The community group bringing light to Kensington Station garden

The community group bringing light to Kensington Station garden

Kerrie Gilbert has lived in Kensington for 39 years. She loves its proximity to Melbourne’s shops, cafes, and facilities – and easy access to the city via train.

However, more than 10 years ago Kerrie grew tired of the bland gardens lining Kensington Station near her home and was surprised to learn that the area was not managed by Metro Trains.

Keen to make a difference, she founded the Kensington Stationeers in January 2013, with a broad aim to “beautify the gardens and to give the daily commuters an attractive and safe place to catch the train”.

They are run entirely by community volunteers and rely largely on grants for funding including from Keep Victoria Beautiful, Metro, and the City of Melbourne.

When the working bees first began, Kerrie said they had a team of about 30 volunteers who contributed a great deal to improving the gardens, but they now have a core group of about eight to 10 regulars.

Kerrie, who is the group’s team leader, said the station gardens had “improved dramatically” from the initial overgrown weeds, rubbish and gravel to all gardens being planted with natives and colourful flowering plants, providing a pleasant environment for all commuters.

There’s also a succulent garden at the end of platform one (Bellair St), which was established as a memorial for Rob Karkut who was one of the founding Stationeers.

A memorable achievement was the group’s successful campaign to reopen the Kensington Station waiting rooms in 2019, thanks to the “considerable effort” of Stationeer Mary McCartin.

“After two years of lobbying the government via our local MP and alerting community groups, the rooms were repaired and reopened,” Kerrie said.

The waiting rooms now have displays of local kids’ art and community event advertisements. Mary also has plans to display local station history, including quaint station anecdotes and a collage of local canine identities because “Kensington has a huge number of dogs!”

 

Kerrie Gilbert gets to action with other volunteers of maintaining the Kensington station’s garden during a working bee. Photo: Hanna Komissarova.

 

Another highlight of the group’s work is the “fairy garden” located on the Bellair St side of the station. This was an initiative of Michelle Twyford who has decorated the garden with beautiful hand-made displays for Easter, Christmas and Halloween.

Sadly, one obstacle the group has faced is people committing acts of vandalism and graffiti with the fairy garden having recently been targeted.

“This is always so disappointing when this happens as the fairy garden is primarily for the children in the community, and many parents bring their children down to see the fairy garden especially at night when the lights are on,” Kerrie said.

But overall, Kerrie said that her involvement had been a positive experience and urged any Kensington residents to consider offering a helping hand.

“Being part of the group is a rewarding experience as we get to meet other local people who enjoy engaging in activities that benefit our community. We generally meet once a month on a Sunday morning for two hours,” she said.

No gardening experience is needed and “there is plenty of laughter and chit-chat and we always conclude the morning with a cuppa at one of the local cafes”.

Anyone interested in joining the Kensington Stationeers can email Kerrie at [email protected] 

If readers have any stories, photos, snippets regarding the Kensington Station email [email protected] •

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