By Michael Giles
LAST Sunday, the Sentinel-Times went for a walk through the Yanakie Caravan Park.
The idea was to get a photo to go with a story, coming out of last week’s South Gippsland Shire Council meeting, where the council finally owned up to the ‘elephant in the room’, the fact that it hasn’t got the skills to run a complicated commercial venture like a caravan park.
Unfortunately there was no one around to be in a photo.
Admittedly, it is in the middle of winter, but the sun was shining, the wind was coming out of the west, which is preferable to an easterly in this side of the Yanakie isthmus and there was a time when there’d still be quite a few people walking through the park or kids playing on the colourful equipment in the playground.
But it was an absolute wasteland.
All of the trees and caravans have been removed from the foreshore side of the park and while the ground has been prepared for grass growth and the planting of some new shrubs etc, at the moment, there’s nothing there. It’s sad.
No one was staying in any of the cabins and there were only a handful of caravans and annexes sprinkled about the park.
There was music coming from one of the vans, so we knocked and chatted with one of only a dozen annual tenants remaining. Only three were there for the weekend.
Why would you go? There’s no community left and it wasn’t a day to be fishing.
“It’s devastating,” he said. “They’ve wrecked it.”
“This is costing the ratepayers a fortune.”
But he declined to be in a photo for fear of raising the ire of shire officials.
So, it’s a step in the right direction for the council to admit it has been burnt by the troubling episodes at Yanakie and Port Welshpool. And last Wednesday, Cr Andrew McEwen gave some indication of the losses when he said millions had been spent at the parks in the past few years.
What the council needs to do now is come clean on exactly what it has cost us to date and what the strategy is for the future.
Included in that strategy should be a plan for returning the Port Welshpool and Yanakie caravan parks to lease arrangements.
It can’t be sustainable having several shire staff at these parks over the weekend (and during the week?) while there’s no one there.