Preserving the history of Inverloch

The seaside town of Inverloch has a rich and extensive history although much of n is not publicly evident or known. For this reason and to celebrate the Inverloch Historical Society’s 21st birthday, the group recently held a successful exhibition and book launch at the Inverloch Community Hub.

President of the lnverloch Historical Society, John Hutchinson said the group felt they needed to make a large print tin the town,so that people would recognise they were there, and that what they have to say is well worthwhile.

“I made many display cards and our secretary Graham Paterson tidied up the pictures beautify from the computer and we men made them into
prints to put on the wall. Is was all very in impressive.”

He said they were supported by the Bass Coast Shire with a grant of $4000, which they appreciated. More than 2,500 people visited the exhibition including former Victorian Liberal Leader, Alan Brown and it was highly commended by Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Pamela Rothfield.

“One of the vice presidents of the Royal Victorian Historical Society commended us for the commentary of exhibition. the purpose of it and the way we put it together with consideration of particularly the elderly people of Inverloch. Often in public exhibitions, the naming of exhibits is in small print and at floor level, so we made sure ours were all at eye level an large enough for older people to read.”

The book titled ‘lnverloch, A Place of Great Beauty Today and Yesterday’ was written by John and launched with 1000 printed copies, 700 of which have since been sold.

‘The book was written because there wasn’t a publication that could be handed out to visitors or local people,” John said. “I spoke to the then society president in 2015, pointing out that there was an opportunity for us to do it – and he who opened his big mouth got the job; It’s a book for everybody, locals and visitors that contains a brief history of the town, the importance of the town and its nautical heritage; in other words a pleasant introduction to Inverloch and what it’s all about.

“Several local businesses have helped us out and done a tremendous job of selling copies for us including the newsagent; the post office and the information centre. We also sold copies at the exhibition.”

He said it was possible the exhibition would become an annual event because it strikes at the heart of the problem they have, of not having a home of their own. “lnverloch’s historical collection is currently stored in member’s garages, so having an exhibition is a good way of doing something on the go.”

“Over the years, many members have banged their heads trying to find a home and made all sorts of attempts through the Shire and a variety of other avenues, but never really got anywhere. The real problem is there aren’t any old buildings in Inverloch that the society can take over, unlike other South Gippsland towns. All the old buildings have gone and town real estate is costly. It’s something though that we continue to work on.”

In 2015, the group received a grant from the Victorian Public Record Office to purchase computers and other modern equipment, which has enabled them to improve the quality of old photographs and put what they have online.

A major project that is currently being undertaken by the group is compiling a complete list of the 4500 items in the collection, some small enough to be held in the palm of a hand and others that require two men to lift them. The list will be catalogued with Victorian Collections developed by Museum Victoria in partnership with Museums Australia.

“Inverloch is a town that was established as far back as the early 18003 yet it has the look of a very modern place,” John said. “There are only two original buildings left in the main street. One is the hotel and the other is a retail business at the far end.”

Prior to European settlement in Inverloch, the Bunurong aboriginal people were custodians of the coastal area tor thousands of years.

The town was initially named Andersons inlet after Samuel Anderson, who was the first European to settle in the area. It was later renamed Inverloch after Loch lnver (Lake Entrance) in Scotland.

The area is famous for the discovery of Australia’s first dinosaur bone in 1903 by William Ferguson. Today there are still regular discoveries of fossils dating from as far back as the Early Cretaceous period (120 million years ago).

The Post Office opened in 1883 and as the area developed, Inverloch became a port for the shipment of black coal from Wonthaggi to Melbourne.

History is important,” John said, “in fact, it’s absolutely essential. You can’t talk about the future without measuring it against the past. History influences everything we are – the way we exist in the town, our politics, the things we do and the judgements we make, so our history is profoundly important.”

The Inverloch Historical Society meets once a month at the Inverloch RSL Hall where they hold an activity, conduct a business meeting and generally have a guest speaker. “We are a happy group of mainly elderly people, we are always collecting historical items and everybody does their bit,” he said.

“Inverloch is also a very vibrant community and there are many people with a lot of energy and ideas that do a great job.”

Source: Gippsland the Lifestyle magazine . Spring 2017, Pages 150-151.  By Wendy Morriss