The lighthouse precinct of Aireys Inlet has suffered increasing traffic congestion and tourist influx for more than fifteen years, with each traffic management plan commissioned by the shire from various consultants ignoring the scale of the problem and the obvious limitation to visitor parking in this residential neighbourhood. This has meant overflowing traffic, with large buses, caravans, camper vans, cars and pedestrians all forced to compete for road space outside limited numbers of designated parking areas. AIDA and local residents participated in consultative processes with the shire and GORCC over a number of years, until finally in 2010 following submissions by AIDA that reflected and addressed the concerns of residents, our then local councillors, Libby Mears, Libby Coker and Simon Northeast, persuaded the council to pass a ten-point resolution for measures for parking improvements and traffic management in the lighthouse precinct (click Lighthouse Precinct Saga for details of these resolutions and of the saga to date).
The final significant stage in the implementation of the Surf Coast Shire’s traffic management plan for the Split Point lighthouse precinct – revision of directional signage on the GOR and of regulatory, interpretative, pedestrian and vehicular directional signs throughout the precinct – was carried out in the weeks following Easter 2013. The new signage plan, whose major aims included reversal of the proliferation of all types of signs over the past decade, the removal of signage that directed large vehicles into the precinct with the promise of non-existent parking facilities, and prohibition of bus entry into the precinct except via the Inlet Crescent south entry during non-holiday periods, was developed following a year of detailed consultation between officers from the shire’s engineering and tourism departments with representatives of AIDA, GORCC and local tourism operators.
The new signage has had a very beneficial effect on traffic in the precinct. Significant changes include the restriction of buses over 6 metres from parking in the precinct, and the development of the Aireys Inlet Reserve car park which has now become a central starting point for visitors to explore the town. It is the beginning of the Lighthouse Heritage Trail, which leads up to the lighthouse. Visitors can enjoy picturesque views across the Inlet, and some of the best views in Aireys across to Lorne on the walk up to the lighthouse. The trail is part of the Coastal Walk that leads from Fairhaven to join the trail, and then connects to the cliff walk at Step Beach car park.
The reserve car park has been surfaced with a pavé system where crushed rock is compacted into a plastic matrix of cylinders forming the surface of the car park. This system forms a durable surface for vehicles while at the same time maintaining the informal appearance of an unsealed car park. AIDA has long advocated for the maintenance of our low-key coastal character, and strongly opposes the sealing of car parks with bitumen. A significant change in the precinct has been the signage on the Great Ocean Road. Cars are now directed into the reserve car park. Long vehicles, on the other hand, are directed to two long-vehicle parking bays on either side of the Great Ocean Road adjacent to the Vline bus stops.
These two long-vehicle parking bays were chosen from a number of potential sites. The community does not support our coastal vistas being marred by long vehicle parking on the Great Ocean Road, so a solution had to be found that addressed the needs of long vehicles while at the same time preserving our views. There is no provision for long-vehicle parking within the precinct.
While the current provision of only two designated parking spaces may not be ideal, a long-vehicle parking area further along the Great Ocean Road beyond the Painkalac Bridge has been suggested but may have drawbacks in terms of visual pollution and difficulties of access and egress, especially for vehicles travelling from Fairhaven to Aireys Inlet. Council is proposing a shire-wide review of long-vehicle parking, and AIDA is looking forward to contributing to this review.