The current East Gippsland Shire Council-led project to enhance the visitor experience on Bullock Island is the culmination of years of delays, planning and community consultation, according to Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association (LEADA).
Since its formation, LEADA has been a driving force in bringing the years of discussion and planning to fruition.
Since assuming management of the island from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, East Gippsland Shire has acted quickly in reviewing and refreshing the masterplan and appointed both a technical committee and a reference group to add impetus to the project.
LEADA is represented on the technical committee and reference group by Arthur Allen.
Considerable funding has been sourced from the Commonwealth by local Federal MP, Darren Chester, from the State Government and East Gippsland Shire also committing $1.5 million dollars.
“LEADA applauds the funding of the project and is keen for the on ground works to commence,” Mr Allen said.
“Construction of Lakes Entrance Fisherman’s Limited’s new cafe is hoped to commence in the near future. Together with its viewing platform to enable visitors to observe boats unloading, the café will add an exciting new dimension to the town and the Island.
“In all this project will cost about 2.5 million dollars, with the fishing industry contributing in excess of a million. The return of the co-op fish shop, Off The Wharf, has proved a hit to both tourists and locals alike and it is envisaged the new café will add greatly to visitation to that part of the island.
“Gippsland Ports has identified various opportunities to showcase the working island through viewing opportunities and interpretative signage that will add to the visitor experience, while TAFE Gippsland has a strong presence on the island and the ability to develop exciting opportunities as they present.” Mr Allen said LEADA sees these developments and opportunities as great for the town and a drawcard to encourage visitors to experience this part of the island.
“Equally LEADA sees the plans for the rest of the island as a great opportunity to build on the visitor experience of our outstanding natural environment,” he said.
“Since the access road to the south-west part of the island was sealed, visitor numbers have boomed to this part of the island. Whether to throw in a line, to sit and watch the seals and dolphins, or to enjoy lunch, there is no place like it.”
Surveys of LEADA’s more than 560 members have identified this “close to nature” experience as a major part of the islands appeal, according to Mr Allen.
“The formation of a natural landscaped recreation area on the north-west of the island will provide a somewhat different interaction with nature and preserve the charm of the area,” he said.
“The proposed walking and cycle paths will cater for a wide cross section of the community and will compliment the wonderful network of paths along the North and Cunningham arms, a favourite of so many visitors to our town.
“Already Gippsland Ports has refurbished and extended the ever popular sand blasting jetty and the planned ablution block adjacent to the jetty will be a very welcome development.”
Mr Allen said LEADA looks forward to the completion of the project, one he says will provide a “working island” experience alongside beautiful vistas and a chance to be close to nature that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Bullock Island is set for a multi-million dollar transformation as a number of projects are slated to get underway in the near future. (PS)