WARATAH Bay was the location chosen by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, for the announcement last Wednesday of $846,000 in funding for projects along the Victorian coast.
The funding is set to benefit coastal councils and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) committees of management through the Coastal Risk Mitigation Program.
“In all, 17 projects have been supported in this round, including the $58,000 upgrade of steps at the Waratah Bay foreshore and caravan park,” Mr Smith said.
South Gippsland Shire Council is the committee of management for the caravan park and the shire’s chief executive officer, Tim Tamlin, Mayor Kieran Kennedy and engineering coordinator, Paul Challis, were at the beach to greet the minister and welcome the funding announcement.
Mr Challis said that depending on the weather the upgrade of the steps from the caravan park to the beach – and also ramp access – should be completed within the next couple of weeks. Jim Harry, the lessee of the caravan park, and a qualified builder, will help construct the much-needed steps.
Another local recipient of funding is the Sandy Point Foreshore Committee of Management. It will receive $9200 for drainage works and the resurfacing of the main beach access track.
Other projects include constructing boardwalks at Phillip Island Nature Parks, repairing beach access ramps at Port Fairy, reviewing risks and hazards at Westernport, Gippsland Lakes and 90 Mile Beach, and auditing safety signage along the Great Ocean Road.
“Victoria has more than 2,000 kilometres of some of the world’s most spectacular and accessible coastline. As our coasts are ever-changing environments, governments and land managers have an ongoing role in assessing and managing risks relating to the impacts of coastal hazards on Victorian coasts,” Mr Smith said.
The Coastal Risk Mitigation Program provides targeted funding for coastal public land managers, including local councils and committees of management, to reduce risks while helping to maintain public access to Victoria’s coastline.
“The coast is an area of immense environmental, cultural, social and economic significance,” Mr Smith said.
“In Victoria, we are fortunate that 96 per cent of the coast is public land, conserved and managed for the enjoyment of all Victorians, now and into the future.
“A key challenge for Victoria’s coastal land managers is to provide safe access to our coasts in a way that protects the surrounding environment and can be maintained in the long-term.
“It is great to be able to fund these important projects and to recognise and support the valuable work these groups are doing on our coast.”
For more information about the Coastal Risk Mitigation Program visit www.dse.vic.gov.au/coasts
Mr Smith was at Waratah Bay as part of a two-day tour of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority district with the chair of the board, Angus Hume. Over the last twelve months, Mr Smith has made it his business to tour all the CMA districts in the state. West Gippsland is the last of the ten.
“Our government appointed the CMA boards and it is important to meet with the board members and stakeholders and see the work that they are doing,” said the minister. “The CMA is a conduit between the government and the community and I like to see that work identified as a priority is being carried out.”
Before his visit to Waratah Bay he had been at Archies Creek, where he inspected the Archies Creek catchment restoration with members of Bass Landcare Group. This was followed by a visit to Waratah Lodge, where he launched Australia’s first Landcare number plates.
After Waratah Bay, the minister was due to survey Corner Inlet from the vantage point of the lookout on Silcocks Hill Road, Toora, before heading to an irrigation farm near Maffra and a fish ladder at the Cowwarr Weir. Next on his busy schedule was a meet and greet with community and CMA board members at Traralgon, a quick tour of Moe canal and finally a function at Warragul’s Wild Dog Winery with members of the various CMA advisory groups.