History of Area

Aboriginal groups left evidence of their early presence along the Bass Strait coast, south of Camp Cooriemungle, and in the ancient volcanic plains north of Cooriemungle that led to the formation of the many large lakes around Lake Corangamite, tens of thousands of years ago. The main aboriginal group that frequented the area was the Girai wurrung, a people comprising about 20 clans. It is believed that they traditionally moved between Warrnambool area in the west, and the Gellibrand area in the east, and perhaps as far north as the area that became known as Colac. Their neighbours were the Djargurd wurrung people in the north, the Dhauwurd wurrung (or Gunditjmara) in the west, and the Gulidjan and Gadubanud in the east.map of aboriginal clan areas
Aboriginal Clan Maps (Tirin - 2008)

Research indicates that most aboriginal activity, particularly before white settlement in the early 1800's, tended to be many days' walk north of Cooriemungle, and because the area around Cooriemungle was heavily forested, it was regarded as fairly inhospitable.

From our limited knowledge of the movements and daily lives of those early Australians, the name "Cooriemungle" , or people in the wilderness is explained. The name is formed by joining two words that describe in their language the area of western Victoria which they called their own - Koorie meaning people and Mungle meaning wilderness.

In 1802 Matthew Flinders sailed along the coast in his epic journey in to discover the body of water that separates Tasmania from the mainland of Australia, which he names after his close colleague, George BASS. Until his discovery, all ships sailing to Australia (or New South Wales / New Holland) travelled by way of southern Tasmania - a long, freezing, and dangerous journey.

Sealers and whalers had sheltered on the coast south of Cooriemungle, but did not venture inland until around the time that Port Campbell was permanently settled in the early 1870′s. the 12 apostles
The 12 Apostles

Along the coast a slight swell can create treacherous surf, which coupled with extremes of weather and current, has led to many tragic shipwrecks in the area, including the famous Loch Ard disaster. Camp Cooriemungle honours that tragic period of shipping history, with a "Shipwreck Coast" theme in its family cabins. Visitors to the area will find an abundance of history in relation to the early years of shipping along the coast. Please take the time to enjoy visits to the many historical sites alone and near the coast when you visit.

For many years Port Campbell and the surrounding area was served only by the sea, and eventually by the Timboon railway line from Camperdown, from 1892. The area was finally opened up to tourists after the completion of the Great Ocean Road by returned 1st World War soldiers in 1932.

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