Petition calls for lake road to be reopened

Willie Hawker with the closed gate to his property at Lake Bullen Merri. There is a campaign to have the road reopened.
 111103LP03 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Willie Hawker with the closed gate to his property at Lake Bullen Merri. There is a campaign to have the road reopened.  111103LP03 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

A PETITION aiming to end the long running battle to reopen an access road around Lake Bullen Merri is circulating Camperdown businesses. 

Camperdown’s angling club organised the petition which has already attracted strong community support. Corangamite Shire councillors also threw their support behind the petition last week, urging people to add their signatures. 

Angling club secretary Dave Ritchie said the petition was based on the feelings of the club and on feedback from the wider community. 

“The road has been closed for about two-and-a-half years and we, along with other people in the community, think it’s about time the issue was resolved,” Mr Ritchie said. 

The road sits on private farmland and skirts the western shoreline of the lake, which is a popular spot for camping, fishing and water-skiing. 

It had existed under an agreement with about five landowners and the Minister for Environment. 

But it was closed in 2011 when Willie Hawker purchased land the road was on and discovered the agreement with the previous landowner, and annual lump sum payment from the state government to cover public liability, hadn’t transferred to him.

It was also discovered the then Department of Sustainability and Environment, acting on behalf of the minister, hadn’t been renewing agreements with other landowners for some years.  

Mr Ritchie said it was a complicated issue and, while the angling club didn’t lay any blame on the landowners, they hoped an agreement could be reached with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. 

“It’s an important road, not just for the angling club but for the community,” he said. 

“The areas it serviced were used by fishermen and campers which brought financial benefits for the whole town.

“We have strong feedback local people want it reopened, that’s why we organised the petition to finally bring the issue to a head.”  

Mr Ritchie said he hoped having the support of Corangamite Shire councillors would also help bring a favourable result soon.

Cr Wayne Oakes urged residents to sign the petition and encouraged further debate about reopening the road. 

“The petition is in shops across Camperdown and I would encourage all local residents to show their support for the reopening of this important access road,” he said.

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