There are currently numerous projects being undertaken around Lakes Entrance to improve the towns amenities and facilities with the Jemmys Point Lookout the biggest and most crucial of them all.
The Hotel Road lookout has just been completed and provides spectacular views over the Lakes and the entrance, while Esplanade streetscape improvements are ongoing.
But its Jemmys Point that local MPs and members of public believe can be one of, if not Lakes Entrance’s biggest drawcards.
Ideas such as a cantilevered lookout incorporating a restaurant or auditorium have been floated.
Local indigenous Elder, Alan Coe, who is chairman of Gippsland East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperation (GEGAC), believes a Jemmys Point upgrade is the perfect opportunity to display the town’s history.
“We need a cultural centre, a cultural centre showing the aspects of koori culture, but also the fishing history, the timber industry history, the oil history, all the history of the town,” he said.
“I think we need to put something together about how the town was established because the fishing and timber industries played a great part, as did indigenous culture.
“They all had impact on developing the area, shaping East Gippsland. There used to be 30 timber mills, now there is only a couple. The fishing industry, a lot of people have been involved over a long period of time. Then they discovered oil in the bight. There is a lot of history in the area that should be shown.
“I don’t think we show off our history. We could do it much better and put it all in one place for people to see. It would be greatly beneficial to the area.
“We need to highlight the positivity of the area because positivity brings life, it brings money, it is beneficial to everybody.”
Mr Coe sees a cultural centre on Jemmys Point not only attracting visitors, but also sparking interest among locals who may not know how Lakes Entrance came to be.
He said the establishment of a historical cultural centre is something that can always be added to and improved.
“It could be huge economic benefit to this region. When tourism picks up again, going to see a cultural centre that shows fishing, Aboriginal history, timber industry, oil industry, that’s awesome,” he said.
“The cultural centre would be an enhancement to the Wurrinbeena Art Gallery in Myer Street.
“We want the best for our community, we want life for our community, the life of our economy. When COVID is all over, we have a chance to bring new life to the area.
“If we can get the message through to government, across the board, we can do great things. Politicians these days look at four years down the road, when I was a kid politicians looked 30, 40 years down the road.
“That’s what we’re capable of doing with a cultural centre. We can keep adding to the history as life goes on. They have to say ‘where are we going to be in 100 years?’.
“There is a lot of money being spent in the town, which is a great thing, but I think we could put all our history into one place and I’d put that at Jemmys Point – it’s the best place, best view in town, it’s a beautiful place, it’s God’s country.”
Local resident at Jemmys Point, Sandra Taylor, said the local residents were upset there had been no initial consultation regarding development on the Jemmys Point site.
She claimed nearby residents only heard about the development when they read it in the Lakes Post.
“We are not against development, but perhaps not on the grand scale
proposed,” Ms Taylor said. Rob Wallace, of Lookout Holiday
Units on Lookout Road, echoed Ms Taylor’s words saying resident of the street were not consulted.
“A bit of consultation goes a long way,” he said.
“We’re in a pretty private area up here at the end of the street and that’s why people like staying here.
“We’re not against development of the area because it has been neglected for a long time, people dump rubbish up here, there’s all sorts of things that go, but any development needs to be scaled and the plans we’ve seen are just over the top.”
Federal Member for Gippsland and Lakes Entrance local, Darren Chester, said the Jemmys Point redevelopment must link to the recently completed Hotel Road lookout, while adding that showing Lakes’ history is vitally important, in which the community can play an important role.
“Having lobbied East Gippsland Shire Council for several years to upgrade the lookout at Hotel Road I was very happy to help council secure matching funding for the project. The first stage of the project has been well-received and we need to make sure we take the time to link it properly to whatever project eventually proceeds at Jemmys Point,” Mr Chester said.
“Telling our region’s story: from the indigenous clans, to the arrival of Europeans and the impact of various industries is important for locals and visitors. Whether it’s a cultural centre or a spectacular viewing platform that tells the story, I believe we need to fully onsult with nearby residents, the indigenous community and the business sector.
Jemmys Point Lookout provides the best vantage point to take in the Lakes and the township of Lakes Entrance. The current lookout space is run down with poor facilities. Local indigenous Elder, Alan Coe, is calling for any redevelopment of the area to include a cultural and historical centre.