Concerns over all-abilities access to reserve

Ocean Grove Nature Reserve is a haven for flora.

By Justin Flynn

Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve (FOGNR) group is concerned that upgrades to visitor facilities of the beloved park will deter all-abilities users.

Parks Victoria is in the midst of a public consultation process and has flagged the new toilet block and car park to be built at the Grubb Road entrance of the reserve, the opposite end of where the current facilities are.

However, FOGNR secretary Barry Lingham said that if people were forced to park near Grubb Road the access to the all-abilities trail around the central lake would require a 2.5km return walk.

“The new car park would require removal of native vegetation from the proposed site and there are concerns the traffic noise from busy Grubb Road would decrease people’s enjoyment of the solitude found in the current picnic area,” Mr Lingham said.

Accessing the best bird-watching areas on the western side of the OGNR would require walking up to 3km return, Mr Lingham said.

Public consultation was extended to January 16 after concerns were raised about the site of the new facilities.

The public is being asked for input on two options, both of which have been rejected by the FOGNR.

The works would involve moving the toilets and parking facilities from the current central picnic area to a site close to the entrance on Grubb Road.

FOGNR said the Parks Victoria proposal would be funded by a state government grant from the Bellarine Distinctive Areas and Landscapes planning review, but it was concerned that the entire grant would be used on connecting the sewerage system via the Kingston Village area.

FOGNR said it was unclear how new toilets and car parking would then be funded.

“Insufficient money is available to extend the sewer all the way to the current picnic area where the old septic toilets are located,” Mr Lingham said.

“The FOGNR agree the reserve needs new toilets and safer car parking but they strongly believe other options should be investigated that would retain these community facilities within the current picnic area zone near the Information Centre.”

Mr Lingham encouraged community members to visit the FOGNR website for more details and to make a comment on the Parks Victoria projects consultation page before January 16.