Lake Condah Mission Station was established in 1867 as a Church of England Mission, approximately three kilometres from the Lake. The Lake Condah area in south western Victoria was home to the Kerrupjmara people prior to European occupation. The station was closed in 1919 after the government assumed control.
The Lake Condah Station comprised a missionary cottage and kitchen, schoolhouse, children's dormitory and store. A number of the buildings were weatherboard and in good condition. They also used local stone to build houses. There were 26 buildings in total. The church was built out of bluestone in 1883, but it was demolished in 1957. The Reserve was on 2,000 acres, of which 15 were under cultivation.
The residents of Lake Condah were subject to a severe and strict regime. Missionary Stahle refused to support work certificates for residents to work on neighbouring farms - upsetting both the local farmers and Mission residents; he refused requests for family members to move onto the Mission; and he provided rations as a reward instead of a right. Missionaries at Lake Condah saw their goal as 'civilising' Aboriginal people through the imposition of European education and Christianity. The daily routine included morning and evening prayers, church services twice on Sundays as well as Sunday school in the afternoon.
The Aboriginal people used grasses to create intricate fish traps as a way of supplementing their diet.
The passing of the 1886 'Half-Caste' Act lead to the expulsion of many mixed race people from the Mission greatly reducing the population. Many of these expelled people set up residence close by at Greenvale and Little Dunmore. This allowed them to visit family still living on the Mission, and the Church.
As the numbers declined the Station was closed in 1919, but Aborigines remained in the area. They requested the Reserve to be handed over to them to be run as a farming co-operative. The Government denied this request and the land was carved up for soldier settler blocks.
As a joint project with the Kerrupjmara people and the National Parks Service, to assist the community in appreciating its history, part of the Mission was brought back, Mission buildings rebuilt, and cabin accommodation built for tourists In 1987, land was handed over to the Kerrupjmara Elder's Association at Lake Condah and Framlingham.
Lake Condah Mission Station was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Lake Condah', in Mission Voices: Missions and Reserves., Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Film Victoria and Koorie Heritage Trust Inc., 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20140515092238/http://www.abc.net.au/missionvoices/lake_condah/default.htm; Critchett, Jan, Our land till we die: a History of the Framlingham Aborigines, Revised. edn, Deakin University Press, Warrnambool, Vic., 1992, 110 pp.
Prepared by: Rosemary Francis
Created: 14 May 2014, Last modified: 5 September 2017