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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Exploring the beautiful Emerald Lake Park

Emerald Lake Park is 45 km east of Melbourne.

The park features a wide range of exotic trees, a legacy of Swedish nurseryman Carl Axel Nobelius. In the late 1800s Nobelius recognised the opportunity provided by the rich soil of the Emerald area to create a world class Nursery.

Clearing began in 1886 and six years later he planted fruit and ornamental trees, realising that many migrants were homesick for the trees of their homelands.

By the beginning of the First World War two million trees were planted on 180 hectares including 50 hectares purchased in the late 1890s, now known as Emerald Lake Park.

As well as serving local needs, trees were exported to many countries. Later when demand for these products reduced, the park area was cleared and replanted with New Zealand Flax Fibres from this plant suitable for the production of rope and twine were in strong demand.

A mill for processing the raw fibre was also set up in the park area and operated from 1913 to 1926. During this time, Nobelius maintained the stream ecology so that many of the tree ferns remain to this day as a feature of the park.

Following the death of Nobelius in 1921 the park area was taken over by a syndicate headed by W. H. Treganowan. During their ownership the syndicate was encouraged by the Nobelius family and others to develop the area as a park.

A.V. Nobelius (a son) and a surveyor named Web, supervised this development, during which several attempts to establish a main lake in the area failed and the idea was abandoned.

The Emerald people through their Progress Association, pressured local shires to approach the Victorian State Government to acquire the area as a park. They were successful and in 1939 the purchase was made and further development began.

A new lake of 3.5 acres was finally established by the Ferntree Gully Council, a small nursery was established to supply trees for replanting and the park was finally opened to the public in 1941.

Nobelius had a strong sense of community and the region clearly relied heavily on his enterprise.

Between 1890 and 1930 the Gembrook Nurseries employed 80 people, together with other contractors for fencing, clearing and other activities. He established the first local cemetry and as a father of 11 children took an active interest in the local primary school.

With expanding local industry the problems of transport increased. Nobelius became a leading figure in the establishment of the narrow gauge railway now known as Puffing Billy which operates as a popular tourist attraction. This and Emerald Lake Park are a lasting testimony to this extraordinary pioneer. (Courtesy of Friends of Emerald Lake Park)

I visited this beautiful park on August 7, 2007, exploring about 6 km of walking trails.

For further details about the Park, please see

The full set of photos I took on my visit is at

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