Save our Westernport Bay ~ by Ingrid Tadich

Woolleys beach

I relocated from Sandringham to Somers 5 years ago, attracted by the unique environment and unspoilt beauty of Westernport Bay, recognised by Ramsar as a Wetland of international importance. I have learned that this unique and fragile place is also a beautiful sanctuary for people, sea mammals, such as whales, furs seals and dolphins and migratory and local birds.

My family delight in their stays at their Somers home, to enjoy the wildness of the foreshore, the swims, the play in the sand dunes, the discovery of the preciousness of nature and the natural environment as well as the changes seasons bring to it. What a wonderful grounding for my grandchildren, time out to explore, wonder and just be and learn to appreciate and respect the natural world.

My daily walks on the foreshore are a blessing, the water’s clean, the coast line ever changing with our strong tidal systems that wash up large varieties of usually hidden treasures such as seaweeds, sponges, crustaceans, jellyfish, shark eggs and mangrove seed pods, providing a peak at what’s below the surface.

A rich diversity of life.

I’m also fascinated by the variety of birds that live on the bay or around her shores. In the summer of 2018, migratory swans found refuge in our bay for a week or so, one morning on my walk I noticed that only a solo swan was left. It appeared to have a damaged wing, a very sad sight to see and was the subject of much community concern. Fresh water was left out for the bird and on my daily walk I was relieved every day to see that it had survived the night. The swan stayed through the autumn and the winter and in the Spring we were all delighted to see another swan had arrived with two signets, they stayed together for a few days and then flew away. A family reunion? Maybe, I like to think so. It was the cause of much celebration.

Walking to Sandy Point is a sheer joy, the beauty of the bleached banksia trunks that have been uprooted from their sand dunes by the wild storms and now lay silvered by sun and sea water. The clear waters in their aqua’s and blues revealing small fish darting from our shadows or those caste by a hunting bird. The walk reveals a changing landscape and the high tidal changes can make this an exciting adventure for those caught unaware. It is when reaching beautiful and historic Sandy Point that you can truly appreciate the beauty of Westerport Bay as the separation between Philip Island and French Island is seen for the first time revealing the grandeur of her waters.

I learned to kayak in Westernport Bay motivated by the proximity of our resident dolphins . To watch them hunt and play and to witness their curiosity as they swim among people, play with dogs and come up to yachts and small boats. I’ve had the privilege of having a proud mother swim right up to my kayak with her young pup trustingly almost placing her head on my bow, as if to say look at the wonder I’ve created. Unforgettable. Westernport Bay is also a refuge for migratory whales with Southern Right Whales, Humpbacks and Killer Whales being regular visitors.

The AGL proposal threatens the pristine environment of Westernport Bay. They plan to draw water from the bay to thaw their frozen gas. In this process our sea water is chlorinated to destroy all living things and cooled by another 7 degrees celsius before being dumped back into the bay. Imagine the impact of 468 million litres of cooled chlorinated water being dumped in the bay everyday. How can this not have impact? How can it not destroy a beautifully balanced eco system?

This totally goes against our commitment as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance to protect Westernport Bay.

To add insult to injury AGL could install a closed system to recycle the chlorinated waters, without dumping them in the bay. They have so little respect for the environment that they are unwilling to do so, due to the cost. A much greater cost would be the denigration of these wetlands for the future generations of living things.

AGL’s project has a 20 year lifespan before it changes to renewables.
Is 20 years delay really worth the destruction of our beautiful Bay?
Renewables are available now, they are efficient, effective and cheaper than the price we pay for our current forms. A much greater cost is to enable short term greed to delay the use of renewable energy to provide cater for our energy needs. Gas is toxic, its destructive and it’s ultimately far too costly .

Wetlands are amazing places and are among the most biodiverse eco systems in the world. Research suggests that they can also capture and store large amounts of carbon lessening the impact of climate change. Shouldn’t we be protecting this unique and irreplaceable wetland on Melbourne’s doorstep for future generations?

Not only for our people to witness and enjoy, but also or for the survival of the huge variety of species in their own right.

Is it not our sacred duty to do so?

Say no to AGL!