The Pillars, Mount Martha

The foreshore area including The Pillars is coastal Crown land owned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), with Mornington Peninsula Shire having routine maintenance responsibilities as the delegated Committee of Management.

The Pillars also has significant cultural heritage and natural environmental value. Protecting and enhancing these values is vital and a legislative requirement.

Due to increases in visitation to the site over the past 2 summers and the lack of formalised access points, the site is experiencing high levels of erosion and creating public safety risks for people accessing the site. There have been serious incidents at the site that have required attendance by emergency services. The Pillars is not a formalised location for visitors. It is in a relatively secluded location and the area does not have infrastructure (such as toilets, rubbish bins, parking, footpaths, road crossing facilities for the Esplanade etc.) to support high visitation.

Draft The Pillars Mount Martha Long Term Management Plan

You are invited to provide comments on Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Draft The Pillars Mount Martha Long Term Management Plan

The Plan was developed in consultation with DELWP, Parks Victoria, Bunurong Land Council, Victoria Police, VicRoads, Ambulance Victoria, Mt Martha CFA, Mt Martha LSC, Life Saving Victoria and the community. 

It focuses on the long-term management of The Pillars and identifies options and actions to manage visitation at the site, and to protect the culture and environmental values. 

To view the Draft Plan to provide your thoughts click here. 

The Pillars Update January 2017(PDF, 795KB)

Dear nearby residents, please see the bulletin linked from this page as an update from Council regarding The Pillars, Mt Martha.

Council continues to work hard to protect the safety of people and the amenity of our local  residents. We encourage you to report any issues about The Pillars by using the  online reporting facility on this page.

Thank you to those who attended the previous community event held at the Mt Martha Life Saving  Club in October 2017. We welcome all nearby  residents to a community meeting regarding the  Pillars in late January at the Mornington Shire Office.

At the meeting, you will be able to provide feedback to the Shire, the Department of Environment, Land,  Water and Planning and other key agencies on the Pillars and surrounding areas. 

Download: The Pillars, Mt Martha Bulletin - January 2018(PDF, 795KB)

 

The increased visitation to the Pillars has contributed to a number of issues in the area including:

  • Environmental and cultural heritage impacts of foot traffic accessing the Pillars including erosion;
  • Safety risks associated with accessing the Pillars (pedestrian movements on and across public roads, steep and uneven cliff edges etc.);
  • Risk of injury associated with jumping from the Pillars;
  • Illegal and unsafe parking in the vicinity of the Pillars;
  • Traffic and congestion on local streets;
  • Litter in the vicinity of the Pillars including the nearby streets;
  • Anti-social and offensive behaviour by some visitors to the Pillars including in nearby streets;
  • Increased fire risk associated with trampled vegetation and undergrowth; and
  • Emergency services access to local streets due to parked cars.

 

The foreshore area including The Pillars is Crown land managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), with Mornington Peninsula Shire having routine maintenance responsibilities as the delegated Committee of Management. 

Additional measures for 2017-2018 season

  • Traffic counts in Deakin Drive, Marguerita Avenue, Esplanade Service Rd (off Marguerita), Two Bays Crescent and Lempriere Avenue are being undertaken. Another to occur in peak period
  • Two traffic counts in peak period of parked vehicles in surrounding streets will be undertaken
  • Patrols and enforcement of parking infringements in local roads
  • Weekly hand litter collection covering Marguerita Ave, Deakin Ave
  • Rubbish collection in response to complaints logged with the Shire
  • Rapid response to collect litter from residents that collect litter onsite at the Pillars
  • VMS solar powered 40km signage to be installed
  • Long term management plan currently being developed – MPS held a stakeholder meeting with representatives from the following agencies– DELWP, Vic Police, Vic Roads, Parks Victoria, Ambulance Victoria, Life Saving Victoria, Mt Martha Life Saving Club, Mt Martha Fire Brigade
  • CHMP and conservation plan currently being developed to protect and minimise damage to middens

Alcohol ban (unsealed and sealed) has been on public exhibition and received no objections or comments – to be adopted by Council

September 2017

In response to the Minister’s rejection of a fence for this year, Council held a meeting on the 12 September to discuss the response. Full details of the Council report, minutes and ministers letter can be found here.

Following the meeting  officers re-initiated work on the long term management plan for the site. Council officers met with key stakeholders (Police, DELWP, Parks Vic, Ambulance Victoria, Mt Martha Lifesaving Club, VicRoads). Consultation will occur during the development of the draft Long Term Management Plan.

Council is holding a community meeting regarding the Pillars following on from the State Government decision to put the fence on hold and to monitor the site. The meeting will be held 25 October 2017 5.30pm-6.30pm at the Mt Martha Life Saving Club and is to inform the community on what measures Council and other stakeholders plan to undertake over the summer period as well as providing information on the best point of contact for issues that may arise over this period.

September 2017: State Government put fence on hold for 2017-2018 summer

The Minister for Energy Environment and Climate Change responded to Council’s request for the Pillars site to be fenced off. The Minister has decided not to approve fencing to the site this summer (2017-2018) and wants instead to monitor the site. The letter can be read here.(PDF, 828KB)

August 2017: Banning alcohol at The Pillars

Following a six-month trial of alcohol bans at The Pillars in Mount Martha, Council is advertising to make the bans permanent, with increased powers for Victoria Police to seize alcohol from individuals in the area (open and unopen containers). Submissions to change the local law closed on 9 October 2017. Council received no objections or comments relating to the permanent ban. It is expected to be formally considered by Council in November.

June 2017

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs sent a letter to Council(PDF, 33KB) advising that their suggested way forward in protecting cultural heritage is the development and approval of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP). Council is awaiting the outcome of Council’s request to fence off access to the site from DELWP before commencing the CHMP.

March – June 2017

  • Letters  sent to Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
  • Shire officers working with Vic Roads on fencing and required offset from road.
  • MPS officers met with Aboriginal Affairs and Briars Ward Councillors to discuss Council decision, CHMP and conservation plan
  • Design of fence
  • Design and installation of risk management signage
  • Traffic count of Esplanade

February 2017: Shire starts work on Implementation Plan

The Shire is developing an Implementation Plan to execute the Council decision of January 24 2017.  A Communication and Media Plan is to be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan.

MPS held a meeting with officers from DELWP to discuss the Council decision and fencing proposal.

January 2017: Council moves to protect The Pillars

A Special Council Meeting was held on Tuesday 24 January 2017 to consider the issues and the future of the site. 

The Council decision was:

  • That Option 3 (Close site via construction of a fence, with the addition of an Authorised Officer to promote awareness and educate any visitors on the need to close the Pillars for safety/environmental/cultural heritage reasons) be implemented.
  • That an Implementation Plan is prepared and executed in line with Option 3. That a Communication and Media Plan be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan. 
  • Part B - That the Shire writes to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria seeking their direction to reinforce and protect the cultural heritage values in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act. 
  • Part C - That the Shire writes to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to seek their direction and advice on putting in place legal processes to prohibit public access to the Pillars. 
  • Part D - In the event that the Shire fails to gain support for the resolution of Council, that the Shire commences the process of handing back the Committee of Management responsibility to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for the Pillars section of the Mount Martha Foreshore between Ellerina Road and Bay Road as detailed in Option 4 of the report. 
  • Part E - That fencing in Option 3 be installed as a temporary fence with outcomes reviewed through a report to Council after a trial period of two years.

The full report can be found in our Council Minutes.

Measures introduced to reduce impact

Mornington Peninsula Shire introduced a number of measures to reduce the impact of visitation to The Pillars on the site and surrounding area.

Measures include:

  • Installation of ‘High Pedestrian Activity Nov-Apr’ warning signage on The Esplanade in the vicinity of The Pillars
  • Cliff warning signage at The Pillars
  • A six month trial ban on the consumption of alcohol in the vicinity of The Pillars
  • ‘No Stopping, Nov-Apr’ parking restrictions were implemented on one side of the residential streets where demand for parking for The Pillars is in highest demand
  • Bollards installed in strategic locations along The Esplanade to physically prevent parking and allow a space for pedestrians to walk
  • VicRoads trimmed roadside vegetation along The Esplanade to create more space for pedestrians to walk along the road shoulder
  • Regular patrols by Shire Rangers and Victoria Police
  • Weekly litter collection in local streets (Deakin Drive and Marguerita Avenue)
  • Obtained a $30,000 DELWP Public Access and Risk grant for the Pillars, and for the immediate risk management works and the preparation of a long term management plan for the area.
  • Portable electronic warning signs on the Esplanade to reinforce the ‘High Pedestrian Activity Nov-Apr’ signage      

Coastal Management Plan

While there is a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) for the Mount Martha foreshore (2008) it does not contain specific recommendations for The Pillars area.

A new CMP is currently being developed and it is also proposed to prepare a management plan specifically for The Pillars (funded through the state government’s Coastal Environments Program). 

The Pillars Long Term Management Plan

It is anticipated that the Pillars Management Plan will provide careful consideration of all key issues and create direction on how to best manage the Pillars into the future.

The Pillars Implementation Plan

The Shire is developing an Implementation Plan to implement the Council decision of January 24 2017.  A Communication and Media Plan is to be prepared and executed in conjunction with the Implementation Plan.