Victoria's Ninety Mile Beach stretches from Port Albert in South Gippsland to Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland. As a teen I became familiar with the part from Port Albert to Sale. My father was rather fond of fishing and took us to Loch Sport a few times. My memories of Loch Sport was that it had no electricity, few fish and there were millions of mosquitoes.
But memories are very unreliable. The area I was going to write about has moved! No, it is my recollection is defective. I thought the road from Yarram to Sale followed the coast and it does not. A map tells me that what I remember is the road from Seaspray to Loch Sport, along a narrow strip of sand dunes with a lake one side and the open Bass Strait ocean on the other.
Regardless, the Ninety Mile Beach is a very long stretch of beautiful and mostly untouched coast line. Mile upon mile of pristine sand without a person in sight most of the time.
It may well not have remained that way had planning rules not been introduced. I recall driving along this narrow sand dune between Seaspray and Loch Sport and in the middle of nowhere gravel streets had been formed and street signs marked the streets. There was no sign of housing that I remember but the intent was certainly there.
Rosedale Shire was responsible for the area then and I would guess that they were complicit in what happened, if not responsible. For twenty five kilometres between Honeysuckles and Paradise Beach township was a subdivision of eleven and half thousand suburban sized blocks of land in a area where there were mobile sand dunes, very sensitive ecosystems and land that was prone to flooding.
And who might have bought these blocks of land and dream of a house of one's own near the beach? Your just fresh off the boat European migrants were the target market and I suspect many blocks were bought sight unseen. I can't imagine Europeans buying land where there wasn't soil, only sand. What kind of vegetables would grow there? I am certain no trees grow there, just tea tree like shrubbery and grasses.
I will pause here to see what happened to the blocks of land and if any houses were built.
The Age tells me in 2005, after a forty year planning vacuum the State Government decided to allow development and extensions along the coast at Honeysuckles Beach, Golden Beach and Paradise Beach. Back in 1970 the government decided the are was too fragile to allow development on such a scale to go ahead and told block owners to buy two more blocks of land to add to their existing holding. Some blocks were declared flood prone and building was banned.
Meanwhile, what happens if you own land? You pay council rates, and while owners were not allowed to build, they still had to pay their council rates, post council amalgamation in 1994, to Wellington Shire Council. Somewhere I read that the first blocks were sold in the 1950s and now belong to beneficiaries of estates.
Here is a mention from ABC News. In 2009 my absolute favourite Panning Minister Madden extended a ban on building on blocks for a further two years.
ABC Stateline in 2008 reported that Wellington Shire Council considered blocking all building permits because of projected rising sea levels, but they backed down when residents threatened a class action.
(lol, I keep coming across reports that Seaspray Life Saving clubhouse is going to fall into the sea)
Here are some snips from The Age in 2005 of some personal experiences.
A Mr Zammit bought his block for £168 in Malibu Road, Golden Beach in 1962. He was a factory worker and bought his block from a real estate agent who was selling door to door in the inner suburbs where migrants settled upon their arrival in Melbourne. He was shown a lavish drawing on thick parchment titled Golden Beach Club Estate. But there was to be no golf course, no swimming pool, no shops and no country club house.
To step back again, some blocks were built on until building was banned in 1973.
A Mr Guba bought his block in 1963 for £248 and paid it off over ten years. In the late 1970s he was told he could only build on his land if he bought three adjoining blocks. He could not afford to and neighbours would not sell anyway.
I guess you get the general drift of this absolute outrage that has gone on for over half a century. The State Government and Shire of Wellington should surely buy back these blocks of worthless land which are inappropriate to be build upon.
Map from a tourism promotion site and I can't find the site now.