In April we visited Lake Tyers, a 4.5 hours’ pleasant drive from Melbourne which is located just past Lakes Entrance in East Gipsland. The pictures above are of nearby Nowa Nowa, one of the lakes, the homestead and 90 mile beach.
East Gipsland boasts 11 world class Coastal Parks and Reserves with 400 square kilometers of lakes to make it Australia’s largest inland waterway. Housing a wide variety of wildlife there are 200 species of birds and the marine life includes dolphins and pelicans. The Ninety Mile Beach is one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in the world, which faces Bass Strait and backs on to the extensive network of Lakes.
Lake Tyers Beach, is on the south-eastern shore of Lake Tyers, close to where the Lakes outlet enters the sea. Lake Tyers is a river valley separated from the ocean by only a thin strip of sand dunes, whose outlet remains closed by a wide sandbar, except for occasional overflows after very heavy rain.
Although we did not participate in the walks organized by our friends from the bush walking club there was evening meals and coffee stops which provided many opportunities to share experiences about the day’s events.
One member from the group who went for a morning brisk walk along the beach encountered a pair of emus who maintained a steady gait ahead at a respectable distance until finally disappearing into the sand dunes. On another occasion a member’s nephew, whose interest is conservation, gave a fascinating account of local bird life. He shared his local experience from his app as we listened to about 50 different species of bird calls he had encountered, identifying reasons and pitches applicable to each of the species. The following day we shared in a short walk with him as he identified the many diverse plants along the way.
The site was first visited by Europeans in 1846, named after C.J. Tyers who was then Commissioner of Crown Lands.
In 1861 an Aboriginal mission station was set up on the northern shore to farm crops, fruit trees and sheep. These agricultural pursuits were complemented by traditional hunting and fishing.
Closure of the mission station was proposed in the 1960s and many Aborigines moved to surrounding towns, particularly Nowa Nowa.
However, in 1970 the station was transferred to Aboriginal ownership. Although the school closed, other community services have been established and farming activities have been successfully extended.
Under the Native Title Settlement Act 2010, the first signed agreement was made with the Traditional Owners, the Gunaikurnai nations. The agreement was between the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), representing Traditional Owners whereby the Gunaikurnai people undertake joint management of 10 parks and reserves in consultation with Parks Victoria. There are more than 600 Traditional Owners, all of whom have proven their ancestral links to one of 25 Apical Ancestors registered in the Native Title Consent Determination. Pictures below are of the settlement to day.
More local history
A school and church was constructed in1878. In 1886, a Hotel and grand guest house to seat 120 guests was established. Visitors enjoyed established forest walks, fishing and lake boating trips, Accessibility was enhanced once a coach service began from nearby Orbost.
The principal industry from the 1890s, was timber which was transported to Lakes Entrance by tramway. The logs were then floated across the lake to various Sawmills dotted around the lake until the late 1940s. Production gradually fell way until in 1972, 5300 hectares of remaining forest surrounding the lake were proclaimed a Forest Park.
The first industry was a glass factory established in 1908, using local quartz sand and manufacturing cups, bottles and ornaments before the contracts were lost and the factory was abandoned in 1912. Later a school and another guest house was constructed.
A small number of housing blocks and estates with subdivisions ensued so that the local community and holiday homes were soon sufficient to support a general store. By the early 1960s boat ramps and jetties were constructed to cater for the growing number of holiday makers.
Today there are just two caravan parks, a general store, a hotel-motel and some holiday accommodation. The school had only 26 pupils in 2014. Lake Tyers Beach might be aptly described as still a small very quiet holiday location with a number of permanent residents.
What attracts most visitors are the fishing and boating on Lake Tyers. There is also the opportunity to hire boats or go on scenic lake cruises.
One day we met up at Nowa Nowa, which is about 20 km north of Lakes Entrance and whose early pioneers harvested timber which was shipped to local sawmills. Nowa Nowa served for a couple of years from the 1890s as a location for the Tambo shire council. However settlement did not eventuate until the 1900s, with a school and railway which breathed new life to the fledgling community, followed by a road and bridges. By the1930s there were six sawmills and a local football team, a rifle club, a Country Women's Association branch, a thriving community of stores and a hotel.
Today there are about 140 residents in this township.
We enjoyed the township and lake and the Nowa Nowa gallery where there was displayed the root system made into a sculpture of Messmate – Eucalyptus obliqua. The tree grew in one metre of sandy loam on top on a limestone shelf. Where the root failed to penetrate the limestone, the roots grew laterally. Its age was estimated to be up to 300 years old and width of the root system was 7 metres.
Local historical site
Another excursion was to Nyermilang Heritage Park which was once a holiday retreat for a wealthy Melbournian, but now is in public ownership. The gracious old homestead of the 1920’s era is open to the public surrounded by an extensive garden and 5 walking tracks.