The Sandy Point Community Group (SPCG) has been campaigning for over ten years for a shared trail to be constructed along the inland side of the sand dunes, linking Sandy Point with Waratah. The trail is to be known as the Waratah Way. This page details the steps we have taken so far in our campaign and our future plans to progress this initiative.
In recent discussions with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the SPCG has been advised that to progress this initiative, a number of elements need to be determined:
SPCG will continue to liaise with the key stakeholders to address these elements and keep the community advised of the outcomes.
Following the SPCG’s 2019 AGM, a working group was formed to progress the proposed Waratah Way Shared Trail. Several members of the group met in January to consider strategy, particularly given the (then) imminent Federal Election in May.
Pre-election commitments were pursued from both the sitting Federal Member for McMillan, Russell Broadbent and the ALP candidate Jessica O’Donnell.
In April Phil Cornwell and I met with Russell Broadbent, who is very enthusiastic about this project and keen to support an application for Federal grant funding for the next stage of assessments. These would include a boundary title survey, a study of the proposed track alignment, the detailed design and then the actual construction funding. Russell commented at the time that he would like to see this trail completed in two year and so would we!
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have also confirmed that they support the further preliminary assessments required to identify a suitable alignment for the trail.
More recently, South Gippsland Shire Council has been sacked and replaced by State Government appointed Administrators, Julie Eisenbise, Christian Zahra and Rick Brown. The administration panel chair, Julie Eisenbise has regularly commented on the pro-active initiatives within the South Gippsland communities. She recognizes the link between the region’s natural attractions, increased visitation and the positive impact of tourism for thriving townships. The proposed Waratah Way is one such project that would complement the current offering of nature-based activities of visitors and local residents. With the Waratah Way now listed in the 2018 SGSC Paths and Trails Strategy and DEWLP’s support to progress the investigation, now is the time to press on with renewed focus.
The SPCG are currently looking for an individual to step up and take over this project (with the support of myself and the existing working group), to progress this valued community trail.
Following the well attended SPCG AGM on Saturday 29th September, an update on the progress of the proposed Waratah Way Shared Tail was given.
With the trail now included in the Council’s 2018 Paths and Trails Strategy and on the 2018 Project List as a future unfunded project, this discussion proved ideal timing to plan the way ahead.
A report commissioned by Council in 2016 from Ethos NRM environmental consultants
was tabled and its findings highlighted with respect to two possible trail alignments.
This study provides a geomorphological and ecological assessment of those routes,
estimated costs for both options, identifies potential ‘risks’ to Council for ongoing
maintenance and construction, details the further assessments/studies/permits that
would be required and provides advice on the potential construction impact.
The two potential trail alignments considered in the report are:
Path Option 1, which generally follows along a former fire access track that is now partly overgrown. This track is located partly on Crown Land (1.9km) and partly on private property (2.5km).
Path Option 2, which would be located entirely on Crown Land, partly running along
the former access track but with a new alignment within the dunes to avoid private
The study has assumed a 2.5m width, crushed rock surface and depending on the final
route chosen, will require varying degrees of excavation, levelling and stabilization.
While some risks were identified with the disturbance of areas of the dune during
construction, the opportunities for better coastal management of weeds and feral
animals is recognized.
A range of pre-construction studies, permits and approvals will need to be undertaken
for this project to progress, these would be the next logical step in this process.
A summary of all construction cost estimates for both pathway options was also provided,
which include the pre-construction studies and approvals, the actual construction
costs and Vegetation Offset Credit purchase cost estimates. These come to an estimated
Option 1: $525, 540
Option 2: $752,254
The consideration of Option 2 has been necessitated by 2 neighbouring landholders
who have been outspoken in their objection to the community trail. With compulsory
acquisition of land for the project not supported by council, a trail entirely on
Crown Land is likely to be the most realistic way forward.
By the end of the presentation, 12 enthusiastic individuals expressed their interest in forming a working group to progress the trail on behalf of the communities of Sandy Point and Waratah Bay.
There is no doubt that creative solutions will need to be thoroughly explored for
this project to come to fruition, but the resounding message is “full steam ahead”.
Thank you to those individuals who have rallied together to work on this and we encourage other community members to get involved if they have some expertise or particular interest they can contribute.
Following the recent South Gippsland Shire Council’s Meeting on 30 May, the Waratah Way Shared Trail is now included in the Shire’s 2018 Paths & Trails Strategy and the 2018 Project List (construction projects) as a Future Unfunded Project. This is a very positive result which the Sandy Point Community Group has worked towards for several years now. It gives recognition and validation to this project which enables our community to pursue it with vigour, albeit that it will still be a lengthy process as there are considerable challenges to address.
At the council meeting on the 30 May, presentations were made regarding the Waratah
Way reinforcing the community’s desire to see this project be given the opportunity
to progress. We thank the community members who took the time and effort to address
the council in relation to this project. Each made personal and diverse presentations
of support for the Waratah Way and their valued contributions played a significant
part in getting the project re-included in the Paths & Trails Strategy 2018 Project
Five Councillors supported the motion to reinstate the Waratah Way back onto the Project List, Cr Alyson Skinner, Cr Jeremy Rich, Cr Ray Argento, Cr Andrew McEwen and Cr Don Hill. Each had clearly done considerable research and put much thought into their presentations, as they were insightful and showed a thorough knowledge of the subject. We sincerely thank all 5 councillors for backing the trail at this critical time, for giving credibility to the consultation process and for their vote of confidence in our community by ensuring that we can further explore and hopefully progress this project in time.
As a condition of the Waratah Way Shared Trail’s inclusion on the Project List, Council acknowledged “That there will be no compulsory acquisition of farm land for the project, to give surety to property owners”. This is intended to allay any concerns that the 2 landholders objecting to the proposed project have in terms of their land being bought by the Shire.