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.

This G21 Planning & Service Pillar Project is a sub-project of the G21 Great Ocean Raod Priority Project.

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, public infrastructure such as boardwalks, improvements to car parks, public toilets and interpretive signs, but no accommodation or hotels.

Colac Otway Shire Council announced in December 2017 that it planned to call for expressions of interest, leading to a possible tender process. Council said experienced consultants would be engaged to prepare EOI documentation and act as probity auditors throughout the process, subject to State Government authorisation to proceed with the EOI process.

After the EOI process the Council will decide whether to proceed to the tender stage.

A Project Control Group, involving Apollo Bay community members and relevant government agencies, 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, an expression of interest process 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 expression of interest process and 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.

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 Precinct 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 Precinct 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 and Federal Government commitment of:

  • $7.3 million for projects that secure the Port of Apollo Bay’s future as a viable and attractive working harbour.
  • $200,000 support the EOI/tender and development plan processes.
  • $14.3 million to redevelop and enhance public infrastructure in the Apollo Bay Harbour Precinct to drive private investment, improve the visitor economy as well as boating and leisure facilities for commercial and recreational fishing.

See also the G21 Great Ocean Road Priority Project, of which this is a sub-project.