An open letter published in the June edition of The Rip argues the site - the home of William Buckley's cave - boasts the necessary attributes assets to sit on the Heritage Register.
Signatories include ex Australian Heritage Council Chair Tom Harley, former state government MP Garry Spry and Geelong National Trust member Jennifer Bantow OAM.
The letter reveals a secret committee of locals has been lobbying both state and federal governments over the reserve's inclusion for close to two years.
“It is encouraging and appropriate that the Australian Government now acknowledges the natural and built heritage assets in the Borough of Queenscliffe rank alongside the 106 existing National Heritage sites,” it states.
“It is the Environment Minister who ultimately determines whether a place should be included on the Register. Therefore Minister Hunt’s open support is a welcome first step in a process, which may be complex and protracted.
“We believe this is the time to agree on a vision and strategy for this remarkable part of Australia. We now call on the Queenscliffe Council, as the responsible management authority for many of the Borough’s heritage places, to start the community engagement process for National Heritage listing.”
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt threw his support behind the reserve's inclusion on the Register during a pre-election visit to Point Lonsdale on May 10.
“We listed Broken Hill as the first town on the National Heritage List and if you want to do the same thing here I would take that forward," he said.
“We will work with the Borough of Queenscliffe, local residents and community groups in the design of the project.”
Labor Corangamite candidate Libby Coker has indicated she too would support the listing, but only after extensive community consultation.
“We would consider heritage listing of the Point Lonsdale lighthouse but we would need to explore it more with the community and the Council and all stakeholders before committing to that,” she said.
“Certainly it would be interesting in exploring a heritage listing… it is a significant and historic and iconic lighthouse, but I’m not an expert and I know in order to get this sort of work there are a lot of steps to go through and you would have to be able to manage the maintenance of the site, so there is a discussion that you have to go through.”
Bellarine MP Lisa Neville provided a more cautious response: “It is a very new process that the Federal Government used in Broken Hill. It has some positives and negatives and would need to involve consultation with the local community, the Borough and the Victorian Government (as it is crown land),” she said.
“In the meantime, the Andrews Government is in current negotiations with the council to provide financial assistance to undertake works at the Reserve to improve the amenity of the area as per the final master plan agreed by the community. It would be great to see the Federal Government support that work.”
However Queenscliffe CEO Lenny Jenner said a heritage listing was not on Council’s agenda.
“Council has not considered heritage listing of sites or localities within the borough of Queenscliffe and this is not an existing Council Plan priority. These matters have not been formally raised with the Council by any state or federal government representative,” he said.
The National Heritage Council assesses whether a place is worthy of a National Heritage Listing. It must have outstanding natural, Indigenous or historic heritage value to the nation.
The Environment Minister has the ultimate say on which sites make the list.
Approval means the heritage values of the location are protected under national environmental and heritage law.
On the surface, the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Reserve appears to be a suitable candidate. It is the location of William Buckley's cave - the so called "Father or Reconciliation" between aborigines and white settlers. It also boasts significant maritime and military history.