Heart Story by Elke Emerald

Heart Story by Elke Emerald

I didn’t mean to live on the Mornington Peninsula, but life has habit of having its own way sometimes.
So, after joyful years living in NZ – life bought me to Bittern.

I had no idea that this delightful place was tucked away here south of Melbourne.

There are bike paths, and walking paths and beautiful beaches. Wineries, breweries, gardens.
Without a lie, I’ll tell you this – we moved to Bittern in Oct 2018 and we had houseguests every night from Dec 22 2018 to April 25 2019: waving one dear friend off and welcoming another, with just enough time to change the sheets!

This speaks to the enthusiasm to visit this part of the world.

Our ‘guest trail’ is beautiful – bike rides from Jacks Beach to Hastings, lunches at breweries and wineries, swims at Gunnamatta Beach, snorkeling at Flinders Pier, learning about the Ramsar listing, Coolart wetlands, visits to ‘the other side’ (Port Philip Bay side), walking at Arthurs Seat and treks to the very end of Nepean Point.

What a beautiful place – all within a couple of hours on the train to Melbourne-town for a day of museums, galleries, shopping and restaurants.

And now: the grief of the possibility of losing all this to foolish profit, greed and mistaken arguments about ‘essential power’. I learnt of this proposal in an almost offhand comment from the Estate Agent, after we’d signed the contract. I guess it was a case of buyer beware. But I am not sorry I am here. I delight in this beautiful community still.

But here we are, fighting to stop all this being given away, the bay destroyed – all for the profit of faraway business leaders and faceless shareholders.

What a travesty.

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.

Brian’s Story

Brian’s Story

My affinity with Westernport Bay began in earnest about 1969 when I started a Diploma of Teaching at Frankston Teacher’s College, now the Frankston campus of Monash University. Before this I used to stay for the odd weekend at the “Shacks”, which were well put together humpies at the back of the sand dunes at Point Leo. Life Savers and surfers used these shacks to be close to the beach and do what they really enjoyed, surf. I met blokes like Sandy Mc Kendrick, Gus and Robbie Tankard who remain long-time friends.

While I was at Teacher’s College I met Paul Trigger, Graham Quail, Murray “Wogs” Walding and Tidal wave Ted Bainbridge. We formed a tight little surfing group that would take every opportunity to skip lectures and go surfing when the swell was up. We surfed all the known beaches of Westernport but we also surfed new places like Balnarring Point, Merricks and the Farm at Flinders. It was probably the boards we had in those days that made these places seem like jewels of the bay. A bloke called Alan “Wally” Tibbals lived for a short time in Somers and we started surfing another place when the swell was big, Somers River mouth. Another friend I made was Keith “Atlas” Robinson, who, being a goofy foot, was always looking for a wave that broke left. He found it at the Pines in Shoreham and surfed it regularly. Of course we called this break Atlas.

The lure of the beach was too much for me and I moved to Carisbrooke Street in Balnarring and rented a house with some mates. Unknown to me at the time there was a family who used to camp on their block behind the house us blokes lived in. The daughter in that family was Mandy Palmer and she is now my life partner.
Westernport Bay has always been a jewel, with a country feel and a slower pace. It hasn’t changed all that much. Mind you, sitting in the “cave” at Merricks Point watching the bay and eating a chicken pie from Mrs Pickler’s or going into the old Balnarring General Store for food may have disappeared, but if you search hard, that same feeling of country can be satisfied.

After I graduated from Teacher’s College I moved to the Otways and taught at Lavers Hill. I got married and thought I would settled down on the rugged South West Coast of Victoria. When my son Simon was born though we thought it best to move back to family and conveniences. So Westernport Bay here I come again! We lived in Bittern when it was very rural and it was here that I got very involved with the late Councillor Lorna Bennett and the late Brian Cummins. We were quite political and had paddle outs at the Crib Point refinery attempting to stop them from polluting our bay. Brian was an inspirational man and I’m sure his spirit is with us in this new campaign against AGL and its gas plan.

I furthered my studies and got a Diploma in Outdoor Education which had an academic focus on the environment. Doctor Leon Costermon was one of my lecturers and it wasn’t long before I was studying Westernport Bay and its vegetation both around the bay and in the water. The white mangrove was fascinating to me and my major evaluative work was spent on this species and its crucial relationship to our bay.

I have always been involved with the community around Westernport Bay and was either a teacher or principal in Hastings for over 30 years. This lead to many experiences and chances to promote the area and our school was always involved with many environmental and community programs.

2.
Serendipity has played its role and I now find myself living back in Balnarring with my partner Mandy. We have built a new home and we love it here. Because we are both now retired we have the opportunity to walk the beaches, swim, surf and thoroughly enjoy the whole bay environment. It has become quite a spiritual or meaningful place for us. I will never forget Mandy bathing in the soothing waters every day after her radiation treatment for an unexpected cancer which was a little hiccup for us. Mandy’s parents were long time Balnarring residents and they chose to have their ashes sprinkled into the bay. It’s not uncommon for us to visit this quiet spot and watch 2 dolphins at play. I’m sure everyone sees the dolphins but we like to think we have a special connection. We find the bay comforting and emotional, in a good way! To us, the bay has an essence of the cycle of life.

I still surf as much as I can even though my body has let me down a bit. I have crook hips and knees so my son Simon has shaped me a board I lie on. He calls it the GS….the Gut Slider! It keeps me in the water and my special moments are still connected with the waves of the Peninsula, but in particular, Westernport Bay. My friends are still here and they have selected this area to live because of the bay. It’s still clean and alive and has a huge impact on all of our lives. I believe I have lived in some great times and have experienced some wonderful moments in the water both with my son Simon and my friends. I now want my grandchildren to have the same opportunity to experience some of the joys the bay has given me. Mandy and I want our ashes spread in the bay to become part of this magical place and I sure as Hell don’t want to share the water with the pollutants from a floating AGL gas factory.

Brian Forward

[photo: Rory McGinley]

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

Like everyone else, Save Westernport and Environment Victoria have been closely following the developments around COVID-19 and public health advice.

To reduce the risk to all of us of being exposed to the virus and ensure that our events are safe for everybody, we have made the decision to postpone the People Sign Beach Rally that was planned for Sunday March 29 on Somers Beach.

Instead, we will be meeting online on March 29 at 7:30pm to discuss our visions for protecting Westernport permanently from heavy industrialisation and pollution. You can RSVP here.

We believe this is the most responsible thing to do to ensure that we are not contributing to the spread of the virus, and to protect our collective health and all those that we have contact with in our daily lives. 

We are disappointed that these circumstances mean we can’t all gather together on March 29th but we are still excited about getting together online to talk about our visions for protecting our Bay permanently from heavy industrialisation and pollution.

You can RSVP here. Here is a how-to guide demonstrating how to use zoom for online meetings. If you would like a call beforehand to discuss how to use zoom, let us know by responding to this email. 

Even though COVID-19 has put a temporary break on our in-person protests and actions we are not giving up the fight. We will simply find new ways to express our outrage together and tell AGL to drop their plans for a gas import terminal in our Bay.

We will confirm new dates for the People Sign so that it can proceed at a later date that is safe for everyone.

Key things for your action now:

  1. RSVP to the zoom call.
  2. Let us know if you need a call from us to help you use zoom.

Can’t make this time? We will host a second webinar. Click here to let us know which time works for you.

If you have any questions, please contact me by responding to this email.

In solidarity, 
Victor Komarovsky
And the teams at Environment Victoria and Save Westernport

Stop AGL Westernport Summer Action Launch

Stop AGL Westernport Summer Action Launch

Come to our
Stop AGL
Westernport Summer
Action Launch!

Join us at Somers Hall for afternoon tea
with others who care about
our precious and unique Westernport environment. 

Westernport needs you! 

Find out about our campaign to protect
the Bay’s Internationally recognized wetlands,
its spectacular creatures and ecosystems
from the threat of AGL’s heavy industry.

Sunday December 1st, 2019

2-4pm 

afternoon tea

Somers Hall, RW Stone Pavilion,
68 Camp Hill Road
Somers

                                        *Please Note the 2pm start time, not Midday as reported elsewhere*

Save Westernport supports Student Strike 4 Climate

Save Westernport supports Student Strike 4 Climate

Call out to all Save Westernport Supporters
Save Westernport and friends will be marching to show support for the Global Schools Strike 4 Climate
demonstration this Friday Sept 20, 2pm Treasury Gardens, Melbourne.

We’d love you to join us to let the Government and big business know: It is NOT business as usual!
We don’t like what we see happening to our planet.
We care about what we’re seeing.
We demand change and We’re READY for the big solutions today, for the FUTURE OF OUR PLANET, now!

Crowds are expected to be big, in order to meet up before the march, we will gather in front of the Windsor Hotel in Spring St, at 1:30pm near the main entrance closer to Lt Collins Street
We’ll then walk together to the Treasury Gardens.

Tell your Friends! Bring your selves, your drums, bells, flags, banners and signs

Save Westernport Supports
Schools Strike 4 Climate!

If you’re traveling by public transport from Westernport, take the 11.04 train from Stony point.
It arrives into Frankson at 11.40 with a connecting train to town arriving in the city at 12.48.
Parliament Station is closest to the Windsor Hotel
See you there!!

Help deliver the No AGL postcard petitions to Brett Redman

Help deliver the No AGL postcard petitions to Brett Redman

AGL CEO Brett Redman is in Melbourne on 12 June to speak at the Energy Week Conference so Environment Victoria and Save Westernport have taken the opportunity to ask him to meet us and receive our petition of approximately 15,000 signatures. Brett says one of his top three strategic goals for this year is social licence. He’s busy talking about it all around the country so get on the bus with us to let him know that he absolutely has not got social licence for this damaging proposal. Make sure he gets a strong message that Westernport communities remain defiant and strong in our opposition.

It’s just a few hours of your day and you might be that one extra person that makes all the difference. Don’t think one voice doesn’t count. The only way to change things is to turn up. (besides we’ll have a good time on the bus to and from Melbourne meeting each other and sharing experiences and knowledge.)

Look forward to seeing you.

Book your bus tickets here

PS. If you haven’t already signed the petition, do it now!

Oh, and if you’d prefer to meet us there, meet at main entrance to MCEC on Clarendon Street at 10am. We’ll finish at about 11am.

Where:
Mullet Street, Hastings, VIC 3915, Australia

When:
Wed 12/06/2019 at 8:00 am

Are you coming to our Public Meeting?

Are you coming to our Public Meeting?

This is a rare moment in the
NO AGL gas campaign

It’s been a year and we need you!

We have the attention of the candidates and the media.

Come to the meeting to find out what’s happening
Get your action kit to send a message to AGL
that the community do not want our Westernport
treated like an industrial wasteland.

Be informed. Be heard. Make your presence felt.

Things won’t change if you don’t turn up.

________________________________________________________

 

Have you seen our latest media articles?

You are able to register online for MayDay SOS Westernport, or simply turn up on the night, but we recommend you arrive early as it will be first-in-best-dressed.

No AGL Public Meeting

No AGL Public Meeting

Public meeting May Day SOS Westernport No AGL

Wednesday May 1st, 7pm Balnarring Community Hall

Tickets are free and available here , and although registration is preferred and will insure you have a place, there will be places available on the night if you decide at the last minute. 

 

Save Westernport Wishes You A Safe and Happy New Year

Save Westernport Wishes You A Safe and Happy New Year

Happy Holidays Everyone!  

WOW!  The Holidays are almost upon us—that happened quickly! And what a year… SO many twists and turns in the tale of our battle to protect this beautiful, rich Westernport environment from the harm of irresponsible and unnecessary development. It’s head spinning, and you definitely know you’re alive! Continue reading “Save Westernport Wishes You A Safe and Happy New Year”