When I was invited to speak to the Beaumaris Rotary Club about the activities of the Mordialloc Beaumaris Conservation League it was, in a sense, as if the group had returned home because in 1969, a portion of City of Beaumaris, from Cromer Road to Charman Road, was part of the City of Mordialloc and this environment group came into existence when, in 1969, a smooth operator was found plotting to construct a marina in Beaumaris Bay. Fortunately residents, who lived in Beaumaris at that time, decided that the red fossil cliffs and sea ledges were too important to be buried under concrete so letters were written to Sir Rupert Hamer, Member for Local Government, seeking his help, and as a result the marina didn’t eventuate.
It was then decided to form an environment group to protect the foreshore from Charman Road, Mentone to Mordialloc Creek. The first Mordialloc Beaumaris Conservation League (MBCL)president was Jack Iggulden, a feisty Beaumaris businessman, a glider pilot, an author and a dedicated environmentalist. His wife, Helen, was an efficient and supportive secretary of MBCL. The aims of the group were protection of the local environment, particularly the fragile foreshore reserve, native coastal vegetation and habitat, to preserve the natural aspects of the coastal environment and encourage the restoration of wetlands to improve the water quality entering the Bay from Mordialloc Creek.
In 1970 Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) planned to grade the badly eroding Mentone white clay cliffs. The MBCL committee would have preferred an environmentally sensitive method of preserving the cliffs but after lengthy and terse correspondence between MMBW and MBCL committee.in 1971 the steep cliffs were graded and planted with stabilising vegetation. The white cliffs may now be viewed in the National Gallery of Victoria in a painting by Tom Roberts, one of the Heidelberg school of painters who camped and painted at Mentone in 1887 with Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers and others. The white cliffs are also featured in Sandringham painter ,Clarice Beckett’s painting,’ Cliff Path 1929′ and also Mentone Cliffs (Beaumaris Landscape ) 1931. Beckett also painted waves washing over and destroying bathing boxes during the severe storm of 1934 when much of Mordialloc was flooded.