Volunteer profile: Dennis Leavesley

GORCC works alongside and supports many volunteer groups who operate on coastal Crown land reserves from Torquay through to Lorne. These hard working groups spend thousands of hours each year undertaking vital conservation work and raising awareness in thecommunity. 

Dennis Leavesley is one of the hundreds of dedicated volunteers working towards creating an environmentally sustainable future.  

Friends of Aireys Inlet Coastal Reserve Convenor Dennis Leavesley stands at a lookout point at Aireys Inlet.

Friends of Aireys Inlet Coastal Reserve (FoAI) Convenor Dennis Leavesley has been an active volunteer along the Surf Coast since he moved to the area in 1998.

FoAI was established in 1991 as a sub group of ANGAIR (Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna) to focus on removing woody weeds from the 3.7km of land along the cliff top between Boundary Road and the Inlet.

Mr Leavesley said he believes FoAI is winning the battle against the woody weeds and hopes it only takes few more working bees to remove all woody weeds from the area.

“It’s taken many years and a mountain of hard work from volunteers and GORCC to transform the clifftop area,” he said.

The Surf Coast Walk is now framed with native vegetation after FoAI spent more than two decades removing woody weeds from the area.

Originally from the Goulburn Valley, Mr Leavesley became involved with environmental groups in the region to help protect the iconic coastline.

“It’s a wonderful place to live, and it’s terrific to be surrounded by so many people with similar environmental attitudes and values.

“The environment largely depends on the people who live in and around the area. We’re very lucky in Aireys Inlet to have environmentally conscious neighbours, which is certainly one of the bonuses we saw when we chose to move here.”

Mr Leavesley recalls a particularly memorable moment when he was weeding on the Aireys clifftop and looked out to sea to see a very dark object continually changing shape.

“I didn’t know what I was for a long time as it kept changing shape, however I eventually realised it was a flock of thousands of birds following and feeding on a school of fish. It was a vison of a lifetime!” he said.

In the future Mr Leavesley says he would like to see permanent and professional resources implemented to support the ongoing protection and management of coastal environments and indigenous flora and fauna.

What’s your most memorable moment along the coast? Share your stories in the comments below. 

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