Parks Victoria has released the Belfast Coastal Reserve Draft Management Plan for community feedback. The Belfast Coastal Reserve protects a narrow section of public land on the coastline between Port Fairy and Warrnambool in southwest Victoria. The reserve is backed by flat open farmland, creating a sense of remoteness from nearby Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

The draft Management Plan outlines the proposed management strategies for this reserve, with a focus on protecting and enhancing its outstanding cultural and natural values, while allowing for recreation and use that is compatible with the protection of those values.

The plan recognises the importance of active and evidence-based management, and the need to improve our understanding of the reserve through shared scientific, cultural and local community knowledge.

Parks Victoria welcome community feedback on the draft Management Plan. The closing date for providing your feedback is Friday 16 March, 2018.

The draft management plan for the Belfast Coastal Reserve has been developed based on expert advice and community engagement throughout 2017.

The plan includes a vision statement for the reserve, and a series of management strategies grouped into management themes.

How to participate

Below you can upload your submission to share your feedback on the draft management plan. If you do not want to provide a written submission you can provide feedback by completing a survey.

Upload a written submission

Is this submission to be treated as confidential? Required

All feedback will be reviewed in the preparation of the final plan. However, participants who provide their feedback as 'Confidential' will not be listed in final Plan nor its supporting documents.


This survey asks some questions about you, then introduces you to the vision, the five management themes and strategies, and invites your feedback.

Please note: To help make your feedback as effective as possible, we recommend that you first download and read the draft Management Plan prior to completing this survey.

About you

How often do you use the reserve?
What do you mainly use the reserve for?
Which part(s) of the reserve do you use most frequently?
What is your area of interest?
Is this submission to be treated as confidential? Required

All feedback will be reviewed in the preparation of the final plan. However, participants who provide their feedback as 'Confidential' will not be listed in final Plan nor its supporting documents.

Vision - Belfast Coastal Reserve, 15 years from now...

The draft management plan spells out a 15-year vision for the reserve. This vision focuses on:

  • what the coastal reserve will be known for,
  • how it will be collaboratively managed,
  • how locals and visitors can continue to enjoy it,
  • outcomes for its natural values, and
  • partnerships with Traditional Owner groups to achieve great cultural value outcomes.

The vision can be found in both the draft management plan, and the summary document.

How supportive are you of the vision for the Belfast Coastal Reserve?

Key management themes

1. Cultural landscape and living heritage

Belfast Coastal Reserve is part of the rich living heritage that is a vital legacy not just for Aboriginal people, but also the broader local community and Australians. The coastline contains evidence of thousands of years of continuous presence and practices, which endure today. Post-settlement heritage is also valued, with the reserve being the reputed location of the Mahogany Ship.

Key strategies include:

  • Investigate and support the heritage significance of the reserve’s cultural landscape and values.
  • Support the continuation and revival of Traditional Owners’ knowledge, traditions and cultural practices.
  • Protect Aboriginal and historic places and features from the impacts of use of the reserve.
How supportive are you of the strategies for 'Cultural landscape and living heritage' included in the draft management plan?
How supportive are you of the strategies for 'Healthy Country' included in the draft management plan?

2. Healthy Country

The reserve is home to a rich variety of native plants and animals; in the wetlands, the sea, on the beaches and through the dunes.

Key strategies include:

  • Establish a Conservation and Recreation Zone: to protect environmental and cultural values while allowing for recreation. (Location shown on map 2 in the draft plan).
  • Establish a Conservation Zone: to protect areas of the highest environmental and cultural values. (Location shown on map 2 in the draft plan).
  • Protect the reserve’s natural values, including flora and fauna, through conservation partnerships and programs.
  • Protect and improve the condition of native vegetation and priority habitats by reducing disturbances, rehabilitating priority areas, managing weeds and pests, and implementing control measures for appropriate and sustainable access to the reserve.
  • Protect vulnerable fauna, such as Hooded Plovers, by controlling the impacts caused by dogs, horses and people.

3. Recreation and use

The reserve is used for a variety of low-intensity recreational activities such as walking, swimming, fishing, surfing, hiking, cycling, picnicking, birdwatching, photography and beachcombing. The reserve is also frequently visited by dog owners and recreational horse riders. Authorised uses currently include horse riding tours and racehorse training at specific locations and times.

Use of the reserve by people, dogs, horses and vehicles has been a key focus of consultation. Passive recreation activities are generally supported given their limited impact on environmental and cultural values. There are, however, mixed opinions about the ongoing impact of dogs and horses.

Key strategies include:

  • Implement park zones to minimise the impact of visitor activities such as dog walking and recreational horse riding, on environmental and cultural values.
  • Manage licence conditions on authorised uses, including commercial horse training and tour operators, to ensure minimal effect on both values and visitors.
  • Develop on-site information and interpretation for the reserve on values and risks, to enhance visitor awareness and experience.
How supportive are you of the strategies for 'Recreation and use' included in the draft management plan?
Licensed horse training

The four locations we are testing with the community in the draft management plan include:

  • Golfies (as per current licencing)
  • Killarney (based on historical use)
  • Rutledges Cuttings (based on historical use)
  • Levys/Hoon Hill (proposed)
Dog walking

The draft management plan proposes a mix of:

  • Dogs on-leash (in the conversation and recreation zone)
  • Dogs off-leash (in Killarney as per current Moyne Shire regulations)
  • No dogs (in the conservation zone)

4. Managing in partnership

The draft plan commits to maintaining the community’s important role in the future of the reserve, strengthening how the community and partner agencies work together. The plan promotes collaboration and improved alignment across government, communities, Aboriginal Victorians, business, licensees and private land managers.

Key strategies include:

  • Involve Traditional Owners in management decision about the reserve.
  • Establish and strengthen partnerships with the community, Traditional Owners, Shires and other key organisations, and promote opportunities for working together to achieve shared goals.
How supportive are you of the strategies for 'Managing in partnership' included in the draft management plan?

5. Research and monitoring

Research and monitoring are vital for informing the on-ground management of the reserve. The draft plan seeks to build a shared knowledge, an understanding of management issues, and appreciation of science-based decision making.

Key strategies include:

  • Conduct research and monitoring activities, in collaboration with Traditional Owners and the broader community, to support effective management of the reserve’s ecological, cultural and visitor values.
How supportive are you of the strategies for 'Research and monitoring' included in the draft management plan?