Old basin to be transformed

Bellarine Catchment Network program manager Matt Crawley, Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter, DELWP Barwon South West acting regional manager Land and Built Environment Gavan Mathieson and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation’s Chase Aghan on site at the disused Bellarine Basin.

The disused Bellarine Basin will be transformed into an environmental and public space Barwon Water announced this week.

The project will see the removal of the old reservoir, enabling the natural headwaters of Yarram Creek to be restored and wetlands to be established.

Located on the corner of Grubb and Swan Bay roads in Wallington, the open-air Bellarine Basin was the main balancing storage for drinking water for the Bellarine Peninsula.

It was used from the 1930s until it was decommissioned in 2011 following supply system upgrades that meant it was no longer required.

Barwon Water will remove the old basin, associated infrastructure and the security fencing surrounding the land it owns.

Early stages of the project are under way, including a biodiversity assessment.

The pine tree plantation, which Barwon Water said contains trees that are nearing the end of their natural life, will be replaced in stages with indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses, and the security fencing and old buildings on site will be dismantled.

Managing director Tracey Slatter said Barwon Water was delighted to be working with the Wadawurrung traditional owners, local community and key agencies.

She said Barwon Water had received $650,000 funding under the Victorian government’s Distinctive Areas and Landscapes program and would contribute the same amount to the $1.3 million project to begin remediating and revegetating the site.

“We want to transform the disused basin site into an area that enhances the unique and natural features of the Bellarine Peninsula so that it becomes a place people, birds and native animals can enjoy for generations to come,” Ms Slatter said.

“We have already been liaising with a number of local community and environmental groups including the Bellarine Catchment Network and the Geelong Field Naturalists Club who have welcomed the opportunity to be involved in this important project.”

Bellarine Catchment Network program manager Matt Crawley said the project offered an opportunity for the community to improve the local environment.

“As an organisation focused on projects that protect and enhance the Bellarine environment, we couldn’t be more excited by this project and look forward to working with Barwon Water and other stakeholders in the coming years on a project that will significantly improve the environment and natural amenity of the Bellarine,” he said.

Geelong Field Naturalists Club life member Craig Morley welcomed the project and the opportunity for club members to be involved.

“This is a fabulous opportunity,” he said.

“It is an underrated gem, a place of beauty on the Bellarine Peninsula. It’s important that we take the time to get this right so we can protect the flora, fauna and environmental value that has been retained or developed at the site because of its seclusion for more than 80 years.”

Ms Slatter said that work this year would focus on realigning the waterway, removing some of the pine trees, and promoting the regrowth of native vegetation at the site.

“As it will take time for some of the native vegetation to return and flourish, areas of pine trees will be retained in the short term to complement the regrowth of native vegetation and preserve and improve local wildlife habitats,” she said.