Natimuk Lake plea
Aprominent and long-time Horsham district community advocate has urged authorities to find a way to regularly provide water for Natimuk Lake.
Former Horsham mayor Bob Kirsopp, still a busy community volunteer despite his age of 84, said the lake, while sitting empty, represented a ‘glaring’ waste of a socio-economic opportunity.
Natimuk born and bred and with fond memories of the lake as a summer recreational mecca, Mr Kirsopp said in a detailed letter to The Weekly Advertiser that it was time to stop talking about the lake’s potential and find a way to fill it with water.
“Member for Mallee Andrew Broad has spoken at length about a need for water in recreation lakes and he’s dead right,” Mr Kirsopp said.
“Recreational water allocations via the Wimmera-mallee Pipeline have had wonderful results for people in the Mallee. I’ve spoken to some who say having water in places such as Lake Lascelles at Hopetoun has been transformational.
“Yet there sits poor old Natimuk Lake that, apart from the resolve and efforts of a resilient foreshore committee who have never lost sight of the potential, is sitting neglected.
“Speaking as someone who knows from personal experience, Natimuk Lake, despite being relatively small in the scheme of things on the region’s water map, is of strong cultural, social and historic significance.”
Mr Kirsopp said he understood there were many arguments based on catchment geography and circumstance and potential engineering problems involved in consistently getting water to the lake.
“But we are a modern state and I maintain that if there is enough will to get someone on the moon, we can certainly get water to Natimuk Lake,” he said.
“From what I understand, it would be complicated and cost a lot of money to make it a possibility.
“But the benefits of getting people there regularly would ultimately more than pay for the project.
“Mt Arapiles has for many years attracted tourists from all around the world and put Natimuk on the international map. But this little town has also established itself as a cultural arts hub – just imagine how it would continue to grow if its lake had water.
“It’s all waiting to happen at Natimuk Lake and we know that simply waiting for a big rain that might only ever come once in a blue moon is not the answer.
“The lake itself is already renowned as a natural depression that attracts a vast array of birdlife, but that is only the tip of the iceberg in its potential.”
Mr Kirsopp and other advocates face a tough battle in convincing authorities of a need to regularly allocate water for the lake.
Based on latest regional waterway asset studies, the lake struggles to register on a list of important community destinations.
But Mr Kirsopp, an avid angler, said Natimuk Lake, when full, had a reputation as one of the best redfin and yabby lakes in Victoria.
“And there are so many facilities. Everything is so accessible, well maintained and improved and there’s a caravan park waiting to jump to life,” he said.
“For Horsham and much of the central Wimmera it plays an important recreation role alongside Toolondo Reservoir and Green Lake.”
Mr Kirsopp said he shared in the belief that the Wimmera-mallee Pipeline was one of the most profound projects in establishing water security in western Victoria. But he added he could not help but follow with interest that there was now enough Grampians headworks water in reserve to justify development of a South West Loddon pipeline.
“That’s fantastic, but it also tells someone like me that finding enough water for Natimuk Lake and getting it there would, in general terms, be no big deal,” he said.
“I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. There are all sorts of protocols and systems authorities have to work around and the issue has already generated too many arguments and anxiety. All we need is government support to get a watering system in place and shut everyone up.
“I just feel that sometimes we don’t see the forest for the trees.”
Mr Kirsopp said he fondly remembered community carnivals, waterski championships and the lake covered in fishing boats and birdlife.
He even recalled a former Natimuk Lake Gift footrace, which his eldest brother won three years in a row.
“The track is still there. It’s the big flat grass area on the foreshore below the caravan park,” he said.