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Manning Reserve is a public reserve of about 3,900m2 (almost one acre) located at the corner of Atlas Road and McIvor Highway in Junortoun.

History of the Reserve

The land was donated to the Junortoun community, through a gift in trust to the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, by Thomas Manning.

Manning Reserve was created in 1942 by the Junortoun Progress Association on land donated by Thomas Manning.

The Junortoun Hall and tennis courts were constructed on this site and the hall became a meeting place for Junortoun families who often hosted adjoining district families. From the early 1940s until the 1960s the halt was not only used for fortnightly dances and card evenings, but also celebratory parties of all kinds. Local musicians provided excellent dance music. The hall was removed after vandalism in 1969.

Following World War ll, tennis became a very popular sport and a club was formed with tennis courts constructed beside the hall. Weekly competitions were held until the mid-1950s. However, with population shifts, family commitments and varied work patterns, sporting interests declined and the courts fell into a derelict state and were abandoned around the 1960s.

Tom Manning

Thomas James “Tom” Manning was a second-generation family member who established a profitable farm and orchard on land adjoining this site. Tom donated some of his Atlas Road property for the building of the Junortoun Hall and tennis courts on what is now known as Manning Reserve.

Recent care and attention

The Junortoun Community Action Group has also been active at Manning Reserve over many years improving its appearance.

  • Removing litter and broken glass
  • Removing weed (gazania) infestation
  • Repainting the heritage sign
  • Using Manning Reserve as a base for Clean Up Australia Day activities

The City of Greater Bendigo installed new fencing at the Reserve in 2015, for which the community of Junortoun is sincerely grateful.

In April 2021 an interpretive sign was installed to highlight the history of the Reserve and the plants and animals that can be found there. The information on the sign was gathered by members of the Junortoun Community Action Group, and the sign was installed thanks to a community grant from the City of Greater Bendigo.

JCAG thanks the Bendigo Field Naturalists Group for assistance in preparing the text and numerous people who contributed to the history-telling, including Wendy Barry.

Vegetation

Manning Reserve is comprised of Box Ironbark Forest and grassy woodland vegetation with a mixed eucalypt overstorey of smooth barked Yellow Gums and rough barked Grey Box and Red Box A diverse understorey of shrubs includes Spreading Cassinia and Gorse Bitter-Pea. The seasonal ground layer herbland includes Chocolate Lilies, Leopard Orchids and Australian Stonecrop.

Wildlife

Some obvious resident bird species include White-Plumed Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and Striated Pardalotes, Regular visitors to the reserve include Grey Butcherbirds, White-Winged Choughs and Musk Lorikeets. Less conspicuous wildlife includes Marbled Geckos, Pobblebonk Frogs and numerous invertebrates of many varieties.

Landscape

Positioned between the lower creek-line and associated floodplain (south side of highway) and the higher undulating rises to the north (Wellsford Forest), this small remnant of Box Ironbark Forest/Grassy Woodland protects one of the last remaining fragments of this type of vegetation (and its inhabitants) that was once found in this ‘middle ground’ zone that has now been extensively cleared, The transition from creek-line to undulating rises is shaped by subtle changes in topography, geology, and soil moisture.