Mark Seymour shows his support for Westernport

Mark Seymour shows his support for Westernport

AGL’s claim that Australia is running out of gas is a lie.

Australia has plenty. It’s extraction has been poorly managed and sold cheaply overseas with little direct benefit to the Australian Tax payer.

Right now the Morrison government is planning a complete structural overhaul of local gas extraction in this country and love it or hate it, if it’s plans go ahead the AGL plant will be rendered superfluous because it depends on imported gas.

There is no valid industrial or economic argument to justify building this monstrous plant in Westernport.

Make no mistake, AGL is running out of time.

If you’re a voter and a tax payer and you live on the Mornington Peninsula..

Now is the time to get angry and loud.

The proposed AGL gas plant will be an environmental disgrace and a permanent stain on the reputation of any government that allows it to go ahead..

The AGL gas plant can be stopped

GO HARD NOW!

M Seymour

Heart Story from Bianca F

Heart Story from Bianca F

I decided to make the tree change/ sea change to the Mornington Peninsula just over 10 years ago. I was rebuilding my life after a nasty marriage and a welcome divorce. I quickly realised that the Westernport side of the peninsula was for me and, after several months of house hunting, found my Forever Home.

Slowly I explored the region that I had called home. I discovered Balnarring Beach…. I discovered the pelicans at Stony Point…. I discovered Hastings jetty and foreshore… I discovered Tooradin… I discovered how lovely the drive is around Westernport as you head to Phillip Island…

In the meantime, I remarried and had children.

And, would you believe, it has taken me 10 years, but I only discovered this year the “secret path” at Crib Point, that starts adjacent to the jetty?! It has quickly become our favourite family walk destination. (Luckily, it is within 5km of home so we can still enjoy the walk despite the current lockdown.)

The tranquillity of the region has been a great balm for me. I feel rather chuffed that I live alongside an internationally recognised (RAMSAR) region. The natural beauty of Westernport is obvious and the thought of it being desecrated by heavy industry is sacrilegious.

Go away AGL. (For that matter, go away Kawasaki too.)

Leave our community alone and in peace.

 

Libby Moore’s Story

Libby Moore’s Story

My family purchased our house at Somers when I was born. I have spent long lazy summers and cold invigorating winters at Western Port Bay. Each day I see the beach like a newborn with wonder and awe. The colours, tides, winds, clouds, rainbows, sounds and marine life bring with them a new daily combination and surprise. Secure in its beauty and unpolluted beaches, the subtle and dynamic changes of Westernport Bay are addictive. They are an integral part of my life memories from a childhood spent rowing my boat up the creek, swimming, fishing and sailing to a parent-hood sharing my special place with my children. They grew up swimming and boating with inquisitive dolphins, snorkelling the rock shelf and surfing.

It wasn’t always like this. There were dark times when in 1965 BP built a refinery for Crude Oil at Crib Point. Lights shone all night and a flame burned. Lumps of oil washed up on the beach at Somers along with dead Penguins and seals who were covered in black oil. After a trip to the beach we would have to wash outside with special detergent and throw away ruined towels and beach wear. Surf boards would be covered in thick oil. The rubbish from the tankers also washed up on the beach. Plastic containers and food waste thrown overboard. Fortunately, the refinery was closed down as it was not financially viable.

AGL maintain this would not happen again with their project. Do they really care? Have they done extensive risk management for the marine life in Western Port Bay? Will the mangroves which are fish breeding grounds and water filters, survive the proposed chlorine and water temperature changes. It is easy to pay a fine and leave the penguin, seal and dolphin carcasses washed up on the beach. AGL have extensive fines already for failing to meet emission targets, which indicate that the environment is not a priority.

Please save the pristine beauty of our bay and its marine life.

Please develop renewables for the future or our world.

I BELIEVE IN GOD, ONLY I SPELL IT WESTERN PORT BAY  by  Kay Treloar

I BELIEVE IN GOD, ONLY I SPELL IT WESTERN PORT BAY by Kay Treloar

It was not love at first sight. As a toddler I was terrified by my first visit to the beach, convinced that my siblings were about to drown in the expansive sea of sand that they threw themselves down upon. White gold, soft, warm, shifting; immense. Then mum picked me up and pointed to the big blue beyond and said, “That is the sea.”

My transition to water-baby was immediate and every summer thereafter I peeled skeins of skin from my burnt nose and bear the scars to prove it. An auto-didactic, I learnt to swim in the rock-pool, no family in sight (oh the good old days of free-roaming) after sinking to the bottom countless times before building up my dog-paddling expertise so I could cross the vast expanse to the other side. (To my young mind is was an Olympic sized pool… it was about 6 feet across). That pool held me safely in its womb, just as Western Port Bay has embraced me all my life. My parents honey-mooned here and my father’s city dwelling parents pioneered holiday making on this side of the Peninsula. I have travelled but always drifted back. The bay was the sparkle in my family’s eye and it glitters on, dimmingly.

Why does it matter? Such adoration is surely mere sentimental hogwash. Yes, a very pretty place indeed, but an unaffordable luxury to remain as such. Let’s get practical, we need gas man. Jobs. Progress. Collateral damage. Broken hearts. Destroyed sea-lines as the bottom-line tramples above all. Sea temperatures rise. Fish suffocate. Shorebirds are decimated. The eco-system is defiled. Disease is bilged out. Invasive species are in. Migratory birds starve on arrival. Our hearts are misguided. Nothing is sacred. Life is compromised. Ironically (scream),

I have a property on French Island (that overlooks the proposed AGL site) that was purchased in the 80’s after the planned ‘Nuclear’ Site (and other gross industrial developments & ports on the island) were defeated in the 70’s by conservationists on environmental concerns, the unique habitat was protected and the investors off-loaded it. History is repeating itself now with the AGL proposal and I am grateful to all Save Westernport organisers & supporters.
Hark back to that sparkle in our eyes as we delighted in our summer (powerless) camping by the sea-side; when we swam and surfed and beach-combed and played beach cricket and everyone joined in so you could never make a run except the dog who would run off with the ball. When we’d swim around the seaweed encrusted rocky outcrops at low tide and name them Madagascar and Ceylon(!) and duck dive down to explore the seabed’s myriad plants and creatures.

Evening walks along the beach, strolls at sunrise ahead of the heat. Year after year.
One thing led inexorably to another. The long Endless Summer holidays were not enough. When we needed a fix, the family would pile into the loaded car on day trips from the city to the coast.

Then one day, after being rudely abandoned on the beach by our parents (again, the good old days) for so long that the squabbling between us four kids over food and drink remnants was reaching a murderous pitch, they at last returned, their working class faces wreathed in the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen before or since. “We’ve just bought a beach shack” grinning at us idiotically, we all sat on the sand in stunned silence, then all hell broke loose. A weekender!! with sea-views! Before too long, clad in our PJs, we’d saunter over from that shack to the sea-cliff edge to watch the sunrise and check out the surf. Dad fished to his heart’s content and Mum took long early morning beach walks.

Next came the sea-change, where we were living the dream all year round. When we learnt that in winter, reality bites and expands well beyond the benign fair-weather friendship. I grew to understand an isolation and aloneness new to me in this alien place, and in time, gained great solace and resilience through that connection.

I’d sit on a rock and stare out to sea; adolescent, alone, chilled and bereft. Until that inward gaze turned outward to the howling winds, scuttling clouds, soaring birds, buffeted banksias, wild seas and roaring huge winter swells. Decades on, my appreciation of Western Ports’ complex eco-system has deepened; but still it is my rock by any other name. “When no-one can hear me calling, I have you I can sing to”. Its sanctity allows me to carry my grief, as I lose the ones I love, for there it is, in all its wonder, the nurturing spirit of Western Port Bay, offering us all its priceless embrace.

A Woolley Heart Story

A Woolley Heart Story

Melissa’s Story

I’m a Woolley. Well, I was until I married and opted to change my name. My family has strong roots in Crib Point, particularly in the vicinity of the jetty.

My great, great grandfather Ashton Woolley selected 400 acres at Crib Point in 1875 and built the Woolley Homestead at 50 Disney St, Crib Point.

Facing the Westernport Bay, his son and my great grandfather, William (Bill) built his weatherboard home on land he had purchased from his father in 1929. His house was situated just south of the Woolley family home on the point.

Pictured are Bill and Jane Woolley, my great grandparents.

British Petroleum (BP) built a refinery at Crib Point and pressured Bill Woolley to sell. Bill refused to sell his property to BP, and so the Western Point Refinery was built around his house. Bill remained in his home in the care of my great Aunty Marg, until he died around 1968.

I have so many childhood memories of visiting my great aunty Marj at her home and being chased by her sheep. Well known in the area, Marj Baxter (nee Woolley) lived in the family homestead until she could no longer manage the maintenance. She felt isolated and vulnerable as an old woman living alone in quite a remote area of Crib Point. Our beautiful family homestead on the Esplanade, overlooking Westernport Bay was sold to the BP Refinery and the homesteads that Bill and his father Ashton had built were demolished by BP. All that is remaining is a vacant block used by motorbike riders.

Bill Woolley built a jetty, of which only the stumps remain, and an extant cool room on the foreshore in 1903, where he stored his catch before it was transported to Melbourne for sale.

Bill Woolley’s Cool Room is surrounded by a security fence. A sign is attached to the fence that says ‘This cement cool room was built by Mr Bill Woolley in the year 1903 to store his fish on weekends. Blocks of ice were packed in there with the fish awaiting transport to Melbourne by train on Monday mornings.”

I now have a family of my own and together, we enjoy spending time at Woolley’s Beach. Taking in the tranquillity and appreciating the natural environment of indigenous vegetation.
There has already been so much irreversible damage to this area due to industrialisation. My family and I are passionate about preserving our natural environment and protecting it from being destroyed as an outcome of short-sighted greed.

Minna’s Story

Minna’s Story

I grew up in Balnarring but have lived in Coburg North for the last 6 years. I am lucky enough to still be connected and able to visit my parents (pre Covid lockdown) at this beachside paradise that I will always call home. It has always been a great pleasure and honour to share this special coastline with fellow travellers, and my loved ones over the years. I have many stories I could tell. Like the morning after my wedding day, when my husband and I felt the urgency to begin our own unique adventures as a wedded couple. Boarding a deflating blow up boat at Balnarring Beach, we rapidly gained speed, drifting out towards Philip Island. We began to realize the potential risk of our situation, witnessing all our most beloved lining the beach in distress. With panic rising, we started to paddle as fast as we could to shore, when my husband asked me in alarm, ‘Are there sharks here?’ Having noticed large shadows under our boat we quickly recognised the dolphins, who, once we arrived at shore exhibited a twirling display for us. We have since shared these same beaches with our two young children, exploring the rock pools for crabs and rolling in the waves.

It is through my distance from it that I have begun to understand more deeply the grounding that this place has offered me throughout my life. In particular, Merricks Beach is a place that I long for, and even visit in my imagination, for respite and nourishment. With the caves and coastal banksias, the memories of swimming with stingrays and in storms, this beach in particular, has offered me many moments of rapture. The beach stretching from Balnarring to Merricks, and less frequently to Somers, has soothed my soul. Even on colder days, a quick dip in the salty bay is enough to enliven the body; nestling my feet in the sand and allowing the wind to whip my worries away while I watch as the sunset welcomes the calm of night.

In moments of heart ache and sorrow the waves have soothed me. Their rhythm and consistency have reminded me that the world will continue to turn, even in times of pain and suffering. These same waves remind me that these are the unceded lands and waters of the Bunurong (Boon Wurrung) people; this bay can offer unconditional nourishment for generations to come, as it has so done for thousands of generations before.

I wonder who are the decision makers here, and how can they better honour the rightful custodians of these lands and waterways? In the name of ‘progress’ AGL offer yet another effort to dislocate and disregard our right and responsibility to a healthy ecosystem. While I hold hope, I also sit with dread for how much more could be destroyed before it’s realised we have lost too much.

Anne Tillig’s Heart Story

Anne Tillig’s Heart Story

My connection to Western Port Bay started in 1996 when we purchased land fronting the bay.  Elizabeth Island is now my home.  I feel lucky to wake up to the sight of Western Port Bay all around me, every day. 

Most days I circumnavigate the island in my pedal paddle kayak.  It takes just under an hour.  Then I jump in and swim for a while.  This connects me intimately to the water, the shoreline and the birdlife and leaves me feeling alive.

The bay is a special place that rewards for spending time with it.  Day by day it grows on you.  It doesn’t show its splendour at first.  It wants you to slow down, stop and be with it a while.  Over time you get to know its tidal shoreline.  Orange lichened rocks, ancient sandstone, pebbles, sand, mudflats that become lakes with the tides.  The shoreline has rockpools and mangroves with pink pigface and other plants with names like bidgee-widgee and beaded glasswort.  Fish of all sorts nurture their young amongst the mangroves.  In the bay are gummy sharks, King George whiting, snapper, Australian salmon.  We pluck oysters from the rocks and eat them fresh.  Pacific gulls and oyster catchers sit atop shoreline rocks, looking like they’re standing on water.  Herons and spoonbills stalk around the mudflats finding food.  Swallows, wrens and willy-wagtails eat the insects on land.

You can tell it’s a delicate balance of interwoven life.

I am horrified and aggrieved that any government would allow a private company to irreparably destroy our beautiful natural resources for their short-term gains.

My home, Elizabeth Island, and the bay, belong together.  The bay is integral to my life and my wellbeing.  I will soon be publishing a book about my relationship to this special place.  I want to share with you an excerpt from my upcoming book, which is about that relationship.  Elizabeth Island has grounded me and given me a sense of place.  The bay is integral to that.  This excerpt describes my first encounter with the island.

‘Half-dried sea grass lined the high-water mark.  It sat in a continuous line atop a shore of partially submerged brown pebbles and rocks. Shells washed smooth by the tides were caught in the browned sea grass.  Through the lifting light clouds, the sun warmed the brown and grey burnt sea grass salty bath to barely visible steam and marshy odours.

We ventured into the tussock grass above the shoreline, nervous about what might lie under the thick grass.  Two black swans glided past, poking out their necks at us, as if wondering what we were doing in their territory.  Other sea birds squawked and landed on the rocks.

I could tell this was a unique and special place.

Michael returned to the boat, concerned about the fast-running tide.  He got us all aboard and the boys pulled up anchor.

We began to circumnavigate the island, approaching the northern point.  We could see less than half a metre of water under the boat.  The fast receding tide forced us back. 

That was my first encounter with Elizabeth Island.  Tides ruled.  Back then I’d fancied myself as close to nature.  Many years on, I marvel at what slowly unfolded:  an engagement with that island and surrounding seas that brought me into a dance with nature I could never have imagined. 

The feel and direction of the winds, the heaviness of the rain, the height and direction of tidal flow, the seasons, moonlight, cloud cover, sunlight.  The response of the sea between the island and the mainland to daily, monthly and yearly cycles of the sun and moon – this all determined decisions about where and how to be, explore or do, on and around the island. 

Having so squeezed me into Elizabeth Island time, the surrounding sea would dance its moods to my passage on or off land.’

Westernport Bay surrounds my home and greets me with stunning vistas every day.  It is my home.

On most important things that happen or are about to happen around the bay, the instigators reach out to locals.  I have not seen this happening from AGL in the same way.  I am not aware of organised engagement by AGL with residents.  It is indicative of a disregard for the people and place they are impacting.  I wonder how much our government has engendered in them that stance.

I guess it’s difficult to comprehend that you would have to tell this to a government.  Of course, this proposed project will destroy our valuable bay and its delicate ecological balance. 

This development is on the other side of the bay to me, so I won’t see the visual impact.  I can’t imagine how it would be for anyone who walks that shoreline, to have to look at a large gas platform like that.  But I know the ecology of the bay is so interconnected, and we as humans are so interconnected, that I will notice the impact over on this side.  I have already noticed the effects of climate change.  There are fewer insects on the island now, and this means fewer land birds.  The special sea birds that used to be around feeding off the mudflats seem to have disappeared, replaced by hardier breeds.

We are already seeing the impact of climate change on our planet and our local environment.  It is a result of putting big business ahead of smart connected communities in healthy environments.  We want a government that will recognise what matters and put people and our environment first.  A government that approves this AGL project will not get my vote.

Anne Tillig

 

 

Save Westernport by John Butler

Save Westernport by John Butler

John has sent us this message:
‘To all the Victorian family who are doing it tough with COVID I’m sending you my love and prayers right now.
 
I was asked by some locals in Westernport Bay to help get their message out about protecting their beloved home.
 
These are very complex and turbulent times but we can’t let the fossil fuel industry use this moment as a massive chess game strategy to twist our state and federal governments arms to their will. If ANYTHING these already established resource companies, that have massively profited off the back of our nation, making BILLIONS of dollars every quarter, should be TAXED at least as much as I am to help with the economic fall out of COVID.
 
Here’s what the @savewesternport group would like you to know :
 
Save Westernport says AGL’s plan is an environmental and social disaster.
Right now it’s still just a plan. But AGL’s Environmental Effects Statement (EES) is now
up for public comment and it’s time to say
NO!
 
AGL is using its EES to get state government approval for it’s cancerous plan. AGL will say it can manage risks to people and the environment. AGL’s track record says otherwise.
From a 6,000 litre sulphuric acid leak to an ash slurry overflow into endangered woodlands, the company has left too much environmental wreckage in its wake.
But AGL doesn’t get it.
 
They don’t care that Westernport communities have said NO! to bad ideas for over 50 years.
So what have our communities stopped? A uranium enrichment plant on French Island; a petro-chemical plant destined to discharge waste into the ocean through a pipeline
crossing Phillip Island; the gouging of kilometre after kilometre of shorelines to make wharves
for heavy industry; a huge container terminal that stood to kill the bay’s sensitive wetlands;
aluminium smelters and processing for paper and zinc.
 
The list goes on.
 
Save Westernport has talked with thousands of locals, and we know what you want. You want
a real say about what happens in your towns and communities. You want a clean bay that’s
safe for the people, businesses and wildlife that rely on it. You want an economy that protects
the beauty and promise of this incredible place.’
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

It’s no surprise that people are feeling daunted by AGL’s EES – it’s over 11,000 pages of technical information with just weeks to make a comment. 

But it’s not that hard and you can make a difference. Make your voice heard, and make your concerns about AGL’s proposal known by writing a submission. 

It doesn’t take long, and it does not need to be technical!

Save Westernport and Environment Victoria recently held online workshops on How to Write a Powerful Submission. 
Read Environment Victoria’s tips and information on how to make a submission on the EES  here.

Remember during the Federal election last year Save Westernport held a public meeting where each of the candidates for the seat of Flinders campaigned against the AGL project?

Read about that event here in the June 2019 issue of the Balnarring Bridge. 

Our local members say they’re still opposed to AGL’s bizarre project, and have told us they’ll be making submissions on AGL’s EES 

 https://gasimportprojectvictoria.com.au/environment-effects-statement#view-the-ees

 

You can make a submission about the AGL Crib Point proposal using the online form on the EngageVic website here: https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC

 

Sign up here to receive Save Westernport’s regular newsletter for all the details as soon as they’re available
https://savewesternport.org/newsletter/

Remember over 22,000 individual submissions were received against the Narrabri gas project !

The Minister needs to receive as many submissions as possible against AGL’s plans in Westernport, so he’s in no doubt about the extent of Community opposition to AGL’s dirty and exploitative gas proposal.

Warren Cooke’s Heart Story for Westernport

Warren Cooke’s Heart Story for Westernport

I don’t ‘use’ Westernport, it actually gives to me. I find a sense of wholeness when I connect to the natural beauty of this place through art making, swimming, surfing, sailing and beach walks with family and friends. I also do my best to give back to it, by collecting rubbish, protesting as needed and by honouring this place in my art practice.

Westernport is a place of great beauty to admire and marvel at throughout the seasons; grand coastal banksias and mangroves, undulating waters, dolphins, shore birds and migratory birds as they feast along the waterline. It is a sanctuary. It is home to an internationally recognised RAMSAR wetland and for many creatures, both land-based and marine, it is their nursery and home.

AGL is being dishonest with Australians, claiming that we need a gas terminal for their imported gas. This is blatantly not true. With climate change upon us, any proposed energy plans must be both clean and renewable. Gas is neither of these.

During their proposed regassification process, AGL’s gas terminal will pump millions of litres of chlorinated sea water into Westernport – dead water, on a daily basis. The loss of microscopic life is like the tip of a spear which would harm all of the fauna and flora that live here. We cannot think that we are separate to that damage, it will affect humans too.

My heart is heavy at the prospect that AGL could go ahead with this proposal. The loss is not only for the close community who reside around Westernport but to all the living things. We must continue to stand as a community, loud and strong against projects such as these.

With climate change upon us, it is more important now than ever.

Warren Cooke
@artbycooke