Located in the Kurth Kiln Regional Park, just 7kms north of Gembrook town is this historically important relic.
Kurth Kiln was constructed in 1941, to the radically new design of Dr. Ernest Edgar Kurth to produce a substitute fuel for the motor industry during the WWII petrol rationing period of the 1940s.
Commissioned on 18 March 1942 it was the first charcoal kiln to operate on a continuous basis, utilising water cooling to produce 3 tons of charcoal from 21 tons of wood-billets every 24 hours. The charcoal was put over a waterwheel-driven grader, sewn into hessian bags and sold at distribution points for 6 to 10 shillings, depending on grade. The charcoal grader is one of the items waiting for restoration funding at Kurth Kiln.
A display recently commissioned for a series of donated historic Gas Producers shows visitors some of the many uses for the charcoal produced here.
Fitted with several Interpretation Boards, the Display constitutes a Heritage Walk, where visitors can learn some of the history of the units and of Producer Gas.
This sculpture has very recently been installed. It is by Viktor Kalinowski. The sculpture represents the coming together of people, who, with trust and friendship, create a viable and enduring community. Camaraderie is directly opposite the Gembrook Community Centre. Cross the road and look at the carved granite blocks and try to imagine some of the names that some of the locals have already given to this attraction!
Parks and Gardens
After visiting Everything Patchwork and Quilting you might like to stay in town for a picnic lunch or afternoon tea. Whilst there are many places in the State Parks that are nearby the following are some suggestions for spots close to town.Jack Russell Park
In Main Street and adjacent to Puffy Billy’s station, has an under cover BBQ area, some seating, a large grassed area with a gazebo and a playground.Gembrook Community Complex
On the low side of the hall is a lawn area with gazebo which would make a perfect picnic spot.
On the high side of the hall is a playground, bike park and covered area with coin BBQs. There are a couple of tables under cover. This section of the complex has toilet amenities.Gembrook Park
This large grassed area, with some playground equipment and a couple of tables is accessed through Gembrook Park . Gembrook Park is on the corner of Redwood Road and Pakenham/Gembrook Road. There are toilet facilities nearby.
Find Shiprock Falls 11kms from the Gembrook Community Complex on Gembrook/Launching Place Road. Theses are the only waterfalls within the Kurth Kiln State Park. Along the way you will pass Gilwell Park, an extensive property belonging to the Scout Association. Not far past the main entrance to Gilwell, on the corner, you will notice on your right the picturesque swimming hole…the Lochan. This spring fed dam is much loved by the scouts even though it is guaranteed to be icy cold every day of the year. On the right day, at the right time of the day some interesting photographs of reflections on the water can be taken.
The falls are just a 170metre walk from the car-park area. In September, you’ll see many native flowers along the track and generally hear but not see the little birds in the trees. The viewing platform allows for a good view of the falls as they tumble over the rock which is prevalent in that area. Along the walk you will pass an outcrop of rather large rocks…a good spot for the kids (and grown-up kids!) to do a bit of exploring. Shiprock falls can also be accessed from the picnic ground at Kurth Kiln.
Puffing Billy is recognised as a must do attraction when visiting the Dandenong Ranges. Puffing Billy travels the 24kms between Belgrave and Gembrook on a 2’6” gauge line. He is the oldest steam train in Australia running on this size gauge.
The line opened in 1900 and was a means of accessing the area between Belgrave and Gembrook. The line closed in 1953 because of a landslide and fell into disrepair. Due to the enthusiasm of many volunteer train enthusiasts the line between Belgrave and Emerald reopened in 1965. In 1975 the line was extended to Emerald Lake and this stop remains the most popular station. Here there are expansive lawn areas, bbq and picnic facilties and a beautiful lake that has a safe area for swimming. Paddle boats can be hired for a leisurely time on the water. Gembrook saw Puffing Billy arrive back in town in 1998. After alighting in Gembrook there is time to have a wander in town before taking the trip back.
During the trip you pass through forest and fern gullies, past acres of potato crops and over several trestle bridges, the longest of 91 metres and 15 spans. At every road crossing there is guaranteed to be people happy to return your friendly wave.
It is possible to do a one-way trip on Puffing Billy and to bus it back to Belgrave but please check timetables as these can vary depending on the season and the weather.
Visit www.puffingbilly.com.au for further details.
Avenue of Honour, Cenotaph, Centenary Log and Gembrook Bushland Park
Mature oak trees line the Avenue of Honour along Redwood Road. The trees were planted to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War 1. The Cenotaph situated at the end of Redwood Road bears testimony to the ultimate sacrifice given by Gembrook’s brave in all of the world’s major conflicts. A place to contemplate and to be thankful.
Within metres of the cenotaph you will see the Centenary Log 1873-1974 (8). This log was placed as part of the centenary celebrations of Gembrook town and bears testimony to the strength and determination of the pioneer hardwood millers of the district.
A treasured part of Gembrook is Gembrook Bushland Park. You will find this 28 hectares of mature mountain ash and shrubs across the road from the big log. A little creek trickles its way through the park and as you walk along the formed tracks you will think you are miles away from civilization. Little birds usually make their presence heard and you might see where the night visitors have been.