Defending The Chase


Defending The Chase

By Marcel Cameron

MELBOURNE — Residents of Warrandyte have renewed their battle to save an area of bushland rich in wildlife from housing development, just 25 kilometres from Melbourne's centre.

Friends of The Chase (FOTC) held a music and drama event at the Warrandyte market in early October, which was followed by a lively parade of around 70 people along the main street.

In August 1990, a grassroots campaign to halt clearing of bush at The Chase began after access roads encroached on the nesting habitat of Melbourne's last family of wedge-tailed eagles. Three on-site demonstrations were each attended by up to 200 people and attracted widespread media coverage. Young people played an active role in the campaign, including people from Environmental Youth Alliance, Children for Conservation and local school students.

In December 1990, Eltham Shire Council voted to acquire 12 hectares of The Chase for a wildlife reserve; the developers received a compensation package which included $125,000 and the right to sell two extra allotments.

FOTC are now determined to stop the development of Bedstead Hill, which has been acquired by the developers. The hill forms a six-hectare wildlife corridor that connects The Chase with nearby Warrandyte State Park. Eltham council rejected the clearing of bush on Bedstead Hill, but the decision was overturned by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

If an Eltham council initiative to seek a compromise with the developer fails, FOTC have vowed further protest action. They have held several weekend vigils at The Chase to inform local people about the campaign and to educate potential buyers.