Count Paul Strzelecki

In the early days, taming these hills and settling in this remote wilderness took courage and initiative.

Here’s a timeline summary:

1839 – 1841: Balook and surrounds was first explored by James Macarthur, then by Count Paul Strzelecki. This early exploration was sponsored by Angus McMillan, a Scotsman living in NSW. With the expert help of an aboriginal tracker, Charlie Tarra, Strzelecki’s group fought through tough rainforest, tree-ferns and sword grass and were lucky to survive.

1876: Early settlement was initiated around Mirboo.

1922: Grand Ridge Road was completed

1934: Tarra-Bulga Guest House was built

Land clearing in the forest

Between 1839 and 1841, sponsored by Angus McMillan a Scotsman living in N.S.W., James Macarthur and later ‘Count’ Paul Strzelecki explored West from the Sale district to the area near Traralgon. Assisted by the indigenous Charlie Tarra the group fought their way South West through Rain forest, tree-ferns and sword grass eventually veering from their target of Corner Inlet to emerge near starving at Western Port.

Settlement of the area did not commence until 1876 around Mirboo. Back breaking land clearing, isolation and eventually the devastating fire of 1898 constrained the development of the hills. Land clearing did continue however and by 1922 the “Grand Ridge Road” had been completed with small towns (Gunyah, English’s Corner, Jumbuk, Jeeralang, Balook, Blackwarry, Carrajung and Mirboo North) strung along the road.

 This route was studded with Guesthouses and Hotels. Good fishing and shooting was offered at the Gunyah Central Hotel, The Castle at Mirboo North offered both hot and cold water. Others lost to time or bushfires included The Orana, The Ranch and the Ocean View.

One of the very few remaining is the Tarra Bulga Guesthouse at Balook built in 1934. The guesthouse still offers the traveler warm welcome, even Russian spies the Petrovs, who visited in 1954!

Russian spies Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov visited in 1954

Former hosts Robyn and Nick welcome Nici and Steve who will continue the long tradition of country style accommodation and dining offered over the years at the top of “the Heartbreak Hills”, 2000 feet above stress level.

And take a peek at the historical evidence of the early settlers of Balook.

Tarra-Bulga Guest House