People and Places
25/06/2020
What Western Port means to family

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Celeste de Vis lives in an idyllic part of the world where weedy sea dragons, humpback whales, Australian fur seals, soldier crabs and multiple varieties of birdlife currently go about their business as if the world has stopped turning. Time moves slow here as the beauty of nature ebbs and flows. This single mother, who pulls on her gumboots every day to explore the rockpools with her 14-year-old daughter Charlotte or with any one of the foster children she takes care of, is worried. Worried about what is going on down Point Rd. Worried about how her neck of the woods will change if Western Port Bay is turned into a gas import terminal. 

Celeste explains: “We’ve been living in Crib Point since 2013 and moved to the area because of how beautiful it is. My daughter has ASD and many of the kids I foster have disabilities or extra needs and respond well to the natural environment. They love it here. Western Port Bay is currently a wetland sanctuary. The depth of marine life along Woolley’s Beach  Reserve to Golden Point Beach is wide and varied. Did you know that you get a view of everything that lives under the sea line once the tide is out? The whole soldier crab population is exposed. Many of the beaches here are relatively untouched and nature is thriving. You see sea snails, shrimp, sea stars and flatworms, and the stretch of sand I call Shelley Beach has a football field length of shells which would be at least 30cm deep.”

She continues: “My daughter does really well in this environment. We identify a creature on the beach and then go home and research it. It is an incredible area for learning in the field. We chose to settle here for mental health and well-being reasons. That’s why I became part of the Save Westernport community-led group in 2016 which is against AGL’s plan to build one of Australia’s biggest gas import terminals at Crib Point. That would mean huge liquefied natural gas tankers travelling through a narrow entrance to dock at a permanent floating storage and regasification unit.”

AGL’s plans to develop the gas import terminal has got locals on the Western Port side riled up. There are concerns regarding noise, light and chemical pollution, not to mention the disruption to marine life. And that’s just the beginning. “The wetlands are really important environmentally and culturally.” After all, we are on Bunurong/Boon Wurrung Country here, people.

“If AGL’s plan goes ahead, we would have to move out of the area, which would be heartbreaking. There are so many different species within the area and multiple worlds within a rock pool that could be affected,” concludes Celeste. Food for thought.

Nearly 5000 people so far have pledged to boycott AGL should it go ahead with its gas import terminal plans. To find out more about Save Westernport, log on to www.savewesternport.org 

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