Free coastal fun for all

Summer by the Sea is almost here and in 2015 the program features stand up paddle-boarding – a new addition to a growing line-up of free activities.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Parks Victoria program which runs from 2-26 January 2015, is an opportunity for everyone to discover Victoria’s marine and coastal environment.

In 2015 more than 300 free, guided activities will be on offer across the state.  In the Surf Coast region activities are being funded and run by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), a program partner.

IMG_4038 (2)
GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft with little participant Hugh, holding up a piece of whale skeleton.

 

Stand up paddle boarding will feature in Torquay and Lorne and GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft who is organising and leading activities on the Surf Coast, said the activity is a fun way to explore and learn about estuaries and rivers.

“Stand up paddle-boarding is a popular but expensive recreational activity so we’re pleased to be able to offer it for free to participants,” he said.

In addition to activities for the more adventurous such as snorkelling, canoeing and stand up paddle-boarding, there are a huge variety of options available with something for every age and level of ability.

Participants can engage in everything from fossil safaris and walking tours through to coastal craft and playing detective both on the beach and in the bush.

“Those looking for something a little more relaxed can engage in activities like guided coastal walks along the stunning Surf Coast Walk, kite making sessions, rockpool rambles or calico craft,” said Mr. Crowcroft.

GORCC sponsored activities will be offered in Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Lorne and at the Torquay NightJar Markets.

“It’s wonderful to be able to get people of all ages to engage with our incredible coastline and experiencing and learning about the environment.

“It is particularly great for kids, as it’s very important that they learn to connect with and appreciate the natural environment from a young age,” Mr. Crowcroft said.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager, Jane Lovejoy said every previous January for four years GORCC had run a free environmental education program for campers.

“We are excited to partner with DEPI and Parks Victoria in Summer by the Sea and expand our activities to make them available to everyone on the coast.

“We look forward to seeing excited and happy participants of all ages enjoying what we have on offer,” she said.

Bookings are essential for most activities and the majority of activities are free.  For more information, visit www.depi.vic.gov.au or www.parks.vic.gov.au.

Insects of Jan Juc – Free family fun this weekend

Not sure what to do this Father’s day?

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) is holding the free ‘Insects of Jan Juc’ event this Sunday 7 September.

Plenty of activities will be on offer, including activities for the little ones.  Children will have the opportunity to build ‘insect hotels’ as well as colour-in local insects drawn by local artist Amanda Carson.

The day will also include information about JJCA’s latest exciting project – the development of an online plant catalogue which has been funded by the State Government through Coastcare and is supported by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (stay tuned for more on this project to be released soon!)

JJCA President Luke Hynes said the catalogue will be great way for everybody to identify and learn more about the indigenous species they see on the caost.
“It will allow non-specialist groups to identify any indigenous plant species by typing in the visual characteristics identified,”

Mr Hynes said the catalogue is also a good way of encouraging locals to plant native plants in their gardens.
“Those looking for plant ideas for their garden will be able to do a quick search using the desired characteristics and will find matching suggestions,” he said.

The activities will be followed by the JJCA Annual General Meeting and a free barbeque lunch.

For further information, phone Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or visit the JJCA Facebook page here.

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Celebrate Sustainable Living!

It’s that time of yeara again when we celebrate sustainable living in Australia.

Sustainable House Day 2014 will be held on Sunday the 7th and  14th of September to showcase some of the country’s most environmentally progressive homes.

Did you know that the average Australian household contributes 13 tonnes of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere every year?  That’s enough to fill more than 700 balloons every day …scary.

The event gives you the chance to tour every day Australian homes with a lowered ecological footprint and you can visit some sustainable houses in our region.  Residences in Mount Duneed, Belmont and Queenscliff will be opening their doors for anyone seeking inspiration, tips and ideas about renewable energy, recycling, and other sustainable practices.

Take a look at the gallery of sustainable homes below.  Each residence integrates various sustainable  features such as rain water harvesting, recycled building materials, photovoltaic solar panels, sustainable food production and much more!

 

Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/rohans-house/
Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/rohans-house/
Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/fleurs-house/
Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/fleurs-house/
Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/point-lonsdale-beach-house/
Source: http://sustainablehouseday.com/item/point-lonsdale-beach-house/

 

For more information on Sustainable House Day 2014 or to find a sustainable house in your local area, click here.

Local lookout at Rocky Point

Here at the Great Ocean Road Coast Blog we like to feature stories about our coast and the locals who live on and love our coast.

Marian Charlton is one such local –  an active Torquay community member and a lover of the natural environment.

Marian walks the scenic Surf Coast Walk on a regular basis, appreciating all our breathtaking coast has to offer.

Rocky Point Lookout, in particular, holds strong sentimental value to Marian, a place her and her family have been visiting for over 50 years.

“Rocky Point has always been a significant place for me since our family camped here over 50 years ago,

“It is a great place to just appreciate our coast with its rock headlands and great sweeps of beach with breaking waves,” she said.

Marian enjoys the unique scenic views from Rocky Point Lookout
Marian enjoys the unique scenic views from Rocky Point Lookout

Marian recognises the importance of caring for our coast and taking action to ensure it can be enjoyed by all.

“We should all appreciate and care for our coastal environment so that it is there for all to enjoy, including future generations,

“As a local community person I notify the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee of any hazards or problems I see on my walks. This includes both live and dead seals on our beaches, trees that have fallen on the path, and issues with local toilet blocks,” Marian said.

Interesting cloud formations looking towards Rocky Point Lookout. Photo: Marian Charlton.
Interesting cloud formations looking towards Rocky Point Lookout. Photo: Marian Charlton.

Marian is eager to see the transformation of Rocky Point Lookout as it undergoes a restoration, generously funded by RACV and DEPI.

The site is set to be fully restored by late September.

For more information on the Rocky Point Lookout redevelopment click here.

Want to get involved? Friends of the Surf Coast Walk are always looking for new supporters – learn more here.

 

What’s your favourite spot on the coast or the Surf Coast Walk?

Top 10 ways to have fun on the beach when its cold outside

Its suddenly a little cool down our way and we haven’t even hit winter yet!

Don’t despair though, because in our eyes it’s still beach weather. What? We hear you ask ….

Yes, we know, you usually spend time on the beach when its 35 degrees plus, but we reckon that if you don’t come down in the cooler months you might just be missing out on a really great holiday.

Not only are the below ideas fun for all ages, but they are also FREE.

Bike riding is fun and family friendly and its a great way to see our scenic coastline.
Bike riding is fun and family friendly and its a great way to see our scenic coastline.

 

First things first –  what are the advantages of visiting the beach in the cooler months?

  • You won’t have to fight for a spot on the sand – take your pick!
  • All of the activities below are FREE.
  • You’re much less likely to get sunburt – although make sure to use SPF even when its overcast.
There's so much to discover on the beach! Kids love to find interesting things, especially in rock pools.
There’s so much to discover on the beach! Kids love to find interesting things, especially in rock pools.

 

Here’s our top ten fun things to do on the beach when its NOT 40 degrees: 

  1. Sand art: Test your creative skills and make sand castles or sand sculptures.   This one is fun and can be made into a competition – you just need an impartial judge! The only materials required are a bucket and a trowl, there’s plenty of natural decorations to be found lying around.
  2. Volleyball, Football, Soccor or Cricket: The best way to warm up is to get moving! You’re not going to feel the cold when you’re running around hitting or catching a ball and the soft sand is the perfect crash mat for those epic catches.
  3. Cycling: We are blessed with some fantastic bicycle tracks on the coast …get on your bike and check some out! There are tracks for all levels of rider and parts of the Surf Coast Walk is perfect for cycling.
  4. Photography: There’s nowhere quite like the great ocean road for spectacular scenery. Get your camera out and take some incredible shots of cliffs, wildlife, beach scenery or your friends and family.
  5. Wildlife spotting: Grab a pair of binoculars and head off on a beach safari. See if you can spot endangered animals like the Hooded Plover or Rufus Bristlebird or some of our more common but equally cute friends such as echidnas and koalas.   For a sure fire way to view some wildlife, head on over to the Jirrahlinga Koala Wildlife Sanctuary where you can meet all sorts of furry friends.

    Head out on a wildlife walk - there's so many amazing animals to be spotted.
    Head out on a wildlife walk – there’s so many amazing animals to be spotted.
  6. Have a picnic. If it’s not swimming weather but it’s not too windy or overly cold a picnic is a great activity. You’re spoilt for scenic spots and if it is a little chilly you can bring some hot chocolate.
  7. Fly a kite: There’s no place quite so perfect for kites as the beach. Kites are inexpensive and can even be made at home. Kids and adults alike will love this activity.
  8. Play Pictionary: The beach is a perfect canvas for drawing pictures which you can turn into your very own outdoor Pictionary game.
  9. Visit the rockpools: Rockpools are often full of interesting wildlife and sea plants. Discover little underwater worlds and identify the sea life.
  10. Do nothing.   This is probably one of our favourite options! Lie around, read a book, eat great food and RELAX.

 

Are you someone who likes the beach in the cooler months? What do you like to do at the beach when the weather is a little more wintery?

Get outside! Nature nutures health

Spending time in the natural environment results in improvements to mental, physical and social health.

Research highlights the link between the environment and our health, including a 2010 project undertaken by Deakin University, which found that psychological benefits stem from engaging with outdoor open spaces.

Get out and about on our beautiful coast! Its great for physical and mental health.
Get out and about on our beautiful coast! Its great for physical and mental health.

These benefits include improved mood, lower levels of anxiety, lower stress levels, lower levels of depression and increased physical activity.

Active in Parks, a Healthy Parks – Healthy People Program, is fostered by People and Parks Foundation, Barwon Medicare Local, G21 and Parks Victoria, while Medibank Community Fund is the program’s major sponsor.

Active in Parks co-ordinator Jayde Mulder said the initiative aimed to connect people to their local parks and outdoor spaces to enhance their physical and mental health.

“Parks provide a place for community connectedness, establishing social relationships and engaging in physical activity which can all have positive effects on people’s physical and mental health.

“The Active in Parks initiative provides various outdoor programs for all ages including, exercise classes, walking groups and adventure activities for kids which are all fantastic ways of staying active and engaging with your local environment.”

Coastal volunteering is another great way to experience these physical and psychological benefits.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) recognises this link and works to immerse schools and other groups in the natural coastal environment.

Coastal volunteering is a fantastic way to not only reap mental and physical health benefits, but to meet people as well.
Coastal volunteering is a fantastic way to not only reap mental and physical health benefits, but to meet people as well.

The committee also supports and works with a variety of environmental volunteer groups.

GORCC conservation officer Georgina Beale said coastal volunteering not only benefited our environment, but our health and wellbeing as well.

“Coastal volunteering increases physical fitness and gives people a sense of belonging and pride.”

Volunteers can participate in a range of conservation tasks including weeding, revegetation, and monitoring native birds and animals. “Volunteer groups such as Friends of Taylors Park, Friends of Eastern Otway’s and Friends of Queens Park in Lorne are always looking for extra hands to help protect and enhance the environment,” Ms Beale said.

“Get involved! It’s not just good for the coast, it’s great for you, too.

“From meeting new people through to getting some exercise, there are so many reasons to get involved.”

More information about environmental volunteering is available here.

For more information about Active in Parks, head to activeinparks.org.

This article featured in the Surf Coast Time’s fortnightly Green the Coast column.  View the article here.

Our top 3 tips for staying safe and having fun in the sun

Australians, and our many overseas visitors, have a profound love for the coastline and the Surf Coast is home to some of Australia’s most scenic and popular beaches.

teenager surfing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each summer, the surf coast population almost doubles with visitors. In the lead up to the holiday season, here are our three top tips for having fun in the sun and playing it safe at the beach this summer.

1.    Swim between the flags
We all love a day at the beach, but it is important to remember the surf can be unpredictable. That’s why lifeguards put up red and yellow flags to show you the supervised area. The majority of Australians know this, but over half sometimes swim outside of the flags.

If you are thinking about swimming, make sure you know which beaches are patrolled or unpatrolled to ensure your safety. You can view a full list of patrolled beaches and key dates in Victoria on Life Saving Victoria’s website here.

During summer, many of our surf coast beaches are patrolled by life savers with red and yellow flags indicating the safest areas to swim at each beach – please swim between the flags.

2.    Take care near cliffs & high tide marks
Many cliffs along the Great Ocean Road coast, particularly in the area between Jan Juc and Point Roadknight, and also at Aireys Inlet, can be unstable due to high tides and erosion. It is important to read and pay attention to advisory signs, take care near cliffs and keep to designated walking tracks.

There are also areas of seasonal coastal shoreline erosion which can also create unstable, temporary ‘sand cliffs’. These are not like normal cliffs and are more prone to collapse.

3.    Take 3 for you, me and the sea
Our beaches are often lined along the tide marks with plastics, bottles, cigarette butts, fishing line and hooks, and other rubbish discarded by people. Not only can litter pose threats to physical safety, it also poses a major threat to marine life.
Most beaches along our surf coast have rubbish bins positioned in strategic locations so you don’t have to walk too far to dispose of your litter.

Remember to dispose of your rubbish appropriately or pick up three pieces of rubbish every time you leave the beach and help protect our beautiful coast and its marine life.

Other tips for ensuring your safety in or by the water can be found on our website.

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Event for those who love Jan Juc

The Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) Annual General Meeting will be held on Sunday 1 September, at the Jan Juc Surf Club (Clubhouse Road, Jan Juc VIC 3228) from 10am – 12pm.

Everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy some food and refreshments (details TBC), craft activities for the kids, a talk on local birds and more.

JJCA volunteers getting hands on during a working bee.
JJCA volunteers during a working bee.

JJCA works for the preservation and revegetation of the Jan Juc coastline with indigenous species and the removal of environmental weeds, erosion control and provision of tracks and lookouts.

The group meets on the first Sunday of each month, except January.

If you love the Jan Juc coastline and want to be involved in or support its preservation then JJCA would love to see you there!

Contact Geoff: 0418 958 355 or Luke: 0406 113 438 for more details.

Learn more about  environmental volunteer groups in our region and how you can get involved.

 

Related blog posts:

swamp-diuris-diuris-palustris1Rare orchid survives on edge
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Take care, be aware and share on the Surf Coast Walk

Offering natural beauty and easy access, the recently redeveloped Surf Coast Walk along the edge of the Great Ocean Road offers a world-class walking destination for all to enjoy.

The track has proved popular since its official reopening last year and from dogs to bicycles to pram to runners, everyone is out and about enjoying different sections at different paces.

In recognition of the multiple uses of the track and in response to some community concern around safety,  GORCC has installed some signs in high use areas around Torquay and Jan Juc, to promote safe shared use.

One of the four signs located in Torquay and Jan Juc
One of the four signs located in Torquay and Jan Juc

The Take care- Be aware- Share campaign encourages those who are cycling along the path to:

  • Give way to pedestrians
  • Travel at safe speeds
  • sSlow down and use their bell when passin

The signs also remind dog owners to clean up after their pets and to keep appropriate control over them at all times. Additionally, all users are asked to be vigilant of vegetation and wildlife and to keep to the left of the paths.

To stay safe and ensure you have an enjoyable Surf Coast Walk experience you should also:

  • Wearing sturdy, non-slip footwear
  • Carry plenty of drinking water and a well-charged mobile phone
  • Take care when walking near the edge or base of cliffs
  • Beware of snakes in late spring and summer
  • On days of extreme fire to seek information from Visitor Information Centres or the Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667, as some walks may be closed to the public.
Angela Norris and her two dogs Ollie & Shegi enjoying the Surf Coast Walk
Angela Norris and her two dogs Ollie & Shegi enjoying the Surf Coast Walk

More information including detailed maps are available at http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/surfcoastwalk.

More tips on staying safe on the coast are available here.

Did you know the Surf Coast Walk also has an official volunteer group, the Friends of the Surf Coast Walk?

Have you been out and about on the Surf Coast Walk lately? Let us know below or join in the conversation on the official Surf Coast Walk Facebook page.

Related Blog Posts:

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Whales sighted early on coast

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) have reported  three sightings of whales along the coast of Marengo on the Great Ocean Road (read the full media release).

whale breaching

DSE has called on Victorians to report any sightings of whales over the next few weeks after earlier than usual sightings of migrating humpbacks off our coast.

DSE Senior Biodiversity Officer at Warrnambool, Mandy Watson said they have had two sightings of Humpback Whales off the Victorian coast this year and they are keen to hear from anyone if they see any more.
“We normally don’t start seeing Humpback Whales until April or May so we are very interested in hearing any further reports of these early starters.”

“Anyone sighting migrating humpback or southern right whales over the next few weeks should call the DSE Customer Service Centre on 136 186,” Ms Watson said.

Marine mammals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and rules and regulations are in place to protect them.

To report an emergency (stranding, entanglement, injury or death) involving a whale or a dolphin call the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline – 1300 136 017.

A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.
A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.

Are you keeping an eye out for migrating whales this year, and where are the best spots on the coast to sight them?

Let us know below.

Related blog posts:

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