WITH the busy summer season approaching, concerns have been raised regarding the dangers and potential risks to beachgoers at the Venus Bay beach.
A single, gravel track leads visitors down from the car park onto the beach, which is a part of the Cape Liptrap Coastal Marine Park.
But local resident Paul Butterfield says that a simple path is not enough to ensure people’s safety.
“Other beached areas nearby, like Loch Sport, have really excellent boardwalk entry points. This beach has nothing,” Mr Butterfield said.
“Just this week, a woman stumbled while walking down the gravel path onto the beach. It’s not good enough.”
Mr Butterfield envisages large, sturdy timber ramps and boardwalks to safely take visitors safely onto the beach.
However, others within the community suggest that a ramp like that might not be the best choice.
Alyson Skinner, manager of the Venus Bay Community Centre, said that a wooden ramp could succumb to the power of the Venus Bay beach.
“That whole coastal area is part of the Cape Liptrap Coastal Marine Park,” Ms Skinner said.
“It’s quite a high energy beach. There are high tides and quite a lot of movement of sand.
“It’s not like the Inverloch foreshore, with pathways and a park. It’s quite a wild beach. It’s one of the most dangerous beaches in Victoria.”
According to the Beach Safe website run by Surf Livesaving Australia, Venus Bay is listed as a “potentially hazardous beach with high waves and strong rips”.
An average of 23 rescues are carried out each year, making access to the beach an important issue for the safety of the community.
The 24km long beach has only one access point towards the north end, near the Venus Bay township where the surf lifesaving club is situated.
“Vehicle access for the surf lifesaving club and its rescue vehicles is important.
“We have also looked at a separate pedestrian pathway next to the current access point,” Ms Skinner said.
“None of that deals with the fact that it’s such a high energy beach. A structure might not necessarily work. We do need to get people safely onto the beaches.
“There’s no easy answer, and it has been raised as an issue. It takes time, and it does take funding.”
Ms Skinner said that the beach receives an influx of tourists over the summer period, which makes ensuring their safety paramount.
“It has a huge swell in the population over summer.”
Ms Skinner is a member of the Venus Bay community reference group established five years ago.
The reference group is a multiagency group comprising of Parks Victoria, Coast Care, Fisheries, the South Gippsland Shire Council, the local community centre and other community organisations.
As Venus Bay is in the Cape Liptrap National Park, the land is not council’s and falls within the authority of Parks Victoria.
Gerard Delaney, area Chief Ranger of South Gippsland and Bass, said Parks Victoria is monitoring the situation as summer approaches.
“Parks Victoria is supportive of safe and accessible access to Venus Bay beaches,” Mr Delaney said.
“Parks Victoria continually monitors the existing access points to ensure the conditions of the access areas are safe.
“Sometimes beach access points are required to be closed due to sand erosion from a storm event.
“This can result in the access point being closed for a short period until the area can be repaired.
“Venus Bay is a high energy beach which means sand can build up or disappear in a short period of time.
“This has been highlighted over winter across Venus Bay and Inverloch with large storm events causing erosion of metres of sand overnight.”