Beach meeting proves positive between users

The parties attempting to hammer out a resolution to the contentious future of beach access for commercially trained horses within the Belfast Coastal Reserve made positive ground at a meeting in Warrnambool on Friday.

Parks Victoria and Aboriginal Victoria officials outlined their concerns relating to horses working at Warrnambool's Levys Point and other areas to the stakeholders including Warrnambool City Council, Warrnambool Racing Club (WRC) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Parks Victoria manages the Belfast Coastal Reserve and dune access involves entering via Levys Point.

WRC chief executive Peter Downs said the meeting provided clarity around important considerations to the cultural and environmental sensitivities within the reserve.

"We've got to the nuts and bolts of the issues," Downs said. "We know understand where PV and AV are coming from on the matters.

"We understand the processes which PV and AV have in place and we have to work to those guidelines. It would be fair to say there are some tough guidelines, but I'm hopeful they are achievable.

“The whole thing is a bit time consuming as we have to go through the various processes but we are working with all parties to get a good result."

Mr Downs said all parties would work collectively across coming weeks as they prepared the next steps and -plans for the short- and long-term future.

Horses were banned from using Warrnambool's Levys Point after AV cautioned the WCC regarding the potential impact of horse training on indigenous cultural heritage on September 14. The ban has had a major impact on the preparations for many key horses in feature races during spring – including last year's Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance, who is attempting to win Australia's most famous race for a second time. 

The council has also introduced new restrictions for Lady Bay beach.

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