Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nyerimilang Park & Homestead

Nyerimilang Homestead is a 178-ha property built in 1892 on a cliff top above the Gippsland Lakes, 10 km northwest of Lakes Entrance. Semi-formal gardens and lawns surround the homestead, which contain a collection of exotic and native species. Majestic Gippsland Blue Gums and Coast Grey Box on the cliff tops contrast with marshland in the valley of Maringa Creek. Nyerimilang attracts many species of birds including honeyeaters, black swans, pelicans and birds of prey.

Farm Dam 06

The area was occupied for thousands of years exclusively by the Gunai or Kurnai people and known to them as "Nyerimilang" or the "chain of lakes". It was accessible only from the water until the 1920s. In 1884, the land was acquired by Alexander Murray who owned the Pier Hotel at Paynesville, which he advertised as "the finest and most centrally situated hotel on the lakes".

Farm Dam 01

Murray saw a commercial opportunity in the Government's plans to complete the artificial entrance to the Gippsland Lakes. Vast quantities of timber would be required for the project, so Murray set up a mill at Metung in 1884 and acquired the land at Nyerimilang for its trees. The steep cliffs along the shoreline were no obstacle to transporting the timber out of the forest. Tree trunks would be dragged to the cliff top by bullocks and slid down bark-lined chutes to the beach below, where they were loaded onto steamers and taken to Metung.

Nyerimilang Homestead 03

In 1891, Murray swapped his 50-acre block of land, with its 8-roomed house and 2 small cottages, for a block on Cunninghame Arm, owned by Frank Stuart, a prominent Melbourne businessman and politician. Stuart transformed Nyerimilang from a commercial resource to an idyllic holiday retreat. Born in NSW in 1844, Frank came to Melbourne at the age of 22 and worked in the softgoods trade for several years. He founded two clothing companies that made hats and waterproof clothing. In 1889, he was elected MLA for East Melbourne and served as a minister in the Munro Government, a post he resigned in 1891 - the year he acquired Nyerimilang.

Nyerimilang Homestead 02

Frank, his wife Matilda and their children adored the secluded and comfortable timber house with its bush setting and glorious views. They acquired a further 6 blocks of adjoining land and built a 6-hole golf course overlooking the lakes. Every summer, they and their many house guests swam, sailed, rode, hunted and cooked chops on the open fireplace by the jetty.

Gippsland Lakes B

After Frank's death in 1910, the extended Stuart family continued to spend holidays at the lakes. His son Frank Stuart Junior inherited Nyerimilang after his mother died in the 1920s. He made extensive additions and alterations to the homestead in 1928, developed the surrounding gardens and lived there in style, complete with housemaids and gardener. When Frank Stuart Jnr died in 1936, his widow Eleanor gave the property to the Anglican Diocese of Gippsland for use as a Boys Training Farm.

Parrot

William Buckland, known as the "quiet millionaire", bought the property from the church in 1940 and used it as a holiday house and farm until 1965. It changed hands two more times before Marion Le Cheminant persuaded the then Premier, Sir Rupert Hamer, to buy Nyerimilang in 1976 to preserve it for conservation, education and recreation purposes for the people of Victoria.

Track 01

Nyerimilang is managed by Parks Victoria with the support of an impressive Friends Group, many of whom give hours of their time every week to run the gatehouse shop and excellent reference library. Together with the Society for Growing Australian Plants, they have a working-bee once a month in the gardens. The house and cultivated gardens, including Eleanor Stuart's beloved English roses, reflect more than 100 years of social activity, while the 178 hectares of property encompass a range of native vegetation.

A & R Norcott Pavilion

Highlights of the park include the recently completed East Gippsland Botanic Gardens with its pools and waterfalls and the Whistling Kite Track, which winds its way through a patch of warm temperate rainforest, showing what the vegetation of Nyerimilang was like before Alexander Murray's time. Scenic walks meander along bush and farm tracks, past Kurrajong trees and wetland areas.

Track 02

The park is open daily from 8:30am until sunset and the homestead itself is usually open from 10:30am to 3:00pm on weekends and 9:30am to 4:00pm during weekdays. A display featuring the history of Nyerimilang and the natural resources and history of the Gippsland Lakes is located inside the homestead. A collection of reference material for further study is available in the homestead library which is usually open every Wednesday.

Ref: 1, 2

Metung

Metung is a small town/village in East Gippsland, 314 km east of Melbourne and between the larger towns of Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. Many of its 1000 permanent residents commute to work at Bairnsdale or Lakes Entrance.

Bancroft Bay A

Metung is on a narrow peninsula of land separating Lake King and Bancroft Bay on the Gippsland Lakes. Surrounded on three sides by water, the town is well serviced by a number of marinas and jetties, with several cruise operators catering for visitors.

Metung Marina & Jetty 08

The Aboriginal Gunai or Kurnai people who are the original inhabitants of the area told a story about an unusual group of rocks now found alongside the boardwalk in the Metung Marina on Bancroft Bay. This legend goes that some fishermen made a good catch and ate the fish around their campfire. However, the fishermen did not share their catch with their dogs despite having more than enough to eat. As a punishment, the women, who were guardians of social law, turned the greedy men to stone.

Legend Rock 02
Legend Rock

There were originally three rocks found at this location that related to the legend but two of them were destroyed during road works. The remaining "Legend Rock" is now protected.

Bancroft Bay 03
Metung Road along the Bancroft Bay

Metung is a popular holiday spot. The main activities are boating, cruising and fishing. It is not uncommon to observe a pod of dolphins feeding in the Bay or nearby channels.

Metung Marina 08
Metung Boardwalk

Metung is also known for its scenic walks. The newly-added Metung Boardwalk extends from the village centre to Chinaman's Creek along the edge of Bancroft Bay. The walk takes 20-30 minutes and this is a delightful way to stroll where you can view the boats in the Metung marina, the "Legend Rock" or people fishing.

Metung Marina A
Metung Marina

Safe swimming is available at Shaving Point and near the jetty along Metung's western coast, with a number of scenic waterfront walking tracks.

Jetties A

The town centre features a general store, a number of restaurants and cafes and several speciality shops.

Metung Hotel A
Metung Hotel

The Metung Hotel, which dates back to 1873, is situated within the town's commercial centre and has direct water frontage onto Bancroft Bay and the adjoining wharf. Pelican feeding takes place daily at noon in front of the Hotel.

Metung Hotel B
Lawn of Metung Hotel and the adjoining Wharf

The Village Green in the centre of the Metung Village is the venue for the famous Metung Farmers Market held on the second Saturday of each month from 8.30am to 12.30pm which offers an eclectic array of local produce and goods.

Jetties B
Wharf

Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lake Tyers

About 10 km east of Lakes Entrance are the lake, township and 5300-hectare forest park of Lake Tyers, all named after Charles Tyers, the first commissioner for crown lands in Victoria in 1843. Lake Tyers could refer to the lake itself, the township known as Lake Tyers Beach or an area known as Bung Yarnda by the Aboriginal Gunai people of East Gippsland.

Lake Tyers Beach G

According to Gunai legend, Narkabungdha, the sea, was tired from playing with fish, rushing over rocks and rolling backwards and forwards on the sand. He searched the coast for somewhere to rest. At last he found a quiet place with tall gum trees for shade and soft earth to lie on. Narkabungdha lay down to sleep. He wriggled down into the soft sand, turning his body this way and that until he was comfortable. This place became Bung Yarnda or Big Waters, a place where Narkabungdha still rests among the trees.

Lake Tyers Beach 18

The scientific explanation for the formation of the lake is compatible with the story of Narkabungdha, but less colourful. According to geologists, Lake Tyers is a buried river created in the last Ice Age about 10000 years ago. As ice caps and glaciers melted and flowed to the sea, the river disappeared under the rising water and a lake was created.

Lake Tyers Beach B

Gradually great sand dunes formed, cutting the lake off from the sea. The edges of the newly-formed lake followed the curves of the hillsides, creating wavy fingers of land that protruded into the water. The largest protrusion is the peninsula that forms the Aboriginal reserve in the heart of the Lake Tyers Forest Park. Striking views of the partially-cleared peninsula and of its historic buildings clustered around the pretty 1878 timber church, can be glimpsed from the shore of the lake in some parts, and of course from the water.

Lake Tyers Beach D

Surrounded by forest, Lake Tyers is one of the most picturesque of the Gippsland Lakes. Covering an area of about 16 square kilometres, it is the smallest lake and is not connected to any other lake or river.

Lake Tyers Beach 34

Lake Tyers is periodically closed to the sea by a sand bar which was once used as a crossing for stage coaches on the Lakes Entrance to Orbost run. Lake Tyers naturally opened to the sea in June 1998, with the estuary closing again by January 1999. It opened up again on 26 June 2007 after 9 years and stayed open for 6 months. The entrance was artificially opened in 2002 when rising waters threatened nearby infrastructure and property but closed naturally in January 2003.

Beacon Reserve 04
Beacons Reserve

Lake Tyers offers some of the best fishing in the region, mostly bream, luderick, flathead and garfish. The two main arms, Toorloo and Nowa Nowa, provide the most productive fishing spots. Small boats can be launched from Nowa Nowa and full boat-launching facilities are available at the Lake Tyers township.

There are various walking tracks including cliff top walks with vantage points for whale or seal watching during winter in June-July. Here is a map and details of the various walks.

Red Bluff A
Red Bluff

To go to Lake Tyers Beach, drive northeast out of Lakes Entrance on the Princes Highway. Large signs direct you to turn right into Lake Tyers Beach. After turning right, follow the main road and you will come to a sign for Red Bluff. Red Bluff/Shelly Beach (GPS -37.865952, 148.064652) is a stretch of ocean beach located beneath a rocky headland within walking distance of the lake's sea entrance. This is the most renowned surfing spot in the region due to the off-shore reef building up the swell. This beach has no life saving patrols and is a dangerous beach so be aware.

Red Bluff 03
Surfing at Red Bluff

Continue to the end of the main road and you arrive at the car park (GPS -37.857143, 148.085966) and Lake Tyers Waterwheel Tavern, the only eating place in the township. The lake and beach is accessed from here. Unlike Red Bluff, Lake Tyers is sheltered by sand dunes so is ideal for kids and adults alike. Its shallow warm waters give hours of joy for the kids.

Waterwheel Beach Tavern
Lake Tyers Waterwheel Tavern

Another recreational area is the 7100-hectare Lake Tyers State Park which extends from Lake Tyers Beach to Mount Nowa Nowa. Lake Tyers offers a number of areas for picnics, beautiful bush walks, forest drives, fishing and bush camping.

Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cape Conran

Cape Conran Coastal Park is a coastal reserve located near Marlo in East Gippsland, 420 km east of Melbourne. It extends from west of Cape Conran and all along the coast to the neighbouring fishing village of Bemm River. The 11,700 hectare area was declared a coastal park under the National Parks Act in 1997.

Salmon Rocks B
Salmon Rocks Lookout

Much of the area is covered by heathland and banksia woodlands which attracts nectar-feeding birds. Dolphins and whales (depending on the time of year) may be spotted off the coast. The abundant bird life includes White-bellied Sea Eagles and the Eastern Ground Parrot.

Salmon Rocks D5-9
Salmon Rocks

The Park features pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, walking tracks and good fishing spots. The area is used for a number of water-based activities including boating, fishing, swimming, diving and rock pooling. Short walks within the park include the Heathland Walk, Cape Conran Nature Trail, East Cape Boardwalk,Yeerung River Estuary View and Gorge trails. Day walk destinations include Dock Inlet and Pearl Point.

Salmon Rocks G
Salmon Rocks Beach

There is a mixture of rocky and sandy beaches at the actual cape. The West Cape offers scenic views at the Salmon Rocks lookout (GPS -37.809241,148.727067), which is part of the Batuluk Cultural Trail and has information on Indigenous midden sites.

East Cape C
East Cape Beach

The East Cape is a good spot for a picnic, with gas barbecues and picnic tables. There are a number of walks from the Day Visitor Area (GPS -37.792151, 148.763065). The scenic 0.6 km, 1-1.5 hours return coastal East Cape Boardwalk was a joint project of the then National Parks Service and the Moogji Aboriginal Council in Orbost. The boardwalk rounds the East Cape to Cowrie Bay.

East Cape 08
East Cape Boardwalk

Along the way,interpretive signs give visitors a glimpse of the uses Indigenous people made of the many resources around the Cape. The boardwalk joins the Nature Trail (1.5 km, 1.5-2 hours return via boardwalk) and a complete loop can be made back to the East Cape Day Visitor Area, or continue on to the West Cape and Salmon Rocks Beach.

Yeerung River B
Yeerung River

The Yeerung River Road links the East Cape with the Yeerung River mouth where there are picnic facilities, good fishing spots, and a walking trail to the Yeerung Gorge (GPS -37.760100, 148.787400). I was bought by Park Victoria's description of Yeerung Gorge as a "hidden gem". But I regretted the decision of visiting this place. Your car will need to travel perhaps 10 km on a one-lane wide, unsealed road full of pebbles. This means a speed of 20-30 km/h for a sedan car if you don't want a bumpy ride or getting hit by flying stones. The walk path to the Gorge is alright in the initial stage but becomes a very steep decline when I begin to hear the flow of river water. At that point, I did not feel safe enough to proceed further in this isolated jungle and decided to make a return trip to the car.


Ref: 1, 2, 3

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marlo where the Snowy meets the Sea

Marlo is a tranquil seaside resort and fishing town in East Gippsland at the mouth of the Snowy River before the river flows into the Southern Ocean. It is 15 km south of Orbost and 396 km east of Melbourne. To get to Marlo from Orbost, drive along Marlo Road which follows closely most of the Snowy River's final journey through grazing land and pockets of rainforest to the open sea. Various picnic spots and river viewing areas can be found along this route.

Paddle Steamer Curlip 03
Snowy River

Just before entering Marlo, there is a sign to the Paddle Steamer (PS) Curlip II (a replica of the original) that now cruises on the Snowy River and its tributary, the Brodribb River. Marlo was once a very busy port from the 1850s to the 1890s. Goods needed by the early settlers were shipped direct from Melbourne to the mouth of the Snowy River at Marlo. At the Marlo Wharf, goods were offloaded onto barges and towed by paddle steamers to Orbost. In 1890, PS Curlip was launched. It was built by Sam Richardson and his sons at their sawmill in Tabbara, a pioneering settlement on the Brodribb River. The name "Curlip" is derived from the indigenous name for the area where Tabbara is located.

Paddle Steamer Curlip 01
PS Curlip II

PS Curlip towed five barges at a time, travelling upstream as far as Bete Bolong, 20 km upstream of the Snowy River mouth to collect produce to be transferred to schooners near Marlo. She towed schooners and ketches in and out through the Marlo Entrance and was also used for social functions such as Sunday school picnics. She was the main means of transport for imports and exports on the Snowy River for almost 30 years. The Curlip era ended abruptly on Friday 28th February when a flash flood carried her and two barges down the river and out to the sea, where she washed ashore at Marlo and broke up.

The name "Marlo" is generally accepted to have roots in tribal aboriginal language. "Marloo" meaning white clay is suggestive of the Marlo Bluff while "Murloo" meaning "muddy banks" was reportedly used by the local indigenous people.

Snowy River Estuary 04
Snowy River Estuary

The first settler to occupy the Marlo township area was James Stirling around the year 1875. He built a bark hut on the bluff that had two rooms, bark walls, earthen floors and a shingle roof. By 1884, this structure had expanded to a 9-room accommodation guest house and in 1886, became the Marlo Hotel when a liquor license was granted. The Marlo Hotel was popular with many Orbost and district settlers, who travelled to Marlo by horseback or buggy. In 1886, while travelling through East Gippsland, John Stanley James wrote: "Nothing can be lovelier than an early morning at Marlo, with sea and sky and land glowing in the tints of the recent dawning".

Marlo Hotel  01
Marlo Hotel

Marlo was declared a township on 18 February 1889. During May 1889, the government surveyor, E.L. Bruce set out 19 sections of the new township, with the first sales of subdivided land occurring the following May. At this time, Marlo Hotel was the unofficial hub for the community and served as a general store, accommodation house as well as an unofficial post office until Aug 1942.

Marlo Jetty B
View of Marlo from the jetty

Marlo Hotel is perched on a hilltop overlooking the Snowy River, with the town's main jetty and boat ramp below. The estuary boasts some of the best perch and bream fishing to be found anywhere, with the sheltered waters allowing fishing year round.

Frenches Narrows A
Frenches Narrows

The coastal road at Marlo heads east to Cape Conran and then turns inland, joining the Princes Highway near Cabbage Tree Creek. Along this route are superb lookouts over the Snowy River mouth and the ocean coastline.

Snowy River Estuary A

Marlo has been the inspiration for many writers and poets, including Edwin James Brady, who wrote: "It is one of these peaceful, out-of-the-way places, where nerves and worries and the disappointments of the cities may be curbed or forgotten".

Ref: 1, 2, 3

Friday, January 18, 2013

Orbost

Orbost is a small East Gippsland town situated on the banks of the Snowy River, about 45 minutes drive east of Lakes Entrance and surrounded by rich river flats.

Newmerella Grandview Lookout 13
Grandview Lookout at Newmerella

The area around Orbost was first settled in 1842 and originally used for cattle grazing. A township began to develop in the 1870s and it eventually became an important service centre for what has developed into a major cattle and agricultural district. The surrounding mountain forests produce hardwood timber, most of which is milled locally.

Slab Hut 07

The commercial centre is along Nicholson Street. As Nicholson Street heads northwards, it becomes a wide boulevard with lawns and trees along its central strip. A memorial clock tower marks the northern end of the commercial centre at the Salisbury Street roundabout.

Slab Hut 02
Slab Hut

The Orbost Visitor Information Centre is situated in Forest Park on Nicholson Street. The centre is housed in the historic Slab Hut. The hut was an original family dwelling built in 1872, on a site about 3 km upstream from the junction of the Buchan and Snowy Rivers, and about 40 km from Orbost on the Yalmy Rd. No nails were used in the construction; it was all wired together. After a period in storage, the slab hut was relocated to its present location in Orbost as the Information Centre in 1987.

Forest Park 03
Forest Park

Located in the attractive Forest Park is the $2 million Orbost Exhibition Centre (OEC) built by Orbost woodworkers and artisan. Designed to showcase local timbers, the OEC is the permanent home of the National Collection of Wood Design which features wood art. 1-3 pieces are added to the collection every year though an Acquisition Prize. As of 2008, the collection has 35 outstanding wood pieces - mainly from Australian timbers and recycled timbers.

Orbost Exhibition Centre 01
Orbost Exhibition Centre

The OEC has a large retail area full of wooden and other artworks - sculptures, bowls, boxes, furniture, jewellery and other unique craftwork all made by local artists. A gallery features different monthly art exhibitions and the Talking Wall Project (since Nov 2008) painted by local artists - a visual story of the Snowy River from its beginnings, thousands of years ago, to modern time.

Forest Park 02
Forest Park

A number of rainforest walks also begin in the Forest Park.

Newmerella Grandview Lookout 02

Good views of Orbost, the Snowy River and the bridges across its flood plain can be enjoyed from Grandview Lookout, located south-west of Orbost in the small community of Newmerella.

Flower TreeX 05
If anyone knows what is this spectacular tree, please let me know


Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trip to East Gippsland

We made a trip to East Gippsland during the Christmas to New Year holiday break and stayed at Kalimna, which is a stone-throw away from Lakes Entrance. The following is our itinerary and I will cover each place in greater details later on.

Monday 24 Dec 2012
  • Depart Altona in the morning.
  • Lunch break at Lake Guthridge, Sale.
  • Visit adjacent Lake Guyatt, Sale Botanical Gardens and playground.
  • Check in holiday unit at Kalimna.
  • Visit Griffith's Sea Shell Museum at Lakes Entrance.
  • Do grocery shopping at Safeway, Lakes Entrance (closed on Christmas Day).
  • Return to holiday unit due to raining.

Tuesday 25 Dec 2012
  • Cross the Cunninghame Arm Footbridge at Lakes Entrance to the Main Beach (90-mile Beach).
  • Visit Lake Tyers Beach, Beacon Reserve Lookout and Red Bluff.
  • Return to Lakes Entrance (with a detour to Eastern Beach) prior to lunch.
  • Stroll along the Esplanade, taking photos of wooden sculptures, piers and watching people catching crabs and picking mussels.
  • Drive to Bullock Island and see the pelicans at North Arm Boat Ramp, Lakes Entrance. 
  • Photo shots of Lakes Entrance from 3 lookouts at Kalimna.
  • Visit Nyerimilang Park and Homestead and unexpectedly met the owners of the childcare centre where our kids are being placed in. They told us Cape Conran and Marlo are worth visiting.

Wednesday 26 Dec 2012
  • Visit Forest Park and Slab Hut at Orbost.
  • Saw the Paddle Steamer Curlip on the Snowy River (too bad as next run is on Fri 28 Dec).
  • Visited Marlo - Jetty, Marlo Hotel and a few lookouts such as French Narrows.
  • Arrived at Cape Conran Coastal Park - spent time at Salmon Rocks and East Cape Beach.
  • Did the mistake of trying to visit Yeerung River Gorge - where the roads are unpaved and difficult to drive on and the walk path to the Gorge is too steep to proceed further.
  • Repeated another mistake of visiting Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve, where the roads are again full of pebbles.
  • Toilet stop at Nowa Nowa and failed to find the Cosstick Weir.
  • Visited the Stony Creek Trestle Bridge.
  • Headed back to Lakes Entrance for dinner and grocery shopping.

Thursday 27 Dec 2012
  • Brief visit to Metung with stops at a jetty and Shaving Point and decided to return the following day.
  • Self-cooked lunch at Kalimna holiday unit.
  • Boarded the Thunderbird Cruise by Peels Cruise for a 2.5 hour afternoon cruise to Lake King, Lake Victoria, Metung and through the canals of Paynesville and Raymond Island.
  • Drive along Seaview Parade at Kalimna for a view of Lakes Entrance.

Friday 28 Dec 2012
  • Kalimna - Visit Jemmy's Point Lookout, Seaview Parade and Kalimna Jetty.
  • Revisited Metung, walking along its boardwalks at Bancroft Bay and seeing the Legend Rock, Metung Hotel and jetties.
  • Drive on the Great Alpine Road and along the Tambo River, passing through towns such as Ensay.
  • Toilet stop at Swifts Creek.
  • Visit Omeo and its historical park. Took pictures of Livingstone Creek Park and the Cuckoo Clock shop.
  • Gave up the original idea of visiting Oriental Claims, Benalla and two lookouts near Omeo.
  • Buffet dinner at Zephyr Restaurant at Lakes Entrance Bowls Club.

Saturday 29 Dec 2012 
  • Check out of the holiday unit at Kalimna.
  • Visit Bairnsdale - courthouse and St Mary's Catholic Church.
  • Visit Eagle Point - Bluff Lookout and the Silt Jetties.
  • Ferry to Raymond Island on the Koala Trail.
  • Paynesville - Esplanade and looking at the canals.
  • Head home to Altona, with a detour for dinner at Hoa Tran Restaurant, Springvale.