The Land – Crowlands Wind Farm, Pyrenees Shire 

Our Client – Pacific Hydro; The Issue – Access to turbines via unused Government Roads

The Land – The ocean seabed off Barwon Heads

Our Client – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELPW); The issue – Governance of the sunken HMAS Canberra dive site

The Land – ‘Joint Management’ reserves in Gunaikurnai country

Our Client – the Knob Reserve Committee of Management; The Issue – Governance under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010

The Land – Victoria’s Coastal Reserves

Our Client – Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC); The Issue – How coastal erosion impacts legal title boundaries

The Land – South Melbourne Market

Our Client – City of Port Phillip; The Issue – Leases and Licence for Stallholders

The Land – 24k-long linear reserve, previously Melbourne’s main outfall sewer

Our Client – City of Wyndham; The Issue – Negotiating a governance regime involving Council, Melbourne Water and VicRoads

The Land – 500 community facilities across Geelong

Our Client – City of Greater Geelong; The Issue – A Community Use Strategy and a Governance Framework

The Land: Melbourne Recital Centre

Our Client: Major Projects Victoria; The Issue: Authorisation of projections into airspace above roads

The Land: Murray River frontage at Mildura

Our Client: Places Victoria; The Issue: Assembly of land parcels for redevelopment

The Land: Coasts, Lakes and Rivers across Victoria

Our Client: Department of Transport, Planning & Local Infrastructure; The Issue: Governance of recreational boating facilities

The Land: Lake Boga

Our Client: Goulburn-Murray Water; The issue: Strategy for managing 140 illegal encroachments

The Land: Anywhere that people congregate

Our Client: Victorian Environmental Assessment Council; The Issue: What makes Melbourne ‘liveable’?

The Land: Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Our Client: Lend Lease on behalf of Myers Pty Ltd; The Issue: Acquisition of rights to airspace for pedestrian bridge

Terra Publica Archive

View the archive of our free monthly Email Bulletin of information, commentary and analysis of public land issues in Victoria.

Date Articles

Jul 2020 July edition

This was the 1960s, the ‘paradise’ was the 90-mile breach, the estate agents were Willmore & Randall, and the land being flogged, although highly valuable in environmental terms, was utterly unsuitable for residential development.  

Also in this edition:

  • The (hypothetical) Portsea Land Act 2021…  One possible response to Lindsay Fox’s latest land claim
  • Do I own my own driveway? - A handful of our recent consultancies
  • Our training schedule through to October 2020
Jun 2020 May-June 2020 edition

Statues Topple

In Melbourne’s parks and gardens we find them in bronze: James Cook, Redmond Barry, Matthew Flinders, Robert O’Hara Burke and William Wills.  Statues elsewhere topple: a slave trader in Bristol, England; a slave-owning Confederate General in Richmond, Virginia.  Should Melbourne’s statues remain standing?  

Apr 2020 Easter 2020 edition

State of Emergency - as seen through the Government Gazette.


It’s a time of crisis, yet the business of government goes on.  During recent weeks, followers of the Government Gazette have borne witness to this paradox. Notices have been placed there by everyone from middle-level public servants to Her Majesty the Queen. 


Municipalities must also respond as their ratepayers self-isolate and businesses go into mothballs.  The previously unthinkable becomes the new must-do.


For ourselves, we are taking the opportunity to shift our training courses on-line. Good news for our students: no travel there, no travel back, no overnight accommodation, and no worrying about ordering the gluten-free vegetarian option!

Feb 2020 February 2020

Corporate Knowledge and its converse, Corporate Ignorance

One objective for any corporate entity, such as a municipal council, will be to retain the knowns, deal with the known unknowns, and minimise the fear of unknown unknowns. 

Also in this edition

  • Escape from the Silo - cross disciplinary learning for land managers
  • Can a Local Law contravene the Road Rules?
  • Our calendar of training course presentations through to June 2020
Jan 2020 January 2020 edition

Terra Publica - January 2020

So it’s the Twenties.  That’s the Twenty-twenties, Not the 1920s! 

In an age of climate change and population growth, we need to redefine the demarcation between public and private.

We don’t need flappers dancing the Charleston!

Dec 2019 November 2019

The Road to Reform - Seven tasks for Victoria’s Law-makers

This month’s lead article has grown out of our very successful workshop ‘Roads: Recent Twists in the Legal Roadmap’ held at Russell Kennedy, Lawyers, earlier in November.

Nov 2019 October 2019

Strategic Incrementalism. 

The public land governance regime is subject to three types of change. 

Firstly, there’s the Great Leap Forward.  Then there’s ad hoc tweaking.  In between, there’s Strategic Incrementalism.

Also in this edition:

  • Does freehold land have access rights onto an abutting Crown reserve?
  • Our work with Water Authorities, the Surveyors Registration Board, and Regional Roads Victoria
  • Our calendar of Training Courses through to April 2020

Aug 2019 Winter 2019 edition

Taking it to Appeal

As DELWP heads into a re-write of Crown land legislation, there's a principle which we hope they keep in mind: public sector administrators must be accountable. Public servants are answerable to Ministers, who are answerable to the electorate – but that's small consolation if you're a disgruntled member of the public. You want to have your day in VCAT...


Also in this edition - our calendar of Training Courses through to December.

May 2019 April-May edition

In the heat of a Federal election campaign, TP asks what public land issues fall within the ambit of the Commonwealth Government.

On a related line of thought, we ask whether Commonwealth land has the protection of the Crown.

We congratulate the students undertaking our Certificate in Public Land Governance.

And, as usual, our calendar of training course presentations for the next couple of months.

Jan 2019 January 2019 edition

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

In this edition:

  • We look at how seemingly minor local issues can agglomerate into Statewide legislative reforms
  • We look into the mathematics of pocket parks
  • We explain how the Titles Office asks the wrong question.
Nov 2018 November 2018 edition

Dear Mr Premier, Congratulations!
As you get stuck into Victoria's urban challenges, how about appointing a Minister for Urban Reconfiguration?
We could tell him or her about the role of public land in a pro-active program of urban transformation.

Aug 2018 August edition

This month's Terra Publica looks at:

  • From Section 86 to CACs - the impending changes to the Local Government Act, and how they will affect management of community assets
  • The definition of ‘road’ in the Road Management Act
  • Lessons learned from VicRoads’ mismanagement of native vegetation
  • Our schedule of one-day training courses through to December.
Jul 2018 July edition
  • Hard Acts to Follow – a look at Parliament’s current legislative agenda
  • A Matter of Necessity – Access to landlocked parcels
  • A Place in the Sun – How Gannawarra has become the solar energy capital of Victoria
  • Public Land Reconfiguration – How to reconfigure a run-down precinct
May 2018 May edition

In this edition:

  • Public Land...the fun side
  • Ownership - who owns this land? Who owns the things on it?
  • Certificates in Public Land Governance
  • Our calendar of one-day training courses June to August 2018
Apr 2018 March-April Edition
  • Discussing the discussion
  • What is 'the Crown'?
  • Professional Development for Water Authorities
  • Our calendar of one-day courses April to July 2018
Feb 2018 Jan-Feb 2018 Edition
  • From Robert Hoddle to Jane Jacobs
  • Land Law for Victorian Water Authorities - a series of PD Courses
  • Our training calendar to June 2018
Dec 2017 December 2017 Edition
  • 5 Years' Hard Work - the Victorian Government's response to the VEAC Statewide Assessment of Public Land Final Report
  • New professional development programs for Water Authorities, Urban Planners and Licensed Surveyors
  • Can a Council discontinue a road which is on its road register?
  • Our calendar of one-day courses January to May 2018
Sep 2017 September edition 2017
  • Crocodile Rock! (40 to 1) - With the Spring Carnival almost upon us, all eyes will turn to Flemington and Caulfield racecourses. Perhaps they deserve more attention at other times, too. We think a look at Caulfield in particular would provide some insights into what’s wrong with public land systems in Victoria.
  • Congratulations to our recent graduates!
  • The Law Relating to Works on Roads - So far as is Reasonably Practicable
  • What’s the connection between Melbourne’s trams and public land?
  • Our calendar of one-day training courses through to December
Aug 2017 Winter 2017 edition

Not another restructure!

Governments seem to be forever reconfiguring the public service. Here at Terra Publica we are often sceptical about the merits of such restructures.

But if the creation of Land Use Victoria leads to implementation of VEAC’s recommendations for public land, then we must approve.

And we’ve done a restructure ourselves – of our training courses relating to roads. More details in this edition.

May 2017 May-June edition
  • VEAC recommends a total overhaul of Victoria’s public land legislation
  • Major developments on freehold can be brought undone if they cross over their title boundaries
  • Roadsides can be hazardous for the public, and for their managing councils
Apr 2017 March-April edition
  • How do we tackle unauthorised retaining walls on roadsides?
  • Our suite of 3 one-day training courses for road managers
  • Our schedule of Professional Development courses for April-June 2017
Jan 2017 January edition
  • Coastal conflicts
  • Q&A - when must a Council put tenure proposals on public exhibition?
  • Professional development for road managers - our new one-day training courses
  • Our full schedule of professional development courses for February to June 2017
Dec 2016 December 2016
  • Change management
  • Q&A - Carriageway easements
  • New one-day Roads courses
  • Workshops and Masterclasses in 2017
  • Our 2017 Training Calendar
Aug 2016 August 2016

Amendments: challenging

Wholesale reform: even more challenging

Jun 2016 June 2016

Coastal Special
• Barney at Killarney
• Towards a new Marine and Coastal Act
• What's that on the beach? Pretty sure it's not sand...
• Reconfiguring Coastal Governance
• Victoria's Aboriginal Heritage Act 2004 - our workshops on the forthcoming amendments
• Our calendar of training courses

May 2016 April-May 2016

Planning the statutory Council Plan
Reconfiguring Coastal Governance
Public Land Committees
Our 2016 Training Courses calendar

Mar 2016 February-March 2016

Hey, Watch Where You're Walking, Dude - 'Your Honour, Council should have protected me from walking into the traffic while I was texting...' 
The Aboriginal Heritage Act gets some teeth;
If Crown land is subject to a lease, can that land be sold off as freehold?
Best Value from Community-Use Land - a half-day Seminar

Jan 2016 January 2016 edition



We report on some work we're doing for VEAC on the subject of Council managed community use reserves;


We give you an update on our Professional Certificate courses; and


We address the question of driveway access onto arterial roads.


Plus, our schedule of one-day & half-day training courses to July 2016



Dec 2015 December 2015 edition

The VEAC Statewide Assessment of Public Land

Acres and Shillings - what are these weird units?

Professional Certificates in Land Administration and Governance

Koondrook Cricket Ground - an object lesson in confusion

Our 2016 Training Courses calendar

Sep 2015 September 2015 edition
  • Make public spaces work harder - can Melbourne continue to waste land for surface ("at-grade") car parks?
  • Introducing Professional Certificates in Land Administration and Governance
Aug 2015 August 2015 edition
  • Victorian Environment and Assessment Council (VEAC) may recommend that riparian land be set aside as a ‘Streamside Reserve’ but for most waterways the good old Land Act 1958 and Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 continue to thwart sound management outcomes.
  • The 12mm stumble – At last, the Supreme Court provides some insights into the effectiveness of the Road Management Act.
Jul 2015 June-July edition

A Commendable Dereliction of Duty
As Minister of Lands in the Bolte Liberal Government, Bill Borthwick had a fight on his hands. In the aftermath of the 1970 elections, he was committed to setting up the Land Conservation Council. It wasn’t the Labor Opposition that stood in his way, it was the Country Party.
Also in this edition – why Crown reserves should be donated to local government, in freehold.

May 2015 May 2015 edition

North of the Border
They have public land in NSW, too – including types we Victorians know nothing about, like Travelling Stock Routes. But one thing we share: the need for reform of Crown land law. And it seems NSW is a step or two ahead of us.

Apr 2015 Easter 2015 edition

Living with the Rate Cap: how councils can make use of clever public land management.
Auditing Public Land Tenures: reassure yourself that your council’s landlord-tenant relationships are sound.
Also – some of our forthcoming one-day courses

Mar 2015 March 2015 edition
  • The crocodile that ate the powerboats: conservation groups enlist a 4million year old fossil to oppose the expansion of a motor-boat club
  • Is Leunig’s goat committing an offence? The Summary Offences Act illustrates a serious flaw in Parliament’s management of the statute book.
Feb 2015 February 2015 edition

Why do some public places succeed? Why do others fail? – Our theory is that one key factor is governance. Questions about Parks Vic’s enforcement powers; and irrigation channels in road reserves. Our calendar of Professional Development courses for February- April 2015.

Jan 2015 January 2015 edition

In this edition we:

  • offer Daniel Andrews some suggestions for reforming public land law and policy
  • reflect on the governance of recreational boating facilities
  • address some questions about volunteer land management groups
Nov 2014 November 2014 edition

Public Land from the right – a brief look at how conservative theorists view public land

  • One question about municipal boundaries (and parking) and two more questions about parking.
  • Our schedule of one-day training courses through to March 2014
  • Coming soon: Offences on Roads and Public Land – a course for Enforcement Officers.
Sep 2014 September 2014 edition

The East-West link, cutting its swathe through Royal Park, has emerged as the principal differentiating issue in the State election.
PLUS – we follow-up on local-significance reserves; and follow-up on bathing boxes.

Jul 2014 Lead story: IF ONLY…

If we could turn back the clock, we’d surely retain more land in public ownership. Idle speculation? Well, if we don’t imagine what could have been, we’ll have a very limited vision of what might still be.

Apr 2014 Lead story: Unwanted Gifts

Should Crown reserves be handed over to municipalities?
Readers’ question: At what point does an urban Arterial Road become non-urban?

Mar 2014 Lindsay Fox’s appropriation of Portsea beach highlights the need for legislative reform.

How a murder on the Murray River defined the NSW-Victoria border.
Readers’ question: Can a Council really sell off Public Open Space?

Jan 2014 Governance systems for public land:

Our view differs from that of New-York think-tank Project for Public Spaces (PPS)
Victoria’s new Waterway Management Strategy
Readers’ questions about ‘Private Roads’ and Committee of Management funding

Dec 2013 Splish Splash: Land is land, even if it’s covered by water.

Council land is protected from theft by trespass – isn’t it?
Can a Plan of Subdivision alter an abutting road?

Nov 2013 Coles, Woolworths and the Queen Victoria Market:

How the economics of public land differ from the economics of private land.
Is a Crown land Committee an Incorporated Association?

Oct 2013 Tony Abbott's Green Army - we're sceptical, but prepared to be convinced.

Waterways - a cadastral taxonomy.
Questions about road reserves

Sep 2013 We argue that public land of national significance should get meaningful national support.

Also in this edition: feedback from our 'Road Less Travelled' workshops.

Jul 2013 Why are some offences never prosecuted? Roadside Weeds and Native Vegetation.

Fences Act - Parliament accepts our recommendations

May 2013 Melbourne's bathing boxes: leases or licences?

Parks Victoria's commitment to its avowed philosophy gets tested.
Finding 'Titles' for Crown Land. What's happened to Victorian Government Departments?

Mar 2013 Will developments in National Parks compromise the very values they're celebrating?

We don't want a repeat of the Stonehenge visitor centre.
Also Land Tax on Crown Land.

Feb 2013 A blockage in the bowel?

The law governing Victoria's riparian land resembles something requiring a dose of salts.

Jan 2013 Billions of dollars.

That's the value of fences alongside Victoria's roads and public land. Who should pay?

Dec 2012 December Edition

141 years after the statutory separation of church and state, taxpayer assets are still being handed out, free.

Nov 2012 What's wrong with section 32 vendors' statements?

Perhaps property purchasers should be warned: If the property has an abuttal to a road reserve, that road may be discontinued by your local council without your consent, without you having any avenues of appeal, and without due compensation.™

Oct 2012 If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If is broke, do fix it.

Five examples of dysfunctional public land legislation.

Sep 2012 Off the Rails:

Between Hamilton and Caseterton in Western Victoria, a well-engineered process has gone totally off the rails.

Jul 2012 July Edition

In the July edition we bring you our long-awaited schedule of courses through to October 2012.

Jun 2012 The Presumption of Consent:

It's almost as fundamental as the presumption of innocence. In the absence of some law to the contrary, citizens are allowed to do whatever they want on Crown land. Some people in DSE seem to think the opposite: in the absence of some explicit consent, they say, citizens are prohibited from entering or using Crown land.

Apr 2012 Mabo Day - Three Cheers or Black Armbands?

Competing interpretations of history have their roots deep in the Nineteenth Century. Our ancestors knew full well that they were dispossessing Aboriginal people at the point of a gun. The shameful thing is that the legislation under which they did it is still on the statute books.

Feb 2012 Excuse me, You seem to be Uncovered…

Victoria's municipalities are required to have insurance - but when they're acting as Crown land committees of management there seems to be an embarrassing degree of exposure.

Jan 2012 Land Ownership ain't wha it used to be

There was a time when, if you owned the land, you owned everything on it – the water, the wildlife, the trees – and you held unrestricted usage and development rights. Not any more. This month we comment on easements and covenants, reform of the law governing them.

Sep 2011 Hermaphrodites and Orphans

The authors of the Transport Integration Act 2010, and VicRoads, stretch our capacity for metaphors.
Public Open Space in Subdivisions - a quick review of case law

Jul 2011 Are there Big Cats out there?

The Baillieu Government comes to grips with public land.
Also - Risk Management: the Take-Home Messages.
Terra Publica celebrates 10 years of Q&A…

Mar 2011 See You in Court Sir!

In this edition Terra Publica bemoans the decline of Mabo-style litigant, whose case helped us to better understand public land law...

Feb 2011 Visigoths and Besieged Castles

How public spaces make European cities different from Australian cities

How council road discontinuations could have disastrous consequences for landowners