Polana Camp large group camp accommodation school camps Healesville
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Chapter from the book: “Chronicle of the Polish Federation in Victoria 1962-1992” Melbourne 1993. A modified and supplemented reprint of Głos Polski – an occasional addition to Tygodnik Polski.


“Polana” in Healesville is a live album of Polish life in Victoria. The stubborn oak of the millennium planted here rooted in the Millennium Year by General Juliusz Kleeberg. A Mazovian pine emerges above eucalyptus – a souvenir of the visit of “Mazovia”. The cypress of Fr. Bishop. Władysław Rubin and in autumn the maple of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, covering purple leaves. Polish seeds sprout in the hearts of Polish children and youth who rested at summer camps and camps organized each year in Healesville.

The idea of organizing Polish summer children and youth’s camps in Australia was born in 1958 on the board of the Union of Poles in Victoria during the presidency of Eng. Kazimierz Nowicki.

The first camps, thanks to the efforts of the then president of the Union of Poles in Victoria, Mikołaj Osmólski, were organized in Healesville in January 1960 in a rented Russian scout camp.

The area for the current “Polana” was bought in the mid-1960s by three members of the ZPW: Władysław Czarkowski, Adam Gruszka and Henryk Pieńkoś. The Union of Poles in Melbourne bought it from them in 1963, when the president of the union became Ing. Edward Majewski. The first summer camps in this area were organized in January 1961 under the presidency of Jerzy Jabłoński and since then they have been held there annually.

In 1964, the Polish Association in Melbourne, then led by Szymon Meysztowicz, established the “Polana” Committee. Sz. Meysztowicz sas its first chairman., and treasurer Danuta Jabłońska.

In 1968 Tadeusz Kuriatia was elected chairman, who was replaced by Jerzy Król, who was secretary for several years. Tadeusz Kuriata performed this function for 10 years. His wife Barbara supported him in this work. In his time a new kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms for small children, common room, sick room, cook’s room, office-warehouse-caretaker’s room, bathrooms with hot water, drained and a playground was built. Thanks to the efforts of T. Kuriata, government funds were obtained for these purposes. For many years he initiated and rented Polana to other youth groups and Australian schools. At that time, “Polana” became an income institution paying 10% of its profits to the union of Poles in Melbourne annually. Prov. ed.

A lot of people put a lot of work into the expansion of the center and the organization and running of the camps, including Natalia Bizio, Bogusława and Barbara Bliszczyk, Jadwiga Brojer, Zofia Brzozowska, Małgorzata and Stefania Czarneckie, Jadwiga and Barbara Czajka, Elżbieta Czerkaska, Helena Drzymulska, Krystyna Dutkowska, Helena Dudek, Jadwiga Heslop, Antonina Hofman, Leontyna and Jadwiga Horaczko Elżbieta Jurkiewicz, Halina and Ewa Juszczyk, Krystyna Konieczna, Irena Kowala, Lidia Król, Jadwiga Królikowska, M. Kuczyńska, Regina Kukla, Barbara and Ewa Kuriata, Irena Lewulis, Anna Lucak, Teresa Mizgalska, Wiktoria Olek, Danuta Pietrzak, Stefania Sawka, Maria Skoczek, Danuta Smołucha, Lidia Szarska, Hanna and Barbara Taczanowska, Zdzisława Wasylkowska, Maria Węgrzyn, Jadwiga and Jan Wittowie, Maria Wójcicka, Maria and Halina Zasiedka, Kazimierz Bliszczyk, Krzystof Celm, priest Marcin Chrostowski, Andrzej Chyczewski, Michał Czajka, Zbigniew Dakowski, Zbigniew Czech, Antoni Dobija, Zdzisław Drzymulski, Mieczysław Dudek, Henryk Dutkowski, priest Ryszard Gamański, F. Golasz, Jan Gorczyński, Stanisław Grabski, the Gruba family, Zygmunt Gross, Bogdan Harbuz, Wacław Horaczko, Jerzy Jabłoński, Marian Juszczyk, A. Kardasz, Stanisław Karpiński, priest Leonard Kiesch, Jan Korszenie, Stanisław Kowalski, Stanisław Kosky, Zygfryd Piotr Koziełł, Zdzisław Królikowski, Stanisław Krupko, Piotr Krzywokulski, B. Lachowicz, E. Marczewski, Leon Maszczak, R. Mizgalski, Jan Myszka, Marian Nadachowski, Władysław Nalepka, Władysław Nowakowski, Stefan Ogrodziński, Eugeniusz Olek, Tomasz W. Ostrowski, E. Pawlus, Eugeniusz Pędziński, Henryk Piotrowski, Jan Polnikier, Jan Podrygała, Tadeusz Przygoński, Roman Ratajczyk, Henryk Ruta, Zygmunt Sutarzewicz, Kazimierz Skoczek, priest Wiesław Słowik, Jan Smolarek, Tadeusz Smołucha, Kazimierz Sosnowski, Bazyl Sowiak, Władysław Spodar, Stanisław Stolle, Kazimierz Szładiński, Leszek Szarski, Ryszard Szczepański, Kazimierz Szczucki, Tadeusz Sztefek, Marian Szuszkiewicz, Kazimierz Szygalski, Stanisław Taczanowski, Władysław Tryndoch Ludwik Turbiak, Roman Trzaskowski, Dr. Charles Walker, Zbigniew Wasylkowski, Jerzy Wilkoszewski, the Witt family, Marian Zarzycki and Bogdan Zieliński. A full list of people who helped in arranging the “Polana” would be much longer. Therefore, it is impossible to list everyone for whom the best form of reward for their work is probably the joy of Polish children relaxing in Healesville. After 1972, the following distinguished themselves in their work for” Polana”: Anna Królikowska, Krystyna Orzłowska, Stanisława Przybylska, Teresa Jevtovic, Maria Trofimiuk, Krystyna Szadura, Ryszard Czochralski, Krzysztof Dutkowski, Dominik Orzłowski, Tadeusz Sikora, Franciszek Szadura, Leon Woźny.

For many years, “Polana” was used mainly in the summer, when two two-week camps and one week youth camp were organized. For the rest of the year, not counting dozens of camps during Easter and individual events such as festivities, scout camps, picnics, or a visit of “Mazowsze”, the center stood empty.

Maintenance of a non-profit camp began to be embarrassing. So a way was found to solve this problem.

Thanks to T. Kuriata’s initiative, Australians were allowed to use: the children, junior high school students, students and scout organizations, thus giving them the opportunity to come into contact with Polish culture that peeks out from every corner of this “small Poland” in the Australian bush.

Such a move was appreciated by the Victorian Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation. Minister Brain Dixon has earmarked 9,000 dollars for partial coverage of new investments in the center, i.e. the construction of a common room according to the project of arch. J. Holgar-Ptaszyński ($ 14,000), changes in the water heating system ($ 635) and enlargement of the girls’ bathroom ($ 3,000).

The subsidy awarded mobilized everyone to work as part of the “working picnics”. Szymon Meysztowicz took over the management of construction works, Kazimierz Sosnkowski took care of technical matters. The company of the Trojanowski family “Cartro” offered wood for paneling in the dining room. The bathrooms for girls were expanded mainly by W. Horaczko from Dandenong and P. Krzywokulski from Noble Park.

“Polana” has hosted many foreign guests, including Bishop. Władysław Rubin from Rome, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła from Kraków and Bishop Szczepan Wesołego and Prime Minister Urbański from London, a well-known journalist and writer from the country of Jerzy Działak-Fleming, not counting “Mazowsze” and other tourists from Poland and seafarers from Polish ships calling at the Melbourne port. “Polana” is the pride of Polish people from Melbourne. They gladly brag about it to their guests.

General Juliusz Kleeberg, chairmen of the Supreme Council of Polish Organizations in Australia, also visited here for many years. Eugeniusz Hardy and Eng. Krzysztof Łańcucki, editor of “Polish News” from Sydney Jan Dunin-Karwicki, editors of “Tygodnik Polski” – Roman Gronowski, Marian Kałuski, Jerzy Grot-Kwaś-Niewski and Australian correspondent of Radio Free Europe, edited by Ludwik Kruszelnicki from Woolongong. Witold Szupryczyński, the manager of the Bielany district in Podhale, spent many a weekend here. Again, it would be a long list if it were to be complete. From major events of all-Australian range, the first meeting of Polish youth, the KOPA congress, ZHP instructor conference and a number of other events took place here.

A kind of bait in Healesville is the sanctuary with the magnificent Australian fauna, which is an attraction for tourists and bored with television programs of the townspeople.

The attraction of “Polana” is its annual festivities.

The first of them, preceded by several weeks of preparations, took place on a long weekend in March 1965 and brought not only financial income, but also provided everyone with pleasant entertainment. This encouraged the organizers to organize subsequent festivals, year after year, with the involvement of more and more people.

Since 1976, the Circle of Ladies at the Polish Association in Melbourne has been conducting weekly spring camps at “Polana”. For the first few years, the number of children participating in them was relatively small (under 20), but since 1981, when a new group of compatriots arrived in Australia, camps became very popular.

Initially, the caregivers were mostly ladies from the circle. In 1985, Fr. W. Słowik, who was assisted by young guardians. Ks. Nightingale with many years of experience in running camps he took great care of children.

In 1986, young staff was recruited, which was a great success, according to the children’s accounts. Edward Czochralski became the head of the camp, a teacher by profession, a great organizer of school trips. Scout instructor Jolanta Żebrowska and four young guardians: Maja Stanisławska, Karolina Bielecka, Marek Mosbauer and Wojciech Nadachowski helped him.

In the years 1986-87, the Polana’s Committee was composed of: Zdzisława Wasylkowska – chairwoman, Róża Czech – secretary, Krystyna Szadura – treasurer, Andrzej Królikowski – ref. party, Dominik and Krystyna Orzłowscy – org. summer camps, Bogdan Harbuz – ref. economic, Eugeniusz Olek – maintenance of the camp, Stanisław Krupko – maintenance of the stand, Teresa Jevtovic and Maria Trofimiuk – rental of the camp, T.W. Ostrowski – ref. press, Krystyna Dutkowska – representative of the Ladies’ Circle, Leon Woźny – delegate of the board of the ZP in Melbourne, Tadeusz Sikora – member board. Let us mention that during the time of Z. Wasylkowska, a caretaker’s house and two bedrooms were erected in Polana, including one financed by the Association of Polish Ladies in Melbourne. In addition, two commemorative plaques were funded. Prov. Red

In February 1987, the Polana’s committee hosted current and former employees of summer camps and people who had contributed to the creation and development of this valuable Polish social institution in Victoria at a picnic. 58 people attended the dinner. Not all guests could come to Healesville on this day. Among those present were activists to whom the Polish society in Australia owes the initiative of establishing the “Polana” holiday resort: Edward Majewski, Kazimierz Nowicki, Tadeusz Podgórski, Henryk Pieńkos, Jerzy Jabłoński and others. In the mass celebrated on this occasion by Fr. About two hundred people took part in Z. Nowicki. Occasional speeches were given by the then president of Polish Association in Melbourne Zdzisław Drzymulski and deputy president of the Federation of Polish Organizations in Victoria Tadeusz Kuriata.

The “Polana” in Healesville is a very valuable institution of our social life and should be supported not only by those who send their children to annual summer camps organized by the Polish Association in Melbourne, but also by all those who care for the good of our Polish community in Victoria. On October 29, 1992, the new management board of the Polish Youth Center “Polana” was elected, composed of: Stanisława Przybylska – chairwoman, Irena Hura – secretary, Teresa Wronka – secretary, Krystyna Szadura – treasurer, Bogdan Harbus – external maintenance manager “Polana”, Krystyna Dutkowska – head of internal maintenance of “Polana”, Andrzej Królikowski – fundraiser, Franciszka Pindel – spokesperson, Maria Trofimiuk – reservations. Prov. ed.

Collected and edited by Tomasz W. Ostrowski

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