History of the Points Arboretum
The Points Reserve came into being in August 1970, due largely to the efforts of Mr. Peter Francis.
Until 1966, the site was an abandoned quarry and rubbish dump under the management of the Wannon Shire - with only one surviving tree.
Peter Francis grew up at Konongwootong and worked as a shearer, timber-cutter and bridge builder. Peter's health was not good, and he retired to Coleraine.
Peter loved the area known as The Points and believed it should be left ungrazed, to permit regeneration and replanting of local trees and plants.
In July 1970, and with support from other ratepayers, Peter arranged a letter to the Shire of Wannon requesting that grazing cease and that the area be set aside as a Reserve. Following an inspection of the area by councillors, it was decided - by the casting vote of the Shire President - that the Points area be fenced and become a reserve for trees and plants.
Work on "The Points", as it is affectionately known, was originally commenced by the then Shire Engineer, Mr Joe Wright, and Mrs Mary Hope. Mr Peter Francis, honorary President of the Wannon Conservation Society, carried on with the transformation. Peter and volunteers in this society obtained seeds and plants from all over Australia and with great energy and enthusiasm inspired others to help.
Peter then started planting, spending almost every day "up on the hill". Peter was particularly interested in the eucalypts. He collected seeds, grew trees and encouraged others to do so.
The Wannon Conservation Society was the Committee of Management for The Points from 1972 to 1980. During this time of establishment, money for seeds and plants, assistance with plantings and all correspondence was handled by the society.
The Points was officially opened by Professor Garrick Chambers in October 1980, and named The Peter Francis Points Reserve. The former bare hilly cow paddock was beginning to be transformed to the beautiful treed Reserve we have today.
Fire destroyed almost half of The Points’ plantings in February 1983. Typical of Peter, he saw to it that damage was immediately repaired, and the plants replaced in the following autumn. In 1985 the SEC compensated the committee for the fire damage.
By 1983-84 Peter’s vision for the long-term development of The Points into a National Arboretum saw responsibility for the arboretum handed to the Department of Conservation Forests and Lands. A botanical survey and index of all the plants at The Points was performed by renowned botanist, Mr Neville Bonney, allowing The Points to reach the status of a recognised arboretum.
Peter Francis was awarded the BEM for his remarkable achievement. He died on 12th July 1989 at the age of 81 and was active at The Points until his death. One of Peter's last wishes was that a shade house be erected to include a selection of rainforest plants. The shadehouse operated until 2012, when water shortages made it impractical to maintain.