Coastal Moonah Woodlands are identifiable by the presence of Moonah trees, with their gnarly wind-twisted branches, as well as other dominant species like Coast Wirilda, Coast Tea-Tree and Coast Beard-heath.
Prior to European settlement, it is thought that Coastal Moonah Woodland may have stretched as far as 5km inland in some areas. Unfortunately, much of this unique plant community has been lost due to clearing and fragmentation, with less than 10% of its original distribution remaining in Victoria. The Coastal Moonah Woodland plant community is now listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
We’re lucky to have a few small remnants of Coastal Moonah Woodland along the Surf Coast scattered throughout Aireys Inlet, Anglesea, Jan Juc, Point Addis, and Torquay. Or if you’re staying at one of the Great Ocean Road Coast caravan parks, you could be camped right underneath the Moonah’s beautiful protective canopy in Anglesea, or passing by an avenue of Moonahs at Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park.
As a plant community, Coastal Moonah Woodland is important because it helps stabilise dune systems and prevent erosion caused by climate and sea level changes.
When we protect Coastal Moonah Woodland, we also protect the residents that call this unique space home. Significant species that have been spotted amongst Coastal Moonah Woodland are the Southern Forest Bat, Black Wallaby, Tree Dragon, Long-nosed Bandicoot, as well as a host of reptile, bird, and insect-life, not to mention threatened wildflowers that prosper in the safety of the understorey.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor Evan Francis would like to remind everyone to look after and respect these threatened habitats by not dumping rubbish or damaging vegetation.
“The Moonah woodlands play an important role in protecting the cliffs and sensitive coastal environment from erosion while providing shelter for many of our unique native plants and animals,” he said.
What can you do? The protection of the coastal dune system is paramount to reverse the decline of Coastal Moonah Woodland. You can protect these areas by:
- using designated tracks and beach access points, to avoid trampling vegetation,
- keep dogs on leads and pick up waste to avoid increased nutrient levels,
- recycle waste and dispose of garden waste appropriately instead of dumping it,
- volunteering your time by joining a local community friends group.