Na­timuk Lake plea

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.”

Tough bat­tle

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.”

Pipe­line

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.

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