Toolangi-Castella District Community House

by Margaret O’Connell  

Strengthening our community through opportunity, diversity and connection – Vision Statement 2019–2022

In 1995, under the auspices of the Kinglake District Neighbourhood House (KDNH), a local playgroup was started in Toolangi at ‘Toocom Cottage’, adjoining the Maternal Health Centre and next to the C. J. Dennis Hall.

In 2000, with the assistance of KDNH, it was decided to make Toolangi Community House independent. Murrindindi Shire and neighbouring Neighbourhood House Networks, Goulburn North East Association of Community Centres (GNEAC) and Community Houses Association of the Outer Eastern Suburbs (CHAOS), also helped with the process. Volunteer steering committee members developed a constitution, policies and procedures, and offered activities and programs focusing on local interests to bring the community together.

By 2003 the profile of the Toolangi Community House was well established, with good governance by the volunteer Management Committee, and enthusiastic support of tutors and participants. On 3 March 2005 we became incorporated.

Immediately following the Black Saturday Fires in 2009, the Management Committee President called a meeting of Toolangi and Castella residents and facilitated their plan for short and long-term recovery. The Toolangi Castella Community House then played a vital role in assisting the bushfire Community Recovery Committee over the next few years.

Partnerships were extended to other organisations, including the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, NEXUS, Toolangi CFA, Toolangi Primary School, Anglicare, and the neighbourhood houses of Yea and Flowerdale.

The Toolangi Castella District Community House Incorporated is a not-for-profit organisation. Money for the Community House comes partly from the Department of Health and Human Services, whose funding has increased from an initial five hours to 20 hours per week, enabling the employment of two staff part time. Fundraisers such as the Rhododendron Balls have been held, and hours go into searching and applying for grants to pay for events and activities. Mostly these grants are based on matching ‘in-kind’ work contributions from volunteers. Because we want our courses to be financially accessible for the community, our course fees only raise minimal income for the House.

As an incorporated entity, the Toolangi Community House auspices and supports many local activities and events, as well as providing an incredible variety of courses and programs over the past 20 years, including: Astronomy; Biggest Morning Tea; Beading; Book club; Bike rides; Bird observing; Ballroom dancing; Belly dancing (children); Biodynamics; Bee keeping; Badminton; Barista course; Ballet (children); Bus tours; Bushfire gardening; Bone density tests; Basic computers/devices; Bush furniture; Bushfire memorial services; CJ Dennis Poetry Competition; Cooking; Creative writing; Card making; Community singing; Classical music appreciation; Camera club; Christmas carols; Community Garden; Community lunches; Community dinners; Crochet; Clothes swap; Drumming; Exercise; First Aid & CPR; Fauna sessions; Fire safety/CFA sessions; Fruit tree propagation; Garden food swap; Guitar; Goat keeping; Historical tours; Hall kitchen renovation; Healthy eating; Hearing tests; Heart checks; Irish dancing; Introduction to the internet; Jewellery making; Job applications; Kids gymnastics; Knitting group; Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; Mahjong; Mosaics; Meditation; Men’s Shed; Mental health first aid; Mini pots and gardens; Night walks; Nutrition; Native animal first aid; Night tennis social group; Organic gardening; On the couch – visits from the Library; Patchwork; Photography; Playgroup; Photobooks; Pastels; Pizzas (in the Community Garden Oven); Pottery; Puberty Blues; Pilates; Parenting sessions; Personal training; Photo competitions; Rhododendron Balls; Raising chickens; Reading food labels; Scrabble; Singing; Soap making; Scrapbooking; Soccer on the hill; Summer beach party; Small business management; Tennis Juniors coaching; Toolangi Festival; Tall Trees Trail; Tree pruning; Tai Chi; Tao of animals; Taekwondo; Toolangi Treasures Op Shop; Volleyball; Vision tests; Wine appreciation; Worm farms; Welding; Youth Group; Yoga.

Some of our events, such as the Australia Day Beach Party and Toolangi Festival, have won awards and recognition, and others, like the successful long term ‘Nifties’ exercise program for the over 50s, have provided a blueprint for organisations to adapt.

We assist the Community Garden, the Men’s Shed, and now manage the C.J. Dennis Hall. Our latest projects have included the transformation of our ‘Pop Up Op Shop’ into the permanently housed Toolangi Treasures Op Shop, and supporting the Council’s Community Planning initiatives such as the tennis court upgrade, increased and improved trails, celebrating local (including Indigenous) history, skate park, Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre activation, improving phone and internet connection, hard rubbish collection, and mountain bike trail. View our community plan at

We will continue reflecting and responding to the needs of the community and invite you to keep on supporting us. If you would like to attend a course, volunteer, use our facilities or just want information or a chat, please contact us.

We are at 1715 Healesville-Kinglake Road, Toolangi, between the C. J. Dennis Hall and the Toolangi Men’s Shed. The office is open from Monday to Wednesday during the school term. Here is how to contact us:

Kerry Starr, Community House Coordinator

PO Box 1323, Healesville, Victoria 3777

Phone: 03 5962 9060




Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes
Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes
Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes
Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes
Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes
Steve Meacher Muddy Creek East 1864 veg notes