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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travelling the Wathaurong Way?

Geelong City Hall
On 24 September, the City of Greater Geelong council decided to fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag over City Hall.

This decision follows the state government's decision in May to rename the 4.5m arterial link (formerly known as '4C') in Armstrong Creek Baanip Boulevard. The name honours local Aboriginal man Willem Baanip, a Wathaurong man who was born in 1836 near what is now Market Square,  lived on the Duneed Aboriginal Land Reserve near to the current Ghazeepore Road and died in 1885. The newly named road will link the Geelong Ring Road and the Surf Coast Highway. VicRoads expects to start work on the new road in late 2013 and finish it in 2016.

Many communities are taking similar actions to recognise their Aboriginal heritage; and this is happening as Australia prepares for a referendum on a proposal to recognise Australia’s Aboriginal peoples formally in the country’s Constitution.

A local act of recognition
Drysdale and Clifton Springs continue to be enriched by the culture of today’s Wathaurong people, which goes back thousands of years. In the lead-up to the Constitutional Recognition referendum, we could consider making our own formal recognition of the area’s Aboriginal people and heritage. One suggestion made to DCSCA is that we ask people on the north Bellarine how they would feel about renaming the Portarlington Road as Wathaurong Way.

Communities often name roads after local dynasties - Drysdale and Clifton Springs have several examples. How appropriate, then, to name Portarlington Road after the area’s longest-standing ‘dynasty’ – the Wathaurong people. To make the re-naming a real act of community recognition, it needs support from across the community. DCSCA invites local people to start conversations in the area about the proposal and to tell us your views.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A new sports precinct - a new approach?

Local sports clubs have told DCSCA that they can’t cope with the continuing expansion of demand for their facilities and are frustrated at the lack of progress on the long-awaited Regional Sports Precinct planned for Drysdale.
Theyu argues that existing sports facilities were never meant to serve the expanding local population and their inadequacy affects not just Drysdale & Clifton Springs but the whole of the North Bellarine.

Making the case
In response, DCSCA convened a meeting on September 16 of all local sports clubs, together with local councillor Rod Macdonald and relevant officers from the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG). Cr Macdonald and the officers said that while CoGG has adopted a Master Plan for the $40m precinct in 2011, the project needed state government funds to proceed.

CoGG's 2011 Master Plan for the proposed Sports Precinct shares the cost between the council and the state government, so when the state government refused to provide its share of the funding, the project had to be postponed indefinitely. Consequently, everyone at the September 16 meeting agreed that during the November 2014 state elections, each club and club member should ask each local candidate what they would do, if elected, to make the planned Sports Precinct a reality.

Meanwhile, clubs and individuals should ask local councillors and state & federal MPs to convince the state government to pay its share of the cost of the Sports Precinct. Here are their contact details:
·    Cr Rod Macdonald, Cheetham ward:
·    Cr Lindsay Ellis, Coryule ward:
·    Ms Lisa Neville, MP for Bellarine (state parliament):

·    Mr Richard Marles, MP for Corio (federal parliament):

What? No Plan B?!
Faced with the state government's refusal to pay its share of the cost of the Sports Precinct, CoGG has no '(Master) Plan B' and shows no sign of even looking for one. As a result, people on the North Bellarine must cope indefinitely as local population growth - planned, of course, by CoGG - renders local sports facilities increasingly inadequate.

Rather than wishing and hoping that a future state government will provide the cash for a Sports Precinct in Drysdale, CoGG should be planning and dreaming of a different model for the project that would enable it to proceed. For example, instead of relying exclusively on public money to pay for the Precinct, CoGG could examine ways to mix various forms of public money with various forms of private money.

One approach would be to create a Public Trust to build, maintain and manage the Sports Precinct. The Trust would invite investment by public financial institutions (e.g. pension and superannuation funds), private financial institutions (e.g. banks) and individuals.

As a community facility, the Precinct shouldn't be run purely as a profit-making business at the expense of accessibility. Instead, investors would receive an annual dividend, only after the annual costs of building, maintaining and managing the Precinct (including contributing to a contingency fund for emergencies) were paid; and the legal documents establishing the Public Trust could include clauses to limit the dividend while retaining its attractiveness.

More work needed!
Schemes featuring public-private collaboration have had very chequered results, both here and elsewhere. Therefore, a lot of work will be needed to avoid their worst aspects, such as private investors profiting quickly from a scheme and then withdrawing, leaving the public sector to deal with long-term management and maintenance costs. 

Such a Public Trust is but one suggestion to overcome inadequate funding and it may be an inappropriate for the area. However, its underlying assumption will remain valid - the North Bellarine needs a Regional Sports Precinct, it is the council's responsibility to provide it and the council should actively seek ways to overcome the current stalemate.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bellarine foreshore under attack – and under repair

The recent storms damaged the foreshore at various points around the Bellarine Peninsula, washing away parts of beaches and undermining safety signs!

In Clifton Springs,  engineering contractors have undertaken extensive works at the foreshore below Edgewater Drive. Many local people will have watched contractors moving earth and shifting rocks in this area of the foreshore. This work (with more to come) should prevent further erosion of the beach and cliff face.

The work is in response to continuing erosion by the sea. Landslides have created near-vertical cliffs with, at their base, eroding debris. In response, a new 150m sea wall of rock-filled metal baskets ('gabion baskets') is being created, which should prevent further erosion. Elsewhere in the area, large quantities of  boulders are being used to create protective walls ('revetments' or 'buttresses') at the cliff face to prevent waves undermining the cliff and causing more landslides.

CoGG engineers have kept DCSCA informed about the work, which we appreciate. In turn, they have asked us to inform local people about the works. This article is one way in which we're doing this; another will be a DCSCA Public Meeting about foreshore safety on 17 July at 7.00 pm at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre. Hear City of Greater Geelong engineers explain how recent work on the Clifton Springs foreshore will make the area safer, then have your say.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Drysdale bypass - what's the secret, Minister?

Peak hour - Drysdale High Street
VicRoads is undertaking yet another study into traffic issues in Drysdale, even while keeping its previous study a secret.

In December 2012, VicRoads completed a feasibility study into a bypass for Drysdale, but hasn't published it. Lisa Neville (MP for Bellarine) has requested a copy of this secret study from state Transport Minister Terry Mulder, but he has failed to provide one.

Meanwhile, VicRoads is undertaking another study, this time to create an Integrated Transport Model for Drysdale that will propose a 'holistic' solution to the town's traffic problems. The new study has no completion date and it isn't clear whether it will be published.

DCSCA Committee members heard about the latest study on 18 June, when they discussed Drysdale's traffic problems with Lisa Neville and representatives of the City of Greater Geelong. Lisa Neville had called the meeting; the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) was represented by local councillors Rod Macdonald (Cheetham ward) and Lindsay Ellis (Coryule ward) and by Gary Van Dreel, General Manager of City Services. The Regional Director of VicRoads had been invited but at the last minute he withdrew and was unable to provide an alternative. 

Seeking a 'holistic' traffic solution
The absence of any VicRoads representatives at the 18 June meeting precluded any serious discussion about local traffic issues. For instance, has VicRoads updated its 2011 Drysdale census, which found 18,000 vehicles a day using the High Street? That figure is well on the way to the 24,000 vehicles a day that would trigger the building of a bypass; and in the ensuing two years, major housing estates have started in Jetty Road and Murradoc Road and 'infill development' is creating more houses on empty blocks. So it's not a question of whether traffic in Drysdale High Street will reach the 24,000 vehicles/day trigger point but when; and it makes sense to start building the bypass now, rather than wait until 24,000 vehicles/day bring the High Street to a halt.

(Incidentally, a big DCSCA 'Welcome!' to new residents to the area.)

The absence of any VicRoads representatives also precluded any discussion about what the elements of a 'holistic' solution could be, but they could include upgrading existing outlying roads, rather than creating a new bypass. VicRoads estimates that the Drysdale bypass will cost $60-80 million. It owns about half of the land required to build the bypass and is acquiring the rest as it comes on the market.

The secret to success?
VicRoads looks to local planning bodies for guidance on which roads should be built next; and while a Drysdale bypass is on the priority list of the regional planning body G21, it isn't a stated CoGG priority. So while people in Drysdale await the publication of the existing secret feasibility study into the bypass, together with the forthcoming Integrated Transport Model, they may wish to ask their local councillors, 'How many secret reports does it take to build a bypass?' 

Friday, May 10, 2013

A light rail service for Drysdale?

The Victorian state government is investigating the viability of a rail service between South Geelong and Drysdale.

This has emerged from the state government's budget for 2013-2014, which includes this small item:
'The Government is investigating the viability of rail services between South Geelong to Drysdale and Grovedale to Torquay.' ('Budget Papers: Regional and Rural Victoria'. p5)

On first reading, the budget appears not to say how much it will spend on the study; watch this space for more detail.

For some time, DCSCA has been calling for a study into the viability of a light rail service connecting Geelong and the Bellarine. We have said consistently that traffic management is linked inextricably with economic development, because in the absence of a growing local economy, new residents will be forced to commute elsewhere. We've argued that the local economy needs to grow in ways that will provide people with real choices over where they work; that will stem the tide of wealth and talent flowing out of our towns and into Geelong and Melbourne; and that will rein-in the ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases produced by commuters' vehicles.

A light rail service on the Bellarine would reduce local petrol-based traffic and, in the process, create new local jobs. Here are a couple of possibilities:
  • A light rail service between Geelong and Drysdale. This service could be extended to Queenscliff, to link with the ferry; and the service could also be extended to Portarlington if another ferry service starts there.
  • A light rail 'Circle Line' running around the Bellarine and through each town (including ferry terminals), with a 'spur' connecting it with central Geelong and another 'spur' connecting it with Torquay.
DCSCA's interest in light rail is part of its program Going Green on the Bellarine, which aims to develop the local area as a showcase of tomorrow's 'green' economy. 

So while it's good to see the state government taking an interest, let's not assume that a rail link, by itself, will contribute to the growth and development of the area.

See earlier articles on the issue on this Blog:
'Planning for traffic and jobs' (8 October 2011)
'Our region's future - have your say' (25 November 2011)
'Thunderous reception for G21 "Listening post".' (13 December 2011)

Friday, April 26, 2013

'Community Involvement Day' a great success!

Lookout at The Dell
On April 26, more than 170 people attended a Community Involvement Day at The Dell, Clifton Springs, where they planted native grasses and learnt about the area's ecology and history.

The event consisted of five ecology and history activities, each lasting about 25 minutes. At the end of the activities, the Clifton Springs Lions served up a BBQ lunch, along with fruit and a cool drink.

The 170 participants comprised about 140 students from the Drysdale Primary School and the Clifton Springs Primary School, about 10 teachers, 20 parents, and volunteers from Bellarine Catchment Management Network, City of Greater Geelong, Bellarine Bayside, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Geelong Indigenous Nursery, Bellarine Landcare.

After lunch, Drysdale Primary School principal Phil Dunlop-Moore spoke on behalf of the two schools participating. He emphasised that the area is our home, that we should take care of it and that today's event was a way to take care of it. Phil was followed by Karin Sheppard, president of the Bellarine Catchment Network, who thanked the students for taking part, the volunteers for their help and of course, the Lions for lunch. Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association Treasurer Doug Carson wound up the event by thanking everyone for their hard work, then two school students each said 'Thank you' to the organisers for making the event happen.

Doug Carson said, 'Clearly, the event was a success - I kept getting asked, "When are you having another one?"!'

The Community Involvement Day is part of a programme to revegetate the area, being run by a DCSCA-led consortium of local organisations, including the Dept of Sustainability & Environment, Landcare, Bellarine Catchment Network and the City of Greater Geelong. The consortium received $15,000 from the Commonwealth Government's Caring for our Country Community Action Grants program to undertake the work.

The Community Involvement Day was scheduled originally for June 22 2012, but bad weather forced its postponement to August 24 2012, when land slippage forced a second postponement. (See earlier posts on drycliftdays: 'Dell project survives storms, landslips!' [September 12 2012]; and '"Greening" the Dell' [May 9 2012].) 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Clifton Springs fountain 'on the radar'

The future of the Clifton Springs fountain is now part of the City of Greater Geelong's budget negotiations. 

Councillor Lindsay Ellis (Coryule ward) has told members of the Clifton Springs fountain working group that councillors will consider the fountain's future as part of the negotiations leading to the council's 2013/14 budget. He added that a report on the fountain's condition - and an estimate of the cost of refurbishing it - is due from council officers on 23 April.

Cr Ellis emphasized that at this stage in the council's budget process, he couldn't guarantee that the council would commit any funds to the fountain, let alone any specific figure. However, at last the fountain's future is 'on the radar' as the council develops policies to fund the maintenance of such 'public art' across Geelong.

Doing something new .... in keeping with the old
In response, the members of the fountain working group emphasized that local people want something done about the fountain's continuing deterioration. They feel that it has been neglected for far too long and they’re concerned not just because it is becoming an eyesore but because they are genuinely fond of it and want this piece of public art to become once more something of which they can be proud and from which they can gain pleasure.

A public meeting on March 12 about the fountain's future expressed broad support for renovating the structure and including a major glass structure (e.g. an abstract ‘sculpture’). A much smaller amount of water would flow over the structure in an enclosed (i.e. non-evaporative) system featuring signs and symbols of the area’s past and possible futures. This would link the fountain with some of the public art at The Dell; it would evoke the time when mineral water was exported from Clifton Springs in torpedo-shaped glass bottles; and it would celebrate the growing reputation of Drysdale/Clifton Springs as a centre of glass-related art, craft and industry through the impacts of the annual Festival of Glass.

A fountain reflecting local people's wishes
Members of the fountain working group - which includes representation from the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association - are doing background investigations into various aspects of the fountain, prior to presenting some options for its future to a second public meeting. They are determined that the fountain should be renovated in a way that reflects - as far as possible - local people’s values, ideals and hopes for their future; and are keen to work with councillors and officers to that end.

Drysdale cemetery safe 'in perpetuity'

Catholic church, eastern cemetery, Drysdale
Geelong Cemeteries Trust CEO Darryl Thomas has stated that  the Trust has decided to retain its vacant land next to Drysdale cemetery, rather than sell it off.

Mr Thomas made the announcement at a public meeting in Drysdale on April 17, prompting spontaneous applause from the thirty local people who attended. The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association had organised the meeting, following  months of speculation about the cemetery's future.

Mr. Thomas told the meeting that the Trust had considered selling the vacant land and using the proceeds to buy land elsewhere on the Bellarine Peninsula for a new cemetery to service the whole Peninsula. He pointed out that if the City of Greater Geelong rezoned the Trust's vacant Drysdale land as 'High density residential', it would be worth a lot of money. However, the Trust's proposal had generated significant local opposition. This led the Trust to abandon its proposal to sell off the land and, instead, to use it to expand the existing Drysdale cemetery.

Mr. Thomas also sought to calm any fears that any part of the (expanded) cemetery might face a 'change of use' in the future. Graves, he said, exist 'in perpetuity' and so a burial ground, once created, remains a burial ground forever.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Third time lucky for Dell project?

A DCSCA-led consortium will run a Community Involvement Day at The Dell on April 26.

During the day, around 130 local primary school students (plus parents and teachers!) will plant dozens of native plants in the area around The Dell lookout, learning about environmental stewardship and sustainability as they go.

The Community Involvement Day is part of a programme to revegetate the area, for which the consortium received $15,000 from the Commonwealth Government's Caring for our Country Community Action Grants program. The consortium includes the Dept of Sustainability & Environment, Landcare, Bellarine Catchment Network and the City of Greater Geelong.

The Community Involvement Day was scheduled originally for June 22 2012, but bad weather forced its postponement to August 24 2012, when land slippage forced a second postponement. If anyone sees a plague of locusts on the horizon, please tell the consortium!

(See earlier posts on drycliftdays: 'Dell project survives storms, landslips!' [September 12 2012]; and '"Greening" the Dell' [May 9 2012].)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A fountain with friends

Clifton Springs fountain 
Around thirty people concerned about the state of the Clifton Springs fountain met last night and resolved to establish a working group charged with investigating the current state of the fountain and proposing options for its future.

The fountain originally marked the gateway to the then-new Clifton Springs housing estate and was a larger, grander structure than it is now. The fountain itself was switched off during the recent years-long long drought and, as a consequence,  the fountain's pipes and pumps have been damaged significantly. The City of Greater Geelong owns the fountain and is responsible for its maintenance as part of the city's collection of 'public art'.

At last night's meeting at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, a range of local residents expressed a variety of concerns about the fountain's future. Three broad options emerged from the discussion:
1. Do nothing. This was dismissed immediately - people had come to the meeting to get something done!
2. Return the fountain to its former glory. While several people supported this idea, there was general concern about a fountain splashing away beautifully when we're trying to conserve water. There was also concern about the possible cost of mending or replacing the original pipes and pumps.
3. Rework the fountain as a piece of public art.  Several people were attracted by the idea of amending the structure to turn it from a sad, unused fountain into a celebration of the area's history and future. There was broad support for integrating some form of toughened, industrial glass 'sculpture' into the structure - perhaps with an enclosed water feature using recycled water.

It was pointed out that mixing glass and water would evoke the time at the start of the 20th century when Clifton Springs was famous for its bottled mineral springs water; and it would build on the area's growing reputation as a centre for glass art and craft around the annual Festival of Glass and the planned Bellarine Glass Trail.

The meeting resolved to form a small working group to investigate the engineering and funding issues around the fountain's future and to talk to the City of Greater Geelong officers and councillors about refurbishing the fountain. Once this work was done, the working group would report back to the larger group and present some possible next steps. Local councillor Lindsay Ellis has shown some interest in the fountain's future already and he would be among the first people the group would contact.

Finally, the people at the meeting decided to call themselves 'Friends of the Fountain' - albeit a dry fountain at present!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 Glass Expo beats the heat!

Crowds at the 2013 Festival of Glass
Thousands of people braved 38 degree conditions to visit the Glass expo in Drysdale, Victoria on Sunday 17 February.

The Expo was the focus of the 2013 Festival of Glass, a DCSCA initiative now in its third year. Visitors strolled around the 70-plus sites, looking at glass of all shapes, sizes, colours and forms. With so much diversity, there was something for everyone to see - from leadlight to lampwork, from splashbacks to platters and from beads to bottles.

A warm welcome
The Expo's official opening started with a 'Welcome To Country' from Uncle David Tournier, of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-op in Geelong. This was followed by greetings from Doug Carson, Chair of the 2013 Festival of Glass committee, local councillor Rod Macdonald and state MP Lisa Neville. Finally, Geelong Mayor Keith Fagg declared the Expo officially open!

On Twitter, Cr. Fagg wrote, '@ festival of Glass Opening. Stunning array of glass in all forms. All day Sunday at Bellarine College, Drysdale.' Thanks, Mr. Mayor!

After the opening ceremony, our guests talked with exhibitors as they walked around the Expo. They remarked on the diversity of the exhibits, the high quality of the entries in the glass-art competition and the attractiveness of the prizes in the raffle, each one donated by an exhibitor at this year's Festival.

Kind words
Since the Expo, many exhibitors have posted messages of thanks and appreciation on the Festival's Facebook page. Several exhibitors were kind enough to remark on the Festival's high degree of organisation. E.g. 'we exhibitors don't have to worry about anything other than our own tables during setup, take down and the day itself.'

The Festival Committee is basking in those kind words .... before addressing the list of suggested improvements for 2014!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

We're getting talked about!

Festival of Glass exhibitor Katrina Newman has just published an article about the Festival on her blog. (

The article has a great photo (reproduced here) of some of Katrina's hand-made flamework beads annealing (cooling and hardening) in her kiln.

As Katrina says, 'It's going to be a colourful day, do drop by and say hello'.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Geelong - the 'City of Festivals'?

DCSCA has suggested to the City of Greater Geelong council that it considers promoting Geelong as the ‘City of Festivals’.

Each year, the City of Greater Geelong council supports at least fifteen community festivals through its Community Arts & Festivals grant programme. (This includes, of course, the excellent Festival of Glass in Drysdale - a DCSCA initiative!) Some of these festivals are one-off events receiving a one-off grant, while others are recurring events which receive triennial funding.

A glance at the list of these festivals shows its great diversity - a tribute both to the council's Arts department that has nurtured community arts and festivals in Geelong and to the council committee that disburses the grants.

DCSCA has suggested to the council that it considers building on Geelong's strength and diversity in community arts and festivals by promoting Geelong as the 'City of Festivals'. Such a strategy has three advantages:
  1. Promoting Geelong as a 'City of Festivals' would build on and celebrate Geelong’s diversity and would highlight the creative activity that is happening across the whole of Geelong, rather than focus simply on the city centre.
  2. Having several strong festivals throughout the year would mean that visitors would be likely to find a festival in Geelong, no matter when they visited.
  3. Promoting Geelong as the ‘City of Festivals’ would make better use of a lot of the grant money that the council disburses currently. At present, each festival has to spend a significant part of its budget on promotion, whereas promoting Geelong as a 'City of Festivals' would offer each festival the chance to fold its specific promotions into an ongoing promotional effort.
DCSCA's proposal draws on our three years experience (and success!) in presenting the Festival of Glass, which each year attracts a greater number and - more importantly - a greater diversity of exhibitors from across the wide world of glass. Our focus remains the Festival of Glass as an event in our local area, of course, but we are proposing this city-wide initiative because it would benefit all the community festivals in the area by making each one part of a bigger identity - 'Geelong, the City of Festivals'.

(The 2013 Festival of Glass opens on Saturday 16 February with a Bottleneck Guitar Evening at the Harvester Moon restaurant, 2320 Portarlington Road, Bellarine. [Bookings and enquiries: 5259 3200]. Then, on Sunday 17 February a glass Expo happens between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. at the Bellarine Secondary College Sports Centre in Peninsula Drive, off Anderson's Road, Drysdale. [Melway 470 F3]. Free admission. We're planning a post-Expo exhibition of competition winners and short courses in glass arts and crafts by Expo exhibitors.)