The Omeo Plains were one of the first regions of Victoria to be settled by Europeans; this was during the period of 1834-1836, the same time that the first settlements were being made in Melbourne and also at Portland in the state's south-west.
Unlike most of Australia, where exploration typically went inland from the sea, the Gippsland region was first explored and settled by Europeans who came overland from the Monaro region of New South Wales and headed down to the coastal regions. This could perhaps be seen as a natural expansion of the first settlements of Australia radiating out from Sydney, but to do so the settlers had to cross the not insignificant barrier of the Australian Alps.
In fact the first to arrive via this route were not explorers in the traditional sense, but ordinary stockmen pushing out to expand their range. The route they initially found put them in the Omeo region, with access largely through present day Benambra. First to arrive was James MacFarlane in late 1834. Upon reaching the Omeo plains he climbed and named Macfarlane Lookout, and in 1835 he returned with two other Highland Scots, George MacKillop and Livingstone, all settling on the Omeo Plains (which stretch from east of Benambra westwards to Omeo).
MacFarlane then returned to the Monaro and brought cattle back to the Benambra area in 1836 (which at the time they called Strathdownie). This formed Gippsland’s first squatting run. The Scots were soon followed by four Irish cattlemen from the Monaro. John Pendergast was at Lake Omeo (in Benambra) by 1836, John Hyland took up a run at Hinnomunjie (a locality between Benambra and Omeo), Edmund Buckley moved to Tongio Munjie and Ensay, south of Omeo, in 1836, and his stepson, Patrick Buckley, was at Benambra by 1839. There are still many Pendergast families in the area today.
By the time of 1839 and 1840 wealthy landholders in New South Wales had become interested in the Gippsland region and funded further exploration of the region. The key explorations around this time were those of another Scot, Angus McMillan, and a Polish scientist-explorer, Count Paul Strzelecki. Both of these expedition parties passed through the then established lands around Benambra and Omeo heading south towards the coast, and both were assisted by the McFarlane family.
McMillan completed several expeditions, and while he was not necessarily the first to visit many locations, his explorations were the most important in terms of European settlement of Gippsland proper. On his final expedition he located a suitable port for the region, at present day Port Albert. The route established then by McMillan remains essentially the same major north-south route through Gippsland to this day.
For several decades Gippsland operated essentially on this north-south axis, following this route from Benambra and Omeo to Port Albert, but in the 1860s a road was opened from Melbourne to the east, and this was followed a couple of decades later by a rail line
The cache is located on Macfarlane Lookout, there is no track to the summit and the re-growth from the 2003 bushfire is very thick in many places (see terrain rating). You will need good navigation skills and a good level of fitness to complete the walk. Take water, snacks, map, compass and GPS (and know how to use them), you will get phone coverage up high. It was a three hour return trip when i placed the cache. You can drive to the parking co-ordinates through the old quarry with a 2WD vehicle or with a 4X4 vehicle straight of the Beloka Rd. This cache is part of a series of caches in the Benambra area highlighting the discovery of the Omeo Plains and thereafter, Gippsland. I hope you enjoy the climb, the cache and the history of the area.