19 August, 2012

Grand designs

It is easy enough to look at the history of the Barwon - particularly since European arrival - or to observe what is happening at the present time, but what of the future? Are there plans in place which will determine what will happen to the river, its resources and its surrounding environment?
Well yes, and as far as the section of the river through Geelong is concerned quite a bit of information is available on-line and through the media. Most obvious perhaps is the Barwon (through Geelong) Management plan which has been much cited of late in relation to those controversial ash and elm trees along the river at Fyans Park, as does the  Barwon & Moorabool River Reserves Masterplan & Management Plan.

The Barwon near Queen's Park
Something which attracted my attention several weeks back was an advertisement/article in the paper which lead me to a website I can no longer locate. It seemed however, to be largely based around details which can be found in the G21 Regional Growth Plan. Whilst the time frame under consideration is in the order of 20 years, the document provides a tantalising glimpse of what might be possible once the Batesford Quarry is decommissioned and the area transformed into a mixed residential and employment zone capable of housing up to 30,000 residents. The area I believe is designated as Batesford South and includes the Moorabool River between Batesford and Fyansford as well as the Barwon out as far as Friend In Hand Road.
View across the Moorabool Valley including the Ring Road and part of the
area proposed for development
Of specific relevance to this blog are the plans which would see the Moorabool through this area become a parkland within a 200m green zone including the ultimate conversion of the quarry itself into a large lake.
View of the Batesford Quarry across the Midland Highway near Ring Road
Also included in the larger scheme of things is the currently stalled Fyansford Green project which is on hold pending a buyer after a part of the Moltoni Group who owned the land met with financial difficulties.
The view from "Cementies" hill looking out over the Fyansford Green site
An extension of this project would also see a clean up and rehabilitation of the now disused CSR Quarry on the west bank of the river. I have no idea how current it is, but I did find a link to the following diagram which shows the layout of what the future quarry development would look like.
On the other edge of this proposed development is of course, the Barwon. I have mentioned in previous posts that there have been proposals to extend the river trail further up and downstream. I was under the impression that the track past Baum's Weir would be extended up to the Ring Road, however I have so far seen no sign of this.
Informal track beside the Barwon below Mt Brandon Peninsula
On the opposite side of the river however, at Mt Brandon Peninsula, it seems that things may be afoot. This week, a media release reported that a draft proposal by the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) for the Mount Brandon Landscape Plan is being put out for public comment. On the agenda are a raft of changes including the usual infrastructure of paths, picnic facilities, public toilets, carparking and so on. What it doesn't mention is the time frame involved or an expected start date...or who exactly is providing the cash.
Remains of the the water race which fed the Barrabool
Four Mill on Mount Brandon Peninsula, dating to the 1850s
As I write this blog, the CoGG Community Update for August, 2012 has just landed in my mailbox and lo and behold, the entire front page and several subsequent pages have been given over to promoting what's new along the Barwon through Geelong and much of it can also be found on the CoGG website following the "Leisure" then "Paths, trails and tracks" links. Another useful document under the "Projects, plans and studies" links is the "Greater Geelong Cycle Strategy" which incorporates information about the cycle trails around the river and ideas for future development. The main drawback here however, is that the document was produced in 2008 and some of the plans do not reflect the current situation.
Ovoid sewer aqueduct at Breakwater
At the Breakwater end of the river for instance, I have seen tantalising glimpses of what might be. At various times there has been talk of paths extending along the riverbank (on one side or the other) as far as the aqueduct and beyond. The cycle strategy document mentioned above shows a "proposed" trail all the way along the river to Barwon Heads, however we know from a recent comment sent my way by a Parks Victoria representative that it "ain't gunna happen". What would be really useful is an up to date, straightforward outline of what "is gunna happen" or perhaps even what "might happen" given funding issues and environmental concerns along the lower reaches of the river.

1 comment:

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