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Culture and heritage

The Gippsland Lakes area was once part of a large bay. Over many thousands of years sands deposited by the sea have formed a series of barriers including the Sperm Whale Head Peninsula, Little Rotamah Island and Rotamah Island. The outer barrier eventually enclosed the bay and formed the Ninety Mile Beach. These barriers are up to 38 metres high and enclose the waters that make the Gippsland Lakes.

Aborigines of the Kurnai nation were numerous in the area at the time of European arrival as can be seen by the many shell middens in the sand dunes along the Ninety Mile Beach. The abundant wildlife and mild climate of the Gippsland Lakes provided plenty of food making it an ideal area to inhabit.

In the summer of 1840 explorer Angus McMillan reached the shores of Lake Victoria and soon after cattle runs were taken up in the district. During this period much of the area now covered by park was cleared and cultivated for grazing.

Through the efforts of Mr F.W.C Barton and the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, 1,451 hectares on the Sperm Whale Head peninsula was reserved in 1927 for the purposes of a national park and proclaimed The Lakes National Park in 1956. Rotamah Island and Little Rotamah Island were added to the park in 1978. Natural bushland has since regenerated and much of the wildlife has returned to the area.