The annual Killarney Triathlon Event in southwest Victoria is set to go ahead this weekend despite the current stoush between BCRAG and the local racing fraternity, over health and safety risks and environmental damage caused by racehorses training along some 20 km’s of Killarney Beach.
A ban in recent weeks by Warrnambool City Council against racehorses on its own beaches has resulted in a surge of the horses along Killarney’s coast, despite 12 months of local-community agitation to the Moyne Shire Council to protect Killarney beach.
Triathlon Event race-director Clair Farrer says the Warrnambool Tri Club has been hosting the race for years, however there has been no consultation from the racing fraternity about training horses during the Club’s annual event this weekend.
The 2-day triathlon has been taking place for over a decade Ms Farrer said today, and there are concerns whether horse trainers are aware the triathlon event takes place :
“We certainly hope that it (racehorse training) will not impact our events this weekend, but we won’t have any clarity on this until the day” Ms Farrer said.
“The Killarney Tri has been running on this weekend for years… at least 10 to my knowledge, probably many more.
“It’s a 500m swim, 16km bike ride and 4.4km run.
We also run a ‘Come and Tri’ event which is half of each of those distances.”
Ms Farrer says some 40 competitors are expected at the event on Sunday, with about 50 children also expected on Saturday afternoon at the junior event commencing at 4.00pm.
Though the Warrnambool Tri Club obtained their permit from the Moyne Shire Council Ms Farrer says there also has been no communication from Council about racehorse training during the staging of the event:
“We have a permit from Moyne Shire Council and Vic Police.
“We have not had any correspondence from MSC (Moyne Shire Council) in regard to the horse trainers.
“We don’t need the carpark, we use the Recreation Reserve, so that part won’t be an issue for us.
“We just need beach access.” (Clair Farrer: Race Director, Killarney Triathlon Event, 28 Oct 2016).
There has been a surge of commercial training of racehorses at Killarney and along it’s Belfast Coast Reserve since Warrnambool City Council banned racehorse training on its beaches recently.
The Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group (BCRAG) say they have been pleading with Moyne Shire Council for nearly 12 months to put an end to the racehorses which are risking the rare and protected Hooded Plover environments known to exist along this stretch of the coast.
BCRAG President Bill Yates today said is has been nearly a year since the group began petitioning Council to protect the Plover environments, but instead there had been an explosion of horses and they are damaging the coast.
“Enough is Enough. Its been been nearly 12 months to the day, and we really have had enough.
“Beaches are no places for racehorses, not on this scale.
“This beach should be safe for families and kids, and for the people who live here and visit every day.
“We are sick of our beaches being taken over by horse-trainers in such large numbers.
“We have been writing and writing to Council but they just don’t seem to care”.
After months of pleading with Council, the BCRAG group have taken the battle to State government level with an online Petition to the Minister for Environment and Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio. .
Senator Jane Rice of the Australian Greens party joined BCRAG and concerned community members in a blockade at Killarney beach to keep racehorses off the surrounding sands and dunes.
Senator Rice said there is Legislation in place to protect Hooded Plovers, and both State and Federal governments had the ability to stop the racehorses beach-training.
“They can put a stop to it right now” Senator Rice said.
“We have Federal Legislation to protect the birds and the beaches, we have got State Legislation to protect them, and we have local government.
“Its a matter for all levels of Government to step up to the plate and enforce their own laws”. Senator Janet Rice @ Killarney Beach, 28 October 2016
Victoria National Parks launched their ‘Horses for Courses not for Beaches’ message in September following the June call by BCRAG for a moratorium on racehorse training on Killarney’s beaches, including the section named Belfast Coastal Reserve.
Local MLC representative James Purcell countered in October by launching a petition saying over 200 people supported racehorse training along the local beaches, before local independent media news BlueStone Magazine reported a potential conflict of interest as Mr Purcell was a director in a racing syndicate.
Just three days ago Racing Minister Martin Pakula defended Warrnambool race-trainer Darren Weir following claims by internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Shane Howard that Weir and his training operation were ruining local beaches.
BCRAG TWITTER CAMPAIGN: #savekillarneybeach