This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2016 Travels March 22

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The weather looked much more promising today, which was our last one here, so was the last chance to do the drive to the coast that I wanted to do. I had never been to Seaspray, Golden Beach and beyond – the Ninety Mile Beach. M and C wanted to come too.

We took the road back to Longford and then on to Seaspray, through farming country that was really attractive and interesting. If I was decades younger, and interested in a tree change, think I would find this area really appealing.

Seaspray was a bit bigger than I’d expected, in terms of the number of houses there. Most of them were holiday homes rather than permanently occupied. There was a General Store and a Surf Life Saving Club with a very modern building.

Passed a fair sized caravan park, with grassed sites, but no trees for shade or shelter. If one could be sure that it was not going to be too hot or windy, it would be a good place to stay, being right by the beach.

Seaspray Beach

Took dog down a long set of wooden steps, onto the beach which, as befits its name, disappeared into the distance. It was sandy and wide – very different from the coast of Corner Inlet. Here, of course, the frontage was to Bass Strait and the ocean. Beautiful.

Beach walking on Ninety Mile Beach

We walked a little way back towards the west, then let dog free. She cavorted about, but was very wary of the breaking waves, not risking getting caught.

Feet is all she’s getting wet….

We came to where a creek outlet appeared blocked by the beach sand, creating a large still pondage. Then there were no dog inhibitions – a flying dive in!

Dog sort of water

The water was quite deep and we gave her a good diving and swimming workout, chasing sticks.

Creek inlet

Drove east, following Shoreline Drive, towards Golden Beach. Went through The Honeysuckles, a small area of houses, just before the road began to follow the narrow strip of land that was between Lake Reeve (the western-most of the Gippsland Lakes) and the coast.

Along this section, there were designated camping bays in the coastal scrub. We saw very few campers, though, but suspected that it would become busy in the next few days – Easter – and would be positively crowded in the Xmas holidays. There was obviously a booking system – National Parks, I presumed.

Then we came to another small area of houses, on our right – Glomar Beach. This was not on my map, but appeared on the GPS. We did a little drive around its streets. It seemed to be maybe three blocks of houses, parallel to the coast, and strung out for about a km. Some fairly substantial houses had been built here, and some seemed permanently occupied.

Glomar Beach road

Further on, the GPS showed a sub-division to our left, on the Lake Reeve side of the spit, and even across a couple of causeways, on an island in the Lake. There were several gravel, partly overgrown tracks, going off to the left.

John decided to follow one that the GPS indicated would take us over a causeway.

Track disappearing enticingly into the distance

After seeing very little traffic at all, we suddenly encountered a large 4WD motorhome trying to turn out of the track we were going to take – an OKA sort of thing. Had to back up to let him past.

We followed that track for a bit over a km, until it really narrowed, just across a causeway. John walked a bit further to check it out, but decided that turning back was a good idea. C, who was following us, already had a heap of light brush scratches down the sides of his almost new XTrail and was not happy. We did multi-point turns on the causeway with both vehicles, then made our way back to the bitumen, which was clearly C’s preferred mileau.

The point of no continuing…

I had, a while ago, read of some controversy about land ownership and development along the Ninety Mile Beach, where some people who had bought land would never be allowed to build on it – having essentially been conned by developers. I wondered if this area of non-developed estate subdivision was related to this?

Lake Reeve from track, looking west

Some research later turned this up – copied from the Wellington Shire Council:

The Ninety Mile Beach subdivision is a 25 kilometre strip of ocean foreshore and sand terrain between Bass Strait and Lake Reeve. It was subdivided into about 11,800 small urban sized lots from 1955 to 1969. It is in an area from Paradise Beach in the north east to The Honeysuckles in the south west.

The land was first subdivided without planning controls. The developer only provided a main sealed road along the coast (Shoreline Drive) and very little of the promised facilities or services were ever built. Only the main settlements of Golden and Paradise Beaches and The Honeysuckles are now serviced with electricity and no reticulated water or sewerage was provided. The lots were sold by development companies using vigorous marketing campaigns to thousands of people and in many cases to new migrants to Australia.

Some dwellings were built without services on the primary sand dunes and on flood prone land. The development along the Ninety Mile Beach became a State Government issue and from the mid 1970’s further development was prevented while they carried out detailed studies.

In 1978 the Shire of Rosedale and the State Government sent letters to landowners to advise that their land was in one of the following categories:

  • Development Land – Suitable for low density housing
  • Beach Dune Land – Unstable soil and not suitable for development
  • Land affected by flooding by Lake Reeve – Unsuitable for development.

From 1979 strict restructure and tenement controls limited or prohibited development.

More recent studies between 2003 and 2008 found that development should be reduced further for environmental reasons.

Where we had explored was clearly in the never-to-be-built-on zone. I felt some sympathy for those who had bought in good faith (but maybe with little research) and now held worthless land. They are able to transfer their land back to Council ownership, but with no compensation, apart from the cost of the transfer.

Lake Reeve from track causeway, looking east

Closer to Golden Beach, some of the camping bays were dog permitted. I wondered if there were paralysis scrub ticks along there?

Golden Beach was another small settlement, a mix of holiday houses and permanent homes, some very substantial and attractive. There were a lot of “For Sale” signs. I wondered if this was merely people trying to sell while still “summer attractive”, or whether there were more planning type issues here? These are the type of low-lying coastal areas that could be impinged-upon if forecast sea-level rises occur.

The very shallow Lake Reeve was close by, here. Would there be lots of mosquitoes in these parts when it was warmer?

There was a General Store/Café. We drove further along the land spit, along Shoreline Drive, for a short way. The name suggested possible sea views, but in reality we just passed through more of the coastal scrub. Golden Beach merged into Paradise Beach, and the sealed road merged to gravel. Here, we turned around – mindful 0f C’s frame of mind – and drove back to an area of park in Golden Beach, to have our picnic lunch at the shelter/picnic/BBQ facilities there. It was pleasant, eating our sandwiches in the sun.

Ninety Mile Beach at Golden Beach

Walked to a lookout over the beach, but did not go down the stairs and onto the sand beach. Thought it would be similar to the beach at Seaspray, and now we had dry dog, preferred to keep it that way.

Golden Beach

We did not intend to go on to Loch Sport – the other village in these parts, and as far as one can drive along this part of the coast. M had been there last year and reported that it was a bit of a maze of holiday places, camp grounds and the like, and not anything special to see.

So we took the direct Golden Beach to Longford road, back – across a proper lake Reeve causeway this time – and on a sealed road!

Lake Reeve from Golden Beach causeway

Passed a Restricted Area that was a firing range/bombing range for the RAAF, which has a base near Sale. In his Airforce Cadet days of yore, John spent some time at the Sale Base, so he had a little reminisce.

It was a pleasant day’s outing, and an enjoyable last full day of the trip. C may not have quite agreed, though!

The Ninety Mile Beach area we explored

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