Cyril Marriner is the creator of Bimbi Park. He has spent his lifetime in the Otways and was fortunate to have grown up on a farm property that stretched from the Aire River to Cape Otway.
With 7 horses he started to conduct trail rides in the Otways in 1972. On his overnight rides he would camp at Bimbi Park. In 1976 due to water access and shelter the local scout groups used the site to camp in. It was not a registered camp ground then. In 1980 Cyril registered the name Bimbi Park and the camp ground with the shire. He and his wife Pat spent about 30 years creating Bimbi Park.
In early 2005 Frank and Katrina Fotinas who at the time had spent nearly 20 years in the South Melbourne Market decided to sell everything and travel with their two boys “Emmanuele and Dimitri” around Australia in a camper van. One night while planning the trip Frank mailed Bimbi (which they had been Visiting for about 15 years) to ask how much it would cost to stay for a month in a powered site. As a joke he also asked how much it would cost to buy Bimbi.
A few days later Pat responded and said it was for sale.
Frank told Katrina. Katrina said ” I’M NOT LIVING IN THE COUNTRY”.
At the time Dimitri was very sick and spent most of his time in hospital. He had obstructive sleep apnea. For 3 years Katrina did not sleep.
“Just to a break from the city” Frank convinced Katrina to go to Bimbi and stay in a cabin for a week (he is sneaky). They packed all of Dimitri’s breathing gear and off the went. On the way just in case Dimitri had an attack they stopped off at the local hospital to introduce themselves. (Katrina and the Monash Hospital staff are all on first name basis). That night after one of Franks world famous spag (spaghetti) bowls the boys went to sleep. Kat and Frank enjoyed the peace and a bottle or two of red. They fell asleep. In the middle of the night Frank and Katrina woke up in terror. Dimitri was not connected to his oxygen machine. They ran into his bedroom and he was sleeping like a baby. No obstructions, no struggling, no waking up in the middle of the night screaming and no oxygen machine. The week went by and it was the same. The child was cured. Katrina slept without the nightmare of falling asleep and losing Dimitri.
They bought the park November 2005 and loved every minute of it Frank and Katrina want to enhance the park and keep Cyril and Pat’s creation alive. Bimbi Park is going to stay a place for families and nature lovers.
At the front entrance to the park is the flagpole that used to be the Flagstaff of the Cape Otway Light station. Decommissioned because of a crack near the hinged base, Cyril bought it as scrap, put the cracked section deep into the ground and still is tall enough to fly the National and Ceremonial flags as required.
Inside the flagpole enclosure is the old Weather Station equipment from Cape Otway Meteorological Section which, together with Wilson’s Promontory, is on of the senior weather stations in Victoria.
Cape Otway Weather Stations is still permanently manned but with it now being partially automatic to record the rainfall, temperature and barometer readings, that equipment is now displayed as a reminder of recording weather in the past.
Foyer at the Theater Entrance
Showing movies as family entertainment the way they did back in the days of the 30’s, 40’s, 50,s and 60’s has been part of Bimbi Park for many years. With upgrading the amphitheater in 1999, Cyril obtained all the timber and lining material from the old Horden Vale School as it was being pulled down due to the decay and neglect.
This was where he was educated up to Grade 8 after which Horden Vale School was closed and he was sent to a Technical School for further education.
This would never have been built but for the realigning of the lighthouse Road when a new section had to be built through an area of tall young gums, these sprang up after the 1939 Black Friday fires. Cyril was permitted to remove these trees and had fun creating many weird and useful structures. Among them was a stage and screen for the Theater which never would have eventuated except for that timber. The screen is made of the flat roof from the original Laver’s Hill Consolidated School.
The telephone poles and line crossing the paddock south west of the Park is a remnant of the original telephone line that traversed the coastline of Victoria.
Originally a single wire, it’s purpose, other than communications, was to provide and emergency link for shipwreck victims who as they reached the safety of the Coast could cut the line and would be found as searchers looked for the fault. It is not known if this theory ever worked. It was upgraded early in the Second World War with three lines into Horden Vale which had new lines built along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay and Laver’s Hill. Cape Otway had a direct link to Horden Vales and Laver’s Hill all manned 24 hours. The Marriner family bought the poles after the cable was laid in the 1970’s. Cyril has retained this section of the line for aesthetic reasons.
Stone Paving at Entrance
In front of the flagpole is a section of the floor of the original dairy in the district. It was built at Glen Aire Station by local stone. It was here the workmen and women, milked the large herd of cows that supplied milk and cream for the then Cheese Factory. Large 10 pound cheeses were exported from Glen Aire and were the best cheeses in the country. The Glen Aire Station in the 1800’s extended from Johanna to Cape Otway which included the Bimbi Park Lands.
The Otway Giant
There are few remaining giant trees left in our Otway forests.
However one of the few remaining stood right where the new alignment of the Great Ocean Road was to go. So several hundred metres from Maits Rest the Otway Giant was felled to make way for “progress”.
Cyril had the whole saga filmed and recorded and is still hoping to have it transferred from Super 8 to 16mm so it can be screened in the Theater. Cyril arranged for the contractors clearing the road to make it available for a low loader to transport it to Bimbi Park.
It was jacked off the loader and lay on its side for 10 years till a “traxcavtor” lifted it on its feet.
The tree was 275 feet high, 300 years old, and growing. The top had been broken off in storms so its peak height is not known. It is quite probable that the sea could be seen from the top of this tree. Further up the road towards Binns Road junction which is the highest point on this section of the Great Ocean Road, is what was called Cape Horne, named in the early days by explorers as they could see the ocean by climbing one of the trees.