THROUGHOUT the past century, generations of Wimmera families have marked many milestones at Zumsteins.
On Sunday, representatives of those families gathered at the popular picnic ground once again to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Horsham Historical Society president Rod Jenkinson, whose family spent 60 years of Christmases at Zumsteins from the 1920s, said the day was a wonderful success.
“It went extremely well. The weather was very favourable and everyone had a great day,” he said.
“We estimated between 300 and 400 people attended. They came from Adelaide, Melbourne and further for the weekend.”
The centenary event also marked the official reopening of the Grampians recreation area founded by Walter Zumstein in 1912.
It had been closed since 2011 because of extensive flood damage.
The event was initially planned for last year, but was postponed to allow the completion of restoration works.
Parks Victoria provided a free picnic lunch, while guest speakers discussed the site’s history.
There were also children’s games and a DVD featuring photos and home movies played on a loop in the old stone kitchen, which was built in about 1939.
Music by a Highland piper welcomed people as they arrived.
“It was reflective of the Scottish heritage of Jean, Walter’s wife,” Mr Jenkinson said.
“He married her while on sick leave in England during the First World War.
“The bagpipes were also played at Walter’s funeral, so it was a fitting touch. It sounded beautiful.”
Mr Jenkinson said a highlight was catching up with old friends and family members.
“It was quite a reunion for the families who camped there from the 1930s and 1940s onwards,” he said.
“Some of my relations I don’t think I’ve seen for about 50 years.
“I know a lot of people were keen to catch up with Marie Foley. Her family used to own one of the holiday shacks and a lot of families remember her.
“It was just a great day. It was just like old times – there were even a few kids paddling in the creek.”
Mr Jenkinson said a number of people brought photographs of their time at Zumsteins.
They were scanned to be used in a book he was compiling.
“We’ve taken a few expressions of interest for the book,” he said.
“We’re hoping to have it finished by Christmas.”
He said anyone with stories to share could email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Jenkinson paid tribute to Parks Victoria for restoring the site.
“Parks Victoria under the guidance of Dave Roberts did a great job getting it ready in time,” he said.
Parks Victoria worked closely with the Grampians National Park Advisory Group, the Zumsteins Flood Recovery Community Working Group, designers and engineers to redevelop the area.
The area has been cleaned up and redesigned, with new bridges, barbecues, parking and landscaped areas.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy the rebuilt walking track along Mackenzie Creek, from Zumsteins to Mackenzie Falls.
Mr Jenkinson said Parks Victoria planted international trees to reflect the site’s heritage.
“That’s what made Zumsteins special – its beautiful autumn colours,” he said.
He said he expected Zumsteins to once again become a popular recreation spot.
“I think it’s wonderful people will be able to enjoy Zumsteins once more,” he said.
“If people haven’t been there it’s certainly worthwhile visiting.”
The tracks and changes will improve the attraction of this area and hopefully restore it as an enjoyable destination for picnics, hiking and cycling.