Today, Lake Murdeduke is a RAMSAR listed wetland, home to a variety of birds and other fauna. Whilst I did not see a single bird in the time I was at the lake, I did see a pair of Australian Shelducks and a Nankeen Kestrel in a field not too far away as I was leaving. Of course, many of the birds which frequent the lake are migratory.
The lake is made naturally saline by the release of minerals from the decay of volcanic rock in the region. It is fed by Mia Mia Creek which rises in the high ground south west of Mt Mercer and flows south to the top of the lake. When full, Lake Murdeduke covers around 4,200 acres, however it is many years since the lake has reached capacity.
|The boat ramp highlights how far the shoreline has receded. In the background|
Mt Gellibrand can be seen to the left and the broader rise of Mt Hesse to the right
|The receding waters of Lake Murdeduke with the cone of the extinct|
Mt Gellibrand volcano rising in the background
The formation of lunettes is a particularly southern Australian phenomenon which occurs when westerly winds sweeping across the countryside, cause curved dunes to form on the eastern banks of a lake. Typically, the western or windward side is steep whilst the eastern or leeward side has a more gentle slope. This is true of Lake Murdeduke which lies on high ground at the edge of the basalt flow, above the flat plains which stretch away to the Barwon below.
|Steep windward bank of the lake|
|Longer, undulating, leeward side of the lake's east bank|
|Grey clay soil deposited on the floor of the lake|
For 40,000 years the indigenous people of the region fished and hunted along the shores of Lake Murdeduke. Several different species of ducks as well as migratory wading birds were caught and a variety of edible plants were also gathered by the people of the four Gulidjan clans. Their land extended west to the shores of Lake Corangamite, south to the Otways and east to the Barwon River and the lands of the Wathaurong, with a portion extending in a northerly direction to a point west of Meredith. The Gulidjan were a semi-nomadic people with a matrilineal clan structure, each belonging to either the Gabadj (Black Cockatoo) or Guragidj (White Cockatoo) moiety. Among the many artifacts found along the lake shores are stone tools and blades which suggest a trading system with neighbouring tribes, with whom they also intermarried.
|The lands of the Gulidjan people|
In 1839 an attempt to provide for the remaining members of the surrounding indigenous clans resulted in the establishment of the Buntingdale Wesleyan Mission Station by the Reverend Tuckfield to the north west of Deans Marsh, however the venture was not a great success and the license was forfeit in 1851.
Today, the lake is surrounded by private property - including Murdeduke Estate, however public access is available via Blocks Lane off the Shelford Road from Winchelsea where the above pictures were taken.