CUMBERLAND RIVER HISTORY
Early Cumberland River History
The area was used for logging in the latter part of the 19th century (and again in 1965). The coming of the Ocean Road opened up the coast by 1932. Early access to Lorne was via the Dean’s March Road, and the Ocean Road between Lorne and St George River was opened in 1919. The section from Airey’s Inlet to Lorne was opened in 1922.
It is not clear when the road reached Cumberland River, but it would have been in the period between 1924-28. The last section opened was at Mt Defiance in 1932.
During the construction period (1920-32), over 300 men were camped at Sheoak, Cumberland and Jamieson Rivers. In fact, these sites were periodically used as base camps up until the 1970’s.
A fisherman’s house existed (almost in the same position as the current residence) in the early part of this century, but was demolished by 1932.
Victorian Centenary Celebrations 1934
Our Cumberland River History dates back to the early 1930’s where the first facilities were built at this time – the toilet blocks (demolished 1998) and picnic hut (called rotunda). The Duke of Gloucester was to visit the area for a barbeque and walk to Jebb’s Pool. A large barbecue area and table, constructed from river stones, were built at the northern end of the camping area. Also, two foot bridges were built upstream (see pictures), but were washed away somewhere between 1945 and 1950.
The park was opened as a camping area in the early 1930’s under the control of the Country Roads Board (C.R.B.), now VicRoads. This was an open plan with no marked sites. Lorne Foreshore Committee took control in 1959, but the park remained with the open plan until 1962. As early as the mid 1940’s, and certainly in the 1950’s, up to 100 camps would be erected over the Christmas/New Year period. In early 1950’s, water was carted to Wye River each day from a tap located near Cabin 13.
In 1962, Health Regulations restricted the number of sites to 48, and site numbering was introduced. The 48 sites were located in the front section with the rest of the park fenced off with barbed wire.
The capacity was increased progressively in the late 1960’s after Rangers began to live on site.
The next major change was to lease the camping area from the Lorne Foreshore Committee to a private operator (Ganges Pty Ltd) in December 1997.
Many families have a long association with the Park. Names such as Barber (Bouckley), Bishop (Brown, Koltuniewicz, Wall), Fieldew, Fink, Hulett, Marshall (Smith), Pearson, Plunkett (Lazaro), Reivers (Leaford), Stockman (Helmsey) and Williamson (Payne) have been holidaying at Cumberland River for anywhere between 40 and up to 80 years in case of the Plunkett family. A poem written by Dot Fieldew some years ago seems to sum up life at Cumberland:
Some come from near and a lot from afar,
With trailer or caravan attached to their car.
We hurry and work to fix up the tent,
Settle in for our holiday and pay up the rent.
We fight all the elements, the wind and the rain,
And the cold that makes us shiver,
Then the sun will come out, to the beach we all go,
Aren’t we lucky to camp at CUMBERLAND RIVER!
Dorothy (Dot) Fieldew 1999
Thanks to Ross Plunkett for this information.