By Marcus Uhe
Alex Stroud is renewing his calls for the piers at Warneet North and Warneet South to be rebuilt and reopened after they were unexpectedly closed in June 2020 by Parks Victoria due to safety concerns.
Mr Stroud is the commodore of the Warneet Motor Yacht Club and said his club and its 250 members have been significantly affected by the closures as it has limited their ability to welcome visitors to the club and conduct boating activities.
He explored many options for action to take, including contacting his MP, MP for Holt, Anthony Byrne, who called on Victorian Minister for Fisheries and Boating, Melissa Horne, to reopen the pier at Warneet North.
The request was deemed “impracticable given the poor condition of the pier” by Minister Horne in November 2021.
The potential ‘catastrophic’ danger posed by an emergency evacuation is another of Mr Stroud’s concerns given Warneet’s isolation.
“Warneet is an entry road, an exit road, surrounded by a bush reserve,” Mr Stroud said.
“In the event of a bushfire, the jetties would be considered a safe evacuation point.
“Mallacoota is a perfect example; they would never have thought they would need to escape by warship. But you only need one fire.
Parks Victoria is responsible for maintaining the piers and claims to undertake regular safety inspections, however, Hastings MP Neale Fergus said no such safety inspections had taken place since 2011.
A six-metre section of Warneet South Pier was removed in 2020 after it was deemed unsafe for public use, having reached the end of its structural life and considered at risk of failure.
Warneet Marine Precinct’s plan, published in December 2021, recommends rebuilding the boat launch and upgrading parking facilities at Warneet North, which Mr Stroud calls ‘insulting’ as it does not respond not directly to club and resident concerns, despite consultation between Warneet Foreshore Committee of Management and Better Boating Victoria, who oversee state government investment in infrastructure and boating facilities.
“Warneet residents and boating groups are not in favor of improvements until the ramp and parking at the piers have been restored,” Mr Stroud said.
“The message (at the consultation meetings) was loud and clear that residents and boating groups wanted the piers completed first.”
Replacing jetties was seen as a key recommendation of the Constituency Plan, however, no funding is allocated for future improvements, according to a government spokesperson.
“The Warneet Boating Precinct plan was released in December to help drive the next stage in preparing for upgrades to several maritime assets in Warneet,” the government spokesman said.
“The steps identified in the plan include the development of detailed designs and approvals for the upgrade of the yachting facilities and the jetty, and will be implemented alongside the responsible authorities.
“We have taken action, working collectively with asset managers and the community to confirm a future vision for the compound.”
Detailed plans will now be prepared for construction and approvals for future marine infrastructure upgrades at Warneet, the spokesperson said.
Mr Stroud has set up a Facebook group to raise awareness of the situation in Warneet, which you can join at facebook.com/groups/133989648536696/