'We're fed up': The small beach towns being spoiled by the masses


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When hordes of bikini- and boardshort-clad holidaymakers descended on the Mornington Peninsula over summer, residents braced themselves. And the aftermath wasn't a pretty sight.

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When hordes of bikini- and boardshort-clad holidaymakers descended on the Mornington Peninsula over summer, residents braced themselves. And the aftermath wasn't a pretty sight.

In one day, volunteers collected 140 kilograms of rubbish strewn along Safety Beach foreshore. Among the debris was five broken marquees, a lawnmower and 1200 cigarette butts.

Those who reside in the seaside locale say they have grown tired of seeing their picturesque coastline trashed by the masses.

"This year is the worst it's ever been," said Gary Robertson, who lives in Safety Beach with his wife. "I've never seen it this busy."

Mr Robertson volunteers for the local beach patrol, organising regular clean-ups of the foreshore. "The amount of rubbish they leave on the beach is amazing," he said.

In many small towns like Safety Beach, the population swells enormously during summer. In some places, it can increase tenfold as daytrippers escape the city and vacationers fill holiday homes and caravan parks.

There are 24,000 holiday homes on the Mornington Peninsula, according to the local council.

Mr Robertson said community facilities and public amenities were not equipped to deal with the huge influx of people over the summer months.

On scorching hot days, parked cars lined the road on both sides. "You couldn't park within three blocks of the beach," he said. "It's just chockers."

Further along the coast in Tootgarook, residents tell a similar story.

'We're fed up," said Dean Patton, a Tootgarook local of 10 years. "Residents expect to be able to enjoy the beach along with everyone else."

Mr Patton said the area was becoming more popular as a holiday destination, and public bins were brimming with rubbish before lunchtime on busy days.

But overflowing bins and overcrowded carparks have not deterred waves of visitors from perusing the windows of real estate agencies.

Agents along the Mornington Peninsula have reported strong results over the summer period, backed up by years of consistent price growth.

"This year I think there's a bigger influx of people on the Peninsula," said Linda Wooley, real estate director at MJ Ross in Dromana. "There's quite a few that are looking to buy their own holiday homes or holiday rentals."

In Dromana, the median house price rose to $685,000 last year, an annual increase of almost 18 per cent, according to Domain Group. Other coastal hotspots such as Tootgarook, Safety Beach, Rosebud and Rye have all enjoyed similar annual growth.

"We've been extremely busy," Ms Wooley said. "The demand far outweighs supply in terms of stock and we're finding there's quite a bit of competition among buyers."

Domain Group data released earlier this week showed rental prices for units on the Mornington Peninsula increased more than 10 per cent last year. Agents said some rental properties were being used as holiday homes.

Mornington Peninsula shire mayor Bryan Payne said tourism generated 10 per cent of local employment opportunities and was an important component of the economy.

"It was disappointing to see rubbish being left on our foreshores, particularly hard waste which shouldn't be left at the street litter bins," he said.

He said the council had "scaled up" its services over the busy peak period, including bin collection.

The story 'We're fed up': The small beach towns being spoiled by the masses first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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