Long Jetty odds shorten


Long Jetty odds shorten

Jetty observation: from left, Paul MacPhail, president of the Welshpool and District Advisory Group; Bob McDonald, on behalf of the advisory group; and South Gippsland shire council”s tourism co-ordinator Christian Stefani, who briefed councillors on the future prospects of the Long Jetty in Port Welshpool last Wednesday.

By Bert van Bedaf

THE Welshpool and District Advisory Group received a favourable response from South Gippsland shire councillors regarding its proposal to build an Underwater Observatory at the Port Welshpool Long Jetty.
The group presented its eco-tourism proposal to councillors during a briefing session on December 9. Present were Linda Lucas and Glen Fraser, Port Welshpool Working Group; Paul MacPhail, president of the Welshpool and District Advisory Group; Bob McDonald, consultant of Natural History Network, working on behalf of the advisory group; and Kerry Pinzone, a committee member of the advisory group.
Mr McPhail said the business plan would be completed in 2010. “This is a great opportunity for the community. It will provide jobs and stimulate the economy.”
Ward Councillor Mohya Davies was particularly enthusiastic, expecting much-needed stimulus coming towards the depressed Corner Inlet area.
The project is modelled on the highly successful jetty and underwater observatory in Busselton, Western Australia, which adds millions of dollars to the local community.
It was built by WA-based marine contractors Marine and Civil, who are now also interested in building at Port Welshpool. The logistics are a lot simpler and the costs are also much less.
Busselton was built for $27 million. The observatory opened in 2003. It attracts 60-90,000 paying customers annually.
Port Welshpool’s would cost up to $10 million in its entirety. The initial outlay is $2.2 million to renovate the timber jetty.
The observatory would cost around $3 million. To restore the jetty for industrial use would cost another $4.5 million.
The $2.2 million is subject to a timber-related grant, between $2-5 million, by FitzPatrick Woods Consulting on behalf of the ForestWorks Learning and Skills Development, which is associated with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in funding timber using projects.
The grant is part of The Federal Government’s $650 million Jobs Fund to support and create jobs and skill development through projects that build community infrastructure and social capital in local communities.
The proposal is that Marine and Civil will finance and build the underwater observatory and the advisory group will run it and use the income from the observatory to pay off the contractor in five to seven years.
Mayor Jim Fawcett asked Mr McDonald what the group needed from council.
Mr McDonald said the group would ask council “to include land in any future (commercial rezoning)
The plan is to allow more tourism, retail and hospitality businesses to complement the observatory, creating more employment.
Also, the group will ask council to “approach the Department of Sustainability and Infrastructure for other expressions of interest in the project.  
“We’ll need to go through council to do this,” Mr McDonald said.
The summary of the proposal noted that the key to the success of an underwater observatory was “how many visitors it can cater for per day, 800 or more, the visibility, diversity and nature of marine life, accessibility of the observatory on site, with coaches able to drive to its doors and its proximity to major population centres and tourist routes.
The observatory will be about 14 metres tall, circular and nine metres in diameter, so that it can cater for 40 people going through a 45-minute to one hour guided tour.
Because Port Welshpool has reliable clear water supplied by two 2.5m tidal changes a day, the observatory can be open at night as well, giving it 12 or more operating hours per day.
The observatory will have at least three levels of viewing windows, including a window featuring a specially placed jetty pylon with decades of growth.
The top level contains the tidal windows, while the middle and lower levels capture the range of creatures that reside at and travel through the different depths.
The closure of the Port Welshpool Long Jetty in 2003 was a major social and economic blow to Port Welshpool and the district. As part of the town since 1939 it had provided access to the deep clear waters of Lewis Channel for industry, locals from the town and many holiday makers.
Through the efforts of the Port Welshpool Working Group, especially Margaret Campbell and Cr Jeanette Harding, the Long Jetty was successfully nominated under the State Heritage Act in 2004, preventing its removal.
News of the Busselton Jetty resulted in a campaign to have the Port Welshpool jetty restored, hopefully culminating in the installation of an underwater observatory.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=126

Posted by SiteAdmin on Dec 15 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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