Volunteers transform clifftops

National Volunteer Week (NVW) is on again and is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution more than 6 million Australian volunteers make to communities across the nation.

Jan Juc Coast Action have a long history of restoring and revegetating the clifftop area and have been instrumental in the improved habitat health along the stunning stretch of coastline.

The following is an excerpt from the Jan Juc Coast Action group about their work over the years.

Ian and Roma with Pete (3)
Founders Roma and Ian Edwards with Great Ocean Road Coast Environmental Education Leader Peter Crowcroft.

Over the years the Jan Juc Clifftops have seen many changes. From the indigenous Wathaurong people, managing the area using fire, to farming practices in the late 1800’s and then urban development in the 1950s and increasing in density to today.

steps 1940s
The site at Steps in 1940s
steps present
The site at Steps today.

Farming impacts included excessive clearing, grazing, increased nutrient levels and rabbit infestation.  Urbanisation brought about more clearing, rubbish dumping and invasion by woody weeds and garden escapees.

The resulting landscape was highly modified and contributed to many management issues including erosion, weed invasion, informal access through native vegetation and inappropriate use.

ocean boulevade 1960s
Ocean Boulevard in the 1960s
ocean boulevade present
Ocean Boulevard today.

A couple of families began weed control and revegetation using locally indigenous species in 1990 around the Jan Juc beach car park.

Local residents then began to join in, and in May 1994 Jan Juc Coast Action became the first formal Coast Action Group supported by the State Government.

Once formalised, the group worked closely with land managers Torquay Foreshore and then the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee to rationalise tracks, remove weed infestations and replant with indigenous natives.

car park 2000
Bird Rock Carpark in early 2000s
bird rock carpark present
Bird Rock carpark today.

As environmental volunteering grew, Jan Juc Coast Action was able to work together with local schools and businesses, forming an ongoing partnership with local surf company Rip Curl who has donated staff time to work on the clifftops for over 17 years through the successful Planet Days program.

3 tier carpark 1980
3 Tier Carpark in the 1980s
3 tier carpark present
3 Tier car park in recent times.

The resulting 23 years of hard work has produced significant change turning the modified weed infested vegetation into a functioning ecosystem which supports local fauna. This has helped to increase the distribution of the state significant Rufous Bristlebird, protected the rare Swamp Diuris and increase the extent of the state significant Coastal Moonah Woodland Community.

The clifftop tracks are used extensively by the local community and visitors who enjoy the natural surrounds, not realising that this now relatively intact ecosystem is actualy from the results of thousands of hours from volunteers and paid labour.

Jan Juc Carpark 1980
3 Tier Carpark in 1980
Jan Juc Carpark present
3 Tier Carpark today.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said the ongoing management of vegetation sites such as the Jan Juc Cliffs would not be possible without the support from dedicated locals.

“What people sometimes don’t realise is that in order for nature to look untouched, thousands of hours are invested into each site to restore the natural habitats after decades of settlement impacts.

“Our environmental volunteers along the coast do a fantastic job at preserving the vegetation sites and improving the natural landscape for future generations to be able to experience, enjoy and appreciate,” she said.

Do you want to help to protect and preserve coastal environments? Ready to roll up your sleeves? We’re calling on all community members of all ages to help get involved in caring for our precious coastline.

Even if you only have one hour or a weekend to spare, volunteer groups would love to hear from you! You can become a regular participant, or help out when and where you can.

What kind of activities are involved? Volunteer groups along our coast carry out a variety of roles in many different areas. Activities may include:

  • Weeding
  • Revegetation
  • Developing facilities such as walking tracks
  • Preventing erosion
  • Participating in informative walks,
  • Monitoring native birds and animals
  • Attending meeting and social events.

And much more!

Download the volunteer brochure today to find your local group.

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