Car parts and shredded tyres on the road. Signs deliberately run over and others pulled out of the ground and thrown into nearby bushes - what was meant to be a safer intersection near Creswick became a danger zone last week.
The intersection on Creswick-Bungaree Road, at the turnoff to Dean, was upgraded for safety reasons with works completed in April. But early last week, resident Rob Turley was travelling through it when he saw the damage.
He said hoon behaviour at the intersection and the debris left behind had been a problem historically, but since the upgrade it had been good for "quite a while".
He said the discovery was disappointing on two fronts. The first was that it was a serious safety hazard.
"It could cause an accident. Quite a few vehicles travel through there, including trucks in the early hours of the morning," he said.
The road is an important north-south connection between Creswick and the Western Freeway at Bungaree for locals, businesses and freight drivers carrying agricultural produce.
Other than the risk to motorists, Mr Turley said it was also a "poor look on the township of Creswick".
"If you're driving from Melbourne to Creswick to have a look around, you'll come past that," he said.
With recent attempts to boost tourism in the region, including with the Creswick Trails Project, Mr Turley said it was "just not a good look".
"They would think this is a town of lowlifes. It doesn't paint a good picture for the town so it's really disappointing."
Hepburn Shire Council's Creswick Ward councillor, Don Henderson, agreed. He consistently hears concerns about hooning and antisocial behaviour around the town.
"I get constant complaints about areas like Bald Hills Road and Luttet Street," Cr Henderson said.
"People are really afraid when they hear it. They hear the cars or that they're drunk and they fear what else these people will do."
Cr Henderson expressed concern about the young people engaging in dangerous driving behaviour, that put the safety of themselves and all other motorists at risk.
"It is a real problem. They're mostly not bad people... but they are pushing their own limits to impress the people they are with.
"I'm concerned for the young people out there doing this. It really doesn't take much to lose control of a car and get hurt. Sometimes this behaviour can end in tragedy."
'Will be caught'
According to police, the majority of people engaging in this dangerous behaviour are people travelling there from out of town.
Senior Constable Nick Smerdon began working at Creswick Police Station last November. With the station now back at full capacity with four police members working in the town, the focus on road policing has been strengthened. It is an area of particular interest to Senior Constable Smerdon.
"We are doing a lot of proactive work at the moment - conducting more patrols and having a higher visible police presence on the streets," he said, adding this meant more frequent intercepts and nabbing drivers breaking the law.
Aside from issuing infringements, Senior Constable Smerdon has impounded 18 cars and charged more than 30 separate people for traffic offences.
More than two thirds of the people he has charged were not local to Creswick, but were from surrounding areas such as Ballarat.
"If someone is doing the wrong thing it is only a matter of time until they are caught.
People have typically had an idea in their head that they can come to a small country town and get away with what they want but we've been catching them unsuspectingly just driving through town at random hours of the eveningSenior Constable Nick Smerdon
"People have typically had an idea in their head that they can come to a small country town and get away with what they want but we've been catching them unsuspectingly just driving through town at random hours of the evening," he explained.
"It has the flow-on effect where the people who are doing the wrong thing now aren't inviting their friends who are doing the wrong thing into town because they realise they are going to get caught."
He urged the community to abide by the law, as for those engaging in dangerous driving behaviour it was "only a matter of time until they hurt themselves or someone else".
He encouraged anyone with information about antisocial behaviour or dangerous driving to phone the police station.
"We will make every endeavour to make sure those people are brought to account," he said.
If not answered, it means the members are out patrolling the roads or are responding to an incident - such as a collision or family violence incident.
"The phone (at the station) diverts to our mobile," he said, adding that if a message is left a return call will be made.
In the case of an incident, it is recommended to call 000 and the nearest unit will be dispatched.
Cr Henderson said the social problems in the area were being addressed by looking at the bigger picture.
"It is disgusting and annoying when infrastructure is destroyed but it shouldn't be just about punishing people but also trying to identify the problems behind them. It requires a whole of town effort."
He is part of a taskforce of agencies including the state government, local police and council that meet regularly to assess a range of problems in the community, with much of the focus around vulnerable youth, and what can be done to address them.
"We are meeting regularly to create support systems and employment opportunities," he explained.
Aside from the taskforce, he said community groups and sporting clubs were also working to create change and mentor young people.
"The effect is a lot larger in a small community like Creswick because everyone notices. It's not a bigger problem here than anywhere else, but we are a smaller community so it's more noticeable."
Acting Regional Director (Western) at the Department of Transport, Angela Daraxoglou, said crews had visited the site to assess the damage and address immediate safety concerns.
"Regional Roads Victoria specialist safety crews regularly inspect the road network to identify defects, treat any hazards and maintain arterial roads in a safe and acceptable condition."
Regional Roads Victoria encourages the community to report issues and hazards on our road network by calling 133 778.
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