Pressure on cliff track fix

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Track fans: Peter Nicholson, left, Barbara Johnston and Kate Philip of the Caraar Creek Coastal Cliff Pathway steering committee on the “goat track” overlooking Mills Beach (left) and Mornington harbour. They want the shire and state government to repair the iconic, 100-year-old track. Picture supplied

Track fans: Peter Nicholson, left, Barbara Johnston and Kate Philip of the Caraar Creek Coastal Cliff Pathway steering committee on the “goat track” overlooking Mills Beach (left) and Mornington harbour. They want the shire and state government to repair the iconic, 100-year-old track. Picture supplied

MORNINGTON’S iconic cliff walking track between Beleura Hill and Mills Beach would cost $12 million to build nowadays, say members of a steering committee.

The committee was formed by residents with the approval of the shire after a public meeting in December 2013 that followed the closure of the track the month before due to another landslip caused by stormwater from nearby properties undermined the track.

The committee continues to lobby for the track to be fixed and reopened.

The shire council has applied for state money for the project and an announcement is expected soon, shire coastal planner Neil Daykin told The News.

The 2013 landslip followed similar incidents that closed the track in 2010 and 2004. It was opened both times after the construction of bridges to span damaged areas. One bridge has been affected by movement of earth since it was built.

Last week Caraar Creek Coastal Cliff steering committee member Peter Nicholson said the track was a valuable shire asset and it was hoped the shire would push on to get it fixed.

“The track was built by Kalimna Drive residents 100 years ago so they could walk from their properties to Mills Beach,” he said.

“It’s known as the Goat Track but was made more accessible 10 years ago when shire contractors improved it by laying bitumen, building retaining walls and handrails, and other works on what had been a narrow gravel path.”

The path was built between 1915 and 1922 by a small team of men with shovels and ponies. Such a project could never be attempted nowadays.

Also known as Beleura cliff path, it is regularly promoted in stories about Mornington and is visited by walkers from far and wide.

In The Age in 2012, Richard Cornish wrote in his column “Six reasons to visit …”: “The view from the headland above Mills Beach looking back down to Mornington pier is sensational, with the red cliffs and yellow rocks set in an azure sea. Mansions, clinging to the cliff in a forest of she-oaks, look out to great clouds reflecting on Port Phillip. Pick up the cliff walk on the corner of Kalimna Drive and Caraar Creek Lane.”

Mr Nicholson said the shire had been slow to enforce stormwater outlet rules but had now picked up the pace. “The problems of stormwater damaging the track have been known for many years. A report done by a consultant in 2004 identified the main issues.”

Four main stormwater drains had put rainwater onto the cliff and created the potential for landslips.

Mr Nicholson said properties should have tanks to collect stormwater that could be released gradually. “It’s the sudden rush of water through large pipes that causes problems.”

The track has been closed at both ends – at Caraar Creek Lane and Mills Beach East – but people have been getting around fences. Fences either side of the 50-metre closed section have been removed.

Last Friday, steering committee member Rod Davies said he had met Mornington MP David Morris last week about the track.

“He said we were doing the right thing by working with the council, and had a much better chance of success,” he said.

“We told him we were planning another community meeting as well as planning a 100 year celebration.”

First published in the Mornington News – 29 September 2015

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