Development threatens indigenous cultural sites and the environment

A decision by The Hon. Justin Madden, Minister for Planning and Community Development, on one of Victoria’s longest running Environment Effects Assessment is now imminent. The proposal for major boating infrastructure at Bastion Point, Mallacoota,  an iconic surf beach on Victoria’s Wilderness Coast, has met with overwhelming community opposition. The Save Bastion Point Campaign, which is supported by state, national, and international conservation and recreation organizations, maintains the development is both inappropriate and unsustainable, and will irrevocably change, to its detriment, this outstanding coastal environment and tourist destination.

Bastion Point is located in Mallacoota, the most easterly coastal township in Victoria, Australia. An icon on Victoria’s Wilderness Coast, Bastion Point is part of an outstanding natural environment.

Immediately to its north is the entrance to Mallacoota Inlet, a natural estuary and lake system renowned for its unspoilt beauty. To the east are Cape Howe Marine National Park and Gabo Island, home to the largest colony of little penguins in the Southern Hemisphere.

A wilderness coastline stretches in either direction as far as the eye can see. This spectacular marine and coastal environment is surrounded by Croajingolong National Park which is recognised by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.

Bastion Point has extensive indigenous cultural heritage sites, has one of the few accessible shallow reef habitats in East Gippsland, and has ecological, geological and landscape values of state significance. It is the town beach and is used for surfing, swimming, beachcombing, bird-watching, rock pool rambling, scientific study, snorkelling, relaxing, angling and other recreational and social activities throughout the year.

Local surfers are perhaps the most furious, as the proposed development will ruin a pristine Australian surf beach. They claim more people come to Mallacoota to use the ocean for surfing and swimming, than they do for oceanic boating. Opposition to the proposed boat ramp claims that promoting an unsafe boating environment will lead to tragedy, the ocean between Gabo Island and Bastion Point is particularly hazardous and should not be promoted to inexperienced boat operators and is the location of many wrecked ships.

The Save Bastion Point Campaign suggests that the proposed boat ramp will cause a significant visual intrusion on Victoria’s wilderness coast and cause irreversible damage to the Bastion Point environment and surrounding coastline They also suggest that ongoing costs from maintenance and dredging will not be recoverable from a user-pay system and will be untenable in a small community and believe the costs are underestimated and the economic value of the ramp is completely overestimated.

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