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Culture and heritage

The Bunurong People were custodians of this stretch of coast for thousands of years prior to white settlement. Five clans made up the Bunurong tribe.

The Yowenjerre clan occupied the area west from the Tarwin River along what is now the Bunurong Marine and Coastal Park. They quarried the outcrops of volcanic roads which they fashioned into axe heads and which they used to trade with neighbouring tribes. Middens containing charcoal and shellfish mark the location of their campsites along the coast.

In 1797, George Bass set sail from Sydney in a whale boat to explore the southern mainland coast. He discovered and named the first natural harbour and the strait that bears this name.

In November 1840, Surveyor Townsend anchored off the entrance and camped on the site of present day Inverloch while he spent several days exploring and mapping the inlet and lower reaches of the Tarwin River. He named Anderson Inlet and the prominent bluff that bears this name.

During 1841 George Douglas Smythe surveyed the coast from Cape Paterson to Cape Liptrap including Anderson Inlet, the Tarwin River, lakes, creeks, swamps, scrubs, marshes and ranges within one day's walk of the coast. He named Eagles Nest, Petrel Rock and Point Symthe at the entrance to Anderson Inlet.

Industry and transport relied heavily on coal from New South Wales. When miners went on strike in 1909, the Victorian Government commenced mining the Powlett River (later Wonthaggi) coalfields. A tent city sprang up in the bush and a railway line was quickly constructed from Nyora to transport the coal. Wonthaggi soon became the largest town in South Gippsland.