• Loddon Herald

Catto Lodge stays

THE HISTORIC Catto Lodge at Melville Caves will be retained when Kooyoora State Park is redeveloped.

Weekend talks between the Catto family, community and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation secured the 65-year-old pavilion’s future.

Earlier plans to demolish the lodge had angered the local community and Catto family descendants.

Corporation CEO Rodney Carter said: “We have chosen to set aside the lodge. That’s the best and sensible approach.”

Mr Carter while there had been some consultation on plans for the park, they could have been more detailed and he looked to improvements in engagement.

“It would be good to explore opportunities looking at conservation of the lodge when the time is right,” he said.

“A collaborative relationship (with community) is the key to doing this properly.”

The lodge honours Stan Catto, a Korong Shire councillor who in 1952 had a vision to create a park around Melville Caves.

Stan Catto in conjunction with the then-Forests Commission forged ahead with the plans and formed a park committion. He was the first president.

Nephew Matt Catto told the Loddon Herald that last Saturday’s meeting had helped the corporation understand “the importance of the area to us and our connections and community”.

Another nephew Glenn Catto said: “The Rheola community established this ... Stan’s vision was for everyone to use the park and share it.”

Working bees helped bring the vision to reality and Sunday concerts in the 1960s and 1970s financed infrastructure improvements, including a bitumen road and erosion mitigation works.

The lodge was completed in 1956 and has since hosted family picnics, weddings and funerals.

Glenn said there were no objections to 90 per cent of the Dja Dja Wurang Corporation plans but locals had been against demolition of the lodge.

Hamish Catto said the community had been temporary custodians of the park for more than 150 years.

“The Aboriginal community has returned which is good but don’t erase the contributions the locals have made,” said Hamish, a great-nephew of Stan Catto. Stan son Geoff said: “My father’s vision was to share the park.”

Howard Rochester has guided visitors around the park for many years, particularly school groups with Aboriginal students. He was among community members wanting Catto Lodge retained in park plans.

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