National parks lodges plan way off track

THE great thing about Victoria’s network of national parks is that they are, for the most part, pristine.
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For hikers especially, the chance to get off the beaten track for a trek through the Victorian Alps or the Grampians for a wilderness experience is what makes the parks attractive.

Serious bushwalkers carry all their gear for multi-day hikes, camp, cook their own food and carry out all their rubbish.

Australia’s hiking trails are distinct from those in other parts of the world in that there is nothing out there in the way of infrastructure and hikers seek them out for that reason.

On the high country trails of north-eastern Victoria, there are a handful of former cattlemen’s huts that offer refuge in bad weather but that’s about it.

The same goes for the walkers’ tracks in the Grampians.

But all that might be about to change with a proposal for privately-operated hiker lodges for the Grampians designed to complement a new trail called the Grampians Peaks Trail covering 144 kilometres from Mount Zero to Dunkeld.

Up to seven lodges with showers and kitchens would be built and offered to private operators on 99-year leases.

According to the masterplan, the walk is expected to generate 32,000 visitor nights in 2015, increasing to more than 80,000 visitor by 2025, while the total number of walkers using the trail is expected to increase from 13,800 next year to more than 34,000 people by 2025.

The trail will go ahead with or without the lodges and the visitors will come regardless.

Lodges would detract from the hiking experience, take business away from existing accommodation and bed and breakfast options in the district and there is a real danger that once they are built pressure to expand will grow from the private interests running them.

Fast forward 20 or 30 years and what was once an untouched national park will be dotted with mini resorts.

No thanks.

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Cycle City

WORTH THE WAIT: City of Mount Gambier community events team leader Denise Richardson is urging residents set to be inconvenienced by tomorrow’s Tour of the Great South Coast to embrace the high-class event. Picture: BRETT KENNEDYA KEY figure behind tomorrow’s Mount Gambier leg of the Tour of the Great South Coast Road Cycling Classic has called on the community to embrace the high class event.
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With road closures scheduled across both the inner-city circuit and Blue Lake loop, residents are being asked to be patient and co-operate to ensure the returning event hits the streets without a hitch.

Attracting a top field of 130 cyclists, bringing with them around 400 support crew, the eight-stage tour will put Mount Gambier under the national and international spotlight throughextensive coverage.

City of Mount Gambier community events team leader Denise Richardson said several surrounding businesses had been given three months notice of the temporary road closures.

“We really hope people are understanding on the day because the City of Mount Gambier is committed to attracting major events,” Ms Richardson said.

“It’s the businesses and local people who are going to reap the benefits from it and stage three is also being held in the District Council of Grant, so it is not just Mount Gambier that will benefit from this.”

The Vansittart Park Criterium will serve as the opening stage of the tour, with Wehl Street North, Eglington Terrace, Victoria Terrace and Commercial Street West to face temporary closures, while the second stage in the afternoon will involve closures on O’Halloran Terrace, Wehl Street South, Lake Terrace West, Bay Road and John Watson Drive.

Thursday’s road race from Mount Gambier to Port MacDonnell will travel through Mount Gambier’s southern fringe, Carpenter Rocks, Pelican Point, Blackfellows Caves, Kongorong, Donovans, Brown Bay, Riddoch Bay and Racecourse Bay.

A road closure will be in place on Sea Parade from early afternoon.

Understanding that the events would inconvenience some residents, Ms Richardson said organisers and the council had worked with the public to achieve a successful outcome.

“People will still be able to park nearby because we are really aware of the clinic and pharmacy,” she said.

“We really benefit if people come down and cheer riders on, so we encourage residents and nearby businesses to get along.”

With additional police and marshals from Cycling Victoria, Ms Richardson said there would be plenty of people on-site to assist residents.

“We had no complaints last year that required a different route to be taken, so hopefully people will continue to understand,” she said.

“This event has grown from last year and I can see it growing even bigger.”

Ms Richardson said the event had the potential to positively impact on the region’s tourism sector.

“This race goes around the Blue Lake and that will be beamed across the world on SBS, so what better tourism promotion can you ask for?” she said.

“Cycling is taking off throughout the world and to see this sport locally at such a high calibre is fantastic.”

With a majority of teams arriving yesterday, it is expected an influx of cyclists will hit the road today in preparation for tomorrow’s action.

Upset win by Queechy may affect top spots

THE weekend threw out some more unexpected and possibly season-changing results with the most notable being Queechy Penguins’ surprise 2-1 win over City Marians.
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The result badly hurt City’s chances of a top-two finish and was even more frustrating as it had much more of the attack but the Qs still jumped to a two-goal, first-half lead through Vicki Brien and Abbie Withington.

Clare Symonds takes City Marians into attack during their clash with Queechy on the weekend. City went down 2-1. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

The second half saw City regroup thanks to the defensive efforts of Nicole Symonds and Jemma Kenworthy and forwards Monique Grundy and Lauren Bonney with a goal eventually coming through Petrina Birtwistle.

However, the Qs held out with defenders Sarah McRobbie, Brooke Whitemore and Kelly Greatbatch key players in the win.

West Devonport was a quality act from the start in its match against Tamar Churinga.

Tamar was missing four of its usual contingent forcing it to use Cara Evans at centre-half rather than in her most damaging position up front.

This allowed West the luxury of regular moves with both Danielle Emmett and Kendall Shotton rotating from forward to defence while Kylie Elmer and Jodie Thow remained superbly steadfast in defence.

A two-goal first half proved a solid start for the Dragons with another two in the second putting the game beyond doubt.

A competitive first half saw Smithton still in the game against Launceston City but the second half was a whole different story with City running away to an eventual 6-1 win. The Saints’ only goal came after Connie Perry had a great run then finished with a perfect cross to Kylie Monson who smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Burnie Baptist was not able to back up last week’s performance, going down 4-2 to Devonport. Nikki Green (two), Lucy Withers and Kym Corcoran caused the damage for Devonport with Corcoran a standout.

In the final match, South Burnie and South Launceston went on scoring sprees ending with a 5-5 result.

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Home ground denied

BURNIE women’s coach Darren Eade says he is disappointed his team has been denied its home ground advantage for Sunday’s State League grand final against Clarence.
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The game will be played at Devonport Oval on Sunday, after concerns were raised about the surface of West Park for the game, given the men will play a State League match on it the day before.

Burnie’s Emma Humphries in action during a game earlier this year. The Burnie Dockers have been stripped of the right to play the State League women’s grand final at West Park on Sunday. Picture: Meg Windram.

“I’m disappointed, because we won the right to play it at home,” Eade said.

“But at the end of the day we’re not too fussed where we play them, we just want to win.”

The Dockers had earned home ground advantage by easily winning the semi-final against reigning premier Clarence at West Park on August 3.

Further adding spice to Sunday’s contest is a verbal stoush between Eade and Clarence women’s coach Andy Smith which eventuated after what Eade described as excessive physicality from the Clarence side.

“We won by 11 goals, and they are not used to getting beaten, especially in finals,” he said.

Smith said he didn’t wish to comment on the confrontation or specifics of the semi-final, saying it was “done and dusted” and that the team just wanted to focus on the upcoming game.

“We were pretty poor in the semi-final, but the two games before that there was only a seven-point difference,” he said.

“They will go in as favourites having won three against us so we will need to be at our best.”

Sunday’s game will start at 12pm.

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Court orders for man who assaulted family

Paul Rodgers, 35, of Princes Highway, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to two counts of both recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault.A POMBORNEIT man who dragged his step-daughter out of bed by her hair and smacked his son to the head has been placed on a community corrections order.
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Paul Rodgers, 35, of Princes Highway, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to two counts of both recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault.

He was placed on a 12-month order to do 50 hours’ community work and undertake treatment and rehabilitation for mental health issues, and complete a men’s behaviour change program.

Police said Rodgers was married with three children and had lived in Queensland before relocating to Pomborneit to live with his parents.

It was alleged there had been incidents of verbal and physical abuse in the past between Rodgers and his wife which had mostly not been reported to police. The couple were also worried about their 13-year-old daughter, Rodgers’ step-daughter, who had attempted self-harm.

Last year Rodgers dragged the girl out of bed by her hair after she would not get up. The girl’s head hit a bed post and Rodgers swore at her.

At another time Rodgers became enraged with his son who was looking for a cat with his two cousins under a house. He slapped the boy to the head, which hit the house and caused bruising.

In mid-December last year Rodgers became increasingly abusive to his wife. When he was not home, she started packing bags in an attempt to leave. But Rodgers returned and pushed his wife, who was 24 weeks’ pregnant, on to a bed and lay on her. An intervention order was later put in place.

Defence counsel Xavier Farrelly said the couple had a turbulent 10-year relationship, but the wife and children had returned to Queensland while Rodgers stayed in Pomborneit.

He said the couple had disagreed about parenting. “He did not set out to hurt his children but had attempted to discipline them,” Mr Farrelly said.

Magistrate Michael Coghlan said Rodgers had engaged in coercive behaviour towards his wife when she was trying to leave and had a “considerable misunderstanding” of how to behave towards other family members.

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Jailed, but back on the street

Leigh Steven Lavithis, 37, of Pecten Avenue, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to breaching an intervention order and two counts of threatening to inflict serious injury. A Warrnambool offender jailed after terrifying his sister and mother is back in the community.
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Leigh Steven Lavithis, 37, of Pecten Avenue, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to breaching an intervention order and two counts of threatening to inflict serious injury.

He was convicted and sentenced to two months’ jail with 39 days spent on remand counted as served and the remaining 21 days suspended for 12 months.

On June 22 Lavithis went to a unit on Merri Street where his mother lived, in breach of an intervention order.

He was noticeably agitated but his mother allowed him in and soon after his sister arrived, unaware her brother was inside.

His sister said Lavithis was erratic and alcohol affected and was carrying a beer bottle. Lavithis swore and acted irrationally and when reminded of the intervention order threatened to stab his mother in the eye.

His sister ran outside. Lavithis continually abused and threatened his sister and mother until police were called.

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$4.92m airport upgrade cleared for take-off

TENDERS have been called for the largest upgrade of Warrnambool’s airport since its construction with a $4.92 million aviation park and runway improvement.
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Warrnambool City Council’s Justin Hinch says the plans include improved landing technology for pilots. 140811AS03 Picture: AARON SAWALL

The main contract for civil work is expected to be awarded by October to have the park completed by May.

It will entail construction of roads and pads for 20 hangars, service links and upgrading the secondary grassed runway to an all-weather gravel surface.

Automated landing guidance technology will also be added to the main bitumen runway.

The upgrade is a major step in an overall masterplan to make Warrnambool’s airport one of the most modern in regional Australia and open new opportunities for investment and tourism.

Capacity is hamstrung by the existing secondary runway, which is unusable in wet conditions, and the limited storage space of 16 hangars which are fully occupied.

“It is critical to get more hangars because we have had a number of operators wanting to set up, but we haven’t been able to accommodate them,” city council senior projects engineer Rohan McKinnon said.

“There will be new opportunities for businesses associated with aviation servicing and storage and recreational users — it will open up a lot more possibilities.”

Redevelopment is projected to produce $40.7m in economic benefit for the region, create 20 direct jobs and 19 indirect jobs plus 11 in construction work.

State government funding of $4.07m was announced in June, which is in addition to $750,000 from the city council and $100,000 from Moyne Shire Council.

The project will include a turning lane on the Koroit-Mailors Flat Road opposite the airport entrance, hangar access roads, extra aircraft taxiways, drainage and upgrades to electricity and water supplies.

City council manager for infrastructure developments and projects, Justin Hinch, said the improved landing technology would include GPS information, allowing pilots to directly approach the landing strip, and precision approach path lighting indicators.

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Tehan: China free trade deal vital for dairy

MEMBER for Wannon Dan Tehan says the federal government is very committed to getting a good result for the dairy industry in free trade negotiations with China.
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Mr Tehan met United Dairy Farmers of Victoria manager Vin Delahunty and president Tyran Jones on Friday to discuss the free trade deal.

“The government appreciates how important this free trade agreement (FTA) is to the dairy industry,” Mr Tehan said.

“If we get a deal to at least match the one that China has with New Zealand it would put between $600 million and $1 billion back into the Australian dairy industry.”

Mr Jones said the Australian dairy industry currently faced a 10 to 15 per cent tariff on its milk and infant formula powder exports into China.

“Compare that to New Zealand, who’ve negotiated an FTA with China that imposes a tariff of less than 5 per cent on milk powders, which winds down to zero by 2019,” Mr Jones said.

The Australian dairy industry is still smarting from the poor outcome of the free trade deal with Japan agreed to earlier this year, which delivered almost nothing to the dairy sector, and drew strong criticism of the Abbott government.

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Man seeks bail after alleged assault of daughter

Darren Leslie Wallace, 46, of Wanstead Street appeared in court yesterday on charges of recklessly causing injury. A REPEAT offender who allegedly punched his daughter in an argument over bikies has pleaded with a Warrnambool magistrate to be released on bail.
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Darren Leslie Wallace, 46, of Wanstead Street appeared in court yesterday on charges of recklessly causing injury.

Police allege that on August 9 at around 1.30am Mr Wallace, his daughter and a friend were drinking at a Timor Street address when an argument began.

Mr Wallace allegedly punched his daughter and held her against a wall using his arm.

“The accused has pushed the victim up against a wall and held his arm against her throat,” Senior Constable Emily Durham said in evidence.

The attack caused the victim to “black out” and she also suffered bruises and lacerations to her cheek and hands.

Senior Constable Durham said the victim told police the argument started over the topic of bikies.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Nathan Brown said police opposed bail because of the accused’s prior criminal history.

“Now he’s committed another offence again and it’s against his own daughter,” Senior Constable Brown said.

Mr Wallace told the court he needed to be released to care for his mother and stepfather, who are both unwell.

“I just need time to fix things up before I go to jail. I could go to jail for quite some time,” Mr Wallace said.

“I’m not making any excuses for what happened. My mum is crook, my step ather is crook.

“I’m ashamed of it. I feel sorry for people in domestic violence situations.”

Magistrate John Lesser denied bail but adjourned the application to today for the accused to produce documents to support his reasons.

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Parking trial to regulate hospital crush

NEW car parks will be outlined in a street near the Warrnambool Base Hospital following concern from nearby residents.
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Parallel parking will be introduced along Ryot Street, between Lava and Koroit streets, due to congestion near Warrnambool Base Hospital.140811LP28 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Warrnambool City councillors voted 4-3 last night to support a parallel parking plan along Ryot Street between Koroit and Lava streets after a petition was sent to the council relating to vehicle congestion.

The council will proceed with its roll-out of on-road marked parking bays along both sides of the street with a mixture of two-hour, all-day and residential parking permits.

However, councillors Peter Hulin, Brian Kelson and Peter Sycopoulis claimed the measures did not go far enough and suggested that indented parking was necessary.

Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the council understood the concerns of nearby residents and believed the parallel parking measures were the best way of addressing the problem.

“The problem at the moment is that parking was very informal in that area. There was parking on nature strips and that caused issues for those residents,” Cr Neoh said.

“Parallel parking will act as a traffic calming facet along Ryot Street as well as addressing the problem of parking availability.”

Cr Neoh said the measures should be viewed as a trial and further steps could be taken in the future if there was a need for extra parking spaces.

Cr Hulin said there was indented parking along Ryot Street south of the Koroit Street intersection, setting a precedent for the Koroit Street to Lava Street block.

“The obvious solution is to introduce indented parking,” he said.

“It would mean extra parking spaces, far more than a few parallel parks, and you’d still have plenty of nature strip.”

Cr Sycopoulis said many Ryot Street residents felt they had not been properly consulted on the matter.

“Indented parking is already right there on Ryot Street, so I don’t see what the issue would be if that was replicated,” he said.

Council chief executive Bruce Anson said parking around the hospital’s neighbourhood was dynamic given the development of the region’s cancer care centre nearby.

“We have a growing regional hospital and with that comes changing needs,” Mr Anson said. “The council will work to address parking issues that are presently there and there is the opportunity to reassess at a later date.”

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