Agnes Falls finds friends
THE Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve has a new group of friends, who, with the help of Parks Victoria and South Gippsland Shire Council hope to promote the falls and increase visitor numbers.
The group, although not officially formed, held its first meeting recently which was well attended.
Kathy Whelan, one of the founders behind the friends group, said it was a great start.
“We had 17 people attend the meeting, with six apologies, as well as officers from Parks Victoria,” she said.
Parks Victoria explained their role with regard to the Agnes Falls and spoke of their support of friends groups.
“When a friends group is established, then they can apply separately for funding as an incorporation, which takes some of the pressure off Parks Victoria.”
Kathy and her partner Peter Lee are the spearheads behind the proposed group and have been involved in community groups in the Toora area.
They were both on the Toora Progress Association for many years and Peter was instrumental in the establishment of the Toora Heritage Pear Orchard.
The work for the Agnes Falls friends group began around two years ago, however the call for improvements and ideas for the falls goes back many years.
“We have seen how it used to be, with manicured lawns, well maintained and clean. Now it is a lot more rugged,” Kathy said.
“If the grounds could go back to looking as tidy as they used to, people may spend more time in the park and stay in the area longer.”
One breakthrough for the Friends of Agnes Falls is to have the toilet block taken off the demolish list and transferred to the replacement list.
“At the meeting, quite a lot of ideas came up, including a picnic shelter, an information rotunda with photos from the earlier years, a fishing platform and even a platypus or bird hide,” Kathy said.
“We would like to have the paths upgraded and another walking track added to the reserve. We also want to extend one of the existing tracks down a little further so visitors can really get an idea of the depth of the gorge and the height of the falls.”
At 59 metres, Agnes Falls are the highest single span falls in the whole of Victoria.
The ultimate dream for the scenic reserve is a suspension bridge across the gorge, so they can be admired from above.
“Although it is unlikely to happen in my lifetime, it would provide a really excellent viewpoint to get a real appreciation of the falls and the depth of the gorge,” Kathy said.
“Another thing that we would like for the park, which is not out of the question, is a cantilevered look-out point at the end of the extended walking track.
“We are locals, we know that there is a constant stream of visitors to the falls and we know that groups often visit them as part of a tour.
“The road counter results from earlier in the year surprised everyone, so I think those revelations have really stirred the pot.
“It is a benefit to let tourists know there is a legitimate attraction here. We really want to get it on the tourism map and make it more of an attraction than in already is.”
The next meeting will be on Saturday, August 11 at the Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve. The day will comprise of a walk around the falls, to identify areas that need work and attention.
The day will also include a mini working bee, which will involve a general tidy-up, and perhaps some tree planting.
The day is open to anyone who wishes to take part; the only requirement is to pack a lunch.
“There is scope for a lot of improvements in the future. It is a lovely, popular spot, that we would love to see become even more popular,” Kathy said.
For more information contact Kathy Whelan on 5688 1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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