Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve Masterplan


Project background

The Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve is located just outside of central Apollo Bay alongside the Barham River on the lands of the Eastern Maar. The Reserve is home to the Apollo Bay Football Netball Club, Apollo Bay Cricket Club, Apollo Bay Tennis Club, the annual Apollo Bay & Otway District Agricultural Show and the Pony Club area on the other side of the Great Ocean Road.

The Reserve plays a pivotal role in the provision of open space, sport, recreation, camping, accommodation, community and event opportunities for locals and visitors.

Currently there are a variety of camping options and a small number of basic ensuite cabins available on site. The Reserve also provides campsites alongside the Barham River.

The Reserve was established in 1868 and has had numerous land managers over its long life and remains at the heart of the coastal community of Apollo Bay.

In December 2020, the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority commenced management of the Reserve.

Current Status

The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority is thrilled to announce the commencement of pre-staging works at the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve, marking a significant milestone under the Camping Uplift initiative.

Following an extensive master planning process in 2022-2023, the Authority Board unanimously endorsed the 10-year Masterplan for the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve, providing a clear direction for its future.

As a means of cleaning up the site and to pave the way for construction of Stage 1 Northern Accommodation Precinct, the Reserve campground will undergo temporary closure from Wednesday, April 17, for approximately five months. This closure is necessary to facilitate pre-staging works, laying the foundation for future improvements.

Despite the temporary closure of the campground area, recreational and sporting club activities will continue to operate as usual. Alternative camping is available at Marengo Family Caravan Park and Skenes Creek Foreshore Caravan Park.

Safety measures will be in place, with the construction zone clearly defined. We urge both locals and visiting recreation users to adhere to safety instructions while these vital works are underway.

Looking ahead, the next step involves the detailed design for the Northern Accommodation Precinct, and we’re excited to announce Brand Architects will lead this endeavour.

Brand Architects bring a wealth of community recreation and sports precinct design experience, with notable projects including the award-winning MacPherson Park Recreation Reserve in Melton, the Reid Oval Redevelopment in Warrnambool, and the West Oval regional sporting and community facility in North Geelong.

Pre-staging works are slated to commence following the off-peak camping closure in April 2024.

The Camping Uplift project is made possible through funding from the Victorian Government and the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority.

Meanwhile, the Authority is actively seeking funding through the Federal Government Regional Precincts & Partnerships Fund to further improve the reserve's amenities. Proposed works include upgrades to netball and tennis courts, an all-abilities community playground, designs to address seasonal worker accommodation needs, design of the pavilion and tourism accommodation facilities.

Read the final Masterplan here: 


Improvements and Additions to the Masterplan

Following valuable community and stakeholder feedback, improvements to the Masterplan include additional community open space, more public access provided along the entire riverfront and additional car parking throughout the Reserve.  

Additional parking is provided at the entrance to the Reserve, to the north of the playground and adjacent to the sporting precinct. Overflow parking is provided on the upper Reserve precinct. We've raised the number of parking spaces to 64, compared to the previous 30.  

Other great ideas include consideration for an arts space as part of the Industrial Hall redevelopment, winter camping and caravan allocation, and a canoe/kayak launch into the Barham River, with an exact location to be determined. Enhanced pathways and connections within and around the Reserve are part of the updated plan.  

A focus on environmentally sustainable design (ESD) requirements for the design, construction and operation of the site has been included within the Masterplan.  

In response to feedback received, seasonal worker accommodation options during the low season will also be considered, in addition to high season accommodation provision.   

A more diverse range of accommodation options are also in store, as per our obligations for managing Caravan and Camping Parks on public land, including 64 camping and caravan sites plus 27 overflow camping sites, 14 cabins, ten eco glamping tents and ten pop up tents. Five of the tents are designed with accessibility in mind and provide choice for travellers of all abilities. 

The Masterplan has been amended to show the tennis club and BBQ area as being retained and the design of fencing around the oval will be referred to the detailed design phase of this project.  

In partnership with stakeholders, funding will be sought to upgrade the oval’s playing surface incorporating surface, drainage and irrigation improvements. Drainage at the entrance to the Reserve, will be planned for during the detailed design phase of this project.  

Next Steps

The Masterplan is progressing through a landowner consent process, currently pending, which is required before any construction commences. 

The improvements identified in the Masterplan will be staged over the next decade while the sporting activities and campground continue to operate. 

As we move forward, our immediate focus is on collaboration with sporting clubs, the local council, and key stakeholders to secure the necessary funding for the implementation of the Masterplan. 

Upgrades to sporting facilities will be a joint effort, involving the Authority, the Victorian Government, Colac Otway Shire Council, and user groups. 

All works will be subject to available funding and feasibility assessments and in many instances, grant funding will need to be sought.  

Next steps include detailed design for the campground upgrades as funded through the Camping Uplift grant and supporting sporting clubs to progress with grant applications for design and construction of infrastructure within the sporting precinct.  

Funding for the project includes $2m from the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions, $500,000 from a Visitor Experience Uplift Grant (Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action) and $427,000 from the Authority. 

We continue to support and work with annual permit holders and registered residents during their transition to remove fixed assets from the Reserve in a safe and respectful manner by April 2024. Registered residents will be relocated within the Reserve until permanent, secure housing can be located. This will be undertaken in collaboration with the relevant State Government Department.  

It is anticipated that the first stage of works will commence in early 2024. 

How we got here

During May and June 2022, community engagement to identify issues and opportunities at the Reserve was undertaken with the local Apollo Bay community and key stakeholders in relation to the preparation of the Masterplan. Input was sought through community events, key stakeholder meetings and an online survey. Face to face meetings were held with representatives of the Apollo Bay Football Netball Club, Apollo Bay Cricket Club, Apollo Bay Tennis Club, the Apollo Bay and Otway Riding Club and Pony Club. The information gathered during this engagement has been presented in the Issues and Opportunities paper and has informed the draft Masterplan.

Earlier in 2022, a concept plan for the Camping Uplift project at the Reserve was developed in consultation with local community representatives, local Government agency representatives, recreation reserve user groups (including Annuals), disability consultants, and Gambier Street residents. This project provides for ten all-season accessible (Disability Discrimination Act - DDA compliant) ‘glamping’ tents at the Reserve, and a further ten ‘glamping’ tents for other users. These new offerings would sit alongside additional powered and unpowered camp sites, and new amenities such as bathrooms, a camp kitchen and an all-abilities playground.

In October 2022, we responded to community and stakeholder feedback and updated flood advice, and held off plans to commence the uplift of camping facilities at the Reserve until the completion of a draft Masterplan.

Summaries of the feedback on the Masterplan ‘Issues and Opportunities’ engagement and the Camping Uplift engagement, and a complete Engagement Report can be seen via the below links.

Draft Masterplan released for feedback

The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (the Authority) released the draft Masterplan for the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve (the Reserve), following extensive consultation in June 2023.

The draft Masterplan provides a framework for the balanced redevelopment of the Reserve’s established sporting and recreation facilities and campground, while improving cultural heritage protection, environmental outcomes and responding to the local impacts of climate change, including flood risk.

Importantly, the plan reflects community aspirations for the Reserve to be retained as a central hub for recreation, events, activities and general use by locals and visitors.

Throughout June and July, the Authority invited Apollo Bay locals, visitors and key stakeholders to review the draft Masterplan and have their say on the future of the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve. Community engagement opportunities included an online survey, in-person sessions and an online information session. Feedback received will inform the final Masterplan for the Reserve.

Click below to view the draft Masterplan, and the Issues and Opportunities paper that has informed the Masterplan.

Highlights of the draft Masterplan

  • Improved community facilities such as a new pavilion and camp kitchen, an upgrade and repurpose of the Industrial Hall for community use, a new playground and increased open space with shaded areas, public BBQ, picnic tables and pathways. Importantly, the new facilities will be accessible to provide greater access for people of all abilities
  • Improvements to existing sporting facilities including new football, netball, cricket and tennis clubrooms and changerooms, a new netball and tennis court area and an additional cricket practice net
  • A shift to a seasonal campground in the southern part of the Reserve to enable the grassed area to be used by the local community and visitors between May and August 
  • Continuous public access along the entire Barham River foreshore and the potential for a viewing platform on the existing bridge
  • A general uplift to accommodation facilities such as a camp kitchen, toilet blocks, amenity facilities, roads and car parking.

Draft Masterplan What We Heard report

The community has overwhelmingly supported improvements to the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve, saying they are well overdue.  

74% of respondents either supported the precinct’s draft Masterplan or were neutral when completing a survey as part of our community engagement period across June and July this year.  

Feedback showed strong support for the proposed community and sporting precincts, while mixed feedback was received on the camping precinct due largely to an introduction of eco glamping tents and the shift away from annual permit sites to a seasonal campground.  

Community and stakeholder feedback has provided valuable insights into how locals, campers, sporting clubs, community groups and visitors use the Reserve.