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An environmental history of Corner Inlet, Victoria, Australia.
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posted on 09.02.2017by Glowrey, Cheryl Anne
As an environmental history, this study explores the interactions between people and an estuary over time. I argue that the waters of the inlet have been central to the prosperity and identity of its people. Comer Inlet lies at the southernmost point on the mainland of Australia, encircled by the Strzelecki Ranges and the mountains of Wilsons Promontory. It opens to the seas of Bass Strait.
The history of Comer Inlet is best understood by approaching it from the sea.
This reveals a rich maritime history of shipping, ethnic fishing industries and the connections between farmers to the islands and coastal plains. In contrast to land-based settler histories of the area, defined by political and cultural boundaries, themes of identity and place, possession and dispossession are explored in the context of a water catchment and it's estuary.
The relationship between the Bratowaloong and Comer Inlet is a major theme. Examining early European descriptions of the environment together with the stories and myths of the Gunnai, suggests a new understanding of how the land was managed by Aborigines and explores their relationship with the sea.
Wilsons Promontory is a dominant feature in the history of Comer Inlet, important to the sense of identity of people physically, spiritually and economically over time. Responses to the management of the National Park have mirrored social attitudes towards nature nationally, as did the formation of marine parks in Comer Inlet. Examining the development of extensive protection of land and sea at Comer Inlet and the impact of this on locals is a theme of this study.
This study, while at once local in perspective, is at the same time representative of other coastal communities of Australia that have, at their heart, an estuary. Themes of diverse responses to the environment, the tensions between insiders and outsiders, resonate elsewhere. In this way, the history of Comer Inlet reaches out to the broader Australian experience.