Community Group Born To Make a Difference

Local Lorne community group LorneCare is a true demonstration of dedication to Lorne’s environment. The group works tirelessly throughout the year to maintain the town’s picturesque surroundings and this year will celebrate their ten year anniversary. The achievement will be marked with a celebration in remembrance their first working bee held in April 2001.

The group is an exceptional example of how dedicated individuals can make a difference. Originally the group’s work was focussed on carrying out the “community” actions of the Catchment Management Plan for Erskine River and Stony Creek.  However, over the years, the members have gained extensive experience and now collectively self manage their work. The members identify areas of need in the local area and then action the work at their monthly working bees.

LorneCare receives funding for specific projects from Coastcare and Corangamite CMA.  The group also receives a donation from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee each year in recognition of its assistance in the New Year’s Day foreshore and beach clean-up.  Gold coin donations from working bee participants cover the cost of barbeques.

The group has an ongoing positive working relationship with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, as most of their work is done on Crown land directly managed by the Committee.

LorneCare working with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee January 2011

The Beginning

The group was born when founders Alain Purnell and Michael Callanan, then members of the Surf Coast Shire Environment Advisory Committee, were on a Shire bus tour to assess catchment areas.  A number of environmental issues were identified which led to the development of a Catchment Management Plan for Erskine River and Stony Creek which was jointly funded by the Surf Coast Shire and Corangamite CMA.  This plan identified a number of actions for “the community” to carry out.  As no relevant community group existed in Lorne, LorneCare was formed on 10 December 2000, the day that the plan was launched by the Shire’s Mayor.  Over 50 people signed up.

Alain Purnell recalls their first working bee was held on Sunday 22 April 2001, as a complete washout.  Since then working bees have been held monthly.

Since their soggy introduction to environmental action, the group has experienced some incredible achievements and highlights including those listed below.


  • In October 2001 Governor of Victoria at the time, John Landy visited Lorne and at the Shire’s suggestion, he and his wife spent time inspecting the work LorneCare had done along Stony Creek.
John Landy with LorneCare at Stony Creek.
John Landy with LorneCare at Stony Creek.
  • On August 27 and 28 2005, LorneCare hosted a gathering of enthusiastic bush regenerators from throughout the Corangamite region to share experiences and learn from each other.  Several LorneCarers were joined by people from Queenscliff, Bannockburn, Barongarook, Jan Juc, Yan Yan Gurt and Pennyroyal. The gathering was facilitated by Geoff Brown, and as a result of which, all participants went back to their respective groups re-energised.
  • In February 2009, LorneCare assisted a newly formed group in Apollo Bay, the Spurge Purge Action Group (SPAG), to remove an invasive beach weed, Sea Spurge.  LorneCare provided the group with extra manpower and the expertise based on managing sea spurge along the Lorne foreshore.  The coastal weed needs care to remove because it has a fleshy stem and it can easily snap releasing a milky white sap, highly irritating on contact with the skin or when rubbed into the eyes.   Once established sea spurge spreads rapidly, it disrupts the native vegetation and has a negative impact on native species including endangered shorebirds that use the beach for nesting.

    LorneCare gives SPAG a hand


LorneCare and SPAG Socialise

What they do

LorneCare’s primary aim is to carry out environmental community-based activities on Crown land in Lorne. The

group’s role involves weed removal, revegetation and regular monitoring of the Erskine River and Stony Creek and a broader role in raising community consciousness about maintaining and enhancing the environment of Lorne as “a place of natural beauty and special significance”. This includes conducting nature walks.

Weed Removal and Revegetation

When they first started the group they envisioned they would be doing a lot of planting to revegetate the area. However, more than 90% of their work is weed removal because they found when the environmental weeds were removed the natives are free to grow and the areas often naturally revegetated.  LorneCare works within the principles of the Bradley Method.

New Years Day Clean-up

Since 2005 approximately 15 group members get up at the crack of dawn each year to take on the big job of cleaning up the Lorne foreshore from the New Years Eve celebrations the night before. The dedicated group arrives at the beach foreshore at 6am and works hard assisting GORCC staff to clear away the rubbish by 8am; ready for the New Years Day crowds.

Waterwatch Program

Each month a LorneCare team collects samples and then tests the water for purity at four designated areas on the Erskine River. Periodically, when there is sufficient flow in Stony Creek, the water at the lily pond is also sampled and tested. The results are sent off and then incorporated into the regional database which is part of a State-wide program for monitoring the quality of Victorian rivers.

Estuary Watch

LorneCare is involved in the EstuaryWatch program run by the CCMA aiming to help local communities learn more about their estuary. An estuary is the place where fresh water from a river interacts with salt water from the sea. LorneCare monitors the ever-changing estuary of the Erskine River. Their participation involves taking photos when they see something unusual in the estuary and sending it to the CCMA, monitoring bird life, the vegetation surrounding the

estuary and the physical and chemical properties of the water within the estuary.

Twilight Working Bees

In support of the local community, LorneCare holds twilight working bees to clean up the gardens at Lions Club Elderly Peoples Home in Lorne. The group steps in when there is a need and helps the onsite gardener get the garden under control, by doing major cutting back and weed removal.

Social Connection

The group provides members with a great opportunity to get involved with a cross-section of the Lorne community, to make new friends and have fun.  At the conclusion of each working bee, the group has barbecue to provide social time together. All age groups are represented, as are both permanent residents and weekenders. Their oldest member, Bonnie, is now 95 and although she is now unable to get involved in the working bees, she still turns up from time to time for the BBQ.

LorneCare BBQ – July 2010

Get Involved

The group meets at 10.00am on the third Sunday of each month, and always work in attractive locations. The location is listed in the Echo and Lorne Independent newspapers. The group always finishes the day off with a popular barbecue. For more information contact Alain on 5289 2906 or Michael on 5289 1886.

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