Wallcliffe Road connects Margaret River town with its closest beach, Prevelly, renowned for its beauty, beach, pumping surf breaks and famous caravan park.
The scenery is truly breathtaking as you round the bend on Wallcliffe Road and catch the first ocean views from high on the hill. It’s a view I never tire of seeing, the Rivermouth to the right with wispy shades of sand in the shallows and the vast Indian Ocean in front, at times wild with waves. To the left is an unexpected little whitewashed Greek Chapel; St John the Theologian stands proudly and serves as a reminder of how Prevelly came to be.
Let’s rewind the clock to 1941, to World War II, when English-born Australian soldier Geoffrey Edwards was captured and imprisoned during the Battle of Crete. He escaped the Gestapo and was led by a shepherd to the Preveli Monastery, a safe haven for hundreds of Australian, New Zealand and British troops who had escaped from prisoner-of-war camps and were cared for by the monks.
Forever grateful for the help he received, Geoffrey raised money for a fountain and a plaque at the monastery that was unveiled on the Battle of Crete’s 50th anniversary. His gratitude didn’t end there.
It was in the 1950s when Geoffrey moved his family to a large but barren parcel of land purchased 10km west of Margaret River. The family’s vision was simple: to build a holiday park with chalets and campsites. They named it Prevelly Park after Preveli in Crete and it continues as a popular campground today – albeit under different ownership.
Carving a settlement out of virgin bush on a small budget was a mammoth task. Geoffrey and his wife Beryl worked rain, hail and shine and built the chalets largely themselves with a little help from the local building crew. Beryl was an animal lover and would care for sick, injured or orphaned kangaroos, which became an attraction of Prevelly Park, often returning as tame friends after their release. Eventually, the Edwards’ had the land declared as a wildlife sanctuary.
The land they owned around Prevelly Park was sub-divided to help pay off their mounting debts. With their daughter Marilyn about to start high school, it was with a heavy heart that the Edwards left Prevelly for Perth nine years after first arriving.