Apollo Bay Harbour Precinct

Planning and Services Pillar

The Need

Apollo Bay has experienced considerable growth in the past ten years and currently has a permanent population of 1,200. This swells to 15,000 over the peak holiday season. Apollo Bay’s harbour is one of only three safe blue water havens in Victoria west of Port Phillip Bay. It is home to the local fishing industry with a fleet of 11, employs 35 people and generates an annual catch of $6.5 million. However, the harbour has limited facilities for blue water recreational boating enthusiasts or for enhanced tourism and leisure experiences.

There is growing demand for high quality tourist and community facilities, heritage and environment interpretation, food, wine and indulgent product. Increased investment in quality infrastructure and produce will assist in reducing the region’s seasonality and extend visitor length of stay (and spend) in the region.

The Apollo Bay community has outlined its vision for the redevelopment in the Apollo Bay Harbour Master Plan, which formed planning scheme amendment C73. It told council it wants a special use zone for the harbour precinct, a publicly accessible aquatic and wellbeing centre, no accommodation or hotels and public infrastructure such as boardwalks, improvements to car parks, public toilets and interpretive signs.

Colac Otway Shire Council is now investigating if there is interest from private businesses in investing in public and private infrastructure. The market testing exercise will allow the private sector to outline what may be achievable in the precinct within the current planning scheme controls.

A Project Control Group, involving Apollo Bay community members, has helped shape the aims and objectives of the consultant brief for the market testing and will continue to be involved in the process.

The underlying principle has been that Apollo Bay must capitalise on its unique location and develop in a way that will set it apart from other towns along the Great Ocean Road. This particularly means maintaining its distinctive seaside fishing village character and the port as a working harbour, enhancing the natural environment and maximising community benefit.

Project Aim

To finalise planning and commence a redevelopment of the Apollo Bay Harbour to service the local community and underpin expansion of the town’s economic base through tourism. The aim is to develop sympathetic built form that reflects the culture, history and fishing village theme of Apollo Bay, while reflecting innovation and creativity to allow the precinct to be a destination of national significance in its own right.

Government funding is required to fund the public infrastructure within the redevelopment and to complement investment from the private sector in commercial elements.

The master planning process has identified the potential for a redevelopment to include a new fisherman’s co-op sales and maritime history interpretive centre including seafood restaurant, a Great Ocean Road Aboriginal interpretive centre, a new recreational marina on the eastern breakwater and a sling berth for emergency access for marine rescue.

It is also proposed that the redevelopment includes space for tourism related retail facilities, cafes and restaurants, focussed around a new harbour side promenade.

Project Champion

Sue Wilkinson, CEO, Colac Otway Shire.

Benefits for Victoria and the G21 region

While the Great Ocean Road and Apollo Bay are key tourist features, statistics show that a large number of visitors are travelling through the region rather than stopping overnight.

Redevelopment of the Apollo Bay Harbour will ensure the continued operation of a much needed safe harbour along the western coast for commercial and recreational use, and will also become a destination in itself. The vibrant community, hospitality and retail precinct will attract tourists to stay for longer, resulting in a greater tourism yield for the town and the region.

A redevelopment of the Harbour will generate commercial and employment opportunities in the Apollo Bay region, particularly in the areas of commercial fishing and boating, tourism and recreational activity providers, hospitality, transport and the retail trade.

What has been committed

The State Government has previously committed:

  • $3.2 million to design and construct a new dredging vessel and work boat (operational late 2014)
  • $780,000 pa for operational costs and asset maintenance at the Apollo Bay harbour
  • $600,000 for an upgrade to the eastern breakwater
  • $95,000 (in addition to $160,000 from Tourism Victoria) for a Planning Scheme Amendment to incorporate planning provisions into the Planning Scheme which facilitate the desired redevelopment.

What is required

A State/Federal Government commitment of:

  • $105,000 to support Expression of Interest process to test market response to a Development Plan for the harbour
  • $10.6 million to implement Stage 1 of public infrastructure development including new internal promenade sea wall and harbour management compound, expansion of the boat ramp and parking facilities, realignment of dangerous harbour road entrance, walking trails and new sailing club facilities.