History of Burrill Lake
Burrill Lake became established as a popular tourist centre during the early 1920s, when there were only four permanent dwellings. Before there was any township, a ‘canvas city’ would spring up at holiday times.
During the Christmas season of 1922, Mr. and Mrs Phillip Butson began catering for the needs of the campers, from their farm west of the pine forest. Robert James Cooper who built a house under the hill alongside the shores of the channel. Coral trees and pines were planted around the house, and they are still there today.
During the 1920s, the Cooper Estate was subdivided, and is today the township of Burrill Lake. The bridge across the lake had been built in 1881.
The Ireland family were the first white settlers, possibly as early as the 1840s, when they lived near the shore on the south side of the lake, in a house on the hill above what is now the Bungalow Caravan Park. They established a timber mill, on the site now occupied by the tennis court. Bullock teams were used to haul the timber around the property to the mill where it was sawn, mostly by hand, for building local homes.
Burrill Primary School in Woodstock Road south west of the lake, operated from 1876 until 1934, and it was demolished in 1947. Burrill Lake school which opened in 1898, closed in 1903.
The principal industry in the district was timber, and one of the mills was on the site of the open air theatre (which opened in 1946). Shell grit gathering began early in the 20th century, with large quantities being bagged and shipped to market.
Around 1900, W.G. Kelly experimented with shell grit to make lime, a commodity much in demand at the time. He burnt the shell in a big hole by the beach near Dolphin Point, and for a couple of decades the industry flourished. However it faded out with the wider use of superphosphate in agriculture.
The Butson children, on horseback, made daily deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables, butter, milk and home-made bread. As a result, the number of campers increased rapidly, and the Butsons moved into a pole and bark shelter. A more substantial building was soon erected, and boarders were taken in.
Mr. Butson secured a large private mail bag for the convenience of campers who had their mail delivered daily. When the business was sold in the 1930s, the building was moved to near the highway on log rollers drawn by a bullock team, and is still in use as a store opposite Burrill Lake Post Office.