Friends of the Prom started life under the guidance of the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) and encouraged by the National Parks Service.
The VNPA arranged a working bee on Saturday 17 November 1979 to clean up Darby Beach. That evening, a well-attended meeting at the Tidal River Information Centre voted to form a new group called Friends of the Prom. Over 50 people immediately expressed an interest in joining up and four VNPA members volunteered to be the founding co-ordinators of the group.
In those days, the working relationship between Friends of the Prom and Parks management was different than it is now. In its early days, the group took on some very interesting but physically demanding projects which would be less likely today because of reduced staffing levels at the Park, tighter budgets and much tighter OH&S regulations.
Some of the highlights of earlier working bees were –
The group was able to build a strong bond of friendship and sociability among its members and other friends by working together on interesting tasks followed by congenial evening gatherings and relaxing Sunday walks. This set the pattern for our activities ever since.
In 1995, a Coast Action grant kicked off the Tidal River plant nursery with the encouragement of Parks staff. The nursery is operated by Friends of the Prom volunteers who visit the nursery once a fortnight to collect local seeds and cuttings to propagate seedlings for revegetation projects around the Prom.
Because of their work, the nursery volunteers have logged up many achievements for Friends of the Prom – the early dependence on making do with recycled and scavenged materials to build the original nursery; the ambitious revegetation projects such as at the quarry on the Mt Oberon Road, an area of Macalister Creek scoured bare by flash-flooding, restoring woodland behind the airstrip, revegetating around Darby River, and lately the never-ending task of re-vegetating areas damaged by foot traffic around Tidal River campsite; establishing a heathland display garden in front of the Tidal River store; and introducing school-age children to the magic of plant propagation.
The nursery group has also experienced its share of setbacks caused by nature (major fires and flooding) and by mechanical failure (watering system failure).
Natural disasters are not the only threats the Prom faces. From time to time, the natural wilderness values of the Prom are put at risk from those who want to see the nature of Prom visitation changed from a largely self-reliant camping and walking experience in a unique wilderness, to a luxury resort for passive recreation.
Friends of the Prom has taken an advocacy role when inappropriate developments are proposed –