All photos by Margaret Swan, February 2006
Update, December 10 2013: The Hume and Hovell Cricket Ground is now owned and run by Ros and John Rogers, parents of Australian Test batsman Chris. It is now known as The Village Green & Pavilion. See Peter Hanlon’s excellent piece, A ground of their own, in The Sunday Age, 8 December 2013
DON McQueen built himself a cricket ground. An English-style cricket ground in the bush. An hour or so north of Melbourne, near Kinglake National Park. Bushfire country.
Don turned a paddock into a lush green oval. Six turf wickets in the middle. He built a white picket fence around the oval. He built practice nets. Four synthetic wickets. He built a pavilion, with a café and bar. A bed and breakfast. A bunk-house for big groups of cricket lovers. He built a cricket memorabilia shop.
And he built a scoreboard.
“I built the scoreboard from recycled timber from an old shed that was demolished in an East Malvern house nearby to where I was living prior to moving up to Strath Creek,” Don explained via email.
At a local council asset sale in Albert Park, Melbourne – during the time of council amalgamations in 1994 – Don bought a cricket pitch roller and a wooden box of metal scoreboard numbers.
“I thought the numbers would look quaint on an old fashioned-style scoreboard. They needed to be repainted which was a rather tedious job, but they are still in use for all of our matches here.”
Don made the scoreboard’s nameplates from strips of masonite that had been protecting packs of bricks. “I painted the strips black, purchased some cardboard stencils the same width as the strips, and painted names and teams on them.
“After each use we repainted them black in readiness for the next game.”
The Black Saturday bushfires on February 9 2009 didn’t spare the Hume And Hovell Cricket Ground. But the fires didn’t destroy the oasis either.
“We lost our main machinery shed, our paddocks and our fencing but we were able to save the pavilion and our home,” said Don. The scoreboard was unscathed.
“The fire burnt under the picket fence in about six places, without igniting the fence and as the oval grass was green, the fire only encroached no more than a metre in these places. The fire got to within three metres of the pavilion. We were very lucky, exceptionally lucky.”
“The drive as you approach the ground is hilly and spectacular.It was a hot day when I visited, followed by a balmy summery evening.
“There are lovely old deck chairs to relax in while you enjoy the cricket and beautiful rose gardens to admire.”
“To me it is truly the sound of summer and has been since I was a child. My Dad was a great cricket aficionado although he did not play the game, and my elder son is both a cricket lover and player. He usually plays for Edinburgh Cricket Club, in North Fitzroy.”
The Hume And Hovell Cricket Ground was founded in 1994. It is available for various functions, cricketing and otherwise.