A plan to develop a 24-hour accessible boat ramp at the Stockyard Creek Landing in Foster has been put before the South Gippsland Shire Council.
Foster resident since 2015, bird-lover and recreational fisherman Fred Weight asked the council to, “develop, refurbish and extend the boat launch facilities at … ‘The Landing’,” at the shire’s proposed annual budget and revised council plan 2017 – 2021 open hearings held in Leongatha on Wednesday May 22, 2019.
In his submission Mr Weight wrote that his major objectives were, “to improve the opportunity for recreational use of Corner Inlet in the Foster area”, “to upgrade boat launch conditions”, and to “enhance the economic and recreational status of the Foster area.”
Mr Weight requested the council to “assume management responsibility” for the Landing and to provide 24-hour launching for powered boats, a facility for other craft like canoes, a greater efficiency of use, increased safety and easier access for all users including those with a disability.
He is also seeking recognition and advancement of local indigenous culture and heritage, as well as of the Corner Inlet environment, with “particular reference to the international Ramsar Convention on wetlands”.
Mr Weight told the council a little of the history of the Landing, which was first established by a Port Albert steamboat operator during the Stockyard Creek gold rush of the late 1860s, to bring passengers and goods as close as he could to the diggings located a few miles further west upstream, to where Foster now stands.
A government wharf was built, followed by a hotel, houses and shops, however as road and rail access developed and the dependence on steamer transport declined, so did the settlement at the landing.
“There is a rudimentary concrete launching ramp (near where the original wharf was), which can only be used for a few hours over the high tide period,” Mr Weight wrote.
“This ramp is about 1.5 kilometres from the entrance into Corner Inlet, which is not ideal for recreational craft, and, being so far up stream, it means even more limited times of usage.”
Mr Weight proposes that the higher of two basins formed by a natural s-bend in Stockyard Creek upstream from the present landing, “would make an ideal location for a new full-time ramp.
He suggests that the council, “acquire about one hectare of land adjacent to the upper basin” and build an “appropriate boat-ramp”, an access road and a turning loop, vehicle and boat trailer parking and a wharf or several jetties, and install solar lighting and “a suitable toilet”.
The current boat ramp would be turned over to non-powered water craft’s use.
Mr Weight asked the council, “to source all funds for the project and to proceed as quickly as possible, to replace a dreadfully run-down concrete ramp built in the wrong place.
“I ask the council to examine the feasibility of this project.”
Coastal Promontory Ward Cr Ray Argento said that, “there are working boat ramps 10 or 15 minutes in either direction” [of the Stockyard Creek entrance].
Mr Weight said his plan “has the support of other groups” and that “only Port Welshpool has 24-hour boat access.
“There is no [water] access for emergency services closer to Foster.”The council thanked Mr Weight for his submission and told him it would be considered.