Friday, February 26, 2010

Cheap Blocks on the Ninety Mile Beach

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.


  1. Hmm, interesting.
    My ex's father was killed at work and his widow was awarded compensation but the compo board didn't just release the $ to her they had to approve her choice of land to invest in for the kids; they kept knocking back her choices and then threw land at Loch Sport on the table in a 'take it or go without' discussion.
    She took it and the squillion mosquitoes...thank goodness it wasn't further down the coast!

  2. That is not the only area like that in the state of Victoria. It's called 'enveloping' and means what was previously allowed is no longer and the local council forces through building codes, the amalgamation of such blocks, relying on the neighbours to sell to you - Humans are greedy - I live in such and area - you tell what you think is occuring and it's not what is sensible ;)
    Look north - about 50km from the CBD and you might just find this area!

  3. Great blog Andrew. I know the area very well and agree with your comments.
    Btw, did you happen to hear big Harry's interview with Neil Mitchell this morning?
    Best wishes

  4. Jayne, clearly a woman is not be trusted with a decent amount of money. I think Loch Sport may have come on now.

    I am aware of that one IAS. Still bubbling along is it or now a fait accompli?

    Thanks Maureen and welcome. I didn't hear him interviewed on AW but on ABC Melbourne. I take some joy in him squirming, but I don't think it will mean a good outcome for the Windsor.

  5. It's done and dusted, the ground wouldn't and still allow for septic systems on such small bocks. The only time it will ever change is if sewerage can be pumped uphill.
    Better anyway - keeps the area a 'little' more exclusive (yes more expensive) but I live there - so I figure I'm allowed to think like that

  6. Our auntie lives at Honeysuckle, as lovely as it is, the mozzies are in the gazzillions there!

  7. Cazzie, along with the Seaspray Life Saving Club falling in to the water, another thing I picked up is the monster mozzies.

  8. Anonymous6:41 p.m.

    I still have my dads map of the area with all the streets in it and his block marked .

  9. Anon, was he interested in the land there or bought a block?

  10. Anonymous1:04 a.m.

    Makes me wonder why blocks are so so cheap around these areas. Every time an alert from comes up in my email showing prices of blocks I always think there's something not right for them being that cheap.

    Had a feeling that its a flood prone area. Never knew that building on these blocks are still a concern (or permissible by council)

  11. Rising sea levels must also be of concern too Anon.

  12. Anonymous10:51 p.m.

    Thanks for your report. My Grandparents were fooled into buying one of these blocks of land back in the 50's. The land has now been passed down to my parents and I have been trying to research what options they have. After reading your article it seems as though these blocks are worthless. My Grandparents were very hard-working and honest people and I can't believe that they were not compensated for this!

  13. Anonymous11:02 p.m.

    Thanks for your interesting post. My Grandparents were fooled into buying one of these worthless blocks of land back in the 50's. I'm trying to research the options that are available to people who own these blocks of land. My Grandparents were very hard-working and honest people and I find it hard to believe that something like this was allowed to happen. Not cool!

  14. Anon, with a new state government, it may well be worth some heavy lobbying. I suspect authorities are pretty well waiting for those who originally paid for the land to die and the issue will be less sensitive. Good luck with it.

  15. Anonymous8:29 p.m.

    Thanks Andrew. I'm going down to visit the block and the local council in a few weeks. Perhaps we can camp on it...if it's not too mosquito infested!:-)

  16. Take the Aeroguard.

  17. Anonymous7:05 p.m.

    cut down all the tea trees on your block and it will make a huge difference in the amount of mozzies hanging around.

    of course there will still be many round at dawn and dusk.

  18. They must use the trees as shelter.

  19. Anonymous3:11 p.m.

    My family was not directly impacted by such an injustice, however, I truly believe we are no more than simply caretakers/guardians of any land we acquire.
    If we are to be recocognised as a decent community we are obligated to assist those families who continue to endure the fateful day their parents or grandparents were driven or lead to the Ninety Mile Beach to be sold a dream that could never turn to reality.

    Mornington. Vic.

  20. Anonymous10:23 a.m.

    I meant to type 'recognised'.. and yes all those consumers impacted directly or indirectly continue to await justice!

    Mornington. Vic.

    1. Aldo, all seems quiet about the injustice at the moment. Anything happening behind the scenes?