I recently had the opportunity to visit the Tower Hill Reserve for the first time in twenty years. I was very disappointed. On the drive in, and out, the ground cover flora appeared to consist of weeds. When I arrived at the Information Centre the perception of the weedy undergrowth was consolidated. While I am not a botanist, but I was able to discern that 'sticky weed', cape weed, thistles and ragwort completely covered all the ground that I could see, except for the roughly mown area immediately surrounding the Information building. Regrettably, I personally am not able to do any of the walks shown on the sign board, which was clear in its instructions for fitter folk, but after having spoken to a friend who has been on these walks, I was informed that they also are overgrown. The Information building itself was rather sad, with several windows, all of which were constructed of wood, rotting, and all in need of a coat of paint, which was thus detracting from the building itself. The interior of the information centre was given over to tourist type merchandise, but not much visible information about the geology and history of the area. I could not help but compare the paucity of information here, to the wealth of information given at the Information Centre of Derrinallum's Mt Elephant. I do not know what organisation is in charge of the Tower Hill Reserve, but it appears to me that it is either under-funded, under-staffed, or else no body is interested in maintaining the precincts. I came away after my visit with a feeling that perhaps it was one of those things that 'seemed a good idea at the time'.
As I was leaving I saw a family whom I took to be visitors from overseas entering the reserve, and my thoughts then were that I hoped that they were not as disappointed as I was. But then again, being visitors, they may not be aware that the undergrowth was not native vegetation.
For an area that is promoted so much as a tourist attraction it is my consideration that it be closed until the exotic vegetation is removed and local flora be given a chance to be re-established and the whole area tidied up. It is certainly an area that the Conservation Volunteers could be usefully used. Certainly, I did see some koalas and some emus but I did not see much in the way of bird-life, but perhaps that was because of the reasonably brief nature of my visit and my inability to partake of the walks. Perhaps the best thing going for the Tower Hill Reserve is that there is no charge to enter.
Geoffrey Webber, Camperdown
Whose to blame?
The Labor Minister for Racing, the Liberal parliamentarian with a race named after her, the independent candidate with a close connection to the racehorse training industry. All are now blaming Warrnambool City Council for the beach horse training debacle. But whose fault is it really? After nearly a year of community consultations, the draft Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan was sent up to the Minister for Environment for approval. That draft plan, not then released to the public, did not recommend racehorse training at Levys, Hoon Hill, The Cutting or Killarney Beach. Under pressure from the Minister for Racing and his mates in the racing industry, the draft plan was changed. No one bothered to check if the changes were legal. Sure, when this changed draft plan was released for comment, Warrnambool City Council should have checked its legality and not just rubber-stamped it, leaving Cr Owen as a lone voice in the wilderness. But the real blame lies fairly and squarely with the state government and its loyalty to all the gambling industries, including horse racing. Warrnambool City Council should be extremely embarrassed and ashamed by this episode but it is the state government that should be held to account. Countless hours of public servant and community members' time were wasted in the management plan consultations. All of this was swept away by a Minister for the Environment who doesn't care about our local threatened species and a Minister for Racing who was always the one calling the shots. Labor, Liberal, independent: it is easy to point the finger and blame. It is much harder to be ethical and to put aside self-interest, to respect scientific opinion, to improve rather than damage our environment and to be diligent in delivering good governance rather than delivering chaos.
Bruce Campbell, Warrnambool
A couple of years ago I made a suggestion which was applauded by trainers as a solution to the horses on the beach debacle. The reclaimed and overgrown area between the Pavilion and the Lady Bay Resort is pretty much an instant fix. It would very quickly give an answer which will suit trainers, beach-goers and environmentalists because it is currently covered in non-native and opportunistic growth. A single track through to the water would give access for horse swimming and it keeps horses off the beach proper. It could actually become a unique spectator site for horse lovers during race week and it would disturb no-one. Except perhaps those few who disagreed with the idea because they have ear-marked the space for their own greedy residential development.
Richard Ziegeler, Dennington
The Warrnambool Ratepayers Association has forwarded the following to all candidates standing in the South West Coast electorate at the state election. The Warrnambool Ratepayers Association believe that local rates policy is a fundamental responsibility of state government and are therefore seeking answers to the following: Your policy on Council rates? Are you in favour of ratecapping?Your thoughts with regard to councils having monitors in place to oversee the spending of ratepayers’ money. Rates policy is an important grass roots issue in the state election.
Brian Kelson, president Warrnambool Ratepayers Association