MY ASSOCIATION with Cape Paterson is not a long one, I was first acquainted with it in 2012 and within a year had bought a house from people who were drawn to the similar quiet of Tasmania.
As a Darwin friend described it, “Cape Paterson is one of the few quintessential beach places that have not succumbed to suburban sprawl”.
For most of my life, I’ve been a “west coaster” who’s become increasingly disillusioned about what’s happened to places that had a wonderful mix of rural land abutting quiet villages. Alas, places such as Torquay, Jan Juc, Ocean Grove and Queenscliff have been engulfed by unseemly sprawl in the rush to get “sea views” at the expense of the quiet that made these places attractive in the first place.
In essence, Cape is a low-key, quiet community. I love the fact that you’re rarely a block away from the things that differentiate it from an urban space. The visual landscape is restful. Morning walks take in foggy mornings over paddocks, golden harvests in summer, strolling echidnas and leopard seals basking on the beach.
The other aspects of Cape Paterson that I love are less tangible but nonetheless important. The aural landscape of cattle lowing, magpies carolling and wattle birds squawking immediately creates a sense of rest. I never cared if I had a sea view as long as I could hear it. I’m almost two kilometres from the sea but I can hear its moods and murmurs from my deck. When I can’t hear the sea it means it’s time to get out the snorkelling gear to check out the extraordinary sea life that’s only a few meters offshore.
Cape Paterson has a buffer zone of partly restored bush between the beach and the village which has become a refuge for wildlife. It’s nice to know the cliff tops aren’t going to be dominated by McMansions as elsewhere along the coast. The low density and native vegetation of the township mean there is space for possums, koalas, echidnas and wombats, creatures that used to be a common sight in the former villages of the Surf Coast.
A 450-lot development is proposed for 53 hectares of land on Cape Paterson’s northern boundary. A proposal to rezone the land from Farming Zone to General Residential is on public exhibition until February 27. The amendment is expected to come before the council for a decision at the June meeting.
Most importantly, Cape Paterson has a fantastic community and community organisations. It was interesting that the Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers Association’s survey of residents who were affected most by the hailstorm event of May 10t last year reported that the first and sometimes best initial response of help was from friends and neighbours.
The community organisations help make Cape Pat great. The Wonthaggi Life Saving Club is our historical link to the Wonthaggi coal mining community, who also created the only fashioned rock pool in Victoria (NSW has tens of them!). The Bay Beach precinct watched over by the WLSC is important for learner swimmers and people who like to paddle in its quieter waters. The Cape Paterson Life Saving Club patrols the First Surf Beach which at times can have powerful wave conditions.
In the Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers Association, I’ve found a community of like-minded souls who walk the talk about caring for our fragile coastal environment in monthly working bees as well as trying to ensure that Cape Paterson keeps its quiet nature-based character intact by opposing the kind of suburban sprawl that is currently before Bass Coast Shire Council.