Rich history at Fossil Beach
22 May 2019
On Saturday 4 May, as part of the National Trust Heritage festival, community members, representatives of the Culican family, Fossil Beach interest groups and Mornington Peninsula Shire officers came together at Fossil Beach to unveil four signs depicting the site’s rich history.
The new signs, produced by Mornington Peninsula Shire, contain information on Fossil Beach’s geology, excavation of cement works, fossils, Aboriginal history from Port Phillip Bay and information from the earliest known painting of the site, which dates back to 1874.
Art historian Dorothy Johnson informed the crowd of the historic painting, held in the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery collection (not currently on display), titled “Near Schnapper Point” 1874, which portrays the kilns of Fossil Beach Cement works.
In 1968, over 50 years ago, the then Mornington Shire sought the help of Melbourne University Historian William (Bill) Culican to investigate Fossil Beach and discover what the mysterious rock walls were.
Over two years with the help of students and family, Bill uncovered the earliest cement works in Victoria, the first apparent archaeological dig of an industrial site in Australia.
Bill’s works on the subject were published and considered an example of best practice, receiving several awards.
At the sign unveiling, William’s daughter Sarah and wife Elisabeth (Dinny) entertained the crowd of 45 with insights into his on-ground research.
The event also hosted local enthusiast Ian Stevenson who spoke about the geology history and fossils of the site.