Signs set to showcase volunteers’ great work

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) has completed its latest project after being a recipient of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s (GORCC) Coastal Grants Program.

The group began the project in June 2019, erecting interpretative signage along the Jan Juc clifftops, providing visitors to the Surf Coast Walk with a before and after view of the area.

It’s not hard to see the huge amount of work the volunteer group has put into the Jan Juc clifftops area, but it will be even easier to see now with new signage in place.

The project aims to highlight to visitors the amount of hard work that has gone into making the area what it is today, showcasing the environmental successes the group has delivered.

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteer Luke Hynes and Great Ocean Road Coast Committee CEO Vanessa Schernickau alongside one of the newly installed signs.

The signs can be found alongside the Surf Coast Walk near Bird Rock Car Park, Jan Juc Beach Car Park and Steps Lookout in Jan Juc – locations that show the direct impact the volunteer group’s efforts have had on creating substantial positive environmental change on the clifftops.

Dedicated JJCA member Luke Hynes, who has been involved with the volunteer group for more than a decade, was thrilled to see the project completed and said it was a tribute to the many hours and great work the group has put in.

The transformation at Steps Lookout from 1995 to now.

Luke also thanked GORCC for their generous assistance, providing a $3,840 grant to get the project off the ground.

“There have been thousands of hours of volunteer work put in to enhance these areas. Hopefully, these pictures tell a bit of a story about how important it is to treat it well,” Luke said.

Not only will these signs provide great insight into the preservation of the Jan Juc clifftops, but they also help educate visitors.

It’s a new-look car park compared to 1980 at Jan Juc Car Park.

The signs read: ‘Our community chose to restore this coastal ecosystem. Help us look after and respect our fragile, diverse and unique habitat.’

The message is clear; the choice is ours to help our precious coastal ecosystems thrive.

The signs also provide visitors with information about JJCA and how they can get involved.

The popular walking track sees plenty of people, both local and tourists, enjoy the area and these signs will help to reduce the negative impact of people entering the protected areas on the clifftops as well as encourage environmental protection.

A perfect track to take a walk on, a far cry from the informal track pictured left 30 years ago.

The coastal vegetation along the clifftops has been restored over many years after human pressures degraded the landscape. With increased awareness, visitors will hopefully gain a better understanding and greater respect and awareness of the role we can all play in protecting the environment.

Jan Juc Coast Action holds a monthly working bee on the first Sunday of the month. Anyone interested in getting involved with the volunteer group can contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JanJucCoastAction for details.

Each year, GORCC dedicates funds for community-led projects that enhance the natural values of the 37 kilometres of coastal Crown land under its management between Point Impossible and Cumberland River. The grants aim to encourage proactive environmental and heritage protection along the coast. The next round of Coastal Grants opens mid-March 2020.

Season looks bright for Surf Coast hooded plovers

There was cause for celebration at Whites Beach last month as we saw the first hooded plover chick fledge for the season.

It was a celebratory moment for the Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast volunteers and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation team, who put plenty of work into giving the chick the best chance of survival.

What makes this such a rewarding occasion for those involved, is just how tough it is for these birds to fledge (take first flight) given the challenges faced in their environment. Hooded plovers have just a 2.5% survival rate, therefore having just one or two success stories over the nesting season through September – March is a great achievement.

A hooded plover scrape (nest), with two eggs, demonstrates how difficult it is to spot camouflaged hooded plover eggs on the beach. Note the shoe prints to the left of the scrape.

The shore-nesting birds, fondly referred to as ‘hoodies’, encounter many obstacles over the breeding season. Inclement weather and high tides can wash away nests; predators, such as larger birds, cats and foxes prey on the eggs and chicks; and disturbances from humans and dogs keep parents off their nests as they try to steer perceived threats away.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Evan Francis said it was a hugely satisfying feeling and thanked all the volunteers and members of the public for playing their part in helping the chick survive.

Evan said it was “very rare” for an egg to make it through to the hatchling stage, which takes 30-35 days for incubation, while it takes another 30 days for a chick to fledge.

Given these factors, Evan was excited to have a much-anticipated success story.

“It’s rewarding, it’s hard to not get attached when you’re out there every second day, you get invested,” he said.

A young hooded plover chick. Photo: Glenn Ehmke.

“We just want to thank everyone for being such good friends of the bird.

“People are more understanding now, most locals are fully aware of them, I think it’s been a success.”

Local volunteers do a wonderful job wardening the nests and educating passers-by, and in this case Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast, led by Jan Lierich, have contributed greatly.

Volunteers like Jan help keep the public informed, ensuring the birds’ safety and bringing plenty of passion to the cause.

Jan said it was heartening to see the chick fledge and said the volunteer group, consisting of roughly 12 members, were proud to play a role in the process but stressed it could not have been done without a number of supporting bodies.

“It’s a team effort. We just want to thank the community and the people who use the beach, because of their help we’ve been able to have a fledgling,” she said.

A juvenile hooded plover prepares to fledge. Photo: Glenn Ehmke.

GORCC has recently been implementing temporary exclusion zones, to help protect the birds and alert the public to nest sites.

The temporary exclusion zones have so far proved promising. Evan said there had been great cooperation from the public and from the two times temporary exclusion zones have been put in place two chicks have managed to fledge.

GORCC currently manages six breeding areas along the coastline at Whites Beach, Point Roadknight, west of Point Roadknight tip, Anglesea, Fairhaven and Moggs Creek.

The conservation team does weekly checks to identify new nesting areas and has found the introduction of fencing and signage over the last 5-7 years has made a big difference in giving shorebirds the best opportunity to thrive.

A pair of hooded plovers.

The breeding season continues to look positive with the news of two hooded plover chicks hatching at Aireys Inlet in late February. To give the chicks the best chance of survival a temporary exclusion zone has been erected at the nesting site, just to the west of Painkalac Creek estuary mouth. The exclusion zone will be in place until the chicks have fledged.

Until then, the team at GORCC and volunteers from Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast have our fingers crossed for another hoodie success story.

About us
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. www.gorcc.com.au

Swimming group preserving beloved Cosy Corner

It began with a few keen swimmers making their way down for a morning dip at Torquay’s popular beach Cosy Corner. Some 20 years later, it has developed into a dedicated volunteer group known as Friends of Cosy Corner (FoCC).

Back (L-R): Max, Rob and Mal. Front: John, Kim, Terri, Cassie and Liz.
Some members of FoCC absent, the group has 15-20 members.

Those few swimmers quickly turned into five and then 10, but it was only a couple of years ago that the casual swimming group took on the responsibility of helping preserve their beloved Cosy Corner.

Everyday swimmers from FoCC meet at their usual spot at the picnic benches near the bottom car park for a swim and a cup of tea or coffee afterwards. On this particular occasion, members of the group commented on a low-reaching tree branch that hung over their bench. They reached out to see what could be done and were pointed in the direction of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC). This initial contact would go on to create a strong relationship that now sees FoCC keep a first-hand eye on the area.

GORCC conservation team members and members of FoCC at a recent planting day.

FoCC have partnered with GORCC conservation staff in a number of planting days and general upkeep of Cosy Corner and continue to discuss new projects and initiatives to best maintain one of Torquay’s favourite spots for beachgoers. The volunteer group have even been approached by Parks Victoria to help with marine studies.

One of the most recognisable features of Cosy Corner is the arrangement of Moonah trees. FoCC said preserving these was one of their biggest priorities and asked all beachgoers to be mindful of treating them with care and not climbing on the trees, given this causes damage and could lead to the tree dying.

The Moonah trees that add plenty of character to the picnic area.

“It’s just the evolution with more and more people coming down,” one member of FoCC said.

After chatting to a number of the FoCC members, it is clear how passionate the group is about the safekeeping of Cosy Corner, and they’re proud to be making a difference.

“It’s been a really lovely thing (being part of Friends of Cosy Corner) … the swimming’s fantastic, but it’s another focus for the group,” another member commented.

“We use this place almost every day and we’re actually looking after it, it’s a great feeling.”

For anyone interested in getting involved with FoCC, they can contact Cassie Curnow on 0438 089 061.

About us
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. www.gorcc.com.au

A walk through Torquay’s Taylor Park

It only takes a short stroll around Taylor Park to realise its vast array of plants and wildlife, nestled among the suburban area of Torquay.

While taking that same stroll around the park with dedicated volunteer member of Friends of Taylor Park Ian Convery, you get a great insight into the park’s history and what it means to members of the community like Ian.

We began our walk at the pond, accompanied by many ducks being fed by a family. It only took a few minutes into our walk before we bumped into a couple of regulars to the park and stopped for a chat – it’s little things like these that quickly show what Taylor Park offers to the community and why it’s important to preserve it.

Photo: Friends of Taylor Park volunteer Ian Convery.

Ian said there were a number of improvements he and the fellow members of Friends of Taylor Park were hoping to implement in the near future.

“We think for the park to have a future it needs a lot more done to it,” Ian said.

We walked past where a recent planting day had taken place, and then made our way through the trees and shrubbery. Ian spoke of how important it was to keep what Taylor Park, which surrounds the Torquay Bowling Club along The Esplanade, has to offer but also build upon that and make the park not only a great destination for locals but also people visiting Torquay.

Convery was hopeful that with the continued support of Friends of Taylor Park, Taylor Park would not just remain, but become a genuine attraction for those in the community and visiting the area.

 “We’d like to get it to the point where people visit Torquay and know about the park and want to visit it.”

Continued maintenance to walking trails and benches, as well as adding signage regarding the park’s history, was something he was keen to implement.

The Taylor Park Draft Master Plan, released by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, highlights the desire to put into action many of Friends of Taylor Park’s hopes.

Educational and historical signage, drinking fountains and landscaping to the pond area are all planned works on the horizon. While in the medium to longer-term, better lighting, better ways to harvest stormwater and additional picnic facilities have all been tabled.

Photo: Great Ocean Road Coast Committee conservation team member Scott Hives (left) with Friends of Taylor Park volunteers at a working bee in 2019.

Anyone wishing to join Friends of Taylor Park and help with the conservation of the area can contact the group on 0418 386 190 or join the Facebook page ‘Friends of Taylor Park Torquay’.

The next volunteer working bee is 10am – 12pm Saturday 8 February.

About us
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. Visit us at www.gorcc.com.au.

Written by Daniel Short, GORCC Communications and Engagement Intern.

Fence a win for environmental and cultural heritage conservation

Under the guidance of Wadawurrung (Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation), a rabbit proof fence has recently been installed by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

A win for both environmental and cultural heritage conservation, the fence is designed to disrupt destructive rabbit activity in and around Whites Beach, Torquay.

The fence is positioned between an area known as ‘the gap’ along the gravel section of the Esplanade down to the Point Impossible Nude Beach.

The fence forms part of an integrated rabbit control program developed to support and restore ecological processes and preserve the integrity of culturally sensitive sites. Read more

Monitoring coastal erosion in Anglesea

The Great Ocean Road coast is constantly changing.

While Victoria has a long history of weather variability such as storms, droughts and floods, climate change is projected to increase risks to coastal environments through drivers such as sea-level rise, change in wave-direction and increases in swell energy and storm tide events. These drivers affect coastal erosion, sediment supply and inundation and are expected to vary geographically across Victoria’s coastal zone.

The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP) aims to provide communities with information on coastal condition, change, hazards, and the expected longer-term impacts associated with climate change that will support decision making and adaptation planning. Read more