The coastal reserve above the Anglesea Surf Club has undergone a remarkable environmental transformation, thanks to a five-year project carried out by students and volunteers.
Year nine students from St Bernard’s College and Anglesea Coast Action (ACA) volunteers have spent more than 700 hours restoring the heathland back to its natural state. Students and volunteers met regularly at the site to remove the weeds with loppers and saws.
Why did this site need attention?
The site’s Indigenous vegetation was damaged during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and struggled to recover due to the quick regrowth of weeds.
Carl Rayner, secretary of ACA, said only small amounts of biodiversity remained in the reserve when the project began.
“The area has gone from a weed-infested coastal reserve with half a dozen species to a thriving heathland, which is now home to over 110 species of Indigenous plants,” he said.
“The result is amazing and I have never seen a transformation quite like it before.”
Vice president of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet Society for the protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR), Neil Tucker, said the weeding work meant smothered native vegetation was able to germinate again and grow naturally.
“A wonderful variety of native plants have bloomed in the area including orchids, which no one knew were there,” he said.
How do St Bernard’s students give back to the environment?
St Bernard’s campus director, Mark Smith, said the program taught the students about the need for everyone to take responsibility for the protection and preservation of the natural environment.
“We wanted them to contribute to an ongoing community project that fitted with our theme of environmental awareness – and the project was a perfect fit,” he said.
“The students are all from the city and spend four weeks at the school’s Santa Monica Campus each year. The students have benefited by gaining a better understanding of the coastal environment, especially in terms of learning about what plants are Indigenous and why it is advisable to plant them – and how invasive species have affected the coast and dunes.”
What other benefits have emerged from the project?
Mr Rayner said plenty of positive feedback had been received about the restored site.
“The view from the nearby lookout is magnificent and people have said to me that it’s now arguably one of the best views along the Great Ocean Road.”
The project was made possible through Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, ACA and ANGAIR funding.
Have you seen the coastal reserve above the Anglesea Surf Club recently?
Tell us what you think of the transformation!
Want to get involved in GORCC’s Environmental Education Program for schools? Click here for more information.
Interested in protecting and preserving the coast? Find out more about environmental volunteering on the coast here.
Check out what other local schools have done lately to protect our beautiful coast.