Our History

Saltbush, Balnarring Beach was started by the Presentation Sisters of Victoria in 1989 to “provide a place of welcome, comfort and rest to all who call upon it and a retreat within which they might regenerate their spirits”. (Presentation Family Centre ‘Rules’)

Through their work as teachers in Victorian communities, the Presentation Sisters observed the challenges faced by families experiencing poverty, physical and mental ill health, grief and loss, and family violence.  They decided to serve families in a new way, and in 1989, following the sale of O’Neill College in Elsternwick, purchased a farm property in Balnarring Beach with six house blocks.

The Sisters oversaw the construction of six houses, play facilities, and a multipurpose centre and Saltbush, Balnarring Beach (then called Presentation Family Holidays) at Balnarring Beach opened for the summer of 1989/90.

Since then, Saltbush, Balnarring Beach has provided accommodation and respite for over 30,000 people experiencing hardship.  The Sisters, staff and volunteers provided a service and space that welcomes people, particularly families and carers who live with additional challenges to have relaxing and restorative holidays.

In 2017, recognising that their congregation was aging, and with the intention to ensure Saltbush, Balnarring Beach flourished into the future, the Presentation Sisters of Victoria entrusted the centre to Kildare Ministries.   Kildare Ministries was established in 2014 to provide stewardship to ten schools (nationally) and three community works (in Victoria) formerly governed by the Brigidine Congregation and the Presentation Congregation of Victoria.   Kildare Ministries is committed to the vision and purpose established by the Presentation Sisters of Victoria – to provide rest, recreation, encouragement, and support to families in need.

Long known as the Presentation Family Centre, a new name, Saltbush, Balnarring Beach was introduced in 2022.

Saltbush, Balnarring Beach was chosen because it evokes proximity to beach and bush and reflects the importance of the local Mornington Peninsula environment where Saltbush is abundant. Guests frequently refer to the natural, local environment when describing their experiences here, using words such as “peaceful, safe, rest, nature, bush, quiet, beach”. Saltbush, Balnarring Beach captures the feeling of a natural place, embedded in its environment, and open to welcoming guests for a range of experiences including independent holidays, school holiday programs, and retreats.

Under the guidance of a diverse, volunteer board, Saltbush, Balnarring Beach continues the vision, established by the Presentation Sisters in 1989. 

A Word About Our ‘Nano’ Space

Nano (Honora) Nagle is the founder of the Presentation Sisters.  Nano was born in 1728 and lived a privileged life in Cork, Ireland.  At a young age, she became aware that many people lived in poverty, and believed that education was the key to alleviating poverty.  In 1775 she founded the Congregation of the Presentation Sisters and began to open schools to serve the people of Ireland who did not have access to education.  Our multipurpose space is named after Nano Nagle, and one of the many ways in which we acknowledge and remain connected to the legacy of the Presentation Sisters.