September Biodiversity Month blitzes past last year

Each September, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) celebrates the arrival of spring and the explosion of life that comes with it. We are the caretakers of a ‘biodiversity hot spot’, which means there is an unusual diversity of life concentrated within our land management area.

Biodiversity Month runs for the 30 days of September and citizen scientists are encouraged to upload their observations of biodiversity to the online database, iNaturalist.

To facilitate this process, GORCC runs a number of education activities during the month in different habitats and areas of the GORCC management zone, and this year we partnered with Parks Victoria to run sessions in some areas of the Great Otway National Park.

The first community session was held on 1 September, with the day landing on both Father’s Day and Wattle Day. To start the day, Possum Pete led a group in exploring the Anglesea coastal track to see how many species of Wattle (Acacia sp.) and other plants and animals they could find.

A tiny Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) pokes its head out from a blooming Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) during our celebration of Wattle Day.
Blooming wattle along the Anglesea coastal track.

Later that day, the group explored the Point Roadknight rock pools with 25 keen young biologists and their parents, and they found a great selection of crabs, snails and anemones.

On 7 September GORCC ran a public Rock Pool Ramble at Rocky Point in Torquay. Despite the wintry conditions, 20 members of the public came out to explore wildlife living in the rock pools with us.

On Friday 13 September, GORCC partnered with Parks Victoria and the Friends of Eastern Otways to run a special biodiversity activity. Dubbed ‘Spooky Biodiversity’ because of the date, the group of 30 searched for the nocturnal creatures that might be considered scary at Moggs Creek picnic ground.

Kids surround Possum Pete at the activity trailer to see creepy crawlies up close on the digital microscope at Moggs Creek picnic ground.

There were quite a few insects about including some moths and the group heard the calls of Yellow Bellied Gliders and Boobook Owls when they went for a walk. Local biologist Craig Graham, under the permission and supervision of Parks Victoria, set up nets to capture this Little Forest Bat (Vespadelus vultunus). One of the smallest mammals in Australia, Little Forest Bats can weigh less than 4g.

A Little Forest Bat (Vespadelus vultunus) caught and handled by biologist Craig Graham at the ‘Friday 13th Spooky Biodiversity’ community event.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed their observations to this year’s September Biodiversity Month. What a great snapshot this project provides of the rich diversity of life in this region.

This year, we observed 100 species more than last year, with over 350 species identified. A big congratulations to Neil Tucker for recording the most observations and the greatest number of species throughout the BioBlitz in September, logging an amazing 221 observations and 198 different species. Neil is an active volunteer with coastal conservation groups ANGAIR and Torquay Coast Action and is renowned as an expert on local biodiversity, especially plants and fungi.

To check out all of the observations found throughout the Surf Coast this September BioBlitz, see iNaturalist’s website: www.inaturalist.org/projects/surfcoast-september-bioblitz-2019.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee
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.

ANGAIR Art and Wildflower Weekend

The Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR) held their much-anticipated Annual Art and Wildflower Weekend over the weekend.

Celebrating 50 years of ANGAIR volunteers caring for the coast, there were spectacular displays of indigenous wildflowers and plants for sale, art and craft displays, guided walks, and plenty of activities for the kids.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s environmental education team joined in the fun with lots of resources on nature and the coast. There was plenty of interest from both locals and visitors alike gathering information about the Surf Coast’s indigenous plants, animals and environments, and how to make sure that we leave a positive impact on the coast.

There was a hive of activity around our powerful digital microscope looking at nature ‘Up Close’, with lots of interesting small invertebrates found on the plants and leaf litter in the area observed under the microscope. The little ones also enjoyed making their own ‘beachscape’ in our sandpit filled with beach treasures. There were craft activities too, with lots of kids getting involved in making their own blossom and leaf art creations and decorating reusable tote bags.

Despite a little rain, it was once again a great weekend for the community to come together and celebrate our unique coastal environment.

About ANGAIR

ANGAIR is dedicated to protecting our indigenous flora and fauna, and to maintaining the natural beauty of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet and their local environments. To learn more about the fantastic work that ANGAIR do or how you can get involved, visit ANGAIR’s website at www.angair.org.

Anglesea boardwalk borders on completion

Works are well underway for the brand new Anglesea boardwalk at Demons Bluff. Coursing over the unique Anglesea heathland, the boardwalk will make up a 180m section of the 44km Surf Coast Walk, which stretches from Fairhaven to Point Impossible.

Following an engineer’s report, which revealed that cracks in the side of the cliff represented a risk to visitors, the track was re-routed in the interests of visitor safety. The boardwalk will jointly protect the fragile heathland, as well as enhance the visitor experience.

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Caring for our precious Coastal Moonah Woodland

Coastal Moonah Woodlands are identifiable by the presence of Moonah trees, with their gnarly wind-twisted branches, as well as other dominant species like Coast Wirilda, Coast Tea-Tree and Coast Beard-heath.

Prior to European settlement, it is thought that Coastal Moonah Woodland may have stretched as far as 5km inland in some areas.  Unfortunately, much of this unique plant community has been lost due to clearing and fragmentation, with less than 10% of its original distribution remaining in Victoria. The Coastal Moonah Woodland plant community is now listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

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Winter brings a flurry of action to the coast

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee staff, environmental volunteers and local students have been busy this winter helping rejuvenate the coastline through planting, conservation works and repairs, ensuring the coast remains in good condition all year round. Read more

Vandals trash Jan Juc woodland

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is calling on the community to help put an end to the damage caused by illegal party sites in threatened Moonah woodlands along the coastal clifftops at Jan Juc.

Illegal access and campfires were again discovered in the sensitive vegetation, causing significant environmental damage in the protected area and placing lives at risk. Read more

Volunteers transform clifftops

National Volunteer Week (NVW) is on again and is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution more than 6 million Australian volunteers make to communities across the nation.

Jan Juc Coast Action have a long history of restoring and revegetating the clifftop area and have been instrumental in the improved habitat health along the stunning stretch of coastline. Read more