Wonthaggi Rifle Range Wetland is a Crown land reserve that was historically used as a rifle range from 1911 to 1997 and cattle grazing for over 100 years. The site has been progressively rehabilitated since the 2000s through replanting led by Friends of Wonthaggi Heathlands and Conservation Reserve and is now a thriving wetland with scenic walking trails and impressive birdlife.

The Range wetland is set to be included in the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park. As part of this process, site assessments have been undertaken by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) which have identified some heavy metal (copper and lead) contamination in the soil in the stop butt and target mound areas of the reserve.

The site assessments have determined that the risk to human health from the contaminated soil is considered low. The contamination has not affected the groundwater and will not be a concern to adjacent property owners, residents and visitors to the site if left undisturbed.

To minimise the risk to reserve users, temporary fencing and signage have been installed at the stop butt area. The rest of the reserve is still able to be used and accessed recreationally. Management processes will be put in place for staff and volunteers who work at the site.

An interim Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been developed, and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has been notified of the contamination in compliance with the Environment Protection Act 2017 and associated regulations.

A final EMP is being developed to manage the site into the future, and permanent fencing to prevent entry into the more contaminated area at the stop butt will be erected later in 2024. The lookout structure on the stop butt will also be removed. The EPA has approved this management approach.

Wonthaggi Rifle Range entry

Temporary signage at contaminated area

Frequently asked questions

Why is DEECA undertaking soil testing at the Wonthaggi Rifle Range Wetlands?

DEECA and Parks Victoria are working towards including the former Wonthaggi Rifle Range Wetlands site into the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park. The soil testing has been completed as part of due diligence assessments.

Is the site safe for humans and animals?

Yes, unless the soil is disturbed (by actions such as vegetation removal) the risk can be well managed. To minimise the possibility of exposure, the area will be fenced off and signposted to keep visitors a safe distance from the contaminated areas.

Should I be concerned for my health (or that of my pet) if we have been on the site in the past?

The risk to human and animal health from the contaminated soil is considered low. DEECA is implementing these measures to further reduce the risk to recreational users of the area.

More information

Call DEECA’s Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

Page last updated: 13/05/24