Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : March 2, 2016 Edition Contents PAGE 18 - THE ADVERTISER, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2016
New and used boats
Tackle, boat and trailer accessories
14 Beach Road, Rhyll
Open 7 days
Phone: 5956 9238
Great Summer Deals on Rods, Reels & Tackle
Great Summer Deals!
with Evinrude 50hp outboard
and alloy trailer
with Evinrude 60hp outboard
and alloy trailer
with Evinrude 75hp outboard
and alloy trailer
with Suzuki 140hp outboard
and Easytow trailer
DON’T be fooled.
Rhyll may have a reputation as a
sleepy hamlet, but talk to the locals
and you’ll quickly see it’s a buzzing
community of creative characters.
Today townsfolk may affection-
ately refer to themselves as “Rhyll-
billies”, but its significance to the
island should not be under-rated.
As early as the 1850s Rhyll had a
prosperous oystering industry sup-
plying the goldfields.
But it was in 1868 the village was
settled, given its own postcode in
1889 because the first Rhyll post of-
fice was created at Captain Lock’s
house (who is recognised as the
founding father), now at 4 Zelma
Perhaps no one has a greater
claim on Rhyll’s history than John
His great grandfather – a Swedish
migrant - moved to Rhyll in 1893
and there has been a continuous
line of Janssons ever since.
Even though John is a fourth gen-
eration, he lays no claim to being
the oldest resident.
“The Waltons came here in 1868
and the McFees in 1884,” John said.
His grandfather ran a ketch, ini-
tially working for Captain Lock,
shipping produce from Rhyll to Mel-
bourne, while his father was a fish-
erman who grew chicory, and John
studied civil engineering with only a
short stint living away from Rhyll.
“I studied in Melbourne from
mine in southern NSW but I didn’t
like it very much so came back to
Rhyll,” John says.
But John’s true passion is his-
tory, researching and writing about
Rhyll – contributing to the town’s
historical tome, Within the Plains of
Paradise – and especially its mari-
time history, the couta boats of the
“I do very little fishing now and
the boat is in the shed,” says John,
who is a member of the Phillip Is-
land Historical Society, the Conser-
vation Society and the Rhyll hall.
“I love the area for its beauty and
it’s a good port.
“There were only a handful of
houses when I was a boy. It’s a bit
busy now. It’s not as bad as Cowes
though. If we allow too much subdi-
vision it will just be another subur-
Helen Dennis is another deter-
mined to keep alive Rhyll’s past.
This year the Rhyll Mechanics In-
stitute – better known to islanders
as the hall – marks its 125th birth-
day and according to Helen, the
president of the institute, a shindig
will be held to celebrate.
But it will only happen after the
hall gets a spruce – painting inside
and out, a snazzy new kitchen stove,
dishwasher, benches and flooring,
as well as a new plaque.
Helen says the hall was estab-
lished in 1981 as a school, with
church services, dances and events
held after hours, until it closed in
Since then the hall has been run
by the shire, with the committee
overseeing hall events, whether it’s
hiring out for weddings or funerals,
or to regular weekly groups such as
a diet club.
One of Rhyll’s most recent arriv-
als – and assets - is Jason Cameron,
who in 2013 moved to the village to
run Rhyll Haven accommodation.
Jason is a journalist with 30
years’ experience, most of that with
Channel 9 news, including time as
foreign correspondent in Africa.
His career took him from the
Rwanda genocide in the ‘90s
through to royal tours with Charles
and Di to royal commissions, such
as the BLF and more recently work-
ing in media and corporate strategy.
This high-flying life would have
continued if it weren’t for a health
scare that saw Jason pack up his
Melbourne life and head for the
Once here, Jason says his plan
was to lead the quiet life. That was
until he attended a Bass Coast Shire
Council meeting last year where he
posed a question about the rights of
a neighbouring property developer
to fire up his bulldozer at 7am on
The then mayor refused to re-
spond to his query.
“I was going to keep my head
down and not get involved but then
that happened and I thought we
have a problem with governance on
Phillip Island,” Jason says.
He has since battled for the com-
munity, most recently on the Stand
“You can’t be part of a community
unless you’re involved in it. If you
don’t stand up, things happen.”
So how does Rhyll-life compare to
that of globe-trotting journalism?
“I love it here,” he says. “You can’t
beat collecting your mail from the
general store or walking along the
Rhyll inlet at sunrise with the wal-
labies and black swans.
“Every time I go to Melbourne I
think what a great decision I made.”
My town: Rhyll
An historic view of Rhyll looking down from what is now the yacht club, circa 1920s.
Aerial view from the 1950s.
The Rhyll Mechanics Institute, known as the hall, which is 125 years old this
year, as it was when it was first built as a school.
Painter Simon Curphy, of Ventnor, is currently giving a makeover to the Rhyll
Mechanics Institute, which this year celebrates its 125th birthday.
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