Cameras to guard St Kilda penguins
PARKS Victoria has turned to CCTV footage to help protect little penguins from touchy tourists at St Kilda Pier.
Patrols are being increased again this summer to protect the popular sea birds on the inner-city breakwater.
More than 2000 people visit the colony on summer weeknights, rising to as many as 4000 a day at weekends.
Video from the security cameras helps volunteers identify areas where visitors may be getting too close to the penguins.
Teams of St Kilda Earthcare volunteers protect the penguins when they come ashore every evening at dusk.
Earthcare spokesman Terry Lobert said most evenings people had to be ushered away from getting too close.
“People are trying to pick up penguins and we do get pushback from people when you ask them to do the right thing,’’ he said.
“Increasingly because the number of visitors has grown exponentially in the last few years it’s penguin protection really, asking people to disable the flash on the camera and keep people away from the penguins as they head towards their nests.
“People do tend to form a circle around a penguin if they see one so the guards have to help penguins cross to where they want to go.’’
David Ritman, Parks Victoria’s chief ranger of the West Port Phillip area, said more wildlife officers would be on duty during summer with a focus on educating visitors.
“In particular, our rangers will be out and about ensuring that visitors understand the importance of giving the penguins space to get to their nests, not touching penguins, staying on formed paths and the boardwalk, and not using flash photography,’’ Mr Ritman said,
Such is the popularity of the penguins, winter viewing has become increasingly popular.
“Basically every night, every public holiday, all year, even in winter,’’ Mr Lobert said. OWNERS of abandoned, derelict buildings in Melbourne’s CBD have been ordered to clean up their act and fix the concrete eyesores.
As thousands of Melburnians and tourists prepare to descend on the city’s premiere shopping strips, Lord Mayor Sally Capp has urged developers to take responsibility for the graffiti-riddled and potentially dangerous buildings that have become a “blight on the city”.
Vacant buildings, both on the main city drags and hidden in laneways, are being vandalised and broken into. Many are regularly occupied by squatters.
Ms Capp highlighted key sites in desperate need of makeovers, including a decaying backpackers on Spencer St and the former Cancer Council building in Carlton that has fallen into disrepair after years of disuse, saying “it’s time for a makeover”.
“All owners of unused buildings have a responsibility to properly secure their buildings,” she said.
“Key eyesore properties around the city should be cleaned up, refurbished, activated and, if necessary, redeveloped,” Ms Capp said.
Buildings along the Bourke St Mall have caught the attention of shoppers and tourists, including the building opposite the tourist kiosk that is covered in graffiti.
“I’ve been here for years and I don’t think it’s a great look. I think buildings like this could do with a tidy-up,” Jo Price, 64, said. Kellie Paterson, 41, agreed. “It’s pretty sad when buildings are like this; it just looks ugly, and could really use a clean-up,” she said.
Steve Lambrick, 62, said he did not mind street art but the scribble on the building needed to go.
“I would rather buildings were painted with more formalised graffiti, more artwork; this is just messy,” he said.
Adam Moss, 29, said the graffiti ruined the city’s image.
“This city is so beautiful, and a building like this takes the balance from it; the city is so clean and it just doesn’t fit in,” he said.
The Lord Mayor set her sights on other eyesore buildings including the Job Warehouse in Bourke St, the once colourful fabric shop’s windows now boarded up. But a clean-up of the site is underway with plans to restore the historic building to its former glory.
Ms Capp said more needed to be done to transform the city’s streetscape.
“So much vibrant activity happens on our streets and laneways in Melbourne and the best buildings are those that open up, engage with people,” she said. “Over the years we’ve seen some great examples of derelict sites transformed into visually appealing buildings at a street level that function as office, education, hotel or residential spaces above.” genevieve.ali[email protected]
Development at the former pub has stalled and the building has sat dormant for years.
The art nouveau hotel built in 1913 is now accommodating backpackers. The historic Melbourne building has “huge potential” to be cleaned up and transformed.
Duke of Kent at 293-303 La Trobe St:
Sir Charles Hotham Hotel at 2-8 Spencer St: