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.

Victorian Coastal Award Winners


The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is honoured to win a Victorian Coastal Award for our education program with the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio MP.  A huge congratulations to Peter Crowcroft, Hilary Bouma, Katie Hart and all of the Great Ocean Road Coast staff involved.  Special thanks to all the of students, caravan park campers, volunteers, businesses, teachers, parents and all the other coastal education supporters.
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Lorne caring along the Bert Alsop Track


The Bert Alsop Track is a scenic walking track along the Lorne foreshore, linking North Lorne to the town’s centre and offering views across Louttit Bay and is a popular route for cyclists, walkers, and joggers.

Over the past 6 months the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s conservation team has been busy with the woody weed removal that started with the Green Army program in 2016, and the end of 2017 saw all of the woody weeds from the start of the track to the ‘Fat Ladies’ car park removed. This was done with the generous help of a Ford corporate group, LorneCare volunteers, and Great Ocean Road Coast’s conservation and foreshore teams.

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Many hands make light work


The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee has had a busy start to the year with 560 students participating in its environmental education program along the coast. Students from kindergarten to senior secondary school have contributed over 90 hours of conservation work, making a huge impact along our precious coast.

Great Ocean Road Coast Education Program Coordinator Peter Crowcroft, also known as Possum Pete, said that it was exciting to see so many students getting involved and learning about the coastal environment. Read more

Northern Bay College students lend a hand


A group of year 9 students from Northern Bay College have been doing some fantastic environmental work throughout term one with Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Coast Guardians program.

The year 9 students have been working closely with Great Ocean Road Coast’s Hilary Bouma, Education Coordinator of the Coast Guardians program, doing a variety of activities in their adopted area of Spring Creek, Torquay.

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Coast Guardians clean up the coast


Coast Guardians from Geelong Lutheran College have recently collected rubbish from the dunes at Whites Beach, Torquay.

Asides from helping to clean up the coastline and prevent marine debris from impacting our precious wildlife, the aim of the day was to collect data for the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database. The AMDI works with industry and government to create change on a larger scale, and aims to work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. Read more

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.

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