Infamous coastal controversies of the past five years

As the clock ticks down on my last two months with GORCC, it seems timely to look back over the achievements and challenges of the past five years.

It will probably come as no surprise to many when I say that our work is not all plain sailing. Indeed, as the following top 10 list shows, GORCC has  weathered plenty of controversial issues. While these have been challenging at the time, they have all inevitably led us towards learning some very valuable and salient lessons.

Here are some of our most infamous controversies of the past five years. Rest assured that while the tone may be light, they each represent some very hard lessons learned!

  • ‘Parking Gate’
    Who can forget our attempt to install parking meters in Torquay, Jan Juc and Anglesea in 2007? It had worked in Lorne for three previous years so we thought we’d use it in other areas to generate some new funding for our work to look after the coast. After announcing our plans, we endured a massive backlash from throughout the local community, causing us to back down and even leading us to eventually remove the meters from Lorne. It still comes up from time to time in media reports.
  • ‘Pool Gate’
    The controversy continues in Lorne about the redevelopment of the Lorne swimming pool and whether it should be heated or not. We’re hopeful this will all be resolved one way or another in the near future.
  • ‘Bunker Gate’
    Our staff discovered an elaborate bunker in the sand dunes at Fishermans Beach in Torquay, which made the news on all major radio stations and ABC TV. Must have been a slow news day!
  • ‘Memorial Gate’
    Thinking we had everyone’s support, we set out to upgrade Point Danger in Torquay, which included building a new war memorial. Unfortunately we had neglected to honour Joe Walker and his mates who had built the original rock cairn, which our local war veterans still considered to be very important. After some difficult times, we worked out a compromise with Joe and the RSL to keep the old memorial while building the new one. They are both resplendent now, especially at the annual dawn service on ANZAC Day
  • ‘Camper Gate’
    Our plans to upgrade the Torquay and Lorne Foreshore Caravan Parks have certainly generated strong reactions from many of our regular campers who for many years have enjoyed staying in the parks. And continue to do so with the imminent start of stage one power upgrade works at Torquay currently attracting many questions, concerns and comments from the campers affected by these works.
  • ‘Cut/gap Gate’
    A few residents in Torquay became very concerned at what they thought were our plans to close the ‘gap’ at Whites Beach.
  • ‘Stairs Gate’
    Unfortunately the old stairs at Bird Rock in Jan Juc had to be removed because they were no longer safe and it wasn’t possible to build a safe set. Despite the danger, the signs and a fence, a few irresponsible surfers still get to their favourite wave by scrambling up and down the cliff face rather than using the stairs leading down from Little Rock car park. It seems some people never learn.
  • ‘Toilet Gate’
    The old toilet on the foreshore in Torquay has needed to be replaced for some time now. Unfortunately it is situated directly across the road from some very expensive premuim real estate. Not surprisingly the owners are concerned – and have been for some time – about how the new building  will be sensitive to their needs (i.e. views) as residents and property owners. The new facility still hasn’t been built while the existing one continues to deteriorate. Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder.
  • ‘Slaughterhouse’
    An unused and little-known but important bit of Crown land in Lorne has the potential to be used for accommodation or some other appropriate purpose. But should it be developed at all? And if so, how to ensure the best outcomes for the coast and the community?
  • ‘The Pong Su’
    An international drug operation gone wrong, with dead bodies washing up on the Lorne foreshore. Nothing to do with us but very interesting all the same.

Posted by David Clarke, CEO.

Crown Land Caravan Parks – Funding coastal management in Victoria for more than 100 years

The first reservations of public land along the Victorian coast were made in the 1860s. Not long after, in 1898, the committee of management system was implemented, which gave local communities management control of foreshore reserves on behalf of the Victorian public, with oversight by the State Government.

Most foreshore reserves included small camping areas, which have provided the majority of funding for committees of management since the 1900s.

Today, approximately one-third of the Victorian coast is managed by committees of management. These volunteer organisations (or in some cases local councils) are appointed under the Crown Land Reserves Act to “manage, improve, maintain and control the land for the purpose for which it is reserved”. They also comply with and help implement the Victorian Coastal Strategy.

There are more than 80 caravan parks and camping grounds on Crown land along the Victorian coast.

From Nelson on the South Australian border, along the Great Ocean Road, around Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula, through to Wilsons Promontory, Gippsland and Mallacoota near the NSW border, there are a diverse range of caravan parks and camping grounds in fantastic coastal locations.

Caravan parks and camping grounds on coastal Crown land provide affordable recreational opportunities for millions of people to visit and enjoy the coast each year.

Revenue generated by operating these parks is used by the committees of management to look after the foreshore reserves and the coast itself. Committees operate on a not-for-profit basis, with all surplus funds used to look after the coast.

So next time you take a camping holiday along the Victorian coast, not only will you have a fantastic holiday, but you will be contributing important funds towards the management and care of our beautiful coastal environment.

And you will be building on more than 100 years of camping – and coastal management – tradition!

Email info@coastalcampingvictoria.com.au to receive a free copy of the Victorian Coastal Caravan & Camping Guide.

Posted by David Clarke, CEO

Beauty and the Beast: Managing the Coast Along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road

The coast is what inspires and motivates the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee. The environmental, social, recreation, tourism and economic values of the coast benefit us all. The coast also faces plenty of challenges, from weeds, litter and erosion to climate change. We all have to do more to achieve a sustainable coast and community.

Overseen by a skills-based volunteer committee and delivered by some 25 passionate staff, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (a.k.a. GORCC) raises more than 80 per cent of its $5 million annual budget by operating two major caravan parks in Torquay and Lorne.

All funds raised by GORCC are reinvested in the coast – protecting natural and cultural values, providing recreation, tourism and community infrastructure, and minimizing the impacts of human use on the coast.

Managing the coastline along the Great Ocean Road requires a mix of skill, courage, patience and a thick skin. Thirty-seven kilometres and 500 hectares of coastal Crown land, 150 beach access points, 24 public toilets, 32 car parks, 25 kilometres of walking tracks, more than 270 weed species and plenty more means the coastline requires regular attention to meet coastal and community objectives.

Collaboration across boundaries with community groups, government agencies, other land managers and the general public is critical to success, but often easy to say and hard to achieve.

There are plenty of challenging issues like summer visitor numbers, growing populations, dogs on beaches, infrastructure upgrades and commercial activities in a time and place of climate (and community) change.

There is nothing like a quiet day in the office managing the beauty and the beast of the coastline along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Posted by David Clarke, CEO