Barwon Coast welcomes new CEO

Press Release

Barwon Coast farewells Gary McPike CEO and welcomes Gareth Smith to the helm

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Chair Sandra Gatehouse today announced the retirement of CEO Gary McPike and the appointment of Gareth Smith to the role, following an extensive recruitment process.

Gary McPike, who has led Barwon Coast Committee of Management since April 2015, is retiring on 19 January 2024 following a successful tenure as Chief Executive Officer.

Gary can claim a host of achievements during his time at Barwon Coast, including building a strong and positive working relationship with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation, including the formal naming of Bukareeyoo (the area formerly known as the Ocean Grove Spit) earlier this year.

Gary also oversaw the transfer of Breamlea crown land, including the Breamlea Caravan Park, from the City of Greater Geelong in 2022, as well as several structural changes to increase Barwon Coasts organisational capability. Other successes include the development of the Barwon Coast Coastal and Marine Management Plan (now 80% delivered), construction of the new Ocean Grove Surf Beach complex and funding and delivery of the 13th Beach Shared Trail.

Gareth Smith, who will step into the CEO role on 5 February 2024, brings a wealth of experience to Barwon Coast, having led organisations such as Adelaide Shores, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and more recently holding a leadership role at the City of Greater Geelong.

Gareth is highly regarded for his leadership skills as well as his ability to build positive relationships with key government and industry stakeholders. He brings a deep knowledge of the regulatory environment in which Barwon Coast operates, having successfully led a previous committee of management in South Australia.

Importantly, Gareth is an active member of the local community and understands the immediate and long-term challenges facing Barwon Coast in environmental matters, climate change, infrastructure management and planning as well as population and visitation growth.

Quotes attributed to Sandra Gatehouse, Barwon Coast Committee of Management Chair

“The Committee would like to acknowledge and thank Gary McPike for his service, hard work and achievements during his time as Chief Executive for Barwon Coast.”

“From successfully leading the organisation through a global pandemic, to his passionate advocacy and consistent focus on caring for the coast, Gary’s impact on Barwon Coast has been significant and his work will leave positive legacy for our coastline.”

“While this is a time of change for Barwon Coast, we are excited to welcome Gareth Smith to the CEO role. The Committee is confident that Gareth’s exemplary skill set, strategic leadership approach and deep knowledge of the environment and industry will position him extremely well to excel at Barwon Coast Committee of Management.”


Notes for editors:

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc. (Barwon Coast)

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc. (Barwon Coast) is appointed by the Victorian State Government to manage 19km of coastal Crown land through the Ocean Grove,  Barwon Heads and Breamlea townships, along the Bass Strait coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. Our vision is that the natural environment of our coastline will flourish whilst meeting the needs of our engaged communities. A major local employer in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, we have more than 50 skilled employees from a diverse range of backgrounds working across the coastal reserve.

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