Environmental protection from the next generation of coastal innovators


On Wednesday 5 September, around 160 students from five local schools gathered in Torquay to learn, work-shop ideas and celebrate coastal conservation at the annual Coast Guardians Forum hosted by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee.

The year 9 students from Northern Bay College, Surf Coast Secondary College, Geelong Lutheran College, Lorne Aireys Inlet P-12 College, and Sacred Heart College had a day of guest presenters, exciting activities and prizes as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast’s award-winning Environmental Education Program.

The day featured special presentations from Corrina Eccles, Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation; Meg Cullen, Birdlife Australia; Deidre Murphy, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority; Alan Beckhurst, Queenscliff Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, Victorian Fisheries Authority; Lachlan McKenzie, Eco Logic; Luke Hynes, Jan Juc Coast Action and Sam Marwood, Edge Pledge.

Great Ocean Road Coast Chairman Ken Northwood said educating the next generation about the precious coastal environment was a major priority for the organisation.

“The Coast Guardians program is aimed at increasing awareness around environmental issues and encouraging social responsibility and environmental stewardship. Ultimately, we hope that participants will be able to walk along a well-cared for coastline and enjoy the benefits of their hard work.  The program is also aimed at fostering partnerships between the schools, GORCC, local community organisations and local environmental volunteer groups.

“We’re incredibly proud of the achievements of our education program, which has been celebrated with awards by the Victorian Coastal Council and was a finalist in the recent VicParks Awards in the Community Category.”

“These students are making a real contribution to our coastal landscape and support our conservation team, and the tireless efforts of local volunteers.”

GORCC Education Activity Leader Hilary Bouma said the forum will encourage students to reflect on their achievements throughout the year and share their experiences with other schools.

“Each school protects a different environment along the coast and has a different experience to share with the other schools,” she said.  “This forum celebrates the students’ personal development and their hands-on contribution to the enhancement of the coast.”

BACKGROUND: COAST GUARDIANS PROGRAM

The Coast Guardians Program is a Great Ocean Road Coast Committee educational opportunity for year 9 students.  Every year, the schools involved each take ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of a coastal site.   Schools involved are:

  • Lorne Aireys P-12 College
  • Geelong Lutheran College
  • Northern Bay College
  • Surf Coast Secondary College
  • Sacred Heart College.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government Agency responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through our commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast.

For more information on the Coast Guardians Program visit www.gorcc.com.au.

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Corrina Eccles began the proceedings to the Coast Guardians Forum with a special welcome to Wadawurrung country and smoking ceremony.
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Our Coast Guardians got up close and personal with EcoLogic’s preserved collection of actual bush animals. Lachlan McKenzie showed our students where native animals live, how they survive, and how to detect the evidence of who’s been where.
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What is every colour of the rainbow, made up of crystals, boulders, and pieces of shell? What has 330,000 pieces of plastic in it that gets flushed out into the ocean every time you wash your face? Our Coast Guardians learned all this and more looking at things up close using Great Ocean Road Coast’s digital microscopes.
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Our Coast Guardians learned about the threatened species on our doorstep such as the Hooded Plover and how they and other beach nesting birds survive and are adapted to coastal life. Thanks to Meg Cullen from BirdLife Australia for running this great session.
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The Coast Guardians explored the wonders of the sea with Alan Beckhurst from the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre. They also learned about how important it is to fish sustainably and care for our marine ecosystem so there are fish and marine and coastal habitats in the future.
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Deidre Murphy from Waterwatch led an interactive workshop allowing the Coast Guardians to explore the features of freshwater creatures, how they survive and why they are an important part of a biodiverse habitat.
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Corrina Eccles introduced our Coast Guardians to the way of life of the original coast guardians of the Surf Coast, the Wadawurrung. Corrina shared her family history, traditions, culture, and connection to country.
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Sam Marwood was our special guest speaker – entrepreneur, speaker, consultant and creator of Cultivate Farms and Edge Pledge. Sam inspired our Coast Guardians to harness the power of social media to pursue their passions for making social and environmental change.

Coast Guardians Forum a day of learning and fun


The 2017 GORCC Coast Guardians Forum was a day of celebration and inspiration for the 140 year 9 students, teachers and staff from the four local schools who attended at the Surf Coast Shire Grant Pavilion in Torquay. The weather was not in our favour, but the spirits were high for a fun-filled day with delicious food, wonderful donated goods as prizes, and local coastal expertise.

Read more

Beach Kinder a hit with kids


An excursion to the beach provided an exciting new classroom for Jan Juc Preschool kids recently.

The students spent three sessions at their local beach learning about the importance of the coastal environment as part of ‘Beach Kinder’ – a free educational program. The eager little participants learnt about local plants and animals and the danger beach litter poses to the environment and the animals that live in it.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) led the sessions which saw a beach treasure hunt, cliff top walk and more.

 

Jan Juc Preschool kids building sandcastles with items collected in the treasure hunt.
Jan Juc Preschool kids building sandcastles with items collected in the treasure hunt. Photo: Jan Juc Preschool

GORCC conservation worker Pete Crowcroft believes that it is necessary to educate young children about their local surroundings and how to preserve it.

“It is a very beneficial program as it helps them to think about the environment and what belongs at the beach and what doesn’t while having fun,” Mr Crowcroft said.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale teaches Jan Juc Preschool about what belongs at the beach.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale teaches Jan Juc Preschool about what belongs at the beach. Photo: Jan Jus Preschool

The kinder kids participated in a beach treasure hunt with some exciting finds including shark eggs, sea stars and a bottle nose dolphin spine,  examined fossils in the cliff face and learnt about the endangered Hooded Plovers.

GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft holding a dolphin spine as part of beach treasures.
GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft holding a dolphin spine as part of beach treasures. Photo: Jan Juc Preschool

Jan Juc Preschool teacher Jane Wilson said she hopes the activity will become an annual event.

“The Jan Juc Preschool has a philosophy of supporting children with their education of the local environment and to support children to appreciate and learn to care about their local areas and this program fitted in perfectly to this philosophy.

“The beach is an integral part of living [in Jan Juc] and the discussions are ongoing. The excursion brings together the ongoing discussion we have over the year.

“Interesting stories about the various uses for kelp in ice cream, toothpaste and Vegemite is something the children will remember for a long time,” she said.

Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litter
Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litter

For more information about GORCC’s educational programs and how to get involved, click here.

Students celebrate coastal conservation


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Hilary Bouma (GORCC Education Activity Leader) and Byron Powell, Wathaurung elder.

90 students joined some special guests at a coastal forum in Torquay this week to celebrate of a year of coastal conservation achievements.

Year nine students from four regional schools came together at the environmental education forum which is held each year as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Rowlands said the forum celebrated the significant contribution the students have made over the past year to the local coastal environment.

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Phil Armato (Fisheries Victoria) shows a wobbegong shark jaw to Lorne P-12 College student, James Wainwright.

“The day included interactive activities and challenges, prominent guest speakers, student presentations and prizes and giveaways.

This year’s guest speakers and special guests included:

•    Wathaurung aboriginal elder Bryon Powell
•    Phil Armato: manager of Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre for Fisheries Victoria. Previously worked at the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria.
•    Dr Kate Charlton-Robb: founding director and principal researcher at the Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation. Researcher, lecturer, campaigner, and discoverer of the unique species of Port Phillip Bay Dolphins called Burrunan Dolphins.

The day has been designed to increase and extend understanding on topics students have covered over the last twelve months including aboriginal culture, coastal animals and plants and threats to and management of, the natural coastal environment.

“We hope that these Coast Guardians will now graduate to become ongoing ambassadors for our beautiful and fragile coast,” said Ms.Rowlands.

Students received thank you gift packs donated by Quiksilver and, spot prizes donated by other local businesses.

“GORCC thanks Quiksilver and other local businesses for supporting this very special program and for recognising the achievements of these students who are making a very real difference to the environment.

The GORCC Coast Guardians Program sees four schools take ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of four sites.   Schools involved are:
•    Lorne Aireys P-12 College
•    Geelong Lutheran College
•    Northern Bay College
•    Surf Coast Secondary College

“This is a long term program where students, mainly year 9s, look after a specific site between Torquay and Lorne over 5 years.

“The Coast Guardians Program aims to relate work undertaken on the ground to the school curriculum, linking to subjects such as science, outdoor education and community volunteering,” said Ms. Rowlands.

For more information on the Coast Guardians Program visit http://www.gorcc.com.au.

Coast connections at student forum


Students from four regional schools came together to celebrate a year of coastal conservation achievements at an environmental forum held in Torquay last week.

EcoLogic’s Sophie Small, GORCC Education Activity Leader Sarah Bolus, Northern Bay College students Brian Devlin and Dylan Shelly with some ‘bush tucker’ they learnt about as part of the forum activities.

The educational event formed part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program and included environmental activities, guest speakers and student presentations.

Geelong Lutheran College Middle School Co-Ordinator Georgia Quirk said the forum highlighted the importance and impact of the students’ year of environmental work.

“It was great to see the students come together with the other schools in the program, and realise that what they have done has a larger purpose.

“Together we can achieve a whole lot more and it was wonderful to see our students interacting with others by take part in this community endeavour,” Ms Quirk said.

Participants learnt about indigenous foods, protecting and caring for wildlife, the impact of marine debris on our environment and were encouraged to consider environmental volunteering and future careers in conservation.

GORCC Conservation Officer Georgina Beale said the forum acknowledged the students’ hard work and contribution to maintaining the coastal environment.

“The students have assisted us to protect and enhance the natural environment and supported the incredible work of local environmental volunteer groups,” said Ms. Beale.

The program covered a range of environmental topics integrated with hands-on activities such as weeding, planting and erosion prevention.

Geelong Lutheran College, Northern Bay P-12 College and Lorne-Aireys Inlet P-12 College and Surf Coast Secondary College Students took part in the Coast Guardians Program for 2012.

Each school took ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of a coastal site with the help of GORCC’s conservation team and supported by local volunteer groups including ANGAIR, Friends of Queens Park and Torquay Coast Action.

GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale and Education Activity Leader Sarah Bolus with students at the forum.

Visit or like GORCC on Facebook to see more images of the Coast Guardians End of Year Forum.

What is the Coast Guardian Program?

Students involved ranged from years 7-10 from four schools.  The activities the students undertook this year helped to increase awareness of environmental issues and encouraged social responsibility and environmental stewardship and it is hoped that participants will be able to walk along that section of coast in years to come and see the results of their hard work.

The program is additional to GORCC’s general Environmental Education Activities Program and is provided free of charge to the schools involved.

Read more about the program here.

Want to get involved in GORCC’s Environmental Activities Program or volunteering on the coast?

Learn more about it the Environmental Activities Program here.

Visit the volunteer page for further information on volunteering opportunities.

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Protecting spectacular Point Addis


Stand at Point Addis and look east to Port Phillip Heads in the distance. Gaze west along the coast to the Split Point lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. Look across the southern ocean and glimpse gannets diving or swallows swooping past the cliff face.

Spectacular Point Addis and the Ironbark Basin are fairly new additions to the Great Otway National Park but they have been important to people for thousands of years.

The importance of the area is evidenced by the middens that have been found in the Basin.  Middens are the remains of meals of shellfish once gathered and eaten by Aboriginal people.  These middens show that the Wathaurong people feasted on the sea bounty available here thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately the area’s more recent popularity has put increasing pressure on this fragile but beautiful and diverse environment, already scoured by wind and wave. Some older locals remember driving their cars onto Addiscott beach to go surfing and swimming although fortunately beach access is now only by foot on a new boardwalk and steps.

The work of volunteers in the area has become integral to its wellbeing. The Friends of Point Addis (FOPA) formed around the time that Point Addis became a Marine National Park in late 2002. Under the passionate guidance of Lynne Flakemore, the group embarked on cliff top revegetation, intertidal monitoring of the shore species, film nights and disseminating information to the public.

In the past two years, FOPA have worked closely with Parks Victoria which now manages the Ironbark Basin and Point Addis. Rip Curl and Quicksilver have also given invaluable support to the group.

Working bees have included a ‘Boneseed Blitz in the Basin’, weed eradication, plantings of indigenous species on degraded areas, mulching and fencing to protect against rabbits.

Members have also been on “rock pool rambles” and participated in the Great Victorian Fish Count to assist in monitoring marine species at the Jarosite Reef at the eastern end of Addiscott Beach.

Warning to visitors: stop the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi!

The group has turned its attention to the dangers posed by Phytophthora or Cinnamon Fungus as it was once commonly referred to.  The FOPA is calling for all visitors to the area to be aware of the damage caused by the Phytophthora which can be spread by walkers and bike-riders. You can avoid the spread of this disease by sticking to the designated track signs and keeping their dogs on a lead.

An invitation to all those passionate about the area:

To get involved, call Bronwyn Spark 5263 2224 or email bronwynspark@gmail.com to register your interest.

This article was published in the Surf Coast Times as part of the publications fortnightly “Going Green Column”.