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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birdsong and bylaws don't mix

Kurrawongs and Kookaburras are currently delighting Drysdale residents in the vicinity of McLeod's Waterholes.

The large, charcoal-grey Kurrawongs have bright yellow eyes and flashes of white on their tail and wings. Allegedly, their name comes from their musical call, but you need some imagination to hear it! It's been several months since they've been in the area, because Kurrawongs are migratory, moving between feeding and breeding grounds.

The reappearance of the Kurrawongs in the area coincides with a visit by a group of Kookaburras. Interesting birds, Kookaburras are notable for their socialised child care! Kookaburras live in groups and in each group, one or two adults will look after young birds from several pairs of adults - an efficient, cost-effective approach to child care of which, no doubt, federal treasurers would approve! Kookaburras are migratory, too, but a group will generally move around a regular route.

A 'wildlife corridor' - who needs it?
The recurring presence of the Kurrawongs and Kookaburras in the area shows the importance of the 'nature corridor' formed by the stretch of trees and shrubs along Griggs Creek that crosses Jetty Road and continues to McLeod's Waterholes. Many other birds, including Galahs, Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots (a.k.a. Grass Parrots) also fly regularly along that corridor; and Wattle Birds and Honeyeaters are semi-permanent residents.

Until recently, the corridor had a 'spur' of some trees at the junction of Jetty Road and Wyndham Street, but these were destroyed to make way for the enlarged junction. These trees formed a local landmark, but the first that local people knew of the trees' fate was when they awoke to the sound of chain saws cutting them down. Among the trees was an old Willow tree, described by the contractor's supervisor as 'just a weed'!

Doing what's legal - or doing what's right?
When the City of Greater Geelong's supervising engineer was asked why the council hadn't consulted local people about the trees' planned destruction, he replied, 'We don't have to'. He meant that the council has a legal obligation to consult the public about changes to bylaws, etc (e.g. re-zoning), but has no legal obligation to consult the public about any 'non-legal' issues - and destroying these trees was one of those 'non-legal' issues.

So the council's guiding principle isn't 'What is right?' but 'What can we get away with?' A council's operations offer many opportunities to strengthen local democracy and build citizenship by involving local people in council decisions that affect them. For this council, however, local democracy appears to mean 'electing a councillor every four years'; and citizenship appears to mean 'paying your rates on time'.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jetty Road still threatens cyclists, walkers

Loose gravel in Jetty Road
The section of Jetty Road in the vicinity of the Clifton Springs Primary School continues to pose a threat to cyclists and walkers, despite recent road works.

DCSCA and by the Clifton Springs Primary School have called vigorously and frequently for action to make the junction safer. We were concerned that the new footpath and junction constituted a threat to walkers and cyclists - especially to students of the primary school - because they had been built so poorly. (See 'Squeezing a Jetty Road bottleneck tighter' on drycliftdays 2 March 2012.)

Loose gravel in Jetty Road
In response,  potholes have been filled-in and road edging improved. Bouquets to the City of Greater Geelong for doing the work; buckets to the council for taking months to do it, for leaving dangerous loose surface gravel that could still injure walkers and cyclists and for leaving in place the dangerous 1.5m section of footpath.

It is clear that without the campaign by DCSCA and the Primary School, this junction would still be dangerous to walkers and cyclists. Decent, respectful consultation with local people would have shows precisely what needed to be done to create a safe junction. Why should local people have to fight for decent, safe infrastructure when developers are spending millions of dollars to create the new housing estates in Jetty Road - allegedly under the supervision of the council's planners?

Drysdale Cemetery safe from development

DCSCA hosted a meeting on Monday 19th November at SpringDale, at which Darryl Thomas, CEO of the Geelong Cemeteries Trust described the Trust's role.

The Trust maintains the 13 local cemeteries in the Geelong region (with no government funding); individual graves are owned privately and their maintenance is the owner's responsibility.

Local people at the meeting were concerned about the future of the Cemetery, in particularly the vacant land adjoining Clifton Springs Road. Daryl said that the Drysdale cemetery has enough land to accommodate current demand for 15 to 20 years. Daryl said that  the vacant land is zoned as 'cemetery' and that the Trust has no plans to ask for the land to be rezoned and/or to sell it to housing developers. He added that before the Trust could sell the land, it would have to consult the local community extensively.

The vacant land in question would accommodate about ten thousand graves - nowhere near enough to meet the area's expected population growth. The Bellarine Peninsula in general is expected to see a major increase in population in the coming years and each of its local cemeteries (including Drysdale's) has only about 20–25 years worth of grave sites available. Consequently, the Trust is looking for land on the Bellarine for a new Bellarine Cemetery.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A business bypass for Drysdale?

2013 will be a crucial year for DCSCA's campaign for a Drysdale bypass. The state government funds bypasses and in 2013 all sides in state politics will be preparing for the state elections in 2014, in which the seat of Bellarine - which includes Drysdale & Clifton Springs - is likely to be a marginal seat. Consequently, the major parties will be especially keen to grant local voters' requests - including a Drysdale bypass! (In the 2010 state election, Ms Lisa Neville [ALP] held the seat by just 2.74% after preferences.)

Despite the growing support for a Drysdale bypass, it won't necessarily - and by itself - improve the quality of life in the town. Indeed, as it takes away traffic, a bypass could also take away trade and weaken the local economy. However, DCSCA has said consistently that with careful planning and preparation, a bypass could both relieve traffic and boost local businesses. To start that planning and preparation, we need to understand how bypasses affect small towns; and we need to see the bypass as part of local economic development.

Understanding how bypasses affect small towns
There isn't much research online about how bypasses affect small towns and what there is comes mostly from the USA. With that it mind, the research shows that Drysdale can grasp the benefits of a bypass and avoid the threats if it takes some simple practical steps:
  • A town with a distinct, attractive identity is likely to find that it becomes more attractive to visitors as the bypass reduces its through traffic.
  • A town with good road signage can counter drivers' tendency to stay on major roads - including a bypass.
  • A town with a bypass has better links to major roads, stimulating adjacent industrial growth, with positive 'knock on' benefits to local businesses.
  • A town is less likely to suffer economically from a bypass if its economy is strong, if it is an existing trade centre and if its local government has an appropriate economic development strategy.

Seeing the bypass as part of local economic development
In the City of Greater Geelong's 'Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs', economic development consists of opening some more shops and a couple of motels. However, shops and motels won't offer local people the high-skill, high-wage careers that currently attract them to Geelong or Melbourne. Further, the council's plan to massively expand the Leopold shopping centre may threaten the future of Drysdale's existing shops, let alone any new ones.

DCSCA regards a Drysdale bypass as part of a broader alternative vision of economic development in the north Bellarine. That vision is centred on a new light industrial precinct in Murradoc Road, to be created in three stages:
1. Open up the area north of Murradoc Road for commercial development by creating new access roads into it.
2. Extend Murradoc Road's existing 'business/industrial' zoning eastwards to Clarendon Road.
3. Create tree-lined service roads on the north and south verges of Murradoc Road to offer easier delivery access, plus imaginative outdoor dining and performance spaces to attract pedestrians and effectively extend the centre of Drysdale eastwards.

Such a new precinct would offer new businesses easy access to major roads via the proposed Drysdale bypass, which will cross Murradoc Road near Clarendon Road; and business trade to and from Melbourne on the proposed Portarlington ferry wouldn't be delayed in a congested Drysdale High Street. The outcome would be a greater diversity and quality of jobs than the council's Structure Plan could ever offer; and the positive 'knock on' effects of the growth in light industry would be within the grasp of local businesses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to Councillors Macdonald and Ellis

Councillors Rod Macdonald (Cheetham ward) and Lindsay Ellis (Coryule ward) will represent Drysdale & Clifton Springs in the City of Greater Geelong as a result of last week's council elections, in which Keith Fagg emerged as the City's first directly-elected Mayor.

Here are the results in detail.
Cheetham ward (2 candidates)
Brackley, Anne Elizabeth: 4,769 (41.35%)
Macdonald, Rod: 6,765 (58.65%)
Voter turnout: 11,769 (77.4% of total enrolment)
In the 2008 election, Rod Macdonald gained the seat unopposed.

Coryule ward (5 candidates)
Baldacchino, Judith: 642 (6.42%)
Ellis, Lindsay: 2,428 (24.28%)
Hayes, Monica: 2,134 (21.34%)
Kennedy, Dean: 3,070 (30.70%)
O'Connor, Tom: 1,726 (17.26%)

Ellis, Lindsay: 5,696 (56.96%)
Kennedy, Dean: 4,304 (43.04%)
Voter turnout: 10,249 (72.03% of total enrolment)
In the 2008 election, John Doull (5,519) beat Tom O'Connor (4,128) after distribution of preferences. (In the 2012 election, John Doull stood for Austin ward, where he received the smallest number of first preference votes - 859 (8.64%).

Mayor (9 candidates)
Asher, Stephanie: 17,129 (13.62%)
Bull, Sue: 10,288 (8.18%)
Fagg, Keith: 54,425 (43.28%)
Mitchell, John: 17,448 (13.88%)
Robin, Graeme: 4,041 (3.21%)
Rozpara, Frank: 1,540 (1.22%)
Smith, John: 3,503 (2.79%)
Uzelac, Bernadette: 5,111 (4.06%)
Watt, Ron: 12,251 (9.74%)

Asher, Stephanie: 47,380 (37.68%)
Fagg, Keith: 78,357 (62.32%)

By the way ...
In the 2012 election, every ward was contested, whereas in the 2008 election, 4 wards were uncontested: Austin (John Mitchell), Beangala (Jan Farrell), Cheetham (Rod Macdonald) and Deakin (Andrew Katos).

In the 2012 election, 2 sitting councillors didn't run for re-election: John Mitchell (Austin ward) and Barbara Abley (Brownbill ward). Of the remaining 10 councillors who ran for re-election, 1 lost (Cameron Granger, Windermere ward).

So the 2012-2016 City of greater Geelong council has a new mayor, three new councillors and nine re-elected councilllors.

DCSCA thanks all the candidates for standing, congratulates the winners and looks forward to working with the new mayor and council - and especially with our local councillors Rod Macdonald and Lindsay Ellis.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Let the campaigns begin!

Contact details for all the candidates in the forthcoming elections to the City of Greater Geelong council have just been published by the Victorian Electoral Commission, which is running the elections.

The Drysdale and Clifton Springs area is split between two Wards:
1. CHEETHAM WARD (Leopold and parts of Drysdale).
Two candidates:
Anne Brackley (03) 5253 1960 (b/h); 0407 529 205 (m);
Rod Macdonald 0488 509 994 (m);

2. CORYULE WARD (parts of Drysdale and Clifton Springs, Portarlington, Indented Head).
Five candidates:
Lindsay Ellis (03) 5259 2984 (b/h); 0438 535 164 (m);
Tom O'Connor 0458 293 695 (m);
Dean Kennedy (03) 5259 3828;
Monica Hayes (03) 5259 2032 (b/h);
Judith Baldacchino 0407 518 243 (m);

For the first time, voters in the City of Greater Geelong can elect the Mayor of Geelong. (Previously, each new batch of councillors elected one among them to be Mayor.)
Nine candidates:
Sue Bull 0458 747 726 (m);
Ron Watt 0418 390 648;
Frank Rozpara 0402 052 571;
Stephanie Asher 0412 853 471;
John Smith (No details available 27 September 2012)
John Mitchell 0428 314 472;
Keith Fagg 0408 593 699;
Bernadette Uzelac 0419 581 735;
Graeme Robin (03) 5255 3435;

DCSCA congratulates each candidate on their nomination and wishes them all the best in their campaigns.

For more information on the elections, go to the Victorian Electoral Commission web site: 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dell Project survives storms, landslips!

The Lookout at The Dell

A DCSCA-led consortium that was formed to revegetate the land near The Dell's new Lookout has announced a new plan for the area.

The original revegetation project featured a Community Involvement Day intended to teach around 130 local primary school students (plus parents and teachers!) about environmental stewardship and sustainability. Scheduled originally for June 22, bad weather forced its postponement to August 24 and then, days before the re-scheduled Community Involvement Day, a land slip in the slopes that make up the amphitheatre of The Dell opened cracks in the cliff-edge above The Dell. It appears that the land slip is associated with recent heavy rain.

The City of Greater Geelong decided that the land slip threatened the safety of anyone below it and cordoned-off sections of The Dell. The DCSCA-led consortium decided that the risk to anyone working in the vicinity of the Lookout was too great and postponed the Community Involvement Day until May 2013.

DCSCA President Doug Carson said, 'The schools and community involved have naturally expressed disappointment at having the project's Community Involvement Day cancelled, but there has been full understanding and support for us cancelling the day because of the possible danger. We have now identified an alternative site at the Dell, some 200 metres east of the original work site, where similar work can take place. Our original application was for money to remove '3B weeds' (Boneseed, Boxthorn and Broom) and to prepare the site for planting propagated local indigenous plants. Our new plan is to have the weeds killed and removed and the site mulched and readied for a Community Involvement Day in May 2013, to be followed immediately by some serious re-vegetation.'

The DCSCA-led consortium received $15,000 from the Commonwealth Government's Caring for our Country Community Action Grants program to plan and execute the revegetation. Consortium members include the Dept. of Sustainability & Environment, Landcare, Bellarine Catchment Network, & City of Greater Geelong.

Council elections a focus for bypass campaign

Forthcoming elections for the City of Greater Geelong council and - for the first time - for the mayor of Geelong are a focus of the campaign for a Drysdale bypass.

The elections will happen by post on October 26 2012. DCSCA is organising an Election Forum featuring candidates for election to our local wards - Cheetham and Coryule - at which supporters of a Drysdale bypass can ask candidates whether and how they will support the campaign. The Drysdale bypass will be built if sufficient public pressure is placed on the relevant decision-makers.

The Election Forum happens on October 17 at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, Drysdale High Street. It will be part of DCSCA's 2012 Annual General Meeting.

Vic Roads to study bypass costs/benefits
Vic Roads recently started a study into the costs and benefits of a Drysdale bypass, which should be complete by the end of 2012. As part of its study, Vic Roads will ask the City of Greater Geelong where the bypass sits on the council's list of priorities. Consequently, the campaign for a Drysdale bypass is asking supporters to contact their local CoGG councillor to repeat the case for a bypass and ask them to ensure that the council makes that case vigorously to Vic Roads.

DCSCA AGM to feature Election Forum

DCSCA's 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at 7.00 pm on October 17 2012 will feature an Election Forum, open to anyone to attend.

October 26 2012 is the date of elections for the City of Greater Geelong council and - for the first time - for the mayor of Geelong. Drysdale and Clifton Springs are in Coryule and Cheetham wards, so  DCSCA will invite each candidate for Coryule ward and for Cheetham ward to attend the Election Forum and answer questions. We will also invite each mayoral candidate to the Election Forum to hear local issues and to talk to local people informally afterwards.

The Election Forum will start at 7.00 pm at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre. It will be the first item on the agenda of DCSCA's AGM, which will then move on to the formal business of the AGM. Everyone is welcome to attend the AGM, but only DCSCA members can vote on resolutions and in the elections.

Our big night!
DCSCA's AGM is its most important event of the year. It's where the DCSCA Committee tells DCSCA members about its work in the past year and invites their responses. In 2011/12, we saw success (at last!) in our campaigns to improve access to Lake Lorne and to upgrade The Dell's Lookout; we ran the second Festival of Glass (6,500 visitors); we revived the campaign for a Drysdale pool and campaigned for a bypass.

We also campaigned for improved walking/cycling paths in Jetty Road and against the bridge in Bayshore Avenue; and we contributed to public discussions about the future of Drysdale town centre, Beacon Point and McLeod's Waterholes.

The DCSCA Committee
DCSCA's AGM is also when DCSCA members elect a new Committee to run the association for the next year. The Committee consists of four officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary/Public Officer) and ten members.

At its monthly meetings, the DCSCA Committee discusses and responds to local events and issues. Committee members can also be part of DCSCA's programs - our Open Spaces Network, Going Green on the Bellarine, the Festival of Glass and (in collaboration with Springdale) the Local Economic Development project and From Streetwork to Artwork - promoting local public art.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Local people plan central Drysdale

On June 18 and 23, the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) ran two information and consultation sessions at Drysdale's Senior Citizens centre to gauge local reaction to its Draft Drysdale Urban Development Framework (DDUDF).

Each two-hour session attracted around fifty local people. Consulting stakeholders and incorporating their views is essential to the development of an Urban Design Framework, which combines a strategic plan for an area with detailed/practical designs for the plan's implementation. The Draft Drysdale Urban Development Framework is a result of an 'Enquiry by Design' process - two days of consultation with local people (including DCSCA representatives) in December 2011 and the subsequent consultants' report. CoGG received the consultants' report in Febuary 2012 and published its DDUDF in June 2012.

Consistent concerns
The June meetings showed that local people have consistent concerns about their town's future. Not everyone at these meetings had attended the December consultations, but nonetheless the concerns expressed on the three occasions were very similar. People are concerned that heavy traffic is spoiling the town's character and heritage. They pointed out that concentration of services at the town's centre means that as it expands, it's less possible for people to walk to and from the town centre; and in the absence of swift and convenient public transport (e.g. a 'smart' bus service), people have no option but to drive into town. Increasing traffic increases the demand for parking space and while new developments (e.g. Drysdale's new Aldi supermarket) must include some car parking, this isn't enough to compensate for Drysdale's growing role as a shopping centre for the north Bellarine.

The Draft Framework proposes to alleviate traffic stress by making the High Street-Murradoc Road roundabout into a traffic light-controlled junction and diffusing traffic away from it by creating new linking roads (e.g. between Collins Street and Murradoc Road); and it proposes to make Murradoc Road more attractive by, for example, creating a service road in front of the current light industrial units, landscaping both sides of the road, installing proper footpaths and encouraging 'al fresco' dining near Aldi. The Framework seeks to retain Drysdale's heritage and character as a rural village and to enhance it through sensitive placement of street furniture, public art and indigenous plants. It also proposes imaginative improvements to the town, such as creating a permanent Farmers' Market between the side entrance of the Safeways complex and the shops opposite; and making any expansion of Safeways contingent on the development of a 'civic centre' that would face the green - but not encroach on it; and ensuring that new buildings face their streets, not back onto them.

Deadline extended
Several people were concerned at the short period of time in which people could submit their views on the DDUDF to the council. The deadline is 29 June and while this is a month after CoGG published the document, it's only a week or so after the information sessions. In response, the CoGG officers extended the deadline by two weeks to 13 July.

... and the Drysdale bypass??
The council had asked the 'Enquiry by Design' consultants to create a draft 'Masterplan' for the town centre, thereby excluding any consideration of the proposed Drysdale bypass. However, during the December consultations, local people insisted that any discussion about the town centre must include the issue of the bypass; and people at the June meetings saw a bleak future for Drysdale's town centre unless a bypass removes some of its through traffic.

A Drysdale bypass would relieve traffic congestion and increase pedestrian safety. Further, a bypass linked with the eastern end of Murradoc Road would improve transport links to Geelong and Melbourne, make that part of town more attractive to new businesses. This would boost the local economy, stemming the flow of wealth and talent from our town and preventing it from becoming just a 'dormitory town' for Geelong and Melbourne.

Many of those at the meetings wanted to be part of the DCSCA-led campaign for a Drysdale bypass and heard that DCSCA will contact them about the campaign so far and how they can help.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Lake Lorne path - just months away!

Work on Stage One of the long-awaited footpath around Lake Lorne in Drysdale is scheduled to start in July and last for about six weeks.

On Friday 8 June, representatives of DCSCA and the Drysdale Pony Club joined City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) officers and consultants to mark out the final route of Stage One of the footpath, which will stretch from the Pony Club jumps off Reserve Road round the lake's western side to a point just before the Bellarine rail line. Stage Two will continue the footpath past the rail station and will include a boardwalk looking eastwards towards the islands in the lake; and Stage Three will complete the circuit on the Lake's eastern side. The council has yet to allocate money for Stages Two and Three.

CoGG will inform residents with properties near the Lake about the work before it starts; and on the route of Stage One it will post a plan of the area showing the route of the whole path, so that everyone can seen just what's happening. These actions will continue the council's excellent record of consultation around this project, driven by the particular officer in charge. On many occasions, DCSCA has criticised the council's consultation process and has cited the Lake Lorne consultations as an example of just how easy - and effective - it can be to involve local people meaningfully in council decisions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The future of Drysdale - have your say!

The City of Greater Geelong is inviting public comment by 29 June 2012 on its draft Urban Design Framework for Drysdale Town Centre.

The draft Framework explores the potential growth of the town centre, its look and feel and its accessibility to pedestrians and vehicles.

Getting it right this time?
The draft Framework is the result of a very positive two-day consultation with local people last year. A previous 'consultation' exercise about the future of the town centre was criticized heavily by participants - including DCSCA - for ignoring local people's views. It would be nice to think that the council learned something in the process.

Copies of the draft Framework are available from the council's Customer Service Centre in Hancock Street, Drysdale and at the council's web site:

Information sessions
Council officers will hold two informal information sessions to introduce the plan and hear locals' reactions to it. These sessions will be at the Drysdale Senior Citizens Club, 2-8 Wyndham Street, Drysdale:
Monday 18 June 2012 4.30 - 6.30pm
Saturday 23 June 2012 10am – 12pm

If you can't attend either session, have a look at the draft Framework and tell the council what you think of it. If DCSCA can help, just ask us.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bellarine ferry service needs a bypass

State Planning Minister Matthew Guy has widened a feasibility study into a Werribee to Melbourne ferry to include stops at Geelong and Portarlington.

His decision followed a call by Bellarine state MP Lisa Neville to include Portarlington in the study and it also reflects five years of lobbying by the Portarlington Ferry Group.

DCSCA supports the call for a Portarlington ferry service, but until the Drysdale bypass is built, vehicles heading to and from the ferry will just add to the congestion in Drysdale High Street.

As DCSCA President Doug Carson wrote in a recent letter to the Geelong Advertiser: 'Imagine trying to get through the three roundabouts in Drysdale to catch the ferry, particularly between 7.30 and 8.30 on any weekday morning. However, if we had that Drysdale bypass …'

Friday, May 25, 2012

Police withdraw from growing local towns

Bellarine towns will lose police cover under new rosters!

Geelong Advertiser journalist Andrea Hamblin reports that, 'Fewer police will be rostered on in Queenscliff, Portarlington, Drysdale and Ocean Grove during days, with members eventually used to make up a 24-hour patrol. But there are no plans for extra police numbers to help to deal with the increased workload on the peninsula.' ('Coast cops called away' Geelong Advertiser 25 May)

The report continues, 'A Geelong Advertiser investigation has found coastal police are already regularly called to bolster numbers elsewhere, most recently last Saturday night, when the peninsula was left without on-duty police for about five hours.'

'Even worse than we thought'
The removal of police cover is bad news for the whole of the Bellarine, but it's especially worrying for Drysdale and Ocean Grove, each of which will see their populations expand significantly in the next couple of years.

In Drysdale, work is well advanced on the massive new estates in Stage One of Drysdale's Jetty Road development (1,500 lots, around 6,000 people); and work will start soon on the planned Central Walk estate near Drysdale's town centre. However, not only will there will be no additional emergency services cover (fire brigade, ambulance and, of course, police) for these additional people - even the existing cover is being withdrawn on occasions!

Planning authorities have dismissed locals' long standing concern about increased emergency services to match the increased population. Three years ago, objectors to a planning proposal (C152) to rezone the Jetty Road land expressed concern that the Jetty Road estates would not see additional emergency services cover. The City of Greater Geelong and a state Planning Panel dismissed their concerns, stating that they were outside the remit of the planning system.

Today, people in Drysdale have found that the situation is even worse than they thought. Not only will the massive expansion in the town's population see no additional police, but even the existing police are being withdrawn to bolster cover elsewhere in Geelong.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'Greening' The Dell

Dell Lookout - ready for revegetation
DCSCA has created a group of organisations to plan and execute the re-vegetation of the area around The Dell's new Lookout.

The revegetation project is financed by a $15,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government through its Caring for our Country Community Action Grants program. Among the organizations in the group are the Bellarine Catchment Network, Bellarine Landcare, City of Greater Geelong, Dept. of Sustainability and Environment and Springdale Neighbourhood Centre. The revegetation project will complement the new signage that was installed at The Dell in 2011. DCSCA participated actively in designing the signage and its revegetation project will make the area even more attractive for locals and visitors.

Promoting community involvement
DCSCA wants the revegetation project to involve local people as much as possible and the project group is currently planning a Community Involvement Day on June 22 2012. This event will introduce around 130 students from the Drysdale Primary School and the Clifton Springs Primary School to environmental stewardship and sustainability. It will run at The Dell between 9.30 am and 12.40 pm, followed by a barbeque lunch provided by the local Lions club.

Participants in the event will take part in five 30-minute activities:
•    Marine interpretation, including a rock pool ramble
•    Flora interpretation, including a 'weed or wanted' challenge
•    Cultural interpretation, introducing students to The Dell's many and varied uses over time by different cultures
•    Environmental challenge course, which encourages 'learning by doing'
•    Plant propagation, when each student will take away an indigenous plant to grow at home or at school.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Drysdale bypass - a new heartbeat for the North Bellarine!

As part of its campaign for a Drysdale bypass, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) held a successful public meeting on May 2 at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre.

The proposed Drysdale bypass will, effectively, run between the Jetty Road roundabout and the Geelong-Portarlington Road at its junction with Whitcombes Road, but speakers at the meeting emphasised that far more people than just Drysdale residents will benefit from a Drysdale bypass. (Click on the map to enlarge it.) The population of the north Bellarine is set to increase enormously, yet no major roads are planned to accommodate the increased traffic. The resulting traffic congestion in Drysdale will lengthen people's travelling time from Portarlington, St. Leonards and Indented Head to Geelong and Melbourne; and it will also make the proposed Portarlington to Melbourne ferry a far less attractive option for commuters from Geelong. DCSCA is seeking support for the bypass campaign from community associations in other Bellarine towns and DCSCA President Doug Carson told the meeting that the St. Leonards Community Association has expressed its support already for the campaign.

Counting vehicles
Vic Roads would be responsible for building the Drysdale bypass and the Victorian state government will be responsible for the bill! Vic Roads already owns about 50% of the land on which it would build the Drysdale bypass and it monitors traffic in Drysdale regularly. Vic Roads have stated that the traffic capacity of Drysdale High Street is 24,000 vehicles a day - at which point a bypass becomes a necessity in their view. In mid-2011, Vic Roads found that 18,000 vehicles a day use the High Street.

In other words, a year ago, the traffic flow through Drysdale was 2/3 of the 'tipping point' for a bypass. Since then, the local population has increased, as it will continue to. The first of the 1,500 houses in Stage One of the Jetty Road Growth Area (just north of the Jetty Road roundabout) have started to appear; with more new houses to follow in the 300-lot Central Walk estate (just south of Murradoc Road). At this rate of population growth, if work on the bypass started today, it would probably be completed just as the population reached the Vic Roads 'tipping point' of 24,000 vehicles a day using Drysdale High Street.

The current planned route of the bypass was drawn up before the massive increase in local population and some people at the meeting were concerned that the current route may pose traffic risks to local residents, to the schools off Andersons Road and to people attending the proposed sports/recreation precinct in Grubb Road. There was also concern about potential traffic noise and it was suggested that at least part of the bypass could be set into a cutting to reduce noise. Finally, there was agreement that rather than creating just a two-lane road suitable for trucks, Vic Roads should build a freeway-style bypass along the lines of the Geelong Ring Road.

A bigger picture
The meeting heard that a Drysdale bypass is part of a broader vision of economic development in the north Bellarine. At the heart of the vision is a new light industrial precinct in Murradoc Road, offering a diversity of business and employment opportunities. The proposed bypass will cross Murradoc Road at its eastern end near Clarendon Road, creating excellent road access into and out of the precinct.

The light industrial precinct would be created in three stages:
1. Open up the area north of Murradoc Road for development by creating new access roads into it; and realign the roundabout at Murradoc's western end to make it less 'tight' for large trucks that currently risk tipping over.
2. Extend the existing 'business/industrial' zoning at Murradoc Road's western end eastwards to Clarendon Road
3. Create tree-lined service roads on the north and south verges of Murradoc Road to offer delivery easier access. These service roads could also feature outdoor dining and performance spaces which, with imaginative lighting and shelters, would make the area much more attractive to pedestrians and effectively extend the centre of Drysdale eastwards.

The broad ideas behind the light industrial precinct emerged from a two-day workshop held at SpringDale in December 2011 at which local people discussed various options for redesigning Drysdale's town centre with council officers, architects and planning experts. (See 'A new future for central Drysdale?" [14 December 2011] on this blog.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bypass campaign not short on advice!

Local politicians have been generous with their advice to DCSCA about the campaign for a Drysdale bypass.

DCSCA Committee members met recently with  Mr. Richard Marles MP (federal, Corio), Cr. Rod Macdonald (Cheetham Ward) and Cr. John Doull (Coryule Ward) to ask for their advice about how best to campign for the bypass. Each of them had helpful suggestions, that we've distilled into a 'campaign manual' with three major sections.

•    The campaign should have the next state election (November 2014) as its focus, because the state government will pay (via Vic Roads) for a bypass.
•    Highlight the 'negative' reasons for a bypass, including local concerns about existing traffic hazards (N.B. the run-down in traffic associated with the nearby quarry means that there should be no overall increase in truck numbers going through Drysdale) and the likely increase in traffic hazards with increasing local population.
•    Highlight the 'positive' reasons for a bypass, including the potential social, economic & environmental benefits to the town and the easier access to a Portarlington ferry.

•    Be patient! It could take years to create the complete bypass.
•    Do the research! Collect evidence about current traffic flows through central Drysdale from (e.g.) Vic Roads and CoGG; ensure that this evidence is updated regularly; and commission projected traffic flows to match the area's planned population increases.
•    Show that it's feasible. Commission a 'draft project plan' from a local engineer and then ask a reputable engineering firm to endorse it.
•    Don't 'go for broke'. Break-up the bypass into sections that are cheaper and easier to manage than the whole bypass; be prepared to campaign for one section at a time (which sets a precedent for the bypass as a whole) - perhaps concentrating on the land that Vic Roads has bought already
•    Use the local media, social networking media and occasional 'stalls' in shopping centres (not just in Drysdale) to generate local interest in both the 'negatives' and the 'positives' and to invite people to participate (in some way - see below) in the campaign.

•    State politicians. The state will pay for the bypass. Concentrate on the sitting member (Ms Lisa Neville) and likely candidates for the seat of Bellarine; but ensure that all state politicians are aware of the issue. N.B. There's never a guarantee that a sitting member will be re-elected, so keep all options open.
•    Local councillors. Lobby them to pressure state politicians - in particular, showing how the bypass fits-in with broader local transport strategies.
•    Local tourism associations. Explain to them how a bypass will increase the north Bellarine's attractiveness as a destination by improving traffic flow and 'releasing' Drysdale town centre for more leisurely movement. Encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local businesses. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (be specific) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local community and recreational groups. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (be specific - e.g. easier access to local events) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local schools. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (again, be specific - e.g. safety) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local residents. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (the closer to town they live, the more specific the benefits will be) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.

This is just the first draft of our 'campaign manual'. It will grow and change as more people join the campaign and bring more ideas with them.  drycliftdays readers are warmly invited to join in by commenting on this post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DCSCA meets Richard Marles MP

On 3 April, DCSCA Committee members met local MP Richard Marles to discuss a range of local issues. Richard is the federal member for Corio and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs.

Transport issues on the Bellarine
(i) A Drysdale bypass. We told Mr. Marles about DCSCA's campaign for a bypass road around Drysdale town centre and asked if he had any ideas. He advised us to highlight the problems through the local media and occasional 'stalls' in shopping centres; and to generate local interest by involving people actively in the campaign. He advised against a petition, because a lot of work is needed to create a petition sufficiently large to be effective. He also advised us to make local state politicians aware of local concerns about traffic and safety and of the social and economic benefits that a bypass can bring to the town

(ii) The Rail Trail. We told Mr. Marles that DCSCA was concerned for the safety of people on the rail trail who wish to cross the main road at Drysdale Station. He said that he will write to the City of Greater Geelong about the issue and invited DCSCA to send him anything that will support the case for a safer crossing.

(iii) A Portarlington-Melbourne ferry service. We said that the success of a Portarlington-Melbourne ferry service will depend partly on the construction of a Drysdale bypass! We believe that three events should happen consecutively: construct the Drysdale bypass, construct a 'safe harbour' at Portarlington, then initiate the ferry service. Without the bypass, the ferry will be a less attractive option, because vehicles heading to and from the ferry will have to negotiate the congestion in Drysdale High Street and, of course, will add to it.

(iv) The Geelong Ring Road. We discussed the proposed extension of the Ring Road to connect with the Bellarine Highway and the precise status of the road (e.g. infrastructure such as traffic lights). The general feeling was that the extension will happen, but no-one knows just when it will happen.

National Broadband Network
We told Mr. Marles that we were surprised that the NBN's first-stage roll-out in 2015 will bypass Drysdale & Clifton Springs - indeed, it will bypass most of the Bellarine Peninsula. Drysdale & Clifton Springs has poor telecommunications services, with several phone 'black spots' and slow internet access. He replied that the NBN roll-out is occurring first in areas requiring the least work (e.g. digging pits, laying cables). He suggested that we make a submission to the NBN annual review, arguing that Drysdale & Clifton Springs should be moved up its list of priorities. (For more on the NBN first-stage roll out and the Bellarine: 'NBN roll-out a set-back for Bellarine communities' on this blog, April 4 2012.)

Erosion at Clifton Springs
We told Mr. Marles about the continuing destruction of the historic mineral springs site at Clifton Springs, due to erosion of the cliff face. He said that he will raise the issue in parliament and invited DCSCA to send him anything that will support the case for action to be taken.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Watering the local future

Developments in sustainability at Armstrong Creek raise questions about equivalent 'master planned developments' in the Drysdale & Clifton Springs area, such as Central Walk and the huge Jetty Road Growth Area.

Armstrong Creek's Warralily estate will be the first residential estate in Greater Geelong to have access to Class A recycled water from Barwon Water's recycled water plant at Black Rock. In total, Barwon Water is investing more than $150m in water and sewerage infrastructure at Armstrong Creek, including a $4m recycled water tank at Mount Duneed. This tank will hold water from Black Rock, delivering it throughout Warralily via a 'purple pipe' network that can be used for flushing toilets, watering gardens and washing cars. The network will also be used to water major green spaces in the estate. It's estimated that the purple pipe network will save the equivalent of 2,400 million litres of drinking water each year. In a related sustainability feature, storm water will be captured and stored for use on Warralily's regional sporting facilities. (Sources:;; My Coastal Home, Autumn 2012 p27)

This is all very good news for anyone concerned about the environmental impact of the massive housing developments planned for the Bellarine Peninsula. however, it raises the question, why can't equivalent environmentally-friendly features be included in all new estates, not just Warralily?

Water efficient estates - a win for everyone
Water conservation is a crucial social issue, even after the end of the recent drought. Global warming is likely to bring us more droughts in the future (as well as more - and stronger - storms), so we need new housing estates in which water awareness and water efficiency are built-in to the design. At a minimum, developers should be required to build 'water efficient' estates, in which the amount of water leaving an estate is kept to an absolute minimum through recycling systems. Ideally, each estate should also include a 'purple pipe' network connected to a recycling station such as Black Rock.

Such water efficiency requirements needn't necessarily be seen as an 'onerous imposition', as 'more red tape' or as 'over-regulation'. As the developers of Warralily are showing, water efficiency and sustainability can be strong positives, adding to a development's attraction and value. Annual state and national awards for water efficiency and sustainability would reinforce its economic value while offering competitors the chance to 'add value' to their company's brand and identity. This would be a win for developers, for the environment and for households and communities. Further, requiring new estates to be water efficient and sustainable would encourage the emergence and growth of small businesses in which specialised tradespeople would provide, install and maintain the various water efficiency systems as part of a broader strategy to create sustainable, resilient communities.

Lake Lorne - a clarification
On February 7, 2012, drycliftdays included ‘DCSCA meets Cr. Rod Macdonald (8)’. That article included this sentence: ‘We raised the continuing absence of any work on the walking/cycling track around Lake Lorne, first raised by DCSCA many years ago.'

The phrase, ‘the continuing absence of any work on the walking/cycling track’ pointed to the absence at that time of any construction work. However, the phrase could be read as saying that no work at all had happened since DCSCA first suggested the walking track. That certainly wasn’t the intention. DCSCA has been among the stakeholders who have been involved in ongoing consultations with the City of Greater Geelong about the walking track and earlier posts on this blog have reported the council's efforts to turn the idea of the track into a reality.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

NBN roll-out a set-back for Bellarine communities

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is set to arrive on the Bellarine Peninsula in 2015, yet much of the Peninsula won't have access to it.

The NBN is being rolled out in stages. Stage one will include the Bellarine Highway from Leopold to Queenscliffe, speading south-west to take in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove; and Portarlington Road from East Geelong, but stopping abruptly at Curlewis Road. Nowhere else on the Bellarine will be included in that first stage. (The current installation of broadband at Coriyule Estate in Drysdale is an anomoly, unconnected to the rest of the roll-out.)

The NBN has published a roll-out map, from which the illustrations in this article have been taken. Areas in green will be included in the stage one roll-out. For a closer look, go to the NBN's map:

Does this make sense?
Two things stand out from NBN’s roll-out map. Firstly, the stage one roll-out (starting 2015) will include Central Geelong and North Geelong including Lara. This will give businesses in that central/north area a competitive advantage over those in areas excluded from stage one, for example in South Geelong and in the outer regions of the City of Greater Geelong, such as the Bellarine Peninsula. Deliberately or not, this reinforces the City of Greater Geelong’s continuing practice of promoting the economy of central Geelong at the expense of anywhere else within its boundary.

Secondly, while it could be argued that most of the Bellarine Peninsula has been excluded from the stage one roll-out because of its relatively lower population density, the roll-out map shows otherwise. Peripheral, semi-rural areas to the west of the City such as Lethbridge and Teesdale are included in stage one; and Ocean Grove is included, yet Drysdale isn't, despite both towns being designated areas of population growth - just the sorts of places that you'd expect to be in stage one of the NBN roll-out.

Pleasing some of the people some of the time
Of course, the staged introduction of any service never pleases everyone. It pleases the people in the early stages and displeases everyone else. However, a longer wait for a service is more acceptable if it can be seen as the result of a fair and rational process. The NBN’s roll-out map shows that the introduction of broadband in the Geelong area is neither fair nor rational. It’s unfair on communities outside of central Geelong whose local economies may suffer as businesses in the centre become more competitive; and its scattergun approach of connecting individual communities in isolation from neighbouring ones is anything but rational.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leave Beacon Point alone ... almost

Close neighbours of the Beacon Point Reserve in Clifton Springs want it left just as it is ... apart from some improvements.

On 28 March, around twenty people met at Drysdale's SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre to discuss a proposed Master Plan for the Reserve. The meeting was called by the City of Greater Geelong's Recreation and Open Space Unit and by Thompson Berrill Landscape Design, engaged by CoGG as consultants to create the Master Plan.

Many of the people attending the meeting were members of the Beacon Point Friends - a group that emerged from a DCSCA Public Meeting in 2010. Everyone said that they like the Reserve's peace and tranquility and the opportunities it offers for 'passive recreation' such as walking (with or without a dog!), kite flying or just taking-in the panoramic view. Some improvements were suggested, ranging in scale from more frequent mowing, through planting some trees for shade, providing steps down to the foreshore, through to building a toilet block.

Caught in a bind
As the residents suggested improvements, it soon became apparent that they were caught in a bind: improving the Reserve will increase its attractiveness, prompting increased use and, perhaps, reducing the peace and tranquility which residents value so much and want to retain. Something as minor as countering the current infestation of blanket weed by, for example, mowing more frequently and/or re-seeding with grass will make the area safer to walk on - especially for people unsteady on their feet - attracting more people to walk there.

Even leaving the Reserve as it is won't prevent it from attracting more visitors, because the number of open spaces in Clifton Springs and Drysdale is reducing, as the council rezones one after another to allow still more housing. As several people at the meeting stressed, the Beacon Point Reserve is now the only major public open space left in Clifton Springs. As rezoning proceeds, each remaining open space increases in value - both economic and social.

As an illustration: in 2010, DCSCA supported residents in the Spring Street area of Clifton Springs in their successful fight to prevent the council turning their open public space into a housing estate. At the time, ward councillor John Doull said that the council estimated that the land in question was worth more than a million dollars, so the council didn't want to see it 'locked up' as Open Space for community use.

Keep our open spaces
The Beacon Point Reserve is part of DCSCA's Open Spaces Network - a program to preserve and enhance open spaces in Drysdale & Clifton Springs, protected from development, each with its own ‘Friends’ group and all linked by a network of cycling/walking trails.

The creation of the Beacon Point Reserve Master Plan is already late. On 4 August 2011, ward councillor John Doull told DCSCA that the Master Plan would be completed by December 2011 and that in his view, the Reserve should be essentially an open space with minimal ‘infrastructure’ (e.g., a toilet block, a BBQ) and, perhaps, a discrete ‘artistic/sculptural’ element.

The meeting at SpringDale heard that a Draft Plan will be presented to a second consultation meeting for comment, before being submitted to the council for approval and then made available for comment by the broader community.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waive that Charge or it's 'wave goodbye'!

There is growing astonishment at City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) councillors' unanimous decision to compel residents of Drysdale's Central Road area to pay thousands of dollars each for a developer's drain.

The councillors' decision was reinforced by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal (VCAT), to which residents appealed - and lost. The residents have nowhere else to go. VCAT's decsion can be appealed in the Supreme Court, but this would be an extremely expensive undertaking - specially for this group of people, which includes many retirees on fixed incomes.

Many of the residents now fear that they will only be able to pay their 'contribution' to the cost of the drain by selling their homes and leaving the area.

Why pay for someone else's drain?
The drain will service a retirement village planned by Melbourne-based property developer Pinnacle Holdings, yet the council wants local households to contribute - via the 'Special Charge' scheme - between $2,000 and $250,000 each towards the cost. The residents have argued that since the drain will enable Pinnacle Holdings to build and profit from its retirement village, Pinnacle Holdings should pay for it. The council has responded that while the drain's primary purpose is to service the proposed retirement village, its presence will enable nearby residents to sub-divide and sell their properties at a profit - a 'special benefit' as the council calls it.

(For the background, see, 'VCAT to examine Council's "Special Charge" scheme' [January 13] and 'VCAT tells residents, "pay for developer's drain"!' [February 29] on this blog.)

Growing interest
The Geelong Advertiser ran a story about the issue ('Drysdale residents face million-dollar plumbing bill', by Shane Fowles) on Friday 2 March. The article said that VCAT Vice-President Michael Macnamara had made it clear that while the residents had no case in law, he had considerable sympathy for their position. It quoted Mr. Macnamara as follows:
'The overall tone of much of what was said on behalf of the ratepayers was that the council had in effect sold out to the developer and sold the applicant ratepayers down the river in the process. ... I see the force of what has been said in that respect and express my utmost sympathy for these ratepayers in their unhappy situation.'

The Advertiser article also said that Mr. Macnamara had said that he was 'inclined to think' that that the benefits of the proposed drain wasn't woth what the residents are being charged. In the Advertiser's online forum associated with its story on 2 March, most commentators expressed astonishment that an elected council could treat its citizens this way.

On the evening of March 2, Channel Nine News also ran an item about the VCAT decision and the 'Special Charge'. On Wednesday March 7, Channel 9's A Current Affair ran an item about the issue, interviewing several local people. The City of Greater Geelong was notable for its absence from the story. To see the ACA story, go to the 'Why live in Drysdale' blog:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Squeezing a Jetty Road bottleneck tighter

Construction work in Drysdale's Jetty Road is likely to expose cyclists and pedestrians - including children at the Clifton Springs Primary School - to increased traffic volumes at a dangerous bottleneck.

For almost six months, pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles in Jetty Road have had to contend with extensive and hazardous road works associated with the creation of new housing estates to the west. Storm water drains have been installed, a major new intersection is being created at Jetty Road's junction with Wyndham Street and a secondary intersection where Jetty Road crosses Griggs Creek.

This enormous construction effort will widen sections of Jetty Road considerably, enabling much more traffic to use it. However, it will leave untouched the narrow stretch of Jetty Road where it crosses Griggs Creek, making a dangerous bottleneck even more hazardous. Once the current road works are completed, this dangerous bottleneck will include on its western side a shared walking/cycling path just 1.5m wide. To its immediate north and south, that path is 2.5m wide. There will be no path at all on the eastern side of the bottleneck, increasing its danger still further.

What is a 'top priority'?
These developments fly in the face of the City of Greater Geelong's Cycle Strategy, which has among its top priorities the creation of cycle lanes along Jetty Road (Priority A: 10). When the DCSCA's Neil McGuinness asked Adam Farrimond (CoGG's Engineering Department) about this apparent contradiction, the reply was that cycle lanes will be created by, 'Improvements to line marking and signage’ and that cyclists who are uneasy at using the 1.5m path in the bottleneck, 'also have the alternative of using the on road path.'

In other words, if you're a cyclist who's worried about negotiating a 1.5m path shared with pedestrians, take your chances by cycling on the narrowest section of Jetty Road!