Portsea – Post-Officer Cadet School

School of Army Health

In 1984 the Minister for Defence announced that the School of Army Health would vacate Norris Barracks at Healesville and re-locate to Portsea upon the Officer Cadet School’s functions being transferred to the Royal Military College [RMC] at Duntroon in the ACT. These moves were a direct result of the newly established Australian Defence Force Academy [ADFA] taking on the role of tertiary education that was previously the role of RMC for Army cadets. Thus, the RMC/OCS Courses were integrated to produce the Army’s General Service Officers. RMC also melded into its courses the army training for ADFA cadets. The responsibility for coordinating this RMC training course was vested in Lieutenant Colonel John Salter, MC, an OCS Graduate from the Class of December 1966.

The planning for the move from Healesville to Portsea was delegated to the Commanding Officer/Chief Instructor [CO/CI], Lieutenant Colonel PAR [Phillip] Hills, an OCS Graduate of December 1965. Unfortunately, Phil didn’t move to Portsea on the changeover, having handed over to his successor before it occurred. It would have been a nice touch for an OCS Graduate to be in charge at Portsea.

The School operated at Portsea from early 1986 until it was re-located to Bonegilla in the Albury Wodonga area. It, and therefore the Army, closed the gates on this prime training location in December 1997. The Project Officer for the move from Healesville to Portsea, Captain Barry Morgan, co-incidentally was the final CO/CI at Portsea before the move to Bonegilla.

Post Army

Kosovo Refugees: In 1998/99 the buildings were used to house several hundred Kosovo refugees when granted entry on humanitarian grounds. This was a direct result of the Balkan conflict on the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Current Situation: In June 2004 the management of the area was vested in the Point Nepean Community Trust, until its transfer to the State of Victoria for its inclusion in an integrated National Park for Point Nepean. Parks Victoria assumed the responsibility for its future planning and management in 2009.