Wednesday, 8 February 2023


Sea Lake Mallee Rally

Sea Lake Mallee Rally

Jade BENHAM (Mildura) (19:15): (23) The adjournment I wish to raise is on behalf of the people of Sea Lake to the Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, and the action I seek is the release of the Aboriginal cultural landscape conservation management plan for Lake Tyrrell so a future might be sought for the return of the Sea Lake Mallee Rally.

The Mallee Rally is Australia’s oldest known off-road car race. It has been traditionally held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend since its first year in 1974. The event has grown to include about 100 competitors and injects about $250,000 into the Sea Lake economy. I know that does not sound like much, but for a town like Sea Lake with a population of just over 600 that is enormous.

The issue for the Sea Lake Off Road Club and its supporters of the event is that over four years ago the rally stalled over an Aboriginal heritage ruling. The race’s abrupt cancellation came after a state heritage adviser identified traditional Aboriginal artefacts around the lake, which prompted a conservation assessment.

This process, which was paid for by the state government and administered by the shire council, was swift, which was terrific. An interim report immediately determined that the Mallee Rally, however, posed too high a risk for Lake Tyrrell’s sensitive cultural heritage, which included proof of 30,000 years of Aboriginal habitation, which I am sure we would all like to be educated on.

Supporters of the race continue to vent their frustrations at the lack of communication and progress. The race had been operating successfully for 47 years. The committee had worked over that time with the traditional owners to protect Lake Tyrrell, its history and its incredible beauty, and it has become an Instagram phenomenon over the last few years. The opportunity is there for traditional inhabitants and owners of Lake Tyrrell to share their stories, to educate us on the culture and the history of the place. People thirst for that knowledge, and I hope a compromise can be reached between the traditional inhabitants and the event organisers so that the Mallee Rally, Australia’s longest off-road race, can return to Sea Lake. Minister, the action I seek is for the release of the Aboriginal cultural landscape conservation management plan for Lake Tyrrell.