When Churchill was originally envisaged, land was compulsorily acquired from the pioneering families of this area – Medew, Silcock, Northways etc.
The plans were to create neighbourhood units which would include large areas of parkland – Watson, Walkley and Gaskin parks.
Mathison Park was designated a botanical park. It was originally the farm of the Hare family, with the farm lastly being run by the Dobbin family at the time of the ministry of housing taking it over. After acquisition, it was farmed, leased out and eventually fell into disrepair, with the farmhouse being decimated by tenants and later vandalised before being deserted.
This was a great shame as the pictures of the farm when the Dobbins ran it showed a cared for and productive property.
Gradually it became apparent that Churchill would not grow to the expected 40,000 population, so unused land was sold off. There was proposal to sub-divide Mathison Park for housing. The then Morwell Shire Council was obliged to buy Mathison Park after much lobbying by the Save Mathison Park Committee in the mid 1980s, using rate payer’s money to do so.
The Council took ownership of and responsibility for it’s development. The Mathison Park Development Committee was formed.
The Churchill and District Apex Club along with the Australian Paper Mill employees planted blue gums along the Tramway Road section as well as a deciduous group of trees. They also provided wooden play equipment, a rotunda and a BBQ shelter and lookout platform.
Loy Yang provided trees for planting down the southern edge. Working bees organised by the small but effective committee organised various planting days.
The Eel Hole Creek pathway of the western side of the Lake Hyland opened up the park for walkers. It was paid for by a State Government grant called ‘Pride of Place’.
More plantings occurred along that pathway. Blackberries and other rubbish were cleared. The old farmhouse was tidied.
A consultant firm was employed to devise a planned development program for the park.
A concrete pathway was built from the pedestrian crossing on Monash Way to Kurnai College for the students.
The arboretum of Gippsland trees was established with a grant. Signage shelters were built and further signage has been added.
A toilet block was built. A second arboretum of Australian and New Zealand conifers was also established
With the advent of the Premier Lakes of Victoria initiative by the Department of Environment- Fisheries, the park saw the building of the fishing platforms and a picnic shelter.
The Commonwealth games fund provided the fitness stations.
The committee worked hard to write grants for the various pieces of play equipment which now provide a well equipped play area. More seating and tables were added.
The eastern side was opened up with the installation of a new pathway which linked to the western pathway via a boardwalk.
Many of the blue gums reached their used by date and have been successively replaced.