OF LAKE EILDON
HISTORY OF LAKE EILDON
IN THE BEGINNING
The small town of Darlingford (named after Sir Charles Darling, Governor of Victoria), near the junction of the Big and Goulburn Rivers came into being in the 1860’s after gold was discovered in the area. It had seven hotels, five policemen, a log gaol, shops, post office and a small slab hut used as a school. Eildon station, a run of 25,500 hectares was first started in 1846 by Mr and Mrs Archibald Thom. The name Eildon was chosen by the couple because the area from Darlingford to Thornton reminded them of Mrs Thom’s birthplace, the Eildon Hills near Abbotsford in Scotland.
Sugarloaf Reservoir construction commenced in 1915 and was finally completed in 1929. The Sugarloaf Reservoir Dam Wall still exists under the water of Lake Eildon. The capacity of the Sugarloaf reservoir was only around 10% of the capacity of Lake Eildon. The township of Darlingford was flooded by the building of the Sugarloaf Reservoir. To house the men working on the reservoir, the new shanty town of Eildon began to arise. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission built houses for their staff, a large mess room and single men’s accommodation. However, some of the workers were still housed in tents. Those who brought their families provided their own accommodation by building bag houses made from jute cement bags, split open and stitched together and then painted with a mixture of tallow and whiting as waterproofing. A state school was built and staffed and this building was also used as a community hall and church.
EILDON DAM CONSTRUCTION
Construction of the Greater Eildon Dam commenced in 1951 and was completed in 1956. The capacity of Lake Eildon is 3,334,158 Mglt. Expected to take 5 years to fill, it filled in 18 months in the wet year of 1956. During the construction of the Eildon Dam, approximately 4000 people were housed in the new township of Eildon. Construction of the town commenced in 1950 and was completed in 1952.
Originally the town comprised 300 permanent houses, pre-cut and fabricated in England but assembled on site. Fourteen different plans were used to eliminate the sameness of appearance. There were 190 temporary houses and hostel buildings with accommodation for 1,275 workers. All services were installed, including roads, water supply, drainage, sewerage, and electricity.
Great attention was paid to all details, including the provision to convert the workshop and stores buildings to factories for light industries after the completion of the dam. There were very few old buildings moved into the town from the Darlingford area. The original shops were in High Street, now Moore Park and were of a temporary design. The first block of eight permanent shops were built and occupied in 1954, followed by the bakery and the block facing east several years later.
During the construction days, movies were shown every night and a talented revue company was formed from the local population. Variety shows and plays were performed frequently.
AFTER THE CONSTRUCTION
On completion of the dam, the works area was purchased by the Masonite company for the manufacture of wallboard, but closed a few years later. These buildings are now occupied by businesses associated with the building and maintenance of the current Houseboat Fleet on Lake Eildon. The authorities at the time recognised the fact that Lake Eildon had great potential as a recreational area and made provisions for boating, fishing and picnicking facilities around the shores of the lake.
Lake Eildon is Victoria’s most popular inland waterway for Recreational Boating Activities. Recent Transport Safety Victoria report (2015) indicated that 58% of Recreational Boating happens on Port Phillip Bay & Coastal areas, leaving 42% for Inland Waters; 25% of this Boating Activity happens at Lake Eildon (Muray River only 20%).
Lake Eildon has 515km of shoreline and stores when at full capacity six times as much water as Sydney Harbour. Lake Eildon National Park abuts a large percentage of the Lake providing habitat for wildlife including kangaroos, wombats and bird life. Surrounding Lake Eildon are options for Holiday Homes, Motels, Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, Caravan Parks, Clubs, Camping and a substantial Houseboat Fleet. Lake Eildon is the only waterway in Victoria where houseboats are permitted.
Currently there are Licences for around 750 Houseboats to be on Lake Eildon. Houseboats range in shape, size and price, from providing a Caravaning experience on water to the latest Houseboats, with the latest technology, being holiday homes on the water. Lake Eildon is most popular with the recreational fisher-person, who chase the Rainbow & Brown Trout, and Redfin. Over recent years the Lake has been seeded with Murray Cod and Golden Perch (Yellowbelly) by the Victorian Fisheries Authority. These Native Fish are proving to be most popular and have added to the attraction.
Water sports, Skiing, Wakeboarding, Kayaking & Canoeing are all most popular on this relatively safe waterway. Lake Eildon is a relatively safe waterway WITHOUT any sharks, crocodiles, or jellyfish stingers. There are many dining experiences around the Lake.
Lake Eildon is very much a great recreational space for families to enjoy together. Lake Eildon is a magical place, the serenity, the camp fires, the bush walks; the water sports, the brilliant sunsets, the chandelier of stars at night, simply magnificent