Creation of Heritage OverlaysHO21 and HO400. Create a new 1km long Thornton Walking Track with a 15m footbridge across the Tomahawk Creek. Commence categorising and computer cataloguing the CulturalHeritage Artefacts at Kurth Kiln. Create Display Wall in the Big Shed. Stage a festival in conjunction with the National Heritage Dandenong group: ”Beyond the Big Smoke”.
• 2003 Parks Victoria funds a Solar Electric system to allow use of on-site computers. Construct benches and trestle tables for use on-site. Repair annexe (04A) next to Kiln. Produce a “Friendship Festival”. It becomes an annual event in the form of a “Heritage Festival”
• 2004 A large area map is fitted to the Information Booth BUN300. Re-vegetation around west Picnic Ground, funded by National Envirofund.
• 2005 Successful application to Department of Victorian Communities Community Strengthening & Volunteering for a Portable Display.
• 2006 Funding is received from Parks Victoria to create two Interpretation Boards, one near the kiln and one in the Caretakers Compound. SLR camera bought with a Small Equipment Grant.
• 2007 Port Phillip and Western Port CMA fund a large fencing and re-vegetation project. Six Gas Producers donated to the Kurth Kiln Collection.
• 2008 An Interpretation Board is created at the portable Steel Kiln on Tonimbuk Road.
• 2009 Successful application to FaHCSIA for a sound and video system. Parks Victoria funds Portable Display for the Gas Producers.
• 2010 “Fireside Stories” booklet, a collection of reflections by Bill Parker is launched at he Open Day in April. It is funded by GVESHO. Bulk print new Brochure, funded by Melbourne Water
• 2011 Publish “Amongst Friends” booklet, funded by GVESHO and the Bendigo Bank. Install Interpretation Boards on Waterchannel Track, funded by Cardinia Shire Council. BB also funds re-vegetating the fenced Camping Ground.
• 2012 Melbourne Water funds installation of six Interpretation Boards along the Thornton Nature Walk. Parks Victoria funds re-model Annexe 03 as a Display area for the historic Charcoal Grader. Submit “E E Kurth, Reflections on a creative Person” to the Prahran Mechanics Institute.

kurth kiln caretaker

Reflections of a Friend

The Friends of Kurth Kiln Group is now four years old. It was in June 1999, after encouragement from the helpful Parks Victoria Rangers in Gembrook, we decided to put our love for Kurth Kiln to practical use and try to promote greater awareness of its unique history.

On the 18th of May that year we submitted our application for the incorporation of the group. Here, to re-focus our attention, is what we said in our Philosophy Statement:

The FRIENDS OF KURTH KILN is a group of people committed to the preservation of the local park, the improvement of its facilities and to the restoration and promotion of its historic sites.

To this end it is our intention to:

If we have done reasonably well in our endeavors to live up to those aims so far, it is almost entirely due to the tremendous help and encouragement received from Parks Victoria. A special thank-you must go to the Rangers and staff at the Gembrook Regional Office, for their enduring support and trust in us.

Alfred Klink (Secretary)