By Trey Highton
The rocky headlands that comprise the wilderness coastline of Mallacoota boast more than 100 kilometers of pristine beaches and 320 kilometers of lake shore at the far south-east tip of Victoria on the Australian continent. Mallacoota remains one of the most isolated towns in Victoria, roughly six hours from both Sydney and Melbourne in either direction. Surrounded by Croajingalong National Park, it is one of only twelve UNESCO designated World Biosphere Reserve in Australia, making it an ideal destination for birdwatchers, bushwalkers, and other lovers of nature looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Mallacoota was first settled in the 1830s as a whaling station, and fishing remains the lifeblood of the town. The town proper has roughly 1,000 residents, although the summer population can swell to 10,000 with the tourist influx.
Less than two kilometers out of the center of town is the main surfing beach of Bastion Point. Tim Baker, former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines, passed through Mallacoota in 2010 during a cross-country caravan adventure and describes Bastion Point as a “cold water, Victorian Snapper Rocks.” Baker explains, “On a good day, the ride extends almost 500 meters from the outside section, known as Broken Boards, through the Point itself and onwards towards the beach breaks that extend to the east almost as far as the eye can see.”
However, underneath the shimmer of sunlight on the sea and sand, Bastion Point has become a focal point of contention for Mallacootans – as a battle over a proposed boat ramp improvement, one of the longest development battles in Victoria’s history, has divided the town between proponents of progress and preservation. The proposal, known as Option 3b, would bisect the wave at Bastion Point with a 130m long by 3m high breakwall, rendering the marquee section of the wave known as “Broken Boards” unsurfable.
Among other environmentally deleterious effects, such as dynamiting existing reef and rock outcroppings to create a deeper channel, Option 3b will replace a large swath of unspoiled wilderness coast with a carpark.
To read an abbreviated history of the corrupt politics and difficult environmental decisions that were thwarted along the way, finish reading this article on the author’s blog, Save the Waves [link http://www.savethewaves.org/news/paradise-lost-bastion-point]