Lake Tyrell regularly get world-class sunrises and sunsets – and when the sun has gone down, the moon takes over, turning on a celestial show that pulls tourists from around the world.
But plans by locals Maree and Murray Allan to establish a glamour camp, just 5km north of Sea Lake, have hit a cultural snag.
The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said the couple have invested $500,000 to set up a cabin and caravan complex – after getting the green light from all relevant authorities.
However, Mr Walsh said even though the Allans’ project is physically outside the local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage overlay; Aboriginal Victoria has stepped in, claiming it has the authority to stop the project.
Murray Allan, who said he and wife Maree were not big developers; admitted they are both frustrated and bewildered about the delays and the uncertain outcome of their project after paying for power, sewerage and water storage at the site.
“The Allans have told me they are not even big farmers, but they have taken this bold step with encouragement from many locals to build a park to support tourism and attract outside money to Sea Lake,” Mr Walsh said.
“As Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, I have given Maree and Murray a commitment that I will pursue this with Aboriginal Victoria on their behalf,” he said.
“It is a bold and exciting project; the appeal of this site, especially in recent years to Chinese tourists, has been astronomical.
“In the mid-2010s, the lake became a tourist mecca and it is also very popular location for photographers and social media users, who take snaps of the lake’s mirror-like surface during winter, when ground water percolates to the surface.
“And to demonstrate its year-round appeal, during dry periods people can walk onto the lake area by using ‘bridges’ where salt has formed a solid surface.”
“We would have had our first couple of cabins operating now and landscaping started for the caravan area. We are paying interest on money already spent and have no chance to start reducing our debt.”
Murray Allan said he and Maree were “bewildered and frustrated” at the events of the past weeks that have stopped their park project.
He said they “have followed the correct paths” including a business plan, park plans drawn up, planning permits issued and confirmed they have done everything by the book.
“All along we were told we have done nothing wrong, so why have the goal posts been changed?” Murray said.
“When seeking the planning permit from the Buloke Shire we were assured the site selected had no Aboriginal Cultural Heritage significance and therefore were issued with the permit,” he said.
“In May 2018 all landholders around the lake were sent a letter with a map from Aboriginal Victoria showing the new overlay on the lake. At this time we contacted the Buloke Shire and asked the question: should we give up this planned project before we are too far in? We were assured that we had no issue.
“Although our project is not inside the boundary of the overlay Aboriginal Victoria has deemed they have the authority to stop our project.
“We would have had our first couple of cabins operating now and landscaping started for the caravan area. Instead we are paying interest on money already spent and have no chance to start reducing our debt and we are hoping this issue can be resolved soon.”