Little Blue faces public loo dilemma

Little Blue faces public loo dilemma

The Little Blue Lake is a sinkhole that attracts thousands of swimmers, but in recent times has caught the attention of visitors in an unattractive way.

Human defecation is defacing the image of the popular and unique swimming hole located on the outskirts of Mount Gambier.

A concerned local resident and tourism operator brought the matter to the attention of Grant District Council when it met last week for its April monthly meeting.

Kilsby Sinkhole owner and manager Graham Kilsby called for action that council investigate making toilet facilities available at the site.

“I think what broke the camel’s back for me is that we had a customer just recently and they went down (to the Little Blue Lake) and somebody was taking a dump in the cutting. They felt embarrassed and left,” he said.

“There is an extreme need for toilets to be built at the Little Blue Lake.

“It’s obviously an attraction to the Limestone Coast. It’s a beautiful attraction in every brochure and I just see it looking pretty terrible to be honest.

“We call it the Little Blue Lake… it’s the Little ‘Green’ Lake or even ‘Brown’ Lake.

“There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people visiting that sinkhole. It is the most visited sinkhole in our region, but with no toilet facilities.”

Mr Kilsby said the facilities were needed not only for people that visit the lake, but also for swimmers.

“People spend most of the day there, or a number of hours. So, we probably have an idea of where those people are weeing,” he said.

“It’s a significant health risk that needs to be dealt with.

“What we want is council and the department to work together and realise that something needs to be done.

“We promote it as a swimming hole. I would not like to swim in it. I and my sons will never swim there as we know what happens.

“We need to rectify that. If we provide, there is more likely chance people will use it.

“Cave divers use the site. I’m sure they would like to relieve themselves before going for a dive.

“I would not be able to run my operation without providing toilets. It just simply would not happen.

“I do not see why council up until now has not addressed this issue. We have to look after these sites especially when wanting people to come visit and see how beautiful they are.”

Through his role as a tourism operator, Mr Kilsby has had varied exposure to visitors and what they are looking for when coming to the region.

“We have so many customers that want to visit these sinkholes. What we have in the South East is incredible. We have to address issues and problems and make them suitable to enjoy,” he said.

Mr Kilsby also took the opportunity to discuss the speed limit as he reflected on overflow of vehicles along roadside when carpark is full.

“It’s absolutely necessary to expand the car park. The overflow onto the road and safety of visitors concerns me,” he said.

Mr Kilsby also raised concern for poor road conditions leading to other sinkholes, including hidden gems such as The Sisters Sinkhole.

“I think it’s embarrassing for our region and council that we have the ability to provide access and car parking,” he said.

“There’s nothing to suggest you want to welcome someone to come and visit. We are letting ourselves down.”

In response, Grant Mayor Kylie Boston said Little Blue Lake was under the care and control of the council and that most of the car park was on unalienated Crown land.

Mayor Boston said any toilet development would need planning approval and would have to be installed on land controlled by the state’s Department for Environment and Water (DEW).

She said the council would hold a workshop in the next two months to discuss the lack of facilities at the site and other sinkholes.

“We have had conversations, probably over the last six months quite a few people ringing and making comments about what is happening there (Little Blue Lake),” Mayor Boston said.

“A workshop would be the best way moving forward. I would be keen to understand more about the other sinkholes under our care and control. Maybe there’s a bigger picture of what we are looking at.”

Cr Barry Kuhl queried Mr Kilsby about the need for an advisory group to be formed.

Mr Kilsby believes there is an appetite for an advisory group to provide a report to council on various sinkholes in the area.

“We have got to bring DIT and DEW to the party as well. I think the issue of a toilet is something that council needs to confront in the short term,” chief executive Darryl Whicker said.

Meanwhile, Cr Katherine Greene said she had her first swim in about 30 years at the Little Blue Lake recently.

“Now I probably wish I didn’t. These are untapped places we need to make sure we are looking after,” she said.

Local photographer Ockert Le Roux shared a recent experience he had while visiting at the iconic hotspot.

“I was appalled and shocked to see the state of what was presented. I have visuals,” he said.

Mr Le Roux said human waste had built up.

“While the children were swimming, I took a walk around the perimeter of the lake and was appalled by what I saw, which posed a significant health and hygiene risk,” he said.

“When you make these assets available to the public and visitors alike, you should have hygiene control in check and in place.

“The Little Blue Lake remains a popular destination for both locals and tourists, especially during the warm summer months.

“However, despite its popularity, it’s concerning that this site lacks any restroom facilities to accommodate such a large number of guests.

“It is imperative the relevant authorities take action to rectify this issue.”

A Mount Gambier and District Residents and Ratepayers Association spokesperson said they had received “disturbing” documented reports about large amounts of human excrement in and around the popular tourist attraction.

The group welcomes any community feedback to help inform its conversation when they meet with Mayor Boston and Mr Whicker.

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