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.

Make your selfie a safe one


Living in the world of smartphones and selfies, there is a constant desire to take the perfect pic for every moment.

At Great Ocean Road Coast, we’re trying to make your memory of the Great Ocean Road a safer one, which is why we are seeking your feedback on what to do at the Memorial Arch site in Eastern View.  Read more

Take care around Surf Coast cliffs


Pedestrians and beach users are encouraged to take care near cliffs along the Surf Coast following heavy rain in winter and spring.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Parks Victoria and Surf Coast Shire Council said the start of summer was a good opportunity to remind community members and visitors about cliff instability.

Read more

Push for community to aid pest effort


Foxes are highly adaptable, resilient and cunning pests that prey on both native wildlife and livestock and are considered a threat to 14 species of birds, 48 mammals, 12 reptiles and two species of amphibians.

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A fox caught was spotted using infrared cameras in September last year. Foxes have been known to take shelter in coastal vegetation and around homes.

These predators have been declared ‘established invasive animals’ by the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, and a single fox can consume thousands of native animals every year.

You can help to deter the predatory pests and support Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and Surf Coast Shire Council fox control efforts by removing potential food and shelter sources from your property.

Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Rose Hodge, said foxes were opportunistic, meaning people could easily unwittingly feed or shelter the pests.

“Within our coastal environments and around our homes, there is an abundance of food available for foxes,” Cr Hodge said.

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The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has played a significant role in the decline of ground-nesting birds, small mammals and reptiles. Photo: Vanessa Pike

“We can all help reduce these food sources by minimising the amount of food left outside, particularly overnight, by covering compost, ensuring rubbish bins are fully closed and cleaning up fallen fruit regularly.”

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald said homeowners should remove structures around their property where foxes may seek refuge or shelter including woody weeds such as boxthorn and blackberries, rubbish piles and old machinery.

“Fencing off rock piles, building materials, hay bales, woodpiles, and underneath houses will also help reduce hiding places foxes can live in,” she said.

GORCC and Council are working together to reduce fox numbers on the coast, with GORCC leading intensive on-ground eradication efforts and monitoring programs in coastal areas with Council funding support.

Council also runs separate fox eradication initiatives on land it manages as part of its annual pest plant and animal programs.

“Fox control requires an ongoing effort and our best chance of reducing numbers on the Surf Coast is for communities and land managers to work together,” said Ms. MacDonald.

Foxes are a particular threat to local, beach nesting Hooded Plovers, with the predators thought to have been behind the disappearance of multiple chicks, eggs and adult birds over the past two years.

“Point Impossible, Point Roadknight and Moggs Creek are being particularly targeted as these sites are known Hooded Plover breeding zones,” said Ms. MacDonald

For more information on pests on the coast and how you can help visit www.gorcc.com.au or www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au.

How do you help deter foxes and pest animals around your home? Let us know in the comments below.