Causing a stink

Once a popular destination in a flourishing market, Capel Sound is becoming a no-go zone for homebuyers due to a strange odour.  

Tootgarook Wetlands, the cause of the smell?

At the beginning of March, residents in the Mornington Peninsula locale became aware of a pungent smell that made going outside unpleasant. 

“I initially thought that someone’s dog had visited my front lawn,” local resident Nicky Arnold said. 

“The smell is putrid. I just hope it will leave.” 

Leave, however, it has not. 

“It’s been getting better and then worse again for the last few weeks,” Ms Arnold said. 

Now, the issue has created problems that extend beyond the local community.  

Homebuyers, who once flocked to inspect homes for sale across Capel Sound, are becoming discouraged from purchasing property. 

Ray White Rosebud real estate agent Matthew James has noticed a recent decline in interest within Capel Sound’s property market.  

“I have a few beautiful homes on the market in the area, but I’m struggling to get anyone to take a look at them,” he said. 

At a recent Capel Sound open home, buyers were taken aback by the airborne-issue.

“I don’t know how they’re living with this right now,” one potential buyer said. “It’s terrible, honestly.” 

Mr James notes that all property sales have been affected by mortgage interest rate rises, however he believes Capel Sound in particular is experiencing a larger decline compared to its neighbours. 

“Buyers are leaning more towards Rosebud, for sure,” he said.  

Data on reflects the difference between the two suburbs, with Capel Sound experiencing -3.2% growth in the past 12 months compared to 1.2% growth in Rosebud. In more recent times, Capel Sound prices have dropped by $35,000 as opposed to Rosebud’s $15,000 decrease.  

Mr James admits that he “isn’t 100 per cent sure” of the impact the smell is having on the market, but “it definitely won’t be increasing the pool of interest”.  

Joshua Casperz – a bartender looking for a sea change – agreed. 

“It’s not what I was expecting. I chose this area because of the fresh air and the beachside charm. I don’t know what (the smell) is,” he said.

Ms Arnold said she thought the smell was coming from the nearby Tootgarook Wetlands, located between Tootgarook and Capel Sound.

“(The wetlands) are the only thing I can think of apart, from the sewage systems,” she said.

The wetlands are owned by the Mornington Peninsula Shire and governed under the Tootgarook Wetland Management Plan.

They are also part of the Victorian Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils Strategy. Coastal acid sulfate soils occur naturally along Victoria’s south coast, with the Tootgarook Wetlands being one of these locations. When water drains from the soil of these locations, sulfuric acid is produced, potentially leaving a lingering smell.

However, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council noted that neitherair quality nor odour issues are mentioned as an issue within the (management) plan”.  

“The State Government’s Environmental Protection Authority may be able to provide a response”, the council said, noting that it was an issue beyond the control of the council’s plan and that the EPA is best equipped to investigate any potential ecological odours.  

For now, is it recommended that residents continue to keep their windows closed. 

Matthew James urges homebuyers to keep a positive outlook and continue to consider Capel Sound for its great proximity to the beach and its community feel. 

South East Water was contacted for comment, but did not respond.  

Want to get involved? Have you smelt the odour? Have your say:  Have Your Say  

One comment on “Causing a stink

  • We moved to capel sound 6 years ago. We noticed the smell then,,
    and have noticed it on and off since.
    It smell like septic tank odour……..
    Very prevalent at night,,,,,almost as if a valve is released at specific times
    during the night…..seems more noticeable when the night is still.
    I walk around tootgarook swamp often and have not noticed any odour,
    tho chinamans creek often has a vague unhealthy smell.
    Such a shame not being able to have windows open on hot nights.


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