Charlie’s East Gippsland Thoughts

(By Charlie Coster – my Granddad)

As I see it, a future for East Gippsland.

Now that we have the one big shire, the Shire Office at Bruthen. People may say why Bruthen? Because Bruthen is the most central place in the Shire with roads through Bruthen to all parts of the Shire. There could be direct telephone service to the various shire offices at Omeo, Orbost, Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale, and other places if required.

The Bruthen area would be a suitable place to treat forest goods, such as saw mills, factories for production of the many types of paper, cardboard, chip-wood boards suitable for floors for houses, boards for shelves, cupboards, etc.

While speaking of forests, I am thinking of land reserved for the production of native timber.

Then there is the Bairnsdale saleyards. If the site for the yards is to be shifted, a more central place would be desirable. Again I would suggest Bruthen as there are roads to all parts of the Shire (perhaps Wisley would be the place, a short distance from the township of Bruthen).

Adjacent to the yards, proper killing could be provided, with the meat placed in freezer vans to be delivered direct. Less handling of livestock, less bruising and less effect of fatigue.

Arrangements could be made for skins and hides, offal could be treated and sold as fertiliser. Some of the yards could be fitted with feeders and water, and used as holding yards. A Bruthen, a good water supply could be had.

Without subdividing good grazing and agricultural land, there are some very nice housing sites. The outfall of any sewerage that may be required to be treated, then be impounded and used for irrigation. (If the water in the Tambo is not suitable, the Timbor (?) is not far away).

With the saleyards out of the way, Bairnsdale would be a nice place for retired people, schools, education of all levels, hospitals, medical profession, law profession, accountancy, the sale and service of motor vehicles, etc; the treatment and sale of vegetables, all to do with tourism, shops for retail business, land and real estate, and all the businesses that could be found in country cities.

The devil is the Gippsland Lakes.

Perhaps it would be wise to have a look at the situation before the present entrance to the lakes was made. The water in the lakes was much fresher and the shallow parts of the lakes and the swamps were green with many sorts of water weeds. In very dry times the natural entrance would close with sand and prevent sea water entering the lakes. When the present entrance was made, it is open all the time and every time there is a high tide, much seawater enters the lakes. It is the seawater that has killed much of the waterweed.

When the waterweed was gone, erosion began and has played havoc with much of the lakes shores. When the water in the lakes was much fresher, there was much more growth of weeds in the swamps. In the swamps and the shallow parts of the lakes, large tussocks were numerous, which were used as nesting places for waterbirds such as swans and other birds.

When I was a child, the water in the Nicholson River was very clear and on a very calm morning, you could see deep into the water, but just beneath the surface there were shoals of very small fish of many kinds. That showed it was a breeding place for fish.

If we go back say 80 years, there is much less fresh water entering the lakes now than there was then, due to domestic use, industrial, vegetation, farm dams and diversion such as the Thompson system.

To prevent sea water entering much of the lakes, I suggest a barrage at Metung. A barrage at Metung would prevent much seawater entering a large portion of the lakes, and in time the water in the lakes would be much fresher and would help with the saline problem.

I am aware that a barrage at Metung would upset boating, but that could be overcome with a lock system and perhaps a lifting arrangement for small boats.

A spillway to keep the lakes at a given level. (Made in such a way so fish could pass). A series of flood gates, to cope with floods and high tide. Low places would need to be raised.

The Entrance.

Since the present dredging began, I am told it has been costing over a million dollars a year to keep in its present state.

Where the dredging may be O.K., much is desired in dealing with sand so dredged. Blind Freddie could see what could happen and has happened, and has taken many thousands of dollars to bring the channel back to its present state. I suggest lengthening the piers to deeper water; then placing the sand over the West pier and when the sand built up it could be dealt from there, over the humocks. Maybe some sort of industry could use some of the sand.

It may be possible to make a deep sea entrance to a suitable wharf west of Jimey’s Point. Such an entrance would serve a large area. The area I have in mind, is to the wast, the districts of Rosedale, Hayfield, Dargo, Omeo, Benambra. While at Omeo, have a look at the possibility of making an all-weather road down the Mitter Mitter valley. Such a road would open the door to much business between East Gippsland and a large area of North-East Victoria.

Then from Omeo to Black Mt., into NSW Monaro, a large area south of Cooma, Bega, then down the coast to Lakes Entrance.

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