Gary Farewells Barwon Coast with Thanks and Optimism After Two Decades

Gary McPike recently retired as CEO of Barwon Coast Committee of Management after over 21 years leading coastal land management. At his farewell event, Gary and Barwon Coast Board Chair Sandy Gatehouse gave speeches. To highlight Gary’s accomplishments and the bright future ahead, we’ve shared excerpts from his send off, focusing on the passion that Gary, staff, and partners have put into preserving these cherished public coastal lands for all to enjoy.
Read on for what they had to say.

“Today marks my last day at Barwon Coast as I transition to retirement after 21+ years in coastal Crown Land management. I’ve seen many positive changes in how we manage precious coastal reserves during this time. Amalgamation of smaller committees into larger entities now better represents all Victorians’ interests, the real owners of this public estate. Knowledge of pressures on our coasts from climate change and population growth has also increased. I’m proud of my role over decades in these changes. Particularly the work done on best practice management guidelines and equity of access policies for Crown Land caravan parks, including creating Coastal Camping Victoria for information sharing and marketing. Caravan parks are the financial backbone enabling coastal Crown land management—a good model that could benefit from greater community contributions. I wish Gareth Smith, the new Barwon Coast CEO, all the best. Thank you to all I’ve worked with over my time – your passion and professionalism is admirable. Managing our coasts brings admirable professionalism and passion. I’m confident the future is in good hands.”

-Gary McPike

“On behalf of Barwon Coast’s Committee of Management, I’d like to thank Gary for his almost nine years of dedication. His positive impact will be evident for years. We have robust foundations, a vision for the future, and have established achievable milestones. We have strong relationships with our neighbours and stakeholders, and we have strong and committed volunteer groups.

Highlights for me include

Gary has recruited a strong and experienced team of Managers, and recently as he stepped back, they have stepped up and shown their skills and adaptability.

Like many small organisations we learnt a lot about ourselves, the way our organisation works and our substantive risks during the COVID shutdown. Gary played a strong leadership role in particular liaising with DEECA and looking after our staff and stakeholders.

Achievements during Gary’s tenure include the funding and delivery of the 13th Beach Shared Trail – something many said we would never get done!

Gary has also influenced the stretch of coastline Barwon Coast is delegated to manage, as he oversaw the transfer of Breamlea coastal reserve, including the Breamlea Caravan Park, from the City of Greater Geelong in 2022.

We will miss Gary but are confident the new CEO Gareth Smith will capably lead Barwon Coast onwards.”

-Sandy Gatehouse, Chair, Barwon Coast Committee of Management