Every great city has a great park; the Moolap Coastal Park could be Geelong’s.
And now is the time to create it: the Cheetham Saltworks and Alcoa’s Point Henry aluminium smelter have closed, and residents in a rapidly growing Geelong urgently need some public open breathing space. A Moolap Coastal Park on the city’s doorstep can deliver that.
The park would have some rich stories to tell, including:
- the Moolap wetlands and those along Port Phillip Bay and the Bellarine Peninsula are home to tens of thousands of birds each summer, providing a vital habitat for species that have migrated there from as far as Siberia and the Arctic
- one of the largest areas of seagrass in Port Phillip Bay off Moolap, a nursery for fish, protection for the shoreline and a store for carbon
- a significant remnant of Port Phillip Bay’s severely diminished area of coastal saltmarsh (since European settlement close to half of the coastal wetlands along Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline have been removed)
- a great place for community recreation, education and enjoyment in the wetlands and along the foreshore.
The park would act also as a buffer between a growing Geelong and a rural Bellarine Peninsula. And with a park management plan backed by a set of strong regulations and resources, it would deal with the many threats facing the area:
- vegetation loss and fragmentation
- weeds and feral animals
- hunting and fishing
- climate change
- stormwater discharge and groundwater seepage
- uncontrolled vehicular access
- absent management of water levels in the former Cheetham Saltworks.
There are also threats from a proposed canal estate in the wetlands and a massive residential development on Alcoa’s land. Together they would add to coastal linear development, something that state planning policy seeks to prevent.
A Moolap Coastal Park would be internationally important for conservation and ecotourism, protect migratory birds, improve the health of Corio Bay, reconnect people with nature and support ecologically sustainable use.