The longawaited delivery of the first stage of the Bullock Island master plan will be possible with $6.5 million from the Federal Government and East Gippsland Shire Council.
Lakes Entrance Action Development Association president, Bruce Hurley, said while works began last year to improve the road surface, the more money spent on the island would be great for locals and tourists alike, particularly after bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak has killed the town’s peak tourism time.
“The improvements to Bullock Island will be a real boost to the town,” Mr Hurley said.
“LEADA thanks Mr Chester for the lead he has taken in attracting Federal funding and getting the interested parties together as well as the shire for recently taking over the management of most aspects of the island.
“Each year thousands of tourists and locals have made their way to the south-west corner of the island over a potholed dirt road to fish, crab, to watch marine life and to see boats making their way towards the entrance.
“Improvements started last year with surfacing of the Bullock Island road and car park. The funding from the Federal, State and the East Gippsland Shire Council will enable the potential of the island as a tourist attraction and a place for local residents to recreate to be finally realised.
“LEADA understands that improvements will include parks, walking and bike tracks, toilet facilites, a seafood café and a viewing platform at LEFCOL as well as the replacement of the bridge.”
Mr Hurley said it is reassuring after the bushfires and cornavirus disasters to see the three tiers of government coming together with LEFCOL to improve the island.
“More funds are required and LEADA urges the Federal and State Government to complete the implementation of the Bullock Island masterplan by allocating amounts from their infrastructure funds being promised to help the recovery post cornavirus,” he said.
“Following the disasters Lakes Entrance urgently needs a boost to its economy.”
Mr Chester secured $5 million to build a new access bridge and associated infrastructure improvements while the shire has committed $1.5 million to the island works.
“This is our best chance in 25 years to finally get some significant improvements to Bullock Island and I want to congratulate the East Gippsland Shire Council for making this project a priority after years of neglect by the State Government,” Mr Chester said.
“The bridge replacement is estimated to cost $3 million, which will leave us with $3.5 million for the first stage of works on the island.
“Discussions have started on the scope of works that will be possible and it will complement the LEFCOL redevelopment and new café project which is expected to start this year.
“Bullock Island has been talked about for decades as an asset for locals and visitors and it’s great to see work will finally start at this iconic location.
“The Federal Government will partner with the shire, LEFCOL and the local community to get as much work done as possible.”
Mr Chester said the Bullock Island bridge replacement had been identified as a priority by the shire because the existing bridge was in danger of failing and requiring load limits which would restrict the commercial fishing sector.
“Building a new bridge is an important step towards realising the vision for this area set out in the Bullock Island master plan to redevelop the island for the enjoyment of both locals and visitors,” Mr Chester said.
“Since the shire has taken over as land manager on the island, we are in a better position to secure grants from the Federal Government and improve facilities.
“Eventually, I would like to see a ‘Friends of Bullock Island’ community group re-established to help care for the island.
“There’s a lot of work we could do with community action days to complement the infrastructure upgrades and landscaping proposed in the master plan.”