History of the Park
In 1903, the Alberton Shire Council asked the State Government to reserve an area of the forest with fern gullies near Balook as a public park. Twenty hectares were reserved and given the aboriginal name Bulga, meaning ‘mountain’. Six years later, an area of 303 hectares in the Tarra Valley was temporarily reserved, though the eventual park was only 40 hectares in size. This park and the Tarra River were named after Charlie Tarra, an Aborigine who guided Strzelecki and his party through Gippsland in 1840
Following recommendations by the Land Conservation Council, the two separate National Parks were joined through a land exchange with A.P.M. Forests Pty Ltd. An enlarged and renamed Tarra-Bulga Park of 1,230 hectares was declared in June 1986.
By 1990 Tarra-Bulga National Park covered 1,625 hectares of some of the best examples of original forests of the Strzelecki Ranges. Additions in 2005 increased the park size to 2,015 hectares.
South Gippsland – Land of the Lyrebird
Until less than 100 years ago, most of South Gippsland was one vast forest, mainly consisting of Mountain Ash and other eucalypts.
From the 1870’s selectors began taking up land in the western Strzelecki Ranges around Korumburra and Leongatha. After 20 years of clearing and burning, this area became a successful and prosperous dairy-farming district, leaving only a few scattered areas of forest.
The story was different in the eastern Strzelecki Ranges, where slopes are steeper and the land higher and more rugged. This area was opened for selection in the 1890’s, and settlers’ cottages soon dotted the ridges. Farmers had to contend with short milking seasons, cold winters, noxious weeds, thick scrub and extreme transport difficulties.
As younger men went away to the First World War, the farms became neglected and many were abandoned. By 1930 about 60,000 hectares of land had been abandoned and a further 64,000 hectares were in a neglected condition. For this sorry situation, one of Victoria’s great forests had been destroyed.
After the Second World War, the Victorian Forests Commission began large-scale reforestation in the Strzeleckis. The story is told in our booklet The Strzeleckis – a new future for the Heartbreak Hills.
Until the mid-1920’s there was no active management regime at either Bulga or Tarra Valley parks. Timber splitters could work without fear of being stopped and local settlers could use the reserves as an adjunct to their farm.
In and effort to impose control, committees of management were appointed for Bulga and Tarra Valley parks.
On October 30 1956, after lengthy lobbying by individuals and groups like the Victorian National Parks Association, the Victorian government passed a National Parks Act permanently reserving the State’s thirteen existing national parks and providing for the creation of a National Parks Authority to administer the legislation.
A new National Parks Act was passed in 1970, establishing a National Parks Service to replace the National Parks Authority previous formed, which became fully responsible for the park management. In 1995 when the Alberton Shire amalgamated in the Wellington Shire, it relinquished control of Bulga and Tarra Valley parks completely.
Since 1996, Tarra-Bulga National Park has been managed by Parks Victoria. It is one of 39 national parks in the State and is managed along with a network of state, wilderness and marine parks and other conservation reserves.
Available from the Visitor Centre is a leaflet of our Park Notes. It contains information on the park and opens out to a map of the walking tracks.
To view the notes, click the link to open the park_notes1 pdf file (120kb).