FOBIF and several other community organisations will be attending an information meeting on February 5 on a proposal to set up a ‘dynamic vehicle testing facility and events and recreation centre’ at Gowar.
The Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre received $29,000 from the Coalition State Government last year to explore the viability of this project. The Centre has acquired farm land opposite the old Gowar school for the purpose.
The 45 ha block is bounded on the north by the Castlemaine-Maldon Rd and Pullans Road; on the east by Talbot Rd, and on the south and West by the Maldon State Forest. The block is about a kilometre from the Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve. Bushfire management and Significant Landscape Overlays apply to the whole site.
Back Creek drains across the site on its way to Muckleford Creek.
The project includes:
—a 1.2 km tarmac test track
—parking for 500 vehicles with possibility of expansion
—facilities for movie nights, concerts and outdoor shows
—shower and toilet facilities and powered and unpowered camp sites
—fully equipped function room and catering facility
—display areas for up to 3,000 sites
—capacity for truck shows, rod runs, field days, etc
—‘potential to establish a network of mountain bike tracks combining parts of the site with existing tracks in the adjacent state forest’.
There are also proposals to fence off remnant vegetation at the site, and ‘protection of habitat values of State forest at the public land interface.’
It’s proposed to be a staged development, but it’s clear that full achievement of all the aims in the feasibility study would radically alter this corner of the shire.
At this stage, FOBIF has the following questions about the project:
—The project excludes ‘noisy activity such as go karts’. How much noise would be generated by the testing facility and rod runs?
—How would this affect wildlife in the nearby forests and reserves?
—How would the Facility’s various events affect the amenity of users of the adjacent bushland?
—How would the developments affect the quality of the catchment?
–How much traffic would be generated by a typical activity at the centre?
–How many days in the year is it anticipated that major events would take place at the centre?
—How much consultation has taken place between the project and public land managers? [For example, we believe that mountain bike tracks in the local forest are illegal. The Catchment Management Authority has been invited to this session, but not Parks Victoria nor the Department of Environment].
We’ll report on the outcome of the meeting in due course.