Forum Focusses on Biodiversity Issues

The Otway Biodiversity Forum was held in Colac recently with participants attending from across the region.  Groups representated included  management bodies,  government agencies,  and community organisations.

The Forum, hosted by the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN), discussed how current conservation projects and ideas can be linked, prioritized, and improved upon and was aimed at increasing community awareness and improving ecological values and environmental well-being.

biodiversity forum

Department of Environment and Primary Industries District Planning Manager (Otway District) Craig Clifford said the forum was a well organised and productive day.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together to discuss projects, ideas and possible linkages/partnerships the OCCN can ensure an integrated approach to land management.

“The OCCN provides a platform for groups who do not fit within  formalised networks and provides the support and leadership they need,” he said.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgina Beale attended the day and was happy with the progress made by all groups.

“We have been able to discover related projects and identify other groups who have the same goals.   Hopefully we can team up in the future and have a greater positive  impact on the environment,” she said.



Ms. Beale believes programs like GORCC’s Environmental Education Program can really benefit from increased support and partnerships.

“Community organisations and volunteer groups are vital in educating the younger generation…without them, students may not appreciate and take care of the environment,” she says.

To learn more about the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) and how they can help your group or organisation to reach your environmental goals, check out the video below:

The OCCN host regular biodiveristy forums and representatives from all regional groups and organisations are invited to attend. To learn more,  contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or email

Fluffy ferals prey on fauna

Cats may be cute but they can also be deadly, with both feral cats and pets wreaking havoc on Indigenous fauna.

Under the Surf Coast Shire cat curfew, cats across the shire, excluding the rural zone, must be confined to the owners’ premises between 8pm and 6am daily to help reduce attacks on Indigenous animals.

The Surf Coast Shire has a cat curfew to protect native wildlife.
The Surf Coast Shire has a cat curfew to protect native wildlife.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee conservation officer Georgie Beale said the local coast was home to a range of threatened or endangered species such as the Swift Parrot, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Swamp Antechinus and Rufous Bristlebird.

“Once a cat is out of its domestic environment it’s feral and they cause death and destruction, decimating indigenous wildlife including threatened and endangered species,” Ms Beale said.

Under the curfew cats found at large in any public area or outside their owner’s property between 8pm and 6am can be seized.

The Domestic Animal Act states cats at large can cost their owners a fee of 1 penalty unit ($100) for a first offence and 3 penalty units ($300) for further infringements.

All domestic cats should be micro chipped, registered and wear a registration tag to ensure lost and wandering cats are returned to their owners.

Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) facilitator Luke Hynes said cats have a huge impact on fauna.

“It’s essential that we reduce their impact on our coast,” he said.

The OCCN hires a humane cat cage free of charge, with a $50 refundable deposit, to capture wandering cats.

The cage is only hired out under special conditions to ensure cats caught are unharmed and users must adhere to strict guidelines for use.

It’s an offence for residents to set up inhumane steel jaw traps to capture wandering cats on their properties.

RSPCA Victoria Senior Inspector Daniel Bode said they see up to 100 cases of animal cruelty each year in Victoria arising from the use of traps including steel jaw traps.

“It is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to set a steel jaw trap due to the potential they have to cause extreme injury, pain and suffering to animals.”

Ms. Beale said cat control was a complex task but that all cat owners could take simple steps to minimise the harm cats cause.

“Have your cats desexed and have them home at night.   If they’re not wandering, they’re not killing our precious wildlife.”

For further information on the Cat Curfew visit the Surf Coast Shire website.

This story appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Learn more about how you can protect wildlife.

Related Blog:

 fearl-cat-ld-194-c-jiri-lochman-ltWho let the cats out?

Counteracting the Coast Tea-Tree invasion


Christian College year 10 students assemble near Jan Juc for the Coast Tea-Tree working bee.
Areas of the Anglesea Heathland received a makeover between Jan Juc and Bellbrae thanks to Christian College Geelong’s Year 10 Outdoor Education students’ who have been working closely with several conservation groups and private landowners.

Students worked closely with the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN), the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), Surfer’s Appreciating the Natural Environments (SANE) and private landowners where they were involved in numerous conservation activities including pulling out Boneseed, cutting out Coast Tea Tree and brush matting to stabilise sand dunes.

“The working bee forms part of the student’s outdoor education class and will equip them with hands on experience and knowledge about the issues affecting our coast,” said Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor, Georgina Beale

Coast Tea-Tree has invaded many coastal areas since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires forming thickets on dunes and heathlands, and smothering indigenous vegetation through shading and competition for resources such as water, soil and nutrients.

“Coast Tea-Tree also reduces the habitat of indigenous fauna that inhabits the heathland,” Ms. Beale said.

The environmental weed is spread by wind, water, human planting and through dumped garden waste.

You can stop the spread of Coast Tea-Tree along the coast by ensuring you remove all weeds from your garden to stop the weed from further spreading into our natural areas.

Use green wastes bins or drop weeds at local waste transfer stations to dispose of them.   Stations are located in Anglesea, Lorne, Winchelsea and Deans Marsh. For more information visit the shire’s waste disposal website here.

What does the Coast Tea-Tree look like?

Coast Tea-Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) is an invasive environmental weed along our coast.
  • Coast Tea-Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) looks like a shrub or small tree.
  • They can grow to about 5m high.
  • Recognised by a dull grey-green colour with stiff leaves and large white flowers that appear in the spring.
  •  Common along coastal areas because of their good tolerance of salt-spray conditions.

For more information on the Coast Tea-Tree you can visit the Weeds Australia website.

Why Coast Tea-Tree is both native to Australia and an environmental weed:

Although Coast Tea-Tree is native to Australia, it becomes an environmental weed along the Surf Coast when it moves from within its natural habitat into a new area where the species has a strong competitive advantage over the indigenous plants already in that area.

Environmental weeds are plants that grow in environments where they are not wanted and in natural landscapes they can out-compete indigenous species. This affects the balance of the entire ecosystem by reducing biodiversity, taking away vital food sources and habitat for native insects, birdlife and fauna. Many of the plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now considered environmental weeds.

For more information on environmental weeds, check out our website here.

Find out more about weeds along the coast:

Find out more information about the environmental weeds affecting our coast on the  GORCC website.

The Surf Coast Shire has also developed a list of environmental weeds along the Surf Coast on their website here. 

For more information on environmental weeds along the Surf Coast check out the Surf Coast Shire Booklet- Environmental Weeds Invaders of the Surf Coast Shire.

How you can get involved:

Christian College student helping to remove invasive Coast Tea-Tree in the heathland reserve.
Learn more about our GORCC’s Environmental Education Program for Schools and become involved here. 

Learn more about environmental volunteering opportunities on our coast here. 

Queens Park blitz a group effort

Students, corporate and environmental volunteers and land management agencies joined forces recently in a bid eradicate two of the worst weeds on the coast.

Year nine and 10 students from Lorne-Aireys Inlet P-12 and ANZ bank staff were amongst the group volunteers keen to protect Lorne’s iconic Queens Park.

Queens Park is 25 hectares of parkland which also includes Teddy’s lookout andlocal volunteer groups and schools often work in conjunction with the GORCC to both remove weeds and restore the area.

This event was organised by the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) in an attempt to win the tough battle against Bridal Creepers and Boneseed weeds in coastal regions and across the Otway Plain and ranges coastal regions.

Brial Creepers smother native plants so it’s vital we control them now!

OCCN project facilitator Luke Hynes says Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are known as two of the worst weeds in Australia as they are spread very quickly.

“Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are emerging weeds in this area and it is essential we control these weeds before they become established,” he said.

For more information about Bridal Creepers and Bonseed weeds, click the links below:

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said Queens Park is of high environmental significance and is home to some very unique animals.

“Many of the native animals who live in Queens Park are also threatened such as the Swift Parrott, the Rufous Bristlebird and the near threatened Swamp Anrichenus,” she said.

ANZ business analyst Georgie Roberts made the trip down to the coast from Melbourne with fellow co-workers, who are given the opportunity to do one day of volunteering each year.

“This year we decided to leave Melbourne and travel to Lorne because Queens Park is such a beautiful area and we were keen to get out of the office and spend a day helping to protect the coastal environment,” she said.

Lone-Aireys Inlet P-12 students and ANZ private banking staff were satisfied with their contribution to preserving the natural environment of Queens Park.

Friends of Queens Park President John Wilson said that working bees are common place in this area.

“We conduct regular working bees with volunteers and other local environmental groups including LorneCare, who generously give their time to clear weeds in the park and help to improve biodiversity in Queens Park,” he said.

How can I get involved in volunteering?

To find out more about the OCCN please visit their website

Friends of Queens Park also hold regular working bees in the area- If you are interested in their work, don’t hesitate to call 52891689 for more information.

For more information about environmental volunteering, please visit our website here.

New direction for conservation

The Otway Community Conservation Group recently held a  workshop  to  address future directions and potential projects for the management, protection and enhancement of biodiversity in the Otway region.

The Rufous Bristlebird is threatened by habitat loss. Improvement of wildlife corridors will help to preserve and increase habitat for a range of species, including the threatened Rufous Bristlebird pictured above, which has decreased in numbers dues to habitat loss and is now confined to a small pocket of coast in the Surf Coast and Otway regions.

OCCN facilitator Luke Hynes was encouraged by the outcomes of the workshop and feedback given by all representatives.

“Suggested project areas included further networking between groups, improving wildlife corridors, controlling pest plants and animals and increasing community engagement and education,” he said.

Why is biodiversity important?

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale believes biodiversity is important in order to protect our unique Australian flora and fauna.

“Conserving and enhancing this biodiversity in the Otway region will provide us with a much healthier and more resilient ecosystem.

“Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world and much of our flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else.

It is this unique landscape which gives us our identity as a country and the more we learn about, understand and respect our environment the better off we will all be,” she said.

Check out this video clip about biodiversity.  The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is working with volunteers to take direct action against invasive weeds and other critical threats to our coast’s precious biodiversity. But we need your help too.

Who attended the workshop? 

Around 30 natural resource managment staff and community volunteers attended the workshop.

Representatives from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Parks Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, local councils, coastal land managers, VicRoads, Conservation Volunteers Australia, ALCOA, Otway Conservation Ecology Centre, local Landcare networks and conservation groups also attended the workshop.

OCCN chairperson Roger Ganly said he was thrilled with the strong turnout, thanking all those who attended.

“We had a great representation from a cross section of the community and natural resource management sector across the Otway region,” he said.

 How do I find out more?

For more information please contact the OCCN Project facilitator Luke Hynes – PH: 0406 113 438; E: or visit their website

You can also check out other blogs we have posted on the OCCN:

Input sought on Otways biodiversity.

Community Conservation Network forges ahead.

New network to protect Otways

Input sought on Otways biodiversity

Do you have some more free time during your Easter Holidays? Why not come along to the upcoming planning workshop for the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) later this month?

After a successful first year, the OCCN is inviting the community to have their input at a new workshop about the future protection of biodiversity in the Otway region.

The OCCN are coordinating an effort to tackle Bridal Creeper and Boneseed weeds in the Otways through ground control, as well as mapping.

Bridal Creeper taking over native vegetation (photo: OCCN)

This Clip produced by the OCCN shows volunteers removing Boneseed  on three Victorian Properties:

OCCN Facilitator Luke Hynes said that these weeds are having a devasting effect on our local environment and coastline. He said that it is also the perfect opportunity to share information and discuss how to encourage biodiversity in a community-oriented environment.

“We are now planning future projects and community input is vital,” he said.

Who else will be there?

Representatives from Great Ocean Road Coast Committe (GORCC), Parks Victoria, VicRoads, The Department of Sustainabilty and Environment, The Corangmite Catchment Management Authority, Landcare,  local councils, coastal land managers, Trust for Nature and other conservation groups, will also be there contributing their ideas.

‘We are asking for input and are looking forward to seeing to see representatives from the community on the 18th of April,‘ said Mr. Hynes



One of the unique creatures that OCCN strives to protect



What are the details?

When: Wednesday 18th April, from 10am-12pm.

Where: Otway Estate, 10 Hoveys Road, Barongarook.

Lunch will also be provided!

RSVP:  If you’re interesting in coming along to the workshop, please RSVP to Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 for catering purposes.

If you’d like more information contact OCCN Project facilitator Luke Hynes – PH 0406 113 438 E: or visit our website



By coming along to this workshop, you can help keep our coastline beautiful too!



We would love to see you there!

Check out our past blogs about the OCCN here:

Community Conservation Network forges ahead.

Weeding out coastal invaders.

New network to protect Otways.

Community Conservation Network forges ahead

Have you heard of the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN)?  We have blogged about the  group before, just after it formed (check out the previous blog here).

Below is a video introducing the OCCN:

The group has been moving ahead in leaps and bounds since they first came on the scene, working to reduce the threat of weed species on native bush in the Otways, and raise awareness of the impacts of weeds in the community.

Some recent achievements include the mapping in August this year of all known infestations of Boneseed and Bridal Creeper.  Infestations were then prioritised and a series of community working bees and  contractor works were undertaken during September and October.

Since the OCCN’s  inception in March 2011, over 600 hectares of vegetation containing Boneseed and over three quarters of the known Bridal Creeper infestations across the network were treated – a huge achievement.

Additionally, so far the network has assisted more than 40 private landholders with resources and advice to control Boneseed and Bridal Creeper.

Below is a video of some OCCN Boneseed works:

Maps of treated sites:

View treated sites for Boneseed on the interactive map here.

View treated sites for Bridal Creeper on our interactive map here.

The Network is asking for the community to report any infestations  that are not on the maps!  To report and infestation email

Resources and related maps and documents:

More information, including information about how the current works are being prioritised within the network
you can read the Otway Community Conservation Network 2011 – 2012 Works, photo monitoring and more, visit the OCCN website.

What’s next for the OCCN?
Boneseed and Bridal Creeper control works will continue on into next year. There are funding opportunities coming up through the state government Communities for Nature Grants which will give the network an opportunity to continue with current programs and look at expanding into new conservation issues.

The network is finding its place in the natural resource management space of the Otways and is building important partnerships between the community, agency groups and management bodies.

Have you been involved with the OCCN? What do you think about their work? Let us know!

Weeding out coastal invaders

A new conservation network is weeding out threats to native vegetation along the coast and you can help starting with your own backyard.

The Otway Community and Conservation Network (OCCN) is working to reduce the threat of two invasive weed species, Boneseed Chrysanthemoides monbilifera and Bridal Creeper Asparagus asparagoides.

Otway Community Conservation Network Introduction

OCCN project facilitator Luke Hynes says Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are regarded as two of the worst weeds in Australia due to their invasiveness and potential for spread.

“Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are emerging weeds in this area and it is essential that we control these weeds before they become established,” said Mr Hynes.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) Officer Craig Clifford says that the weeds will be removed from public and private land, giving landholders an important role to play in controlling the weeds.

“We have been getting on top of infestations in some of the DSE managed areas but this is a great opportunity to assist adjacent private landholders,” said Mr Clifford.

“We have been getting on top of infestations in some of the DSE managed areas but this is a great opportunity to assist adjacent private landholders.”

September is the peak flowering time for both species and the network is preparing for a busy control period.

“September is the best time to control both of these species.  The yellow Boneseed flowers in particular are very easy to spot and control.

Boneseed flowers, one of Austrlia’s most dreaded weeds.

“It is important that coastal residents look out for these weeds and are proactive in removing these weeds from their backyards,” said Mr Hynes.

“It is important that coastal residents look out for these weeds and are proactive in removing these weeds from their backyards.”

During the early flowering period of August, OCCN mapped all known infestations of Boneseed and Bridal Creeper across the project area, which includes land from Anglesea to Port Campbell and through to Colac.

OCCN volunteers removing Boneseed on the Surf Coast

‘’With infestations in the project area mapped we can get stuck into control works before the plants set seed in October,’’ said Mr Hynes.

The mapping is guiding OCCN during the prioritisation process which will determine the most important sites for weed removal.

High priority sites include smaller, outlying infestations around Wye River, Kennett River, Borongarook, Deans Marsh and Bambra and heavier infestations between Lorne and Anglesea.

OCCN members Jack Pascoe, Michael Callahan, Gary White, John Wilson, Georgie Beale, Peter Hay and Ulric Orr.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Officer Georgie Beale says that GORCC will be removing weeds in Anglesea with the help of funding from OCCN.

“OCCN has done a wonderful job coordinating all the conservation groups which was a large job in itself,” said Ms Beale.

For more information contact Luke Hynes PH: 0406 113 438 or Email:

This column bought to you by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC). To view the GORCC website click here.

This column appeared in the Surf Coast Times on the 6 September 2011.

For more information:


Bonseed infestation map

Bridal Creeper

Bridal Creeper infestation map

The Otway Community Conservation Network

Are you an OCCN volunteer?

Would you be interested in helping to weed out the Boneseed and Bridal Creeper infestations?

Have you seen any infestations not included in the mapped area?

We would greatly appreciate your feedback!

New network to protect Otways

Community conservation groups and natural resource management agencies are uniting in a mission to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Otways.

The Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) aims to reduce the threat of weed species on native bush in the Otways, and raise awareness of the impacts of weeds in the community.

The OCCN is a joint initiative by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria and the OCCN steering committee includes representatives from a range of natural resource management agencies.

The Otway Community Conservation Network Steering Committee

DSE Forest Officer Craig Clifford says DSE and Parks Victoria welcome the establishment of the OCCN, which is funded by the Australian Government Caring for our Country Program.

“By supporting community conservation groups, increasing coastal community awareness and acting as a link between communities and agencies, the network will play a key role in protecting the rich biodiversity in the Otways,” he said.

Project facilitator Luke Hynes says need was identified for an integrated approach.

“Many groups were already working on controlling these two species in the area, however a lack of coordination was impeding the process,” he said.

Mr Hynes will be working with community groups and agencies to tackle biodiversity issues in the region a concentrated, collaborative effort.

“The initial focus is to remove and control Boneseed and Bridal Creeper – two weeds of natural significance,” he said.

Mr Hynes says this year’s work will include the creation of a comprehensive map of all the Boneseed and Bridal Creeper infestations in the Otways.

“It is anticipated this map will be vital in identifying key infestation areas and where best to direct our efforts,h” he said.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale works regularly with community conservation groups to control weeds and is a representative on the OCCN steering committee.

“GORCC will be assisting to guide the network in respect to weed infestations on GORCC managed land and assisting to ensure an effective approach,” she said.

The OCCN is looking for people who want to be involved in native bush restoration, including landholders with Boneseed and Bridal Creeper problems, community members passionate to take action or corporate organisations that want to volunteer their time.

For more information and to see how your group or organisation can benefit please contact Luke Hynes 0406 113 438 or

This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.