ANGAIR has joined with the Aireys Inlet and District Association (AIDA) in a visionary plan aimed at protecting the much-loved Painkalac Valley in Aireys Inlet by restoring it to public ownership.
Repeated surveys since 1983 have attested to the community’s attachment to the valley and last year’s survey found over 75% of respondents were opposed to built development on the land.
Over the past six months, the privately owned valley land has been actively marketed. The AIDA committee considered whether it would be possible to bring the land into community ownership, and has been exploring whether this could be achieved through a public fundraising campaign.
The idea is to protect the valley’s values in perpetuity and to progressively return its wetlands to their natural state, as has been achieved for the neighbouring Painkalac Nature Reserve, which was grazed until 1972.
AIDA approached ANGAIR for its support which was enthusiastically given. The two groups agreed that a new community group called the Painkalac Project Inc., which invites involvement from the wider community, is the best way to carry the idea forward. Two ANGAIR management committee members, Roger Ganly and Sally White, have joined the Painkalac Project as ANGAIR representatives.
The Painkalac Project raises complex legal, financial and other issues. As yet, no meaningful discussions with the current owner have occurred. However, the possibility of purchasing the land needs to be widely circulated so it can be discussed and advanced, should that be possible.
All those involved to date recognise that success is not assured. However the aim of restoring a significant part of the Aireys Inlet and Surf Coast environment is worth the effort.