Sunday, August 31, 2008

The sad story of Encounter Bay

Once upon a time, there was a scenic little jetty beside a boat ramp on a picturesque and peaceful South Australian bay.
Children played on the little sandy beach beside the little wooden jetty. Pelicans sat on their favourite rocks, seven to thirteen of them, preening and snoozing and waiting for fishermen to cast away bait fish or fishtails. Elderly couples sat on the shore watching the birds and the sea, the islands, the sky, the timeless and serene view.
Even by night, the little jetty was a joy-bringing beauty - particularly in summer when the sea lay dead calm and the stars twinkled not only from above but from the water's inky mirror around the little jetty.

When a Council has something this exquisite within its bailiwick, there is really onlyone thing it can do.
Destroy it.
Who wants picture postcards in a resort town on the sea?

What we want is industrial views.

Little hobby fishing boats are not revenue for a Council. They may be pretty and pleasurable, but they don't compete with big boats.
So what we really need is a really big boat ramp for really big boats.
And we need facilities for those big boats. Carparks and parking meters and lighting.

And so it has come to pass that the City of Victor Harbor in South Australia has descided to destroy the prettiest picture in its album.

At the same time that it has erected signs warning people of the delicate ecology of the ancient reef in Encounter Bay, it has vandalised the bay in the name of - well, I am not sure what.

As the moves develop to respect the fragile nature of the intertidal marine ecology, and the fears about over-fishing lead to increased moves for marine parks, this Council has invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe a million, into providing access to huge, polluting motor boats.

Here in the bay where the mother whales bring their young in the winter.
Where, most mornings, I can see a seal rolling and playing and fishing along the reef line...this reef, described as a "nursery" for fish.

What the bay needs is diesel slick and bigger boats.

Well, it is what it will get.
And what it needs is less beach and more cars.

To that end, they have just bulldozed earth onto the beach - pushing the carpark out to sea.
Who owns the beach? I thought beach was common land and no one in this country had a right to destroy it, let alone impede people's access along it. The law has changed? I was wrong? It is Council land which may be infilled and used for other purposes at whim?

The pelicans which have been such a joy to all (and the subject of my photo website) and who have long lived on the round rocks of the shallows, have gone. Of course.

So have quite a few of the rocks themselves.

The excavations just get deeper and deeper and the boat ramp is looking as if it has been designed to accommodate oil tankers. Huge groins encircle a vast cavity whence towering black metal piers reach for the sky. These may be anchors for the industrial metal pontoons which the Council, with its high sense of aesthetic, has chosen to replace the wooden jetty.

We shall wait and see how it all looks when finished.
Perhaps we shall have to look to the art of Jeff Smart to see beauty in the industrial impact on this once-pretty bay.

Perhaps, however, we shall just have to avert our gaze and ponder sadly why any Council should wish to be remembered for such travesty.
Then again, people have short memories.
Perhaps, in a few years, only the pelicans will miss the old jetty.


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DARLENE said...

if people think the boat ramp has spoilt victor harbor then they should take a good look at the multi storey hi-rise that has occured, that is what i call spoiling the aesthetics of a town. a boat ramp in a sea-side town is a neccessity and then may be you should look because the birds (pelicans) are still there. the old jetty as you put it is a major oh&s issue and should be destroyed anyway.
do you think that people with boats deserve a safe launching facility obviously not then one day when you are out there fishing in a boat and you need rescuing by our great sea rescue and they can't launch who will be complaining then.

Samela said...

Deary me, Darlene. You think Sea Rescue needs a huge, four-abreast cement boat ramp to get into the sea? You underestimate them. Then again, with ignorant amateur fishermen flooding the Bay to take advantage of the big boat ramp, they may well have increased rescuing to do. So you have a point.

DARLENE said...

hello samelia, the size of the boat ramp should not be an issue. please tell me where we fishermen can safely launch our boats between cape jervis and kingston in the south east. a large sign as you enter victor harbor says welcome to s.a's favorite seaside resort but we don't even have a safe place to launch. please promote our new project instead of producing negatives. thanks

Samela said...

Darlene, I find it very difficult to share you happiness about uglification of the enviornment. This is not an issue about a safe boat ramp. I have never argued against safety. I love fish and I love fishermen. Real fishermen. I am not so mad on the fakes with big boats and beers never out of their hands.
But why should fishermen want to deface the environment? Can you find no irony in people who love the sea also loving to make the shore ugly? Do you not lament the loss of a postcard view of a famously beautiful bay? Is the pleasure of local boaters the only beauty in your world?
To hell with tourists and visitors and reputation? Let's just have a huge carpark for recreational boaties, parking meters and, of course, no shade.

And why do boaters have to be able to launch four-abreast?
What is their rush?

I remain utterly perplexed at the lack of taste and design and forethought.

DARLENE said...

hello samelia me again,yuo talk of post card views of the coastline and our nice bay and that is good but why not bring the issue of the rotting and stench from the seaweed all along our beach and not to mention the inman river how putrid.a boat ramp might cost more than the clean up but this ramp has been a requirment of victor harbor and the south coast since victor was established.
maybe you should come and visit the ramp area when cray season opens and everyone wants a bit of the action with probably 10-12 boats trying to launch and retrieve at the same time wether it be morning or afternoon. its not just the victor people out there they come from strath through to yankalilla to launch here. the ugliness here has been created by other people (developers) not fishermen.

Scriptor Senex said...

Loved your Blog -even from the opposite side of the world I'm enraged about the jetty, in agreement about Google, etc... Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Why don'tthe fisherfolk do whatthey've always done? It was never a problem in the past, which I remember, being an ancient person! Shame on the Council for bowing to pressure and once again failing to consider the environment and it's creatures.One day it will all be ruined and not replaceable..does anyone out there care? The self-centredness of our modern society, where altruism has ceased to exist makes it a very unpleasant place to live for those of us who remember generosity, caring communities and respect and concern for natural beauty and the earth inhabitants.I could give you many examples of this disrespect, where people have moved in somewhere and then wanted it changed to the detriment of the place and the old ways.I could go on.......

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maya said...

I love this story and go in inner my hearth

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The boat ramp has not spoilt any hrbour so far.

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Newstrens said...

Me too think that if there has been something created by divine power, we must not interrupt.

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Anonymous said...

I have being searching the internet in a effort to find out why the sand has being missing for nearly four years from a small beach we surf approximately 400 meters west of Petrol cove, not to mention the sand missing at Petrol cove! I was looking at the images on Nearmaps to see if there was a pattern in sand movement. I started surfing this small beach approximately in 2001 and surfed here alot over the last 10 years however in the last few of years the sand has all but gone and so has the surf break with it! Is it just coincednce that the sand started disappearing upon completion of the boat ramp? I am not sure but I feel it needs to be bought to attention!!