This text was compiled after talking to a number of the Life Members of the Club. The information contained below reflects their memories to the best of their ability.
The Mount Duneed Pony Club was the brainchild of Sue Ellis, who eventually became the first DC. When Sue first thought of starting a Pony Club there were many kids in the area with horses and Freshwater Creek riding Club had closed their membership.
Sue Ellis, Dianne Fawkner, and Harry Stendt arranged a Public meeting which was held in the hall at the Emergency assembly area in Mount Duneed Road.
Sue Ellis had contacted PCV before the meeting and spoke to Frances Corry on the phone. Sue states that she did not get a lot of help from PCV and this made her more determined to get a club up and running.
A number of people turned up to this meeting including the Zone Representative, Mr Keith Crabbe.
Sue contacted Barwon Valley Pony Club and they kindly gave her a copy of their rules of incorporation, which was adapted to suit the vision that they had for the Mount Duneed Pony Club.
Present at this meeting was Sheryl Kuzmich who had been teaching local kids in the area at her parents place. Sheryl was teaching approximately 40 kids at that time and running her own fun gymkhanas and competitions for the kids to learn. It was agreed that the club colours would be the same as the Mount Duneed Regional School.
Freshwater Creek Riding Club was a quite a sizeable Club at this time and there was apparently a waiting list for riders to get in. A lot of the riders at Freshwater Creek were children and therefore the Riding club was keen to support the Pony Club to take some of the younger riders.
At this time the area came under the Barrabool Shire. Later the area was divided down the Mount Duneed Road, the club grounds falling under the control of the Geelong City Council and the other side of Mount Duneed road falling under the control of Barrabool Shire eventually becoming Surf Coast Shire.
Rallies began on the first Sunday of the month, in 1985, in Shea Simmonds back paddock at a property known as “Hill Side”,. Sue Ellis was DC, Dianne Fawkner was Secretary and Harry Stendt was Treasurer.
At this time the group was small and they used to hire a portable toilet, and a tent was used for a club room / canteen. Only two or three rallies were held at this location when Barrabool shire council granted the Club the use of the area which today is the land on the left of the old shipping container.
This area was always wet underground and boggy, (they must have had much more rain then!!) The club had to fence the area off at either end (one section is still there today) and they also put in the trenches to try and drain the water away. The area was not level and a grader was hired to level the area off.
The shipping container was not there then but the little green shed that you see opposite the container was eventually obtained and used to act as a club room/ canteen.
This green shed was originally a hamburger stand from the Geelong Show grounds. It was obtained by the Drysdale /Leopold Pony Club for their use but when they no longer needed it they offered it to the Mount Duneed Pony Club. The shed was brought over to the grounds by Harry Stendt and David Ellis on the back of a tandem trailer.
Meetings were always held at each others houses. It was at this time that the Ellis’s, Stendts and Fawkners all donated $700.00 of their own funds to create a running account for the Club (which was a substantial amount of money at the time).
The club operated out of this area for approximately a year and often organised Fundraisers such as Minstrel nights to keep the funds going. They also acknowledge that Freshwater Creek Riding Club assisted them during this time with the loan of equipment when required.
The reserve as we know it today was run by the Barrabool Reserve Committee which consisted of the Cricket Club, the Pony Club, the Tennis Club and the Archery Club. The tennis court was situated immediately to the left as you drive in the gates near the old stock yards. The Archery club eventually moved to Corio Moorabool.
The Club then was not allowed to use any other area than the boggy land and the Shire had leased the rest of the land to a farmer for sheep grazing. During periods of extreme wet the pony club rallies were held unmounted at the parents home of Sue Ellis or trail rides to local farms were organised.
The agreement with the farmer was that he would maintain the land by controlling the Briar Rose. Apparently the Briar Rose was almost head height in places.
The Club kept cribbing more sections of land for use even though they were not supposed to and started to use the top of the hill and areas around it.
When the club wanted to run a One Day Event they had to borrow equipment from the Freshwater Creek riding Club. On the morning of the ODE they had to herd the sheep over the hill past the cemetery to Sue and David Ellis place, in Williams Road, where the sheep remained for the duration of the day. Then they would start the preparations for the ODE.
The Club kept asking for permission to use more of the reserve and eventually a Councillor came out to have a look. They agreed that the Pony Club could use the reserve as long as they removed the Briar Rose. The farmer’s sheep were removed.
The Club then started to share the Cricket Club rooms. This was considered a luxury as they had a small gas stove and running water. David Ellis used to try and clean the club rooms after the cricket club finished on Saturday ready for the Pony Club on Sunday. It was also David’s job to unblock the sewerage at One Day Events because the cricket club toilets regularly blocked up.
Power was eventually put on to the Cricket Club rooms in the early 90’s.
The Yards were designed by Harry Stendt and he arranged for the labour to be done on the yards by a Farm Hand Course being run at the Gordon University. Mount Duneed Pony Club supplied the materials.
The big Green Shed was added to the grounds in 1991 / 1992. They used the Green shed for rallies and eventually fitted it out with a kitchen.
David Hadley was on the scene by this time and he managed to obtain an old tractor for the club. This tractor was used for road sweeping but somehow became the property of Mount Duneed Pony Club.
In 1996/ 1997 the club rooms as we know them were obtained. The clubrooms were originally a construction office at the water recycling plant at Black Rock. The rooms were purchased for a princely sum of $100.00 from the council and dismantled piece by piece and brought to the grounds. When it all arrived no one ever thought that they would see the rooms re erected. But they were with the joint effort of the Cricket Club and the Pony Club. It was agreed that the rooms would be shared so that both clubs could benefit. The wiring was done by Don Adamson.
The shipping container arrived at around this time and was acquired by David Hadley for storage of the Show Jumping equipment.
The club had a very strong focus with members competing in grade one state level competition around Victorian Zones and as far as southern NSW. At the time there were few grounds in the Barwon Zone where members could compete in Grade one or do cross country schooling.
It was a dream of the committees and many of the members to try and create a State Level Grade One Cross Country course on the grounds. Many committee members and parents worked very hard to build the course that we enjoy today. Many hours on weekends and after work were put in. The pipe line from the cemetery to the water jump was dug entirely by hand.
For the first One Day Event run after the water jump was completed the pipeline was not operational so a request was put in to the local fire brigade to fill the water jump for the event. After this the pipeline was dug.
Rocks were a major problem on the ground so a rock collector was hired by the Club organised by Harry Stendt. To use the rock collector efficiently all the rocks on the grounds had to be placed in rows so that the machine could do its job. This was a mammoth task.
A lot of the Show Jumping wings were welded by Harry Stendt. Sue says that the committee did a lot of hammering, painting, fencing, digging, lashing cross country poles into place and helping to do anything that had to be done at the time.
Since the beginning of the Club riders have represented Mount Duneed and the Barwon Zone to State Championship level in Eventing, Show Jumping, Novelty Games and A Grade Show Jumping for Barwon Zone at Royal Melbourne Show.
The Club reached its thirty year anniversary in 2015.
It is easy to say that we are lucky to have one of the best grounds and facilities in the Zone.