Our Backyard – Apollo Bay


ENVIRONMENTAL guardians are on alert and tourism chiefs delighted after the Victorian Government announced it would open Great Otway National Park to private development. Coalition leaders said yesterday policy reforms would allow environmentally sensitive tourism investment in national parks, bringing Victoria into line with other states. Leases of up to 99 years would be heavily conditioned by strict guidelines.

Geelong Otway Tourism chief Roger Grant said the move was long-awaited and promised to responsibly unlock immense potential. “In all honesty I would rate this as one of the most important decisions in relation to tourism in decades,” Mr Grant said. “One of our genuine competitive advantages is nature-based tourism and not to be able to have the private sector deliver to capitalise on that has been one of our greatest constraints. “For years you’ve heard me talk about the Great Ocean Road being transformed into a driveway to Kangaroo Island, we’ve now got the Great Ocean Road destination management plan which has identified critical infrastructure projects. “Now the Government’s response means the private sector can get engaged in some of the projects.” He cited a $100 million interpretive hub at Loch Ard Gorge, a resort at Port Campbell and the Great Ocean Walk among prime projects requiring backing. “The Great Ocean Walk has a $10 million project cost, looking at further trail infrastructure to transform it from a fantastic local walk to a walk of international status,” Mr Grant said.

Otways environment group representatives said yesterday they wanted to see the state’s guidelines before making major statements, but Surf Coast Shire Greens councilor Simon Northeast expressed immediate alarm. “When it comes to national parks this government can’t be trusted, they’re responsible for cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park and I’d be concerned with what they considered environmentally appropriate,” he said. “I’d be skeptical and I’d be worried.”

Colac Otway Shire president Steve Hart said he would have reservations about development of commercial lodges.

Friends of the Eastern Otways spokeswoman Margaret McDonald said

Geelong Advertiser, August 24th, 2012

See you in Our Backyard

Darren Brimacombe
0418 317 424

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