St John The Baptist Parish has been nestled in the foothills of The Dandenongs for over 100 years. Throughout our history we have endeavored to be a welcoming parish, encouraging one another through prayer, friendship and practical support, living our faith lives locally, in the wider community and the wider world.

We begin our parish history by thinking of this place before European settlers came:  Read more here about the First People of this land


From the 1850s the first Catholics in the Dandenongs were discovering how to hand on their faith in a new land. The year 1911 saw the establishment of St John the Baptist parish, Ferntree Gully. In 1925 Irish pioneer John Buckley donated six acres of land in Forest Road.  Read more here about the early days to 1936.


By 1936 the people of Ferntree Gully and the surrounding hills had endured one world war, a tourism boom in the 1920s and the effects of world-wide economic depression in the 1930s.  There were already rumours of another world war to come.  In the parish, community links were strong. The Presentation nuns took over the parish school in 1936 and in the 1940s the school bus was bringing children to school daily from as far as Gembrook and Bayswater.


Read more here about the war years and the coming of the migrants in the 1950s.


World-wide post-war renewal led to the Second Vatican Council 1963-5 and changes in parish life with Mass in English, the creation of ‘daughter parishes’ across the region and a new church building in Ferntree Gully. In 2011 parish centenary celebrations included the publication of ‘Witness to the Light’ an anthology of articles from parish magazines and diaries of the first hundred years.


Read more here, including a Timeline and lists of parish priests. For historical photos see Gallery

Parish Timeline

History in Images