Girls of Our Town

Betty Bowler

Born at Williamstown, Beryl was the eldest child of camp park pioneers Richard and Annie Whiter. The family moved from Stanhope in the Western District to Lakes Entrance in 1927, after losing their shop and all their personal possessions in a fire.

Beryl’s father quickly realised the potential of Lakes Entrance as tourist destination and established Whiter’s Camp Park, which remains today as a memorial to his enthusiasm and vision.

Margret RoadKnight

Born Margaret Roadknight in Melbourne in July 1943, she was unaware a street named for her family ran through the centre of Lakes Entrance for many years.

Margret graduated from Santa Maria College in 1960 and made her singing debut at a Melbourne theatre in 1963. Margret’s  singing career now spans almost six decades, and includes blues, jazz, gospel, comedy, cabaret and folk.

Annie Rijs

Annie was the matriarch of the Rijs family, whose company Patties Foods at Bairnsdale, now has a revenue of over $200 million and employs almost 600 people.

Born Annie Vogels at Amersfoort in The Netherlands on 15 August 1921, she married Piet Rijs, a qualified baker and pastry cook, who had owned his own shop prior to World War 2. With five sons aged under ten, Annie and Piet emigrated to Australia in October 1956.

Leonie Sparks

Leonie Robin Sparks was born at Mornington in 1938 to Roy and Betty Sparks, but as a baby she was sent to Lakes Entrance to live with her mother’s brother, Harold Broome, and his wife Kath.

Leonie went to primary school in Lakes Entrance and later attended Bairnsdale High School for several years, taking Joe Duggan’s bus every day. During these years she helped her uncle and aunt, who had a caravan park and ran the local picture theatre.

Shirley Hancock

As a young child Shirley Margaret Eaton lived with her grandparents, David and Emily Carstairs.

From the age of six when she took a cooked breakfast and a billy of tea to the Carstairs fishermen at the wharf before school, to her many years as President of the Lakes Entrance Senior Citizens Club, Shirley has always been involved with family and community.

Tricia Allen

Tricia was a well-known and much-loved glass artist. She graduated from the Caulfield Institute of Technology in 1983, opening her first Lakes Entrance studio in Baades Road and later moving to Jetty Road, Nungurner.

Her assistant was her husband Norm Borg, with whom she had two daughters: Esther and Grace.

End of an Era:
The Last Gippsland Lakes Fisherman

In April 2020 the long history of commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes ended by government decree. End of an Era is a community-based oral history and photography project that combines the expertise of members of the fishing community alongside academic researchers and professional historians and photographers. The interviews and images capture the life histories of the men and women of the Gippsland Lakes fishing industry, and its profound significance for each narrator and for their community. The interview collection is archived at the National Library of Australia where it will be available for future research.


Concealed shoes

Concealed shoes have been discovered in several European countries, in North America and Australia. The story of the ritual magic shoes discovered under the floorboards at an old house in Lakes Entrance appeared in London’s Daily Telegraph under the by-line of Jonathon Pearlman on 7th January 2016.

The article describes renovator Jenny Smethurst’s curiosity when she uncovered the ‘three dusty, well worn leather boots’ and how she thought it was odd that they were ‘single boots…not matching’. The shoes are on display at the Lakes Entrance History Centre. You can read more about concealed shoes here

Getting ready to launch the Anchovette

Government testing of monofilament net used for tuna and shark

The remarkable story of the Anchovette

In 1948 brothers Frank and Kevin Mitchelson bought the half-planked 21 metre hull of a boat that had been lying neglected in a Melbourne industrial yard for a decade.
Originally planned to be a sumptuous floating casino by underworld figure Henry ‘Midas’ Stokes, these dreams had unceremoniously died with the gangster in a Melbourne street.
Recognising the vessel’s potential, the Mitchelsons had it transported to Lakes Entrance by truck, across farmland and back roads, and began transforming it into the Anchovette, the most recognised Victorian fishing vessel of its time.
Watched by a crowd of onlookers, the hull was launched sideways into the North Arm, then towed under the bridge and around to the front lake to be finished and fitted out.
Kevin and Frank had entered into an agreement to catch salmon and anchovies for the Sydney-based fish processor Harry Peck & Company, so in consideration of the widely popular fish paste their catch would be used to produce, the vessel was named Anchovette. The Mitchelson brothers’ association with Pecks lasted for almost four decades and included the development of a fish processing plant on Bullock Island.
Anchovette played a major part in some of the most ground-breaking developments in the history of Australian fishing. Under Government supervision, she was used to prove various methods of fishing. These included board-trawling, purse-seining, the mesh-netting of tuna and the ‘accidental’ use of gill-nets to catch shark.

Finding shark caught in their experimental tuna mesh-nets lead Frank and Kevin to redesign those nets, specifically to catch shark. The use of nets and associated hauling equipment simplified method changed shark fishing in Australia forever. Until that time shark were caught using baited long-lines.

The Mitchelson brothers regularly performed fish-tagging for Victorian Fisheries & Wildlife Department research. The data gathered made an invaluable contribution to research into the migratory habits and life-cycle of various species of fish.

Frank and Kevin pioneered the use of light aircraft, which flew up and down the coast spotting for shoals of fish. The pilot then radioed the position to the vessel, which quickly steamed to that location.

While Anchovette fished for anchovies, she also caught pilchards, shark, tuna and salmon. A purse-seiner, Anchovette carried up to 80 tons, but if extra-large hauls of salmon were caught, they could be placed into specially constructed fish pens to be held over for a few days to avoid gluts in the market.

The Anchovette usually employed a crew of six men. When the fishing out of Lakes Entrance was slow, Anchovette sailed away to fish from other ports.
Being larger and more powerful than most other vessels in the port of Lakes Entrance, the Anchovette was often called on in times of emergency. When rescuing a badly-injured man from the iron-ore carrier Lake Eyre, Anchovette’s galley table was used as a hospital bed, with life-saving blood transfusions being given during the voyage back to port.

The Anchovette was eventually made redundant by purpose-built steel vessels and left Lakes Entrance in 1972 after a colourful twenty years of service.

Injured man rescued at sea by the Anchovette and her crew.

0466 980 166


Tuesday: 10.00 – 12.00 noon
Saturday 1.30 – 4.00pm
Open other times by arrangement.
Special groups catered for.
Admission: Gold coin donation.