A BLOCK of land sitting vacant next to the Inverloch Boat Ramp could be the home of an Inverloch Historical and Maritime Museum, and café, under a plan presented to Bass Coast Shire councillors last week.
For 50 weeks a year, the two acres sits empty, occasionally used for overflow parking from the boat ramp during summer.
Inverloch’s history records have been spread across members’ houses since the group was formed in 1996 and the proposal, which received positive feedback from the Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), would showcase the collection of 4000 items.
Without a central location, members say it’s impossible for the society to catalogue and assess the importance of each item.
Inverloch has no old banks or an old railway site like nearby towns, so in a presentation to Bass Coast Shire councillors on Wednesday, two members asked them to begin negotiations with the DELWP to lease the land.
Inverloch Historical Society member John Hutchinson said it would have the potential to be a tourist attraction.
“The unique problem for the society is that finding a home to this point has been simply impossible,” he told councillors.
“All our old buildings are gone. The land on which one might build is highly priced.”
The funds raised from the café could also be used to pay for the expensive task of preserving documents and other items.
“You just don’t wrap them up in a plastic bag and store them in a filing cabinet,” John said.
The society published a book earlier this year called, ‘Inverloch – a place of great beauty, today & yesterday…’ which has nearly sold out.
An exhibition on the history of Inverloch held in June at the Inverloch Community Hub was also praised by visitors and locals.
“It also generated much nostalgia amongst long-term residents, who were keen to reminisce and provide extra information,” John said of the exhibition.
“We have been almost overwhelmed by the response to the exhibition and book,” he said, adding that the society would host another exhibition next year.
Inverloch Historical Society member Terry Hall also spoke in favour of the proposal, arguing the museum would have sufficient floor space for the collection.
Terry was also part of the push to construct a Sound Shell in The Glade at Inverloch.
But he acknowledged while the design plans were important, without the tenure, there would be no project.
The local Lions and Rotary clubs support the proposal, as well as the RSL, Inverloch Tourism Association and most local businesses.
“The Inverloch Historical Society believes that the subject land is very limited for alternative use but is ideally suited for the purpose of building the Inverloch History and Maritime Museum,” Terry said.
Hidden in bushes near the site is a retaining wall built in the 1900s. The society is proposing to use the same stone to build the home for the Inverloch History and Maritime Museum.
Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield asked about what would happen to the vehicles which usually park on the land.
“I suspect if you regulate it, you’d get just as many boats in there,” Terry said.
Members of the society met with DELWP environmental planning manager Mick Dortmans, who said it appears to “tick all the boxes”.
Cr Bruce Kent raised concerns about whether the land was suitable, citing king tides and car parking issues.
But Terry said while no soil tests had been done, the land was reclaimed when he was a councillor in the 1980s.
Terry also thanked Andrew and Marion Chapman, and Ray Burtt, as it was through their input that the proposal was developed.
Museum proposed for Inverloch