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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thinking long term about local transport

DCSCA Committee members were among the local people who met Shadow Minister for Public Transport David Hodgett on 10 May at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre.

Mr. Hodgett was interested in local opinion on a Bellarine Light Rail service; attendees favoured increased bus services, as they would be more flexible.

DCSCA Treasurer Doug Carson has suggested that a light rail service between Geelong and Drysdale would require huge amounts of infrastructure, including stations (with associated parking), rolling stock, drivers, auxiliary staff and perhaps a new tunnel between Kilgour Street and the Geelong Station.

At first sight, then, improving and extending the current bus network would be a simpler, cheaper and quicker way forward. However, before a final decision is taken, there needs to be research to discover:
·      potential routes for:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system
b) an extended and improved bus network
·      likely patronage of the likely routes in 5, 20 and 50 years time
·      costs of establishing and running:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system – probably in stages
b) an extended and improved bus network
·      potential funding sources for the construction and maintenance of:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system
b) an extended and improved bus network.

Population drives policy
Population levels will determine the area’s transport needs, so any decisions about the area’s transport services must be set against the likely population of the Bellarine Peninsula and, indeed, Geelong as a whole in 5, 20 and 50 years time. Therefore, any plan for transport just on the Bellarine needs to be set in the context of a long-term plan for transport in the area as a whole.

DCSCA Committee member Neil McGuinness has suggested that such a long term transport plan should nor just expand the present transport network but also innovate, including such ideas as:
·      extending the Geelong Ring Road to the Bellarine
·      creating road, rail and ferry connections to Avalon Airport (should these be provided publicly, privately or in some combination?)
·      ferry services in Corio Bay and Port Phillip Bay
·      cycle paths - recreational and commuting
·      a road and rail connection between Queenscliff and Point Nepean.

Better transport for commuters or jobs closer to home?
Whatever the content of a long term transport plan for the area, its major aim shouldn’t be to improve commuting. Instead, it should aim to prevent ever-more people commuting out of the area by creating business and jobs for the expanding population of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

The City of Greater Geelong has actively encouraged the creation of ever more housing estates, home to many thousands of residents, without ensuring that there are jobs to support them. The result is the creation of 'dormitory towns' as an increasing number of people on the Bellarine joining commuters from Geelong on the hours-long commuter trek to and from central Melbourne on roads that were never expected to carry the current levels of traffic.

CoGG's drive to expand the population of the Bellarine must be accompanied by plans to expand and diversify employment. As a rule of thumb, a new job should be created for each house built. That would at least start to match economic growth with population growth; and transport needs would be for easy, fast connections within the Geelong and Bellarine area, as well as between this area and Melbourne.

Earlier articles on this blog have discussed a Bellarine Light Rail service. Search for these dates:
8 October 2011; 13 December 2011; 10 May 2013.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

DCSCA-initiated Lake Lorne track now open!

On Sunday 20 May 2016, DCSCA was represented at a small ceremony to officially open a new walking track around Drysdale's Lake Lorne.

It has taken five years to create the track. The then-President of DSCSCA, Roger Lavingdale, presented the idea of the track to the City of Greater Geelong council in 2011; and the council accepted a masterplan for the project in 2012.

Since then, there has been close co-operation and consultation between the council and the various community groups with a stake in the lake's future, including DCSCA, which has been involved closely throughout the project. 

(Picture: L to R Heath Lavingdale, Doug Carson, Merryn Lavingdale, CoGG City Services Manager Will Tieppo and Drysdale Rotary Club President Caroline Rickard.)  

DCSCA Treasurer Doug Carson was one of the speakers at the ceremony; here is what he said:
When I first became involved as a member of the Drysdale Clifton Springs Community Association in 2003, after having moved to the Bellarine in 2000, I was struck by the awareness and passion of a few people, one of them being Roger Lavingdale. He was always looking to put new ideas up for discussion. He was a committee member then, became Vice President in 2005 and 2006 and President in 2007 and 2008 and held those positions very successfully. In the latter part of that time, I was the Association's Secretary and I vividly recall many meetings at his home in Eastwood Court, talking about how to improve the area.

One of these improvements was a walking track around Lake Lorne. Roger became frustrated at the time it seemed to be taking to get the proposal approved, but we just had to wait until all the stakeholders involved agreed on what had to be done. I don’t think anyone really realised just how many stakeholders were involved, and how much planning was needed, e.g. avoiding underground services, dodging trees - the list went on and on. At one stage Roger was heard to mutter, “Give me a bloody bobcat and I’ll put the damn thing in myself!"

However, people at the City of Greater Geelong persisted in working through all the issues and over the past three years we have seen the gradual construction of the Lake Lorne walking track. It will be a lasting legacy to the memory of our mate Roger Lavingdale. On behalf of the Drysdale / Clifton Springs Community Association, I am very pleased to pay my respects to Roger, and thank Drysdale Rotary Club for initiating this day as we commemorate this track and the seat in his honour.  

It works! Locals try out the new track.

Lake Lorne - some background
The area known now as Drysdale - and especially the land around its three waterholes - was a favourite wintering place for Wathaurong people. The name Bellarine derives from the Wathaurong word "Bella Wein" ("a place where you lean on your elbow beside a campfire") and is thought to refer specifically to the waterholes. The inland site provided shelter from cold coastal winds and the lakes provided birds, fishes and plants to eat.

Corroborees were held in the area and archaeologists have found large deposits of shells, animal bones and artefacts in and around the waterholes. Wathaurong traditions and heritage are maintained by Wathaurong people living in the area today.

In the 1830s, in the early days of European colonisation of the area , the term "The Waterholes" referred collectively to what are known now separately as Lake Lorne and McLeod's Waterholes.

In 1872, the Bellarine Shire Council named Lake Lorne after the then Governor of Victoria; and the other two lakes became known as McLeod's Waterholes, probably after Dr. Angus McLeod, principal of the Free Presbyterian Church and School and an active participant in local affairs.

It was also in 1872 that the settlement known as Bellarine or West Bellarine was named Drysdale after Anne Drysdale, a local squatter.

Photos - The Voice; historical background - Lynette Willey [2010] The Waterholes: a history of Drysdale on the Bellarine. Bellarine Historical Society.)