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Water Lifeblood to Remote Victorian Towns

It’s a hot dry day today at Hopetoun in Victoria’s North West, but the locals are cool with that because they have Lake Lascelles.

But, it wasn’t always that way.

During the heatwave of 2009 at the height of the drought and when other areas of Victoria including the Yarra Ranges were burning with Black Saturday, the mercury climbed in Hopetoun to 48.8 degrees.

In 2010, after persistent lobbying from locals including stalwart Bert Hallam, ‘the lake’ which had been labelled a recreational lake received a water entitlement from the Wimmera Mallee pipeline which filled the lake with  520 megalitres of Grampians Wimmera Mallee (GWM) water.

The locals and tourists have been flocking there ever since. According to many main street business operators the lifeblood of the town (after grain farming harvest) is the tourist activity on long weekends around the lake.

Hopetoun and Lake Lascelles Image Source - Joan Goad

Hopetoun and Lake Lascelles Image Source – Joan Goad

The success of the Lake Lascelles Recreational water has led to the Rural City of Mildura, the Victorian Government and the Commonweatlth Government along with some energetic local fundraising to build a similar lake and recreational precinct at Ouyen some 100 kilometres further north.

Ouyen suffers similar hot summers and with a population of just over 1000 people and being an hour from the River Murray, a lake is currently being constructed at the cost of 1.5 million dollars near the Golf Course on the north Western boundary of the town.

300 people attended the first public meeting in 2013 and the bi-partisan support of both State (2014) and Commonwealth funding committed by Federal Member Andrew Broad at the 2016 election.

Ouyen Lake Concept Plan at the Dam Wall Edge

Ouyen Lake Concept Plan at the Dam Wall Edge

A similar program of obtaining Environmental and Recreational Water will fill this lake which is close to full construction.

It is anticipated that the entire project including Mildura City council contributions to parks and facilities around the lake will amount to $2 million dollars of investment.

The Northern Mallee Pipeline came through the region at a cost of $50 million dollars in 2004 bringing economic benefit to the areas.

But locals, including Lake Committee Member Simon Grigg believe that Lifestyle is an important consideration to be fulfilled in this small town in the dryland area of North West Victoria.

So, it is hot but, living in the Mallee with water and lakes makes all the difference.