Camping on the foreshore of Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula has been postponed for up to eight weeks after wild storms ravaged the state last week.
Nearly a quarter of all properties in Victoria lost power after the destructive storm hit overnight last Thursday.
Camping was set to resume at council-run campgrounds across the peninsula today, but the date had to be pushed back due to damage caused by the wild weather.
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Despi O’Connor said the area was not safe to welcome campers due to fallen trees, hanging branches and damaged wires around campground toilet blocks.
“The campsites are closed until we can get them back up and running and clear the trees,” she said.
“We need qualified arborists to come in and clear the trees, it’s a big job.
“We have let people know it might be closed for eight weeks – but that’s the worst-case scenario – we do need extra help on the ground to make that happen quicker.”
The delay to the camping season comes as a blow to many eager campers, as grounds were closed for a significant period due to COVID-19 lockdowns last year.
The Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne’s south-east, including suburbs like Frankston and Chelsea, were badly hit by the freak storm event, with trees collapsing and rooves being ripped from houses.
The SES today said in the seven days from 4pm on October 29 until 4pm yesterday, volunteers had responded to 9898 calls for assistance.
Of those, over 7000 were for fallen trees and more than 2000 related to building damage.
The Bagelry Co cafe owner Gavin Diener said it didn’t make “any sense” for the campgrounds to be shut for as long as eight weeks, adding businesses would suffer as a result.
“A lot of businesses are highly reliant on the campers — we are lucky we rely on day-trippers,” he said.
“This is the time of year where we make our money and it’s just unfair.”
The Shire hopes to be able to welcome back campers by December 18.
“I hope we can just get it cleaned up and make it safe for everybody,” Ms O’Connor said.