The Mirror News

Winds of change buffet the Port

CHANGES are being made on several fronts in an attempt to bring Port Welshpool into the twenty-first century – but not everyone is happy.

The rumblings of discontent about the changes at Long Jetty Caravan Park, in particular, have become so loud that a public meeting was held at Port Welshpool last Tuesday night to discuss this and other issues concerning the little town.

A large crowd attended the meeting in the old ferry terminal building. The meeting was chaired by the acting president of Port Welshpool Working Group, Paul Hamlett. At the front sat a panel comprising representatives of South Gippsland Shire Council and Gippsland Ports, prepared to answer questions and to fill the audience in on the progress of restoration of the Long Jetty and plans for a marina at Port Welshpool, as well as to talk about Long Jetty Caravan Park. It soon became clear, however, that the vast majority of the 70 or so people there that night had come to hear about the caravan park.

Council took over the running of the Long Jetty and Yanakie caravan parks – two of the four crown land caravan parks in South Gippsland Shire – from the long-term managers when the contracts came to an end last year. That was contentious enough, with a number of ratepayers expressing the view that Council should not be involved in such entrepreneurial exercises. What has especially riled the caravan park tenants, however, is Council moving to enforce the government legislation which has, in many cases, been in place for a long time but which has not always been adhered to or enforced.

As Shire CEO Tim Tamlin pointed out at last week’s meeting, Council has obligations, which are non-negotiable. “We’re not here to evict anyone. We’re here to work with you on safety compliance,” Mr Tamlin the meeting. He explained that Council is required to operate and manage the parks in accordance with a range of government legislation and policies. These include:

  • Caravans on Crown Land must be able to be moved;
  • Owners of unregistered caravans need to be able to demonstrate that they are capable of being registered with VicRoads;
  • Council will allow site users 12 months to bring their sites into compliance;
  • No new unregistered caravans will be allowed in the park.

As for cabins, these cannot be privately owned in crown land caravan parks. Council is allowing existing site holders with cabins to achieve compliance within the next 12 months, noting that should the site user no longer wish to remain in the park, the cabin will need to be removed. No new privately owned cabins will be allowed in the park.

Council has plans for significant improvements at both the Long Jetty and the Yanakie caravan parks. Over the next year these include:

Long Jetty

  • Electrical works for compliance with electrical safety standards;
  • Commence power head replacement program;
  • Road resheeting;
  • Recreation room refurbishment;
  • Shop and office refurbishment;
  • Tree maintenance.


  • Stage 1 – upgrade to fire fighting service;
  • Commence power head replacement program;
  • Road resheeting;
  • Water treatment system (occupational health and safety);
  • Solar hot water service (gas supported) for second amenity block;
  • Shop refurbishment;
  • New machinery for maintenance (occupational health and safety);
  • Tree maintenance program.

Lindsay Brown from the Friends of the Park spoke up saying that there were a lot of anxious people at the meeting and they were grateful to finally have some sort of communication with the council. He suggested that communication had been inadequate, although a shire spokesperson later told ‘The Mirror’ that communication had been constant from the day Council took over management of the parks.

“This communication has been via the web, print base and verbal. Communication and positive relationships are the key for Council,” said Projects Coordinator Lauren Rundle. “Council is very aware of the concerns of our park users and we are working with individuals and park committees to ensure that we move towards a state of compliance for safety and legislative reasons. There are varying concerns and we are investing appropriate time and resources to make sure these are addressed.”

Several site holders at the meeting made no secret of their displeasure with the new regime. Many others were clearly of the same view and roundly applauded the handful who spoke up. One site holder suggested there could be grounds for seeking compensation for previous incompetent management of the park, but Mr Tamlin advised there was little likelihood of such a move being successful.

The CEO told the caravan owners firmly: “It’s difficult. It’s not fun, [but] we need to work with you.”

He added: “I would implore all site users to work with us so that we can collectively realise the rewards. Council wants its interactions to be proactive and friendly with site users because we know you are best situated to provide valuable local knowledge.”

Parks Coordinator Jock Wilson introduced himself and said that he welcomed enquiries from site holders. He urged them to take their time to read the permits but then sign them, as this was necessary to remain in the park. He said that he would be available at Long Jetty Caravan Park throughout the weekend of October 11-12 to meet with site holders and discuss issues one on one. In the meantime, staff members are available at both Long Jetty and Yanakie caravan parks during business hours for site holders to catch up with. All web-based information is also available in hard copy at each park office.


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