Dog days: Baw Baw approves off-leash trial
 Baw Baw News  

By // 12:07, Monday 30 March 2015

brooker park warragul council map

BAW Baw councillors have unanimously approved a 12-month trial of designated dogs off-leash areas in the shire.

Above: a council aerial image of Brooker Park, Warragul - one of the most preferred off-leash parks in Baw Baw.

First published in the 27 March 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Available now from retailers across Baw Baw.

Brooker Park in Warragul, Bellbird and Alex Goudie parks in Drouin, Darnum Recreation Reserve, Trafalgar’s James Balfour Oak Tree Park, Dowton Park in Yarragon, Kydd Parke Reserve in Jindivick and Dunstan Oval and St Phillack Reserve in Rawson will play host to the unfenced areas for the duration of the trial.


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Mount Worth ward councillor Peter Kostos said a long consultation period helped determine where the off-leash areas would be, with 34 Baw Baw parks and reserves initially identified as having potential for off-leash areas.

“I believe it’s taken a good 18 months to get to this stage,” he said at Wednesday’s council meeting.

“Out of that, we’ve got to the recommendation where we’re sitting here tonight with quite a lot of potential areas deleted from the list.

“There are no designated areas on sports grounds.”

Concerns had been raised by sporting clubs about dogs contaminating play areas.

A report by council staff said the community’s response to the trial during the consultation period had been mixed, with 48 per cent in support of off-leash areas and 37 per cent against.

Time restrictions were also suggested, but 54 per cent of people were not supportive of the idea.

The cost of introducing the off-leash areas with fencing would be significantly higher than without. Without fencing, it would cost $900 to set up Brooker Park, which includes bins and signage. It would cost $13,500 if fencing were added.

Bellbird Park in Drouin would cost $18,850 with fencing, or $850 without.


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Some parks are already fenced.

Warragul ward councillor Joe Gauci stressed this was only a trial, and the costly installation of fencing may be considered at the end.

Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones spoke strongly in favour of fencing, saying it would improve safety for dogs and other park users.

A large number of people used the council’s community participation time at Wednesday’s meeting to tell councillors their thoughts on the planned trial.

One Trafalgar resident said: “I beg the councillors not to allow dogs off leash in… any park where there are any playgrounds for children” and the theory that dogs socialise better off leash “is absolute rubbish.”

Trafalgar Community Development Association president David Lyons said there had been some concerns raised about some sites considered, but suggested Linear Park also be considered to become an off-leash area.

“The TCDA would support Oak Tree Park, but there was concern about fencing because it would change the look of the park,” he said.

“Some members of the community were concerned about some parks suggested during consultation, especially around playgrounds.”

A Drouin resident said he supported the plan, and said the onus on dog control lies with the owner.

“Everyone forgets that people whose dogs are not controllable should not have them off lead,” he said.

“It’s almost universal veterinary opinion that dogs off lead is good for the dogs.”

“Happier dogs are less likely to develop bad behavioural habits.”


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Mount Worth ward councillor and former mayor Murray Cook used the motion as a chance to take a swipe at previous councils.

“This is a sensitive issue,” Cr Cook said.

“This council said at the very start [it would] address some of the sensitive issues other councils have gone so far on.

“We will address this and other sensitive issues.”

Cr Cook also said some community members needed to be more responsible dog owners.

“Houses that back onto parks that just allow the dog to go out [are irresponsible,] which leads me on to the topic of enforcement.

“There’s no good in us making these hard decisions without us following through.

“Select a breed that is suitable. A lot of the problems that we have are not the problems of the dogs, they are the problems of the owners.”

North ward councillor David Balfour was not present at the meeting.

27 march cover

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9 responses to “Dog days: Baw Baw approves off-leash trial”

  1. Julie Grant says:

    I can’t believe Brooker Park has been chosen for this trial. Yes it is a popular dog-walking area, but also hugely popular for joggers and walkers without dogs, who already have to dodge dog droppings on the tracks. Importantly, as a wetlands it supports considerable wildlife.

  2. M Lehman says:

    It is a joke, people have been using Drouin Rec, Reserve for years

  3. C. Wilkinson says:

    This has to be one of the longest and slowest area of change. This has been on the agenda for years, so it is great to see counsel making a decision. Please let us remember, this is not just about off leash areas, it is about all dogs being on leash in all other public areas.

  4. Wombat Lyons says:

    be interesting to see what the feeling is after the 12 month trail

  5. Danielle Green says:

    I’m sorry but dogs do not interact better off the leash! No matter how well your dogs are trained does not mean when they see another dog or animal for that fact that they are going to listen to you. Also having an off leash area not fenced? Are they nuts? This us absolutely ludicrous!

  6. trevor says:

    Recently an uncontrollable dog off leash attacked 2 sheep adjacent to the Robin Hood Reserve and ripped the side of one sheep’s face off.
    This area should be sign posted “DOGS ON LEADS AT ALL TIMES”.

  7. Emma says:

    This trial may work in other areas but i don’t think it would work here. I have noticed that a lot of people around warragul prefer to have there dogs off leash no matter where they walk so having an area for off leash won’t make difference. A lead is not an accessory use it to control your dogs, it keeps everyone safe! An another thing pick up there mess or don’t walk them in public!

  8. Kate says:

    I think leash free areas are really important. Anyone who owns a dog realises dogs are like children – they love to play and run free. To stop a dog from doing these things makes it stressed, bored and often aggressive. Let the dogs run, sniff and socialise with other dogs, for their health and their owners.

  9. Ivy Radford says:

    Please don’t put all Dog owners in the one Basket my friend and I walk our dogs every morning in Brooker Park and we carry our Poo bags with us , it is the most relaxing area to walk around in Warragul. All I can say it is about time we had an area for the dogs to run free even if it is this small area which seems crazy to me