December 2021 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,
This newsletter is designed to provide you with a brief update about our activities this year as 2021draws to a close – as well, of course, to send best wishes for the summer and the holiday season. 2021 has been another year marked by lockdowns and other constraints on our activities. But it has still been quite a busy one and has seen some successes.

Victorian Coastcare Award
Amaryll Perlesz and Rosemary Paterson from the Friends Group
The most notable of these is the winning of this year’s Victorian Landcare Coastcare Award. This award recognises the work of community groups whose work has led to a significant improvement of a marine and coastal environment.

As those who have seen the report on our website will already know, the award was made jointly to us and the Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers Association. We will now go forward together as the Victorian nominees in the Coastcare category in the 2022 National Landcare awards. Congratulations to all who have worked over many years to achieve this well-deserved recognition.

For more than a decade our association, led by our Friends “wing”, has worked with our Cape Pat counterparts to revive coastal biodiversity, protect the ecosystem of Wreck Bay (and beyond) and promote the unique environment of the Bunurong coastal zone.

Since 2009 we’ve:
· held scores of coastal weed control and local species revegetation working bees with local volunteers,
· built board walks, bridges and beach access paths to minimise
dune erosion,
· regenerated salt marsh habitat,
· protected a maritime archaeological wreck,
· hosted the Wreck Beach Great Victorian Fish Count, and
· run a beach litter art show.

We’ve found funding for fox and feral cat control using soft-jaw and cage trapping, as well as for aerial weed mapping and ecological surveys.

So thanks to all who have been involved over the years. We greatly value your participation as well as the skills and knowledge you’ve developed along the way.

Thanks too for the help we’ve received from Parks Victoria, Bass Coast Shire Council, Bass Coast Landcare Network, Victorian National Parks Association, West Gippsland CMA, Coastcare Victoria, Bass Coast Friends of the Hooded Plover, South Gippsland Conservation Society, Friends of the Wonthaggi Heathlands, Envirogain, Smolders Revegetation and Wonthaggi Seed Bank and Nursery.

Yallock-Bulluk Marine And Coastal Park Access
And Infrastructure Plan

For a large part of both 2020 and 2021, our Group has been engaged with the issues that have arisen from the state government’s proposals for the newly created Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park and for the trail that will run through it.There are in fact few surprises in this final Plan. The trail will, as expected, go through Harmers Haven, with the main route being along the beach. A second route, coming through the Wonthaggi Heathland and along the Ware farmland fence line to the west end of Viminaria Road, is “proposed”. This section of the trail will go through sensitive dune and heathland areas and so remains a problem. We will continue to press for input into decisions about how this route is developed.

On the positive side, some details of the draft Plan which were of particular concern to us have been changed or clarified:
· There is no proposal to create a continuous east-west trail through the foreshore i.e. behind the houses on the south side of Viminaria Road
· The section of the trail which will run behind several of the houses at the west end of Viminaria Road will be a walking trail only – no bikes. As reported in an earlier bulletin, we anticipate that both affected residents and our Association will be able to have input into
any decisions to upgrade/modify pedestrian access to this area.
· There are no proposals for the creation of new access points and pathways in the Harmers area.
· There are no new facilities (toilets, kiosks, car parks) proposed for Harmers.

We have also received undertakings from Parks Victoria that residents will be consulted about the implementation of elements of the plan that directly affect our community.

We will of course continue to monitor all future activities, especially where we believe they are going to be particularly problematic. The proposal to re-engineer the access path from the Wreck Bay car park to the beach is a case in point.The possible removal/ repositioning of what is described as the Coal Point staircase (i.e. the steps at the end of the track that runs down to the beach from the west end of Viminaria Road) will also need to be monitored.This possibility is flagged on p.43 and reflects the fact that the stairs are reaching their use-by date.

But where any new ones might be and what any re-positioning might mean both for the existing track and for access to this area (especially at high tide) remain open questions. Watch this space. As we have always said, much of the actual impact of the Access and Infrastructure Plan will not be evident until localised and detailed design and construction work begins. 2022 is likely to be a busy year.

A Park On Our Doorstep
This year, our engagement with Parks Victoria and the state government about the Yallock-Bulluk Access and Infrastructure Plan has brought home to us the fact that our community is now living next to a fully-fledged Marine and Coastal Park.

Members need to be aware that this may bring some changes to the way we have used and interacted with what was once the Foreshore Reserve.

Currently residents/ratepayers at Harmers Haven, especially on the south side, do sometimes make minor incursions into the foreshore area – keeping vegetation at the back of houses down, for instance, through pruning or
mowing. And it is, in fact, perfectly legal, for fire safety purposes, to clear vegetation within a metre of your fence line.

In future though, Parks Victoria is likely to take a harsher view of any significant assaults on vegetation or unauthorised modifications to terrain within the Park. Now the Park has been declared Parks Victoria has additional powers to protect it and can be expected to use them.

Basil Ate The Octopus: A History Of Harmers Haven
Some members may be interested to know that John Old has published a memoir entitled Basil Ate the Octopus: Early days at Harmers Haven.

John first started coming to Harmers in the 1950s as a ten-year-old, before any subdivision and when it was just a bush block. His memoir describes how Harmers Haven came about and how it all was back then, when Eddie Harmer still had his shack on the beach. Any members interested in getting a copy of the book can find some at the Artscape Studio at 1 Bent Street Wonthaggi. Alternatively, contact John directly on 0417 895 054.