Lake Tyers State Park is one of the jointly managed parks within Gippsland. The Joint Management agreement recognises the fact that the Gunaikurnai people hold Aboriginal Title and maintain a strong connection to Country. As custodians of the land, they are the rightful people who speak for their Country. These parks and reserves are cultural landscapes that continue to be part of Gunaikurnai living culture. For more information on Joint Management, please visit the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Land Management Board and the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation.
Bung Yarnda (Lake Tyers) was an important meeting place for Gunaikurnai groups throughout the area. It was a neutral place that was rich in food and materials. It is the place our mob lived when we were forcibly removed from our homelands by European settlers. The catchment area surrounding the Lake Tyers mission is also very significant to us. Our ancestors often passed through this bushland to get to and from Bung Yarnda, as we continue to do today.
The catchment area is where a lot of our mob lived, camped and fished. It is an abundant place, providing us with food all year round. And it is a beautiful place – you can see why the old fellas went there. As home to our ancestors, there are many recorded sites – scar trees, artefact scatters, birthing places and burial sites. Burnt Bridge Reserve is a popular gathering place and ochre site. The cultural sites continue all the way along the coast to Corringle further east.
Lake Tyers Mission
By the 1850s, the Aboriginal population had significantly declined. Missions were established where the remaining Aboriginal people would be located and be Christianised. After rejecting Mitchell River because of its cold winter, Lake Tyers was chosen for its reliable supply of food and water. The mission was both good and bad for Gunaikurnai people.
For some, Lake Tyers was home – a place where people were born and grew up. Where family were buried and where connection to Country could be maintained without persecution. Others felt hemmed in by the rules and rigid protocols of the governing agencies, the severity of which varied depending on the government of the day.
Lake Tyers was one of the last remaining missions, where Aboriginal people were sent from across Victoria when other missions were closed. In 1970, Lake Tyers was the first transfer of crown land back to Aboriginal people.
Sources/from: Gunaikurnai Whole‐of‐Country Plan (GLaWAC 2015); The Gunaikurnai and Victorian Government Joint Management Plan - Lake Tyers State Park - Krauatungalung Country.