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Culture and heritage

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The Balluk-William clan of the Woiworung (Yarra Yarra) tribe were the first people to live in the area. According to Aboriginal mythology, the Bunyip or Buneep (the original spelling on early) is a spirit that punishes bad people. Local Aboriginal people believed the Bunyip lived in the swamps of the Bunyip River and avoided the area. Many early settlers, believing this story, never pitched their tents near a 'Bunyip hole'. People were also careful not to make ripples when collecting water so as not to upset the Bunyip.

The miners and prospectors of the mid 1850s were the first Europeans to visit the district, but they soon moved on to more promising goldfields. The area has a long history of timber cutting. The Mortimer Mill of 1898, located at the present site of Mortimer Picnic Ground, is thought to be the earliest timber mill in the park.

A narrow-gauge rail line from Ferntree Gully to Gembrook was completed in 1900. Tramways were then used to take timber from the bush sawmills to the Gembrook yard. Throughout the park are remnants of timber tramways and large sawdust heaps. A large sawdust heap can be seen opposite Dyers Picnic Ground. Forest harvesting ceased in 1990 and in September 1992 the park was declared.

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