WORK has started on building a stronger rock wall fronting Port Fairy’s East Beach dunes to slow down erosion from pounding ocean waves.
Moyne Shire Council will spend $174,000 on a 120-metre section north of Connolly Street to put in a 1.5-metre foundation topped with rocks.
An earlier wall will be dismantled and its rocks placed on the dune just east of the new wall. Work by local contractors is expected to be completed before summer tourists arrive.
The Department of Sustain-ability and Environment has provided $146,000 and Moyne Shire $28,000.
Moyne Shire Council and the department are partners in a working group co-ordinating the project.
Working group chairman Oliver Moles said the wall north of Connolly Street was identified as a priority in a coastal erosion report commissioned in 2010.
“Repairing the wall will improve protection for both public and private assets behind it,” he said. “I acknowledge the co-operation of the landholder who has allowed access to the seawall along a track that was created on his land.”
Mr Moles reminded people to stay away from the area for their safety while work is under way with two excavators, a bulldozer and a dump truck.
However, further east near the golf club the dune system near a former rubbish tip and night soil depot is still eroding without protection.
Local residents and the council had been pressing for government funding to shore up the dune and prevent possible pollution. Earlier this month the shire asked the state government for $125,000 to truck dredged sand from Warrnambool’s Lady Bay to the Port Fairy dunes. So far no money has been forthcoming.
Local Moyne Shire councillor James Purcell said this week he feared a tourism disaster if pollution leaked into the bay.
“A year ago we had an official report that the former tip was six metres from the sea, but by now it could be four metres,” he said.
“Something must be done urgently because the beach is so vital to Port Fairy. Council officers regularly visit to pick up debris near the dunes.”