Managing the coast is different in Victoria?

McPike G1

1Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc.


With 96% of the coastline in public ownership, management operates differently than in other states.

Large sections are managed by Parks Victoria and Local Government Authorities similar to other states; however large sections are managed by Committees of Management (CoM’s).

Barwon Coast is one of 4 large, Category One, CoM’s that manage 150+ km’s of Victorian central south west coast.

CoM management is little understood being, in very large part, a user pays business model.

Most beach users assume State or Local government taxes pay for the facilities, playgrounds, formalised foreshore areas, beach accesses, pest plant and animal management & climate change adaptation measures.

The reality; campers in coastal Crown land caravan parks pay 85+% of the cost, the remainder coming from other tenures, i.e. hospitality venue leases, surf school licences and other tour operators.

This business model creates a particular mix of skills and expertise:

  • Operation of large caravan parks accommodating up to 10% of the holiday population in a coastal town;
  • Managing all aspects of a vulnerable dynamic coastline impacted by increasing populations;
  • Invasive pest plant and animal management;
  • All ‘squeezed’ by the impacts of climate change.

The model focuses expertise, and funds from the land managed, into understanding and protecting the highly valued interface between freehold title and the ocean.

The challenges:

  • Is it equitable?
  • Is it capable of dealing with Climate Change impacts?
  • Can it cope with increasing population pressures?
  • What are the implications of these issues and can they be dealt with?


Gary McPike is the CEO of Barwon Coast, having occupied the position since April 2015, following 12.5 years at Otway Coast Committee as Executive Officer and previously General Manager of the Apollo Bay-Kennett River Public Reserves Committee of Management.

During the last 18+ years Gary has developed a strong understanding of all aspects of coastal Crown land management and the business and management models that operate in Victoria. He has been involved in all aspects of policy and strategic planning as well as being hands on with project managing capital works and natural resource management.

Previously he was self-employed for 22 years in the timber industry, hospitality, and major event management following a tertiary education in urban & planning studies.