‘Locals know best’


Part of the wetlands at the Stricklands’ Bittern property.

ARTIST and author Peter Strickland, who along with his wife Kathie has put together a series of books on indigenous plants, said the Mornington Peninsula had to decide whether it was going to be just a playground for Melbourne or an entity in its own right.

“We face lots of problems regarding population expansion, such as farmland, hotels and resorts and transport versus virgin bush,” he said.

“We have got to be more self-centred and do what suits us, such as deciding whether we want to develop the port of Hastings or have Western Port as a relaxation area.”

Mr Strickland said the peninsula “had been lucky”.

“We have lots of little parks and reserves and a foreshore that is a gem of the highest order, yet we are allowing big buildings to be built right up to the beach.”

He said “huge holiday weekenders” were being built at Somers and Balnarring, adding pressure to services and reducing access to the few small car parks.

“Some long-range planning will have to take place or we will be left with a hotchpotch. Someone will have to put their foot down.”

Mr Strickland praised the role of local environment experts whose views should be taken into account when governments plan major projects. “It infuriates me when councils hire out-of-town consultants when they should be taking notice of local experts who live here, work here and know the area backwards,” he said.

The couple say they are not politically aligned, although their frequent well-reasoned letters to the editor are, naturally, for such an environmentally-focused couple, soft-Left.

They enjoy the work of their Probus club and will miss their many friends. “I am very keen on painting and will continue painting,” Mr Strickland said.

Their new home is at Palmwoods, inland from Maroochydore, which is closer to two of their children: Helen, a potter and environmentalist, and Pedr, an electrician. A third child, David, lives in Canada.

First published in the Western Port News – 4 April 2017


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