History of the Area
Bastion Point lies within part of the land of the Maap or Bidawal people. The earliest data collected around the Mallakoter (Mallacoota) area is from census studies conducted during the 1840s, and show the presence of several small groups; records show the presence of numerous small and larger gatherings between the Maap and two bordering groups (Gunai and Monaro) from the 1830s-1860s.
The introduction of whaling and pastoral industries in Far East Gippsland and along the NSW South Coast had a profound impact upon the local Aboriginal groups, as Europeans began attempting to settle in the region. Pre-1844, many of these attempts were challenged by local Aboriginal clans; however, increased European settlement throughout the region from 1840 significantly reduced the Maap population and, by 1872, surveyors did not encounter any Aboriginal people—likely the effect of introduced diseases, and due to conflicts between the Maap and European populations.
Within 1 kilometre of Bastion Point, 12 Aboriginal archaeological sites have been found. In the immediate study area 5 sites have been identified. These shell middens are likely sites of gatherings that occurred pre-1840 and several demonstrate continual occupation for thousands of years.
European Settlement & Industry
The first European to settle in present-day Mallacoota was Captain John Stevenson, who resided there as a pastoralist from 1841-1847. Several pastoralists ran cattle throughout the Mallacoota and Genoa area until 1871, when all of the ‘runs’ were abandoned. Although geographical isolation hindered the settlement of the area, the construction of the Gabo Island lighthouse in 1860 (following the wreck of the Monumental City) enabled greater ocean access to Mallacoota, and the area was re-settled during the 1880s. Land access was restricted to bush tracks until the access road was built between Mallacoota and Genoa in 1918.
Historically, the local economy has been, and continues to be, based on several industries. Gold was discovered around the Mallacoota Inlet during the 1890s and the waters around Mallacoota have been commercially fished since the 1880s—primarily for bream and abalone. The commercial abalone industry began in 1964; Mallacoota has been significant in Australia’s abalone production, yielding up to 80% of the total output by 1980.
Tourism was an early industry for the community—the first hotels were built in the 1880s and catered mainly to passengers from ships as well as to farmers and miners. Mallacoota’s reputation as a tourist destination, however, became enhanced during the 1950s and 1960s when it became renowned for its beautiful scenery, boating and fishing opportunities, and accessible, quality surfing conditions.
Access to Bastion Point was first formalised with the construction of a road; at this point, boat launching from Bastion Point became possible and boats were launched from the sand until the present boat ramp was constructed during the 1970s. Previously, ocean access was via the entrance to Mallacoota Inlet, negotiating the ‘Mallacoota Bar�����, a mass of shifting sands guarding the neck of the Inlet.
In 1900, the lands surrounding Mallacoota were gazetted as the Mallacoota National Park, which was then added to the Register of the National Estate (as Mallacoota Inlet National Park) in 1980. This land now forms part of the Croajingolong National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve recognised by UNESCO. In 2002, two Marine National Parks were proclaimed in the Mallacoota area—Cape Howe and Point Hicks. The consultation process also considered other surrounding areas: Mallacoota Inlet, Gabo Island Harbour, and the Skerries as areas of environmental significance.