Outlook improves at Marion Bay

Construction of the Marion Bay viewing platform

In 2009, access to the beach at Marion Bay in rural Tasmania was disrupted when drought breaking rains resulted in the Bream Creek river mouth migrating several hundred metres to the south. To make it easier for locals and visitors to the area, the idea of a viewing platform at Marion Bay was conceived by the local community.

With the traditional accesses to the beach blocked by the river, visitors would wander across the dunes looking for the best access to the beach and erosion and destruction of the dune was occurring.

Marion Bay Coastcare (MBC), a community group of like-minded souls, looked at ways of stabilising the dune and the idea came about to construct a viewing platform which would prevent further access through the dunes and allow visitors to see where the right track was to reach the beach.

Community-led recovery

After the Dunalley fires in January 2013, which devastated so many people’s lives, the time was ripe to progress a project that could involve the community in a proactive, positive and creative activity.

So, MBC – a group of like-minded community members - set about seeking funding. They received $10,000 through the Falls Community Fund and volunteers began a series of fundraising activities, including propagating trees to sell at the local Farmers' Market, a book drive and a quilt raffle which raised more than $3,000.

But as the group progressed through the complex process of obtaining the necessary approvals to build the viewing platform, they realised that the project was a good deal more complex than they had first considered.

Resilience overcomes hurdles

A number of significant hurdles were faced along the way… but due to the resilience of the volunteer working group and a great amount of community support behind them, they kept moving the project forward.

Hurdles included:

  • The location of the viewing platform was on private land - the landowner supported the project and allowed building of the viewing platform.
  • The location is also covered by a conservation covenant and is a Private Nature Reserve – necessitating consideration by two Government Departments.
  • Cost of planning and building permits - waivered by the local Council.
  • The project was required to address key local issues which necessitated an assessment of flora, fauna and archaeological heritage - local members of the community donated their time to produce a consultant report and the group also sought and received support from the local Pungenna Aboriginal Corporation.
  • Cost of the design and building work required additional funding - two additional grants were received, including $15,000 from FRRR’s Repair-Restore-Renew program grant program to assist with construction costs.
  • Design and seek engineering and building approval proved quite a stumbling block and technical matters were beyond the skill set of the core working group - generous landowner provided a builder and building surveyor to take responsibility for the building of the platform.

The building team began in April 2016 and were supported by a range of volunteers including some local qualified builders. The viewing platform was completed in May and a community working bee was organised to protect the sand by laying jute webbing and planting native species.

With the new viewing platform completed, MBC has achieved a number of outcomes for the Marion May coast community, including reducing erosion, protecting flora and fauna, improving the vista, community education of the local area and community involvement.

At long last this tricky project was completed and the local community christened the platform with a barbecue and beer on the upper platform. Delivering this project was a testament to the local volunteer’s resilience and determination and has been a great morale booster for the community.

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