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Early history of Lake Tyers

Lake Tyers settlement was started by Anglican missionary John Bulmer in 1863 when it was one of six such reserves for Aboriginal Victorians.

Page 1 of 4 This article was written by Alick Jackomos, Merle Jackomos' non-Aboriginal husband. <em>Identity</em> favoured contributions by Aboriginal authors. So, with Merle's approval, the article was submitted under her name.

'The history of Lake Tyers', Merle Jackomos

Identity, October 1971

More info on 'The history of Lake Tyers', Merle Jackomos

By 1917 it was the only government-run reserve remaining in Victoria and, through the 1920s, the Aborigines Protection Board began transferring people from Coranderrk, Ebenezer and Lake Condah reserves to Lake Tyers. These former reserve lands were then carved up as soldier settler blocks for returned servicemen (with the exception of Aboriginal servicemen, whose applications for land were rejected).

Lake Tyers was in a very isolated part of Victoria in eastern Gippsland and, as a result of the transfers from other reserves, became home to Indigenous Victorians from all over the state. Apart from some stints as seasonal workers picking peas and beans, residents were effectively cut off from the rest of the Victorian community.

Aboriginal concern about the future of Lake Tyers was expressed much earlier than the 1961-1962 campaign. In 1948 the Australian Aborigines' League told the government that 'land titles of Lake Tyers must be transferred with due precaution in the matter of safeguard to prevent any attempted dispossession of the Aborigines and mixed bloods by any person'. [1]

A few years after this, Laurie Moffatt, a spokesman for Lake Tyers residents, was reported in The Argus newspaper:

We do not want to see Lake Tyers finally sold to the white man in the same way as Ramahyuck, Condah, Ebenezer Mission and Coranderrk Reserves have been sold. All these have been hostels for the aborigines in my lifetime and have been sold to the white man to cultivate. [2]

Related resources

Australian Aborigines' League


1 Australian Aborigines' League, Terms of Reference for an Enquiry, 4 March 1948, Council for Aboriginal Rights (Vic.) Papers, MS 12913/8/1, State Library of Victoria.

2 The Argus, 28 January 1952.

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