January 2020 Summer Forum:
AIDA invited the community to a Summer Forum on Tuesday January 7th, 2020 at the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club Rooms, to hear about the State Government’s plans for the Great Ocean Road and the new Great Ocean Road Authority.
The challenges facing the road, and those who live along the coast, range from the pressures of increasing numbers of tourists and traffic to climate change and funding. Decisions made now will affect us for many years to come.
The forum was attended by about 110 people from along the coast between Lorne and Anglesea. Richard Riordan, State Member for Polwarth, Surf Coast Shire Ward Councillors Margot Smith and Tony Revell, Surf Coast Shire CEO Keith Baillie, and GORCC CEO Vanessa Schernickau were among those there.
The meeting heard from Colleen White (Regional Director, Barwon South West DELWP), Paul Jane (Manager Great Ocean Road Reform, DELWP) and local resident and AIDA committee member Professor Chris Ryan who has research expertise in eco-tourism, sustainability and environmental issues as well as climate change.
Colleen White and Paul Jane outlined the development of the legislation establishing the GOR Authority Bill being passed through parliament later in 2020. Chris Ryan reflected on the broader challenges, using examples such as the development for tourism of the western coast road in Ireland which resulted in traffic congestion and calls for new by-pass roads.
This was followed by questions from the floor. The topics raised included the proposed Eden Project in Anglesea and the community survey results. It was claimed that the figures being used by DEWLP, the Eden Project and Alcoa to indicate community support do not reflect the actual results, which are evident
in the raw data that has now been released under a Freedom of Information application.
- how the membership of the new ‘skills based’ GOR Authority based in Torquay with some district offices in Apollo Bay and Port Campbell and operational bases in other coastal towns would be decided and whether and how local representatives would be included.
- who would be responsible for approving public events.
- whether too much vegetation along road sides is aggravating fire danger.
- the need to carefully protect sites of indigenous heritage.
- the need for research into the vehicle carrying, and tourist numbers, capacity of the Great Ocean Road.
- how to resolve the fundamental conflict between the two broad aims of the new Authority: to protect the environment and landscapes of the GOR and increase tourism at the same time.
- the place of the community, and GOR communities, in developing strategic plans for the road.
- issues around the threat of fires and traffic management along the road during bush fires
Doug Humann from the Aireys Inlet CFA also spoke briefly about the plans for the new CFA station at the Bottom Shops. At the meeting, $420 was collected for the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund. AIDA donated $100.
January 2020 Summer Forum:
At our 2018 AGM it was agreed that in future AIDA would hold a community meeting in January each year. At the first such meeting, held on Tuesday 8 January 2019, the Victorian government’s new Great Ocean Road Action Plan was debated at a packed summer community forum at the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club. The forum, entitled ‘Will Tourism Kill the Great Ocean Road?’ gave holiday-home owners, residents and visitors a chance to consider the plan.
This year AIDA is once again organising a summer forum scheduled for early to mid-January. Last year, Libby Sampson – Senior Project Manager, Great Ocean Road Management Reform – and Jamie Rowe, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation – spoke about plans for reform of the management of the Great Ocean Road and its environs as recommended by the Great Ocean Road Action Plan.
The Great Ocean Road Action Plan contains the government’s response to a task force set up to consider the protection of the local environment along the Great Ocean Road. This plan recommends that, instead of many small authorities, there should be one overarching authority under the auspices of Department of Environment, Land and Planning.
One of the major tasks of this new authority is the management of tourism numbers in such a way that the area reaps the benefits of tourism, while at the same time not becoming a victim of its own success. How we as a community handle the projected increase in tourist numbers is of major importance to AIDA.
This year it seems appropriate to continue the theme of the implementation of the action plan. The timeline for the implementation states that the long-term objectives will be established in the last quarter of this year, and in the first quarter of next year the authority will seek public consultation and community views. It seems appropriate that community members have the opportunity to find out more about the plan before the start of public consultation.
AIDA looks forward to welcoming members and non-members to what will be an interesting and topical session.
We will post the date and venue details on our new Facebook page – @AIDAaireysinlet – and also email members.
January 2019 Summer Forum
At the 2018 AGM it was agreed that in future AIDA will hold a community meeting in January each year. At the first such meeting, held on Tuesday 8 January 2019, the Victorian government’s new Great Ocean Road Action Plan was debated at a packed summer community forum at the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club. The forum, entitled ‘Will Tourism Kill the Great Ocean Road?’ gave holiday-home owners, residents and visitors a chance to consider the plan. Libby Sampson, the Great Ocean Road Taskforce Project Manager at DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), noted Australia’s three Rs of international tourist attractions – the Rock, the Reef and the Road – with the Great Ocean Road attracting more than the Rock and Reef combined. Overseas tourism has grown at 22 per cent per annum for ten years and Avalon Airport’s new international flights will increase this growth. Sometimes there are 300 buses at the Twelve Apostles, while Surf Coast Shire research shows these visitors contribute just 17 cents each to the shire economy – the dubious economics of hit and run bus tourism.
Guests at the forum asked many interesting questions with a lively discussion following the speakers.
Ian Porter from AIDA asked ‘if [fast or mass] tourism will kill tourism on the Great Ocean Road? – with declining quality tourism experiences, and effects on local environments and amenity’. He noted New South Wales Hyam’s Beach closing the town to cars when car parks are full on peak holiday days and redirecting traffic to other beaches after overly successful tourism promotions, and places like Barcelona, Dubrovnik and the Isle of Skye actively seeking to limit tourists.
Jamie Lowe, CEO of the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, noted Indigenous peoples’ concerns for country and potential for cultural tourism. He wryly noted that not many Indigenous people live on country in Aireys Inlet as few can afford a million-dollar beach house!
The Victorian government’s Great Ocean Road Action Plan and new authority have potential to both protect the environment and ensure more sustainable tourism if adequately funded and if environmental values are placed ahead of growing tourism numbers.
Speakers received bouquets from an Aireys Inlet garden plus homemade jam.