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Lake Tyers, VIC

Historic lake on the East Gippsland coast

Lake Tyers was formed after the last ice age when the sea level rose. Today it is a quiet holiday destination and Aboriginal settlement on the East Gippsland coast which is still densely covered with red ironbark, Gippsland grey box, mountain grey gum and blue gum. There are three distinct notions of Lake Tyers:  the lake itself; the township which is known as Lake Tyers Beach and the Aboriginal Trust land known as Bung Yardna which is not accessible to the general public.

Location

Lake Tyers is located 327 km east of Melbourne via the Princes Highway and 11 km north-east of Lakes Entrance.

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Origin of Name

Lake Tyers was named after Charles Tyers, a public servant who was appointed as the first Commissioner for Crown Lands in Victoria in 1843.

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Things to See and Do

Lake Tyers State Park
Lake Tyers State Park covers 7,100 hectares and covers an area from Lake Tyers Beach to Mount Nowa Nowa. It is ideal for bushwalking, fishing and enjoying drives where it is possible to see lyrebirds, black-faced flycatchers, brown warblers, wonga pigeons, the rufous fantail, echidnas, goannas, wombats, wallabies and kangaroos. There are a number of entry points to the park but  Burnt Bridge Road off the Princes Highway, north of Lakes Entrance and south of Nowa Nowa and Lake Tyers Beach Road are the most popular. Blackfellows Arm is located along a track which leads off Burnt Bridge Road. Both Burnt Bridge Picnic Area and the Cherry Tree Picnic Area are located on the lake's edge and have barbecues, picnic facilities and walking tracks through the forest. There is a downloadable brochure which can be accessed at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/315768/Lake-Tyers-SP-VG-Jan-2014.pdf. It outlines three walks in the park: the Tooloo Arm Walk (2 km, 45 min return); Lonely Bay Walk (4 km, 90 mins) and the Marsdenia Rainforest Walk - a 25 minute circuit through Warm Temperate Rainforest.

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Other Attractions in the Area

East Gippsland Rail Track
The East Gippsland Rail Track runs from Orbost via Nowa Nowa to Bairnsdale. It is 94 km and at various points is coarse gravel, fine gravel and sealed. The final section from Nowa Nowa to Orbost is 38 km. Unfortunately, although there is a spectacular viaduct over the Snowy River floodplain, it is not open to cyclists. "The trail ends at Burns Road and there is a shared pathway which follows minor roads, crosses the Snowy River and leads visitors to Forest Park and the centre of Orbost via the highway bridge." Check out https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=143 for details. There is a downloadable map at http://www.eastgippslandrailtrail.com.au/pdf/Rail%20Trail%20MAP%202009.pdf.

The Bataluk Cultural Trail - Burnt Bridge Reserve
The Bataluk Cultural Trail runs from Sale in the east through Bairnsdale, Metung, Lake Tyers, Buchan and Orbost to Cape Conran in the west. It follows the trails and trading routes of the local Aborigines and focuses on elements of Kurnai history and culture, including Dreamtime stories, traditional lifestyles, the Den of Nargun, Legend Rock, Aboriginal Keeping Places, archaeological sites such as canoe trees and shell middens, cultural centres of the region, and aspects of European invasion, colonial settlement and present-day existence. The Bataluk Cultural Trail website (http://www.batalukculturaltrail.com.au/burnt_bridge.php) explains how to access Burnt Bridge Reserve: "Located down a signposted turn-off from the Princes Highway between Lakes Entrance and Nowa Nowa, the Reserve is situated adjacent to land belonging to Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust. A display centre on site provides information about Lake Tyers." It is an excellent opportunity to explore a range of plants and animals which make the area a rare example of a bush pantry: "The local plants ... were used for food and medicines and to produce woven baskets and nets and in the manufacture of tools and weapons. The underground tubers of Water Ribbons (Triglochin procera) are still a popular food in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) flowers were soaked in wooden bowls to make a sweet drink. The young leaves of Pigface (Carpobrotus spp.) were eaten raw or sometimes cooked with meat. The red fruits were also eaten. The hard wood of the wattle Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), was prized for spear throwers and shields. Its bark was heated and soaked in water for bathing rheumatic joints. The strong inner most fibres of the bark were woven into string for fishing lines. A hard waterproof resin can be collected from the base of Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea spp.) without damaging the plant. Softened by heating, it was used to fasten axe heads and spear points and for many other purposes." It is also worth noting that this area was the first successful Aboriginal Land Rights claim in Australia.

Stony Creek Trestle Bridge
Located 38.5 km west of Orbost (2.2 km from Nowa Nowa), off the Princes Highway (follow the signs for 3 km on a gravel road), this remarkable structure was once part of the Bairnsdale to Orbost railway line. It is 276 metres long and 19 metres high and was completed 1900. Although it is part of the East Gippsland Rail Track it is not possible to cycle over the bridge. It can be admired from the car park which has a fascinating sign which records that when the rail line was completed: "Pioneers would come to Bairnsdale on market day and leave groceries and bread, meat, tools and newspaper orders with the local traders to be sent out to Hillside, Lindenow or Fernbank rail sidings. Later this service was extended onto the Orbost line, Bairnsdale soon became recognised as the service centre for a East Gippsland. Trains brought new markets to Bairnsdale. Special iced vans built by Vic Rail to transport our butter to Melbourne. Later fish from Lakes Entrance was packed in ice and sent to the fish market. New dairy farms were developed further out in the countryside because now the farmers could take their milk or cream to the nearest siding and have it sent to Bairnsdale. On the rich river flats market gardeners also used the services provided by the railways. For the first time they could grow peas, beans and other commercial perishable crops." The bridge is made mainly from red ironbark and grey box.

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History

* The original Aboriginal inhabitants, the Kurnai people of the area, called Lake Tyers, Bung Yarnda - Big Waters.

* Around 10,000 years ago the lake was formed as waters rose after the last ice age.

* It was estimated there were 2,000 Kunai people living in the area in 1838. Twenty years later this had dropped to 80.

* In 1843 Lake Tyers was named after Charles Tyers, a public servant who was appointed as the first commissioner for crown lands in Victoria.

* In 1861 John Bulmer and his wife formed a Aboriginal mission on the eastern side of the Nowa Nowa arm of the lake.

* In 1878 a timber church was built at the Nowa Nowa mission.

* The mission continued to operate until it reverted to the government in 1908 after a period of control by the Church of England.

* In 1908-1909 the Glass Factory was established to manufacture glass telegraph insulators.

* On 24 July, 1971, as a result of the Aboriginal Lands Act, 1600 hectares on the eastern side of Lake Tyers was, for the first time in Australian history, returned with unconditional freehold title to the Aborigines living on the property.

* Today an Aboriginal Co-operative sells artefacts to visitors.

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Visitor Information

The nearest Visitor Information is the Lakes & Wilderness Tourism Centre, cnr Esplanade and Marine Parade, Lakes Entrance, (03) 5155 1966.

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Useful Websites

There is a local website with lots of information about fishing, tides, weather and activities in the area. Check out http://www.laketyersbeach.net.au.

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  • Thank you for your information. May I ask you for any information about St Theresa Church in Nowa Nowa?
    Thank you

    Can anyone help with this enquiry?

    Fr.Sam Muscat