MORE than 170 days on from the ‘freak storm’ that near plummeted the Wonthaggi Life Saving Club (WLSC) into the sea, redeeming the observation building from near-catastrophic damage has been an ongoing challenge for volunteer members and their challenges aren’t over yet.
Recent work has led the observation building to near completed renovations, however the clubhouse and beach access are serious concerns for club president Mark Scott.
“Right now, our biggest issue is beach access, the way the valley was filled in left a dangerously steep incline where the boat ramps used to be,” said Mark.
“This is dangerous to lifeguards that can no longer run down the beach with a board because the sand is too steep,” he said.
Looking from inside the observation building’s lower level, it’s not possible for patrolling lifeguards to see the shoreline, but this is just one of the concerns for Mark.
“We can’t drive the boat out of the front door either,” said Mark.
“Our response time is now 6 to 8 minutes to get the boat into the water going out of the bay car park and launching from the bay boat ramp.
“We need the sand dune reshaped,” he said.
At the weekend, a working bee saw the observation building near completed.
“With the help of DAS Constructions and the handy volunteers, the observation building is almost completed with a much-needed renovation,” said Mark.
However, the clubrooms – where members train, meet and eat, and use for functions and a fundraising café – is yet to receive demolition permits.
“We’re not asking to break any rules, but almost six months on – we are asking for the shire to expedite the demolition permits,” said Mark.
“Ideally, we’d have the clubrooms down before summer, it wouldn’t be easy, but right now we still have time.
“We are going to set up temporary site facilities that will supply crucial storage and workspace for our club.”
With the first patrol looming on November 30, the club’s gear inspections also present a unique challenge.
“Since we can’t use the clubroom for storage, we’ve been storing all of our equipment at members’ houses,” said Mark.
“Ahead of the November 8 equipment inspections, we’re going to have to bring in all of our equipment to have it inspected by Life Saving Victoria,” he said.
The club’s set to receive two shipping containers, at 40ft and 20ft, to store club equipment.
He says that unless the clubrooms are demolished, alternative locations for the shipping containers will be needed.
“Right now it’s looking like we’ll have the containers in the middle of the yard, a bit of a shame when you see kids running around enjoying the area.”
Mark thanks Emergency Service Infrastructure Authority (ESIA) and their project coordinator Michael Cross for his ongoing support
“It took coastal engineers, geotechnical engineers, structural engineers, a bushfire management expert, coastal consent from DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), land owners and cultural heritage approval to get the observation building on track,” he said.
“Big thanks to ESIA, they’ve helped us get this far.
“We will have patrols on the beach,” says Mark.
Wonthaggi lifesavers remain stranded without any beach access