Improving Beechworth’s “mud hole” 

Beechworth and Surrounds

Urban renewal after the Gold Rush began in the area in 1928, with the construction of the dam, however this by no means solved the problem.

In June 1938, local councillor Zwar noted that while £1500 had been spent on the lake up until that time, it was no more than a mud hole and an eyesore to the town. Official estimates suggested that a further £500 was needed to raise the dam bank by 6 feet.

World War II unfortunately proved to be a major setback for local plans to improve the lake, with the Beechworth District Progress Association only able to resume work in 1948. Aided by a donation of £250 from the Zwar brothers, the plans involved raising the dam wall and providing up-to-date swimming facilities, a paddling pool and a caravan park.

Visionary though these projects were, they still suffered from one major problem involving connecting the lake precinct with the town alongside it. The presence of the Beechworth to Yackandandah railway line running straight up the western back of the Lake Sambell reserve, effectively cut off easy access in the central section of the lake.

The closure of this railway branch line in 1953 was hence a matter of huge importance for

the future development of Lake Sambell. It was only after this that the town was able to actively expand outwards to fringe the lake shores.

This process happened very quickly and by 1959 the parish map of the town illustrated how the extension to Billson Street was connecting to the newly built Kraus Lane, Jardine Street and Carter Drive.

We can appreciate the impact of this expansion clearly when overlaying these 1959 details with our present day map of the lake. This undertaking paved the way for the further development of the lake precinct, to enable it to become what it is today.