By Kirra Grimes

POOWONG residents have banded together in a campaign to get more public transport services for the town, saying what’s available now is “totally inadequate”.
Proprietor of the Poowong Hotel Fiona Cox is spearheading the push to increase public transport options collecting signatures over the past month on a petition to be presented to the Victorian Legislative Assembly when Parliament resumes mid-August.
The petition requests that the State Government “provides services that stop at Poowong or at the very least initiates a trail to gauge the level of demand”.
It’s the second petition of its kind initiated in recent years with the help of Gippsland MP Danny O’Brien.
The first petition, which had close to 800 signatures, was presented in September 2017, but failed to achieve an increase in services.
Now, with several new housing developments going up around the town, and retirees and young families snapping up blocks and rentals as soon as they hit the market, Fiona said it was time to try again, to cater to the increasing need for services.
Fiona and supporters like Jeff Clark, Noel Gregg, both long-time Poowong residents, would like to see the existing daily Yarram to Melbourne V Line bus service stop in Poowong on at least half of its timetabled journeys.
This service currently stops in Korumburra and Loch but bypasses Poowong.
The only bus service that stops in town is a once a week return service to Warragul.
“It’s definitely not sufficient; there’s a desperate need,” Fiona told the Sentinel-Times recently.
“We’ve got people wanting to come in to town to use the facilities like the pool, the sports facilities and the post office.
“We have an ageing population and young families that need access to health services. We’ve got teenagers wanting to go to the city or the movies in Leongatha.
“We’ve got people moving here from the south east suburbs who want to still be able to connect with their families, or they might still work over that way.
“We’re not asking for mountains to be moved; we’re just asking to be included.”
Jeff, Noel and Fiona agreed not only were more services needed for Poowong’s existing population – around 650 according to the 2016 census – but to increase the prospects of further development.
“It’s a massive drawcard to be able to say there is transport,” Fiona said.
“We were a big thriving town until they put the bypass in in the 60s, and we could be again. We’re only an hour from Melbourne and we’re a sleeper town to Drouin, Warragul, Korumburra.
“It’s a nice place to retire to or to buy a block and a house at an affordable price and still work. But we shouldn’t be isolated.”
The latest petition, which can be found in several Poowong businesses, has attracted over 300 signatures so far.
To stay updated with its progress, keep an eye on the Facebook page ‘Poowong Needs the V/line Bus Service’.