Path to build Bells boardwalk proves a little choppy

November 28, 2019 BY

THE Surf Coast Shire’s plan to construct a boardwalk over a concrete path at Bells Beach has been met with resistance from some beachgoers.

The elevated pathway to Winkipop will be about 60 metres long and made primarily from timber.
Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch’s John Foss said he is concerned the boardwalk will tarnish the area.

“It’s basically too big and bulky, and will take away from the natural vista of Winkipop which many people enjoy.”

“There’s literally nothing wrong with that part of Winkipop as it is. There needs to be a bit of work done fixing up cracks in the concrete, but you certainly don’t need to build a large structure which will have negative impacts on the viewscapes of Winkipop.”

The officer’s report for Tuesday’s council meeting advised that the boardwalk should still be built.

It suggested the shire “proceed with replacing a section of concrete pathway leading to Winki with an elevated pathway constructed from timber and steel and connecting to the existing elevated timber lookout and beach access stairs to Winki”.

“Construction of an elevated walkway responds to the need to balance a variety of management considerations, including the need to upgrade the existing degraded concrete path and that the temporary elevated infrastructure used for the Rip Curl Pro is disruptive to regular reserve users during the construction and removal process.”

Officers also note that opposition to the plan is not unexpected.

“History has shown that adding, replacing or changing any infrastructure at the reserve will attract a variety of views.”

In early September, the shire held a series of “van chats” at Bells Beach. These allowed people to learn more about the plans for the beach and offer their feedback. There was also the chance for people to offer online feedback up to September 26.

The agenda also states that “public feedback on this proposal was inconsistent between 2018 and 2019,” with people seeming to take a far more negative view of it this year than in 2018.

Mr Foss said he appreciated that the shire had provided the opportunity for feedback and said that “the consultations been good.”

However, he was adamant that Bells Beach should be kept as the haven it is.

“When you’re out surfing, you look back and it’s a beautiful green landscape. The structure will take away from why people go surfing in the reserve. They like it natural, they like getting away from the city and the urban environment.”