By Meg Kennedy
It was one of former Woodlands Ward Councillor Pat Toohey’s last advocations before his recent passing; but there are no signs the toilets at Bungaree weighbridge rest stop (westbound) will reopen anytime soon.
The toilet facilities have been closed since 28 June this year, and are the only dedicated rest stop facilities along the Western Highway between Ballan and Ararat on the south/west side.
According to the VicRoads rest stop map, there are no disabled toilets at the nearest toilet facility, located at Warrenheip petrol station.
Cr Toohey previously shared his passionate views on the need for the facilities before his passing last month.
“We will bring the State Government under some pressure; this toilet is needed for tourism, trucks and disabled people,” said Cr Toohey in early September.
Cr Toohey sent the Moorabool News an email correspondence between Regional Roads Victoria Regional Director (Western) Mal Kersting and Horsham City Council Infrastructure Director John Martin that stated, “the toilet block was recently closed for public health reasons.”
“Despite all efforts to keep the toilets clean for regular use through maintenance and cleaning efforts, the sanitary behaviours were the subject of continuous complaint from the public.
“At this stage, the toilets are considered to be beyond maintenance and will need to be replaced,” Mr Kersting expressed to Mr Martin in the email.
“Should complaints continue to be received…we may need to consider closing the rest area.”
Mr Kersting said funding will be sought to replace the toilets however, “there are no immediate plans for construction.”
“Toilet facilities are available in Ballarat,” Mr Kersting said and apologised for the closure, declaring it “is in the best interest of the travelling community.”
Other locations for cars with caravans and semi-trailers to ‘rest’ include Westbound petrol service stations and the towns of Beaufort and Great Western.
In a response to questions put forward by the Moorabool News, including relating to road safety, cost relating to sewer usage, and reasons behind the closure, Regional Roads Victoria Acting Regional Director (Western) Brad Pryor said in a statement that the block will remain closed for the “foreseeable future”.
Mr Pryor said the toilet block has been closed as the facilities “were no longer in an acceptable condition.”
“While we’ve closed the toilet block at Bungaree weighbridge, the rest stop will remain open for drivers to pull over and take a break before continuing their journeys,” said Mr Pryor.
“There are a number of other locations where drivers can stop and rest along this section of the Western Highway – we encourage drivers feeling fatigued to pull over and rest,” he said.