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.

Read more

Community effort to clean up coast

Teams of dedicated locals help start the New Year the right way with their annual beach clean-up post New Year’s Eve festivities.

The Torquay Lions Club and LorneCare environmental group have spent the first day of the year for the past 10 years removing litter and debris on the foreshore areas in Torquay and Lorne after late night celebrations. Read more

Coast Guardians Poem

GORCC’s Coast Guardians program is a special, ongoing program created for year 9 students from four local and regional schools. Each school works on protecting and enhancing a local coastal area. Here is a poem written by the Lorne Aireys Inlet students which they presented at the 2016 Coast Guardians Forum Read more

Celebrating our volunteers

National Volunteers Week  is currently underway, and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) would like to acknowledge and thank all the fantastic local volunteers who help look after our iconic coastline year after year. Read more

Teamwork trumps weeds

Lorne volunteer groups are combining to tackle invasive weeds as part of an annual effort to conserve local parklands, while encouraging others to take small, environmentally-aware actions every day.

Friends of Queens Park (FoQP) and LorneCare will conduct three intensive working bees between August and October, joining together to overcome weeds in popular local destination Queens Park.

FoQP Chairman John Wilson said that while weed removal was a priority and essential to protecting and enhancing biodiversity, the group was also focussing on educating others.

“Removal of garden escapees such as boneseed, cape broom and sweet pittosporum is an important part of creating a sustainable coastal environment, however weed removal is not the only focus for environmental volunteers.

John Wilson and sweet pittospurum
FoQP Chairman John Wilson explains the various weeds FoQP and LorneCare are targeting in the area to volunteers. He is pictured here with the environmental weed, Sweet Pittosporum. Photo: Ferne Millen

“FoQP is trying to let people know that conservation extends beyond weed control, and that the real meaning of conservation is about making environmentally conscious choices in our everyday living,” he said.

LorneCare Co-founder and Co-convener Alain Purnell said the personal satisfaction of being involved in local conservation is one of the most rewarding elements of volunteering.

“Working along the coast and in Queens Park, we continually see the progress our groups have made,” he said.

Volunteers of all ages participate in the local working bees, helping locals raise environmental awareness in the community. Photo: Ferne Millen

While environmental volunteering often involves hands-on conservation, Mr Purnell said it was the social aspect and sense of satisfaction that motivated volunteers to continue their involvement.

“These types of groups are a great way to meet new people in the community, whether they are local residents or seasonal holidaymakers.

“Volunteering is a great excuse to catch up with friends and have a barbeque to celebrate our achievements for the day,” Mr Purnell said.

Picturesque views along the coast provide a wonderful backdrop for volunteers and visitors. Photo: Ferne Millen

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) works alongside and supports volunteers in their environmental efforts.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale praised the ongoing dedication of volunteer groups operating along the Great Ocean Road.

“Our local volunteers do a fantastic job along our coast and their ongoing support of our conservation efforts is unparalleled.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to help protect our precious coast.

Simple actions such as staying on designated walking tracks, removing environmental weeds from your garden and avoiding fenced off areas make a real difference in the preservation of fragile ecosystems,” she said.

Queens Park is a popular recreational destination consisting of over 40ha of parkland and is home to the recently rebuilt Teddy’s Lookout.

Volunteers and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee work hard to keep the environmental weeds out of areas like the iconic Teddy’s Lookout. Photo: Ferne Millen

FoQP and LorneCare’s next working bee will be held at Teddy’s Lookout at 10am Sunday 18th October and new volunteers are always welcome.  For more information about FoQP, LorneCare, or your local community group visit our website. 

Conservation is more than just weed eradication. Share what conservation means to you in the comments below.

Guest Post: Friends of Queens Park

GORCC works alongside and supports many volunteer groups who operate on coastal Crown land reserves from Torquay through to Lorne. These groups spend thousands of hours each year undertaking vital conservation work and raising awareness in the community. Friends of Queens Park Lorne are one volunteer group working towards creating an environmentally friendly future. 

This is an excerpt from the Friends of Queens Park Spring 2015 newsletter:

Sweet Pittosporum, bone seed and cape broom have all met their downfall over the past few months, thanks to the work of GORCC and the Green Army. Also there’s the social connectivity of the volunteer groups Friends of Queens Park and LorneCare working together in Queens Park with three working bees planned during the spring.

John Wilson with Pittosporum
Friends of Queens Park chairman John Wilson explains the damage Sweet Pittosporum has on native vegetation to Friends of Queens Park and LorneCare volunteers at their working bee. Photo: Ferne Millen

An example of this work can be seen on the fire track leading up to Teddy’s Lookout from the Queens Park caravan park. It’s a revealing dividing line showing good weed control management on the uphill side, neglect on the downside. Take a look on your next walk down this track.

We trace the growth cycle of Sweet Pittosporum. It begins with the sweet smelling flowers. The resulting seeds are spread by birds and emerge as small plants growing prolifically to form a dense canopy of foliage so dense that the sun can’t shine through. There’s semi darkness underneath an old stand, soil nutrients change, indigenous plants die and biodiversity is destroyed. It’s an invasive weed which can spread very rapidly.

To counteract this invasion is it essential to limit the spread by removing foliage and some entire plants.

Volunteers work tirelessly all year to remove environmental weeds from the coast to help preserve the natural environment. Photo: Ferne Millen
Volunteer groups work tirelessly all year to remove environmental weeds from coastal habitats to help preserve the natural environment and stunning views along the Great Ocean Road. Photo: Ferne Millen

Control of the Sweet Pittosporum requires drastic action. Whole plants often have to be removed by cutting the trunk at its base and the stumps painted with systemic herbicide immediately after cutting to ensure that the plant is killed.

After the Sweet Pittosporum has been cleared away the land is left bare for the regeneration of indigenous species.

Interested in getting involved in the outdoors? Check out our website to find out how!

EstuaryWatch volunteers monitor Erskine

LorneCare Volunteer monitoring the estuary.

The LorneCare September Newsletter reports volunteers have been monitoring various aspects of Lorne estuaries and the prevailing sea and weather conditions as part of the Erskine River EstuaryWatch Group.

Two LorneCare volunteers, Michael Callanan and Ulric Orr, photograph their observations monthly and record them on to the EstuaryWatch database.

“We take photo points and monitor wind, whether the river is flowing out or in and measure the height of the tide by using the tide chart board near the Erskine River.

“The estuary is dynamic, fascinating and we are always noticing changes,” Mr Callanan said.

CCMA EstuaryWatch Coordinator Rose Herben explained in the September LorneCare Newsletter that EstuaryWatch is a community-based estuarine monitoring program collecting monthly estuary mouth condition and physical-chemical data.

The program was initiated as part of the Large Scale River Restoration Initiative – Managing our Great Ocean Road Estuaries, a program coordinated through the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA),

Estuaries are an important link between the ocean and the land, where salty marine waters mix with freshwater from rivers and streams.

EstuaryWatch data has already been used to track events such as fish deaths, blue green algae blooms, storm surges and floods.

Information collected by EstuaryWatch volunteers over these events has allowed estuary managers to better understand the estuaries they work with and assist them in communicating to members of the public what is happening in and around an estuary before during and after an event such as an algal bloom.

LorneCare volunteers have also been continually monitoring water quality at four locations along the Erskine River as part of the CCMA Waterwatch Program.

Location of sampling sites:

  • Two sites about 1.5km upstream from Lorne on either side of a gully feeding into the Erskine River from the site of the old Shire tip.
  • A third at the Erskine River Caravan Park
  • A fourth at the Swing Bridge

As well as monitoring estuaries and water quality, LorneCare also hold Working Bees on the third Sunday of each month at 10am focusing on weed removal and revegetation followed by a BBQ.

LorneCare volunteer helping on a Working Bee

EstuaryWatch will be conducting a Night Seminar Series “Estuaries Unmasked” held at the Lorne Leisure Centre, Stribling Reserve from 6.30 to 8.30pm on Thursday 11 October 2012.  During the afternoon there will also be Walk the River and Water Bug Discovery activities.

To become involved in the session or day activities please RSVP to CCMA at 5232 9100 or info@ccma.vic.gov.au, or to become involved in the LorneCare Working Bees look out for the information listed in the Lorne Independent and Echo newspapers.

Community Group Born To Make a Difference

Local Lorne community group LorneCare is a true demonstration of dedication to Lorne’s environment. The group works tirelessly throughout the year to maintain the town’s picturesque surroundings and this year will celebrate their ten year anniversary. The achievement will be marked with a celebration in remembrance their first working bee held in April 2001.

The group is an exceptional example of how dedicated individuals can make a difference. Originally the group’s work was focussed on carrying out the “community” actions of the Catchment Management Plan for Erskine River and Stony Creek.  However, over the years, the members have gained extensive experience and now collectively self manage their work. The members identify areas of need in the local area and then action the work at their monthly working bees.

LorneCare receives funding for specific projects from Coastcare and Corangamite CMA.  The group also receives a donation from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee each year in recognition of its assistance in the New Year’s Day foreshore and beach clean-up.  Gold coin donations from working bee participants cover the cost of barbeques.

The group has an ongoing positive working relationship with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, as most of their work is done on Crown land directly managed by the Committee.

LorneCare working with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee January 2011

The Beginning

The group was born when founders Alain Purnell and Michael Callanan, then members of the Surf Coast Shire Environment Advisory Committee, were on a Shire bus tour to assess catchment areas.  A number of environmental issues were identified which led to the development of a Catchment Management Plan for Erskine River and Stony Creek which was jointly funded by the Surf Coast Shire and Corangamite CMA.  This plan identified a number of actions for “the community” to carry out.  As no relevant community group existed in Lorne, LorneCare was formed on 10 December 2000, the day that the plan was launched by the Shire’s Mayor.  Over 50 people signed up.

Alain Purnell recalls their first working bee was held on Sunday 22 April 2001, as a complete washout.  Since then working bees have been held monthly.

Since their soggy introduction to environmental action, the group has experienced some incredible achievements and highlights including those listed below.


  • In October 2001 Governor of Victoria at the time, John Landy visited Lorne and at the Shire’s suggestion, he and his wife spent time inspecting the work LorneCare had done along Stony Creek.
John Landy with LorneCare at Stony Creek.
John Landy with LorneCare at Stony Creek.
  • On August 27 and 28 2005, LorneCare hosted a gathering of enthusiastic bush regenerators from throughout the Corangamite region to share experiences and learn from each other.  Several LorneCarers were joined by people from Queenscliff, Bannockburn, Barongarook, Jan Juc, Yan Yan Gurt and Pennyroyal. The gathering was facilitated by Geoff Brown, and as a result of which, all participants went back to their respective groups re-energised.
  • In February 2009, LorneCare assisted a newly formed group in Apollo Bay, the Spurge Purge Action Group (SPAG), to remove an invasive beach weed, Sea Spurge.  LorneCare provided the group with extra manpower and the expertise based on managing sea spurge along the Lorne foreshore.  The coastal weed needs care to remove because it has a fleshy stem and it can easily snap releasing a milky white sap, highly irritating on contact with the skin or when rubbed into the eyes.   Once established sea spurge spreads rapidly, it disrupts the native vegetation and has a negative impact on native species including endangered shorebirds that use the beach for nesting.

    LorneCare gives SPAG a hand


LorneCare and SPAG Socialise

What they do

LorneCare’s primary aim is to carry out environmental community-based activities on Crown land in Lorne. The

group’s role involves weed removal, revegetation and regular monitoring of the Erskine River and Stony Creek and a broader role in raising community consciousness about maintaining and enhancing the environment of Lorne as “a place of natural beauty and special significance”. This includes conducting nature walks.

Weed Removal and Revegetation

When they first started the group they envisioned they would be doing a lot of planting to revegetate the area. However, more than 90% of their work is weed removal because they found when the environmental weeds were removed the natives are free to grow and the areas often naturally revegetated.  LorneCare works within the principles of the Bradley Method.

New Years Day Clean-up

Since 2005 approximately 15 group members get up at the crack of dawn each year to take on the big job of cleaning up the Lorne foreshore from the New Years Eve celebrations the night before. The dedicated group arrives at the beach foreshore at 6am and works hard assisting GORCC staff to clear away the rubbish by 8am; ready for the New Years Day crowds.

Waterwatch Program

Each month a LorneCare team collects samples and then tests the water for purity at four designated areas on the Erskine River. Periodically, when there is sufficient flow in Stony Creek, the water at the lily pond is also sampled and tested. The results are sent off and then incorporated into the regional database which is part of a State-wide program for monitoring the quality of Victorian rivers.

Estuary Watch

LorneCare is involved in the EstuaryWatch program run by the CCMA aiming to help local communities learn more about their estuary. An estuary is the place where fresh water from a river interacts with salt water from the sea. LorneCare monitors the ever-changing estuary of the Erskine River. Their participation involves taking photos when they see something unusual in the estuary and sending it to the CCMA, monitoring bird life, the vegetation surrounding the

estuary and the physical and chemical properties of the water within the estuary.

Twilight Working Bees

In support of the local community, LorneCare holds twilight working bees to clean up the gardens at Lions Club Elderly Peoples Home in Lorne. The group steps in when there is a need and helps the onsite gardener get the garden under control, by doing major cutting back and weed removal.

Social Connection

The group provides members with a great opportunity to get involved with a cross-section of the Lorne community, to make new friends and have fun.  At the conclusion of each working bee, the group has barbecue to provide social time together. All age groups are represented, as are both permanent residents and weekenders. Their oldest member, Bonnie, is now 95 and although she is now unable to get involved in the working bees, she still turns up from time to time for the BBQ.

LorneCare BBQ – July 2010

Get Involved

The group meets at 10.00am on the third Sunday of each month, and always work in attractive locations. The location is listed in the Echo and Lorne Independent newspapers. The group always finishes the day off with a popular barbecue. For more information contact Alain on 5289 2906 or Michael on 5289 1886.