THE final ordinary Wellington Shire Council meeting for March was held on Tuesday (March 19), running for 48 minutes with no apologies.

Dangerous gravel

BUNDALAGUAH local Ken Bailey, representing Falls Lane residents, has initiated a petition urging the council to seal the remaining three-kilometre stretch of the unsealed lane from the Princess Highway intersection.

Mr Bailey said 1.1 kilometres of the 4.1-kilometre stretch of road had been sealed from the Maffra-Sale Road entrance.

However, the 20-signature-long petition notes that the remaining unsealed gravel has become a health concern.

“Most people have had to put filters on their tanks because we’re on tank water,” he said.

Adding to that, asthma has become a health issue for some residents.

Additionally, Mr Bailey expressed heightened concern for residents, citing increased accident risks on the road.

Following a recent minor accident where a driver skidded into a passing milk tanker at low speed, Mr Bailey emphasised the urgency for preventive measures to avert future incidents.

Hence, the petition to seal the remaining stretch of Falls Lane.

The petitioners also noted they are willing to contribute funds to seal the road via the Residential Road and Street Construction Plan special charge scheme, which would require residents to pay a fixed $3600 fee.

The petition was received, and Mayor Ian Bye thanked Mr Bailey, mentioning that a response would be given in two council meetings.

Corella cacophony

AT the last council meeting (March 5), Maffra resident Ben Horsford raised community concerns about an “ongoing and ever-growing” Corella problem at Mafeking Hill Reserve in Maffra, bringing the issue to the council’s attention.

A response to the petition, which underscores various issues caused by the native birds, such as damage to land and residents’ property as they feed on lawns, noise, as well as the negative impact on tourism and the mental well-being of the community, is being prepared by council for the next ordinary meeting (Tuesday, April 2).

Community has their say

THREE online comments/questions were raised to the council.

The first was from Sophie Paterson regarding the Maffra Solar Farm project, which is proposed to be built along the Maffra-Briagolong Road, on land adjacent to the Boisdale Homestead, which Mrs Paterson and her husband own.

The Paterson’s appeal to the state government’s decision to permit the solar farm was heard at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week (Monday, March 18 until Thursday, March 21).

The Paterson’s reasons for appeal were covered in Tuesday’s (March 19) issue of the Gippsland Times.

Communications and Media Chief Executive, David Morcom said council were briefed about the information regarding Mrs Paterson’s submission, “lack of community consultation by the state government with surrounding residents” among others concerns.

The council are preparing a response, which will be provided to Mrs Paterson within seven days.

Dean Hurlston, who is President of the Chadstone-based organisation Council Watch, submitted three questions.

Mr Morcom recited the questions, the first being, “What amount of waste enforcement costs in the current financial year 2023/24 has the council included in its waste levies charged to its residents, if any?”

The second, “What amount of revenue has council included in the current financial year 2023/24 from waste enforcement actions?”

The third was, “Has the revenue been offset in the waste levy or applied to council’s general revenue streams?”

Mr Morcom said they were “fairly straightforward questions for us (council) and we will respond to Mr Hurlston in the next seven days”.

From the gallery, Neil Barraclough of Stratford, who submitted online questions but attended the meeting chasing answers he had emailed council.

Mr Barraclough used his three minutes to “simplify (his) position regarding the timber industry”.

His address is as follows:

“I’ve had an over 50-year association with the forests, and it has been very obvious over that time that the timber industry had to change,” he said.

“It shouldn’t have been stopped and the reason it was stopped was because of the people that oppose change, so that is why I have questions to the council.”

This is where Mr Barraclough ended his address.

Christine Timmerman of Alberton presented the council with a booklet called ‘The Secret Lakes of Gelliondale State Forest’.

Ms Timmerman said the lakes and wetlands that “I’m sure most of you don’t know (are) there” are “very important” ecosystems that would suffer if Synergy Wind’s proposed Gelliondale Wind Farm turbines were built in proximity.

She said the lakes would be 650 metres away from a proposed turbine site.

Ms Timmerman also expressed concerns that birdlife would leave the area, diminishing the amenity of the wetlands to the community that will eventually use the unopened Great Southern Rail Trail between Welshpool and Alberton.

Graeme James of Gelliondale thanked council for their “balanced” submission to the Minister for Planning, Sonya Kilkenny that was seeking assurance community concerns regarding the proposed Gelliondale Wind Farm be thoroughly investigated before a panning permit for the project be approved.

However, Mr James expressed further concerns for the Yarram Aerodrome flight path, which he said will fly directly over the wind farm.

“In fact, you couldn’t position it better if you tried,” he said.

Finally, Paul Greenman of Berwick attended council meeting to present a 237-page document of “Daniel Andrews’ treason charges, because there is treason in this country, and I will get the CEO to state that he will give it to all councillors and it will prove that no council in this country has any lawful authority whatsoever”.

Cr Bye asked Mr Greenman to leave his details so that council could deliver a response.

Acknowledgements

COMMENCING with gratitude, Coastal Ward Councillor, Gayle Maher, extended her appreciation to Khosnaran Khurelbaatar, a Mongolian-Australian muralist better known as Heesco, along with the dedicated members of the Heesco Town Project, whose collaborative efforts brought the Yarram Water Tower Mural to life.

The striking mural, designed by Elder Sandra Patten, depicts an array of native Australian fauna, including a giant koala, local landmarks, and traditional Gunaikurnai art. It was recently awarded bronze in the ‘Mega Mural’ category at the Australian Street Art Awards.

The mural won the ‘Best Street Art Experience in Victoria’ award.

Cr Maher said the water tower “is considered the crowning glory of the Yarram Mural Trail”.

Between 2020 and 2023, Heesco and his trusty paintbrush coloured Yarram with 25 striking murals, the water tower being the 25th and most prominent.

Dubbed ‘Heesco Town’, this project was a collaborative undertaking by Yarram residents, business owners, and Heesco himself.

The initiative aimed to transform the area into a thriving tourist destination, providing a much-needed boost the community enduring the aftermath of bushfires (2019/20) and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mural was unveiled to large crowds in April last year.

The Yarram Water Tower was recognised as Victoria’s best street art experience at the Australian Street Art Awards. Photo: Erika Allen

Cr Maher continued, acknowledging the Wellington Shire Visitor Information team for their tireless work promoting events in the region, including the recent Sale Music Festival, Parks Week, Yarram Chalk Art Festival, Maffra Mardi Gras and many more.

Rounding out acknowledgements, Mayor Bye commended the Maffra Mardi Gras, which he called a “great event” with thousands in attendance.

Cr Bye launched into a passionate recount of the Mardi Gras, one of the longest-running events in the Wellington Shire, which has raised $3 million for the community since its inception in 1957.

“The number of floats and smiling children, and the trucks that were polished and equipment that was brought out by the different businesses around town, it was excellent to see,” Cr Bye said.

He extended thanks to the Rotary Club of Maffra for organising the event.

Cr Bye also congratulated the Mardi Gras entrants: Nicole Wilkinson, who raised $13,906 for the refurbishment of the Maffra Cricket Club clubrooms, and Kade Renooy, who raised $30,240 to build a gymnasium for the Maffra Football-Netball Club in just six weeks.

The next ordinary council meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 2, at 5pm in the council chambers at the Sale Library.