Port of Sale Heritage Cruises
The bountiful Gippsland region has been home to the first people the Gunnaikurnai for thousands of years. Sites significant to the Gunnaikurnai people can be found along Gippsland’s Bataluk Culture Trail Bataluk Cultural Trail.
When European settlers arrived, they found Gippsland’s fertile lands were some of the most desirable they had yet come to, well suited to grazing with little need for clearing. They began to move in.
However, the Gunnaikurnai were not prepared to hand over their homelands to the newcomers and conflicts were common, leading to ferocious reprisals from the settlers.
The settlers prevailed and by 1844 there were 40 stations, a population of 327 European settlers, 20,000 cattle and 62,000 sheep in the region. Of the 3000 Gunnaikurnai who had lived in the area, by 1860 only 222 survived. Aside from conflicts and massacres, the cloven hooved animals kept by the Europeans quickly compacted the fragile soils and within one generation daisy yam, a major food source for the Gunnaikurnai, had been killed out.
With the Gippsland region producing many riches, including the discovery of gold in the 1880s and cheese so good it was being exported back to Europe, the newcomers needed an effective transport system to bring supplies in and transport resources out.
The Port of Sale, Sale Canal and the Swing Bridge were the linchpins that enabled the system to function. Today the Swing Bridge is the oldest intact, operational bridge of its kind in Australia and the only bridge of its kind in Victoria. It is opened at 3pm every Saturday and Sunday to enable tall river traffic to go through.