by Michael Giles

IT’S clear a new age of tourism and visitation has dawned on this area, Bass Coast and South Gippsland, but the authorities including the State Government and the two local shires have failed to keep pace with it.
We saw that again on the weekend.
Where locals and visitors alike used to stay away from this area in droves, on the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, preferring a weekend in Melbourne or up at the snow, the local area was positively heaving at the weekend.
The Loch Food and Wine Festival was a great success, there were crowds of people waiting outside The Local in Inverloch for their Sunday morning coffees and Cowes too had a big weekend.
But with activities at the beaches limited to surfing, fishing and walking (good options I’ll grant you), these people are looking for more things to do and active pursuits are high on the list.
The two shires need to be a lot more ambitious with their bids for visitor infrastructure and marketing support.
Two projects stand out:
The Great Southern Rail Trail must be extended as a matter of urgency, initially between Leongatha and Korumburra, but also to Nyora.
And all efforts must be made to extend the Surf Parade Shared Pathway at Inverloch as far as the RACV Resort.
A number of other projects come to mind like the primitive state of boating facilities in this area, sorting out the impasse at the Wonthaggi Golf Club and general protection for our natural assets.
But these two are an absolute no brainer.
There’s been an explosion in fitness sports such as bike riding and providing a gateway to the Great Southern Rail Trail at Korumburra will boost both Leongatha and Korumburra as visitor destinations.
And the shared pathway at Inverloch is already incredibly well used so it’s high time the shire grasped the challenges involved with extending it and gets on with it.
Visitor parking is the big issue west of Veronica Street and it’s crucial that parking is the priority with its design here. We’ve heard calls for a one-way road with angle parking to meet the reasonable demands of visitors and locals alike but even that would require widening of the road reserve into the foreshore area.
There is a solution here and it’s time to find it and get on with it.
Both shires should develop a tourism/visitor strategy in common and be prepared to drive it hard with the State Government. This area is already the playground for Melbourne’s south-east growth corridor and without strong government support, problems will develop and opportunities will be lost.