Barwon Water is gearing up to convert its disused Bellarine Basin site into more than 30 hectares of environmental and public open space.

The project will see the removal of the old reservoir, enabling the natural headwaters of Yarram Creek to be restored and wetlands to be established.

The pine tree plantation, which contains trees that are nearing the end of their natural life, will be replaced in stages with indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses, and the security fencing will be dismantled.

Managing Director, Tracey Slatter, said Barwon Water was delighted to be working with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, local community and key agencies to significantly improve the environment at the site and add to the Bellarine’s beautiful natural vistas.

Ms Slatter said Barwon Water had received $650,000 funding under the Victorian Government’s Distinctive Areas and Landscapes program and would contribute the same amount to the $1.3 million project to begin remediating and revegetating the site.

“We want to transform the disused basin site into an area that enhances the unique and natural features of the Bellarine Peninsula so that it becomes a place people, birds and native animals can enjoy for generations to come,” Ms Slatter said.

Ms Slatter said the Bellarine Basin rehabilitation project would be delivered in stages during the next three years, with input from the community sought along the way.

“We have already been liaising with a number of local community and environmental groups including the Bellarine Catchment Network and the Geelong Field Naturalists Club who have welcomed the opportunity to be involved in this important project,” Ms Slatter said.

Bellarine Catchment Network Program Manager, Matt Crawley, said the project offered an amazing opportunity for the community to come together and improve the local environment.

“As an organisation focused on projects that protect and enhance the Bellarine environment, we couldn’t be more excited by this project and look forward to working with Barwon Water and other stakeholders in the coming years on a project that will significantly improve the environment and natural amenity of the Bellarine,” Mr Crawley said.

Geelong Field Naturalists Club life member, Craig Morley, welcomed the exciting project and the opportunity for club members to be involved as Barwon Water’s plans for the site progress.

“This is a fabulous opportunity. It is an underrated gem, a place of beauty on the Bellarine Peninsula,” Mr Morley said. 

“It’s important that we take the time to get this right so we can protect the flora, fauna and environmental value that has been retained or developed at the site because of its seclusion for more than 80 years.”

Ms Slatter said that work this year would focus on realigning the waterway, removing some of the pine trees, and promoting the regrowth of native vegetation at the site.

“As it will take time for some of the native vegetation to return and flourish, areas of pine trees will be retained in the short term to complement the regrowth of native vegetation and preserve and improve local wildlife habitats,” Ms Slatter said.

As part of the project, Barwon Water will remove the old basin, associated infrastructure and the security fencing surrounding the land it owns.

Early stages of the project are underway, including a biodiversity assessment, which will help inform broader plans for the site.

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