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. 

Joint force protects threatened woodlands

Anglesea Coast Action (ACA ) has joined forces with other coastal volunteer groups, students, a local business and local land managers to protect threatened Coastal Moonah Woodlands.

ACA secretary Carl Rayner said the work, which is focused on the sand dunes at Main Beach Anglesea, was necessary protect nearby Moonah Woodlands from the devastating impact of environmental weeds.

“Birds transfer seeds via their droppings into the woodland and the weeds then grow, eventually taking over the area by sucking all the moisture out of the soil and killing the Moonah trees,” said Mr Rayner.

Year nine students from St Bernard’s Catholic Boys College in Essendon assist ACA in their conservation work each year.

Students can be seen dragging cut vegetation from the sand dunes to the car park for mulching and using bow saws to cut smaller shrubs and trees.

Year 9 student volunteers from St Bernards Catholic Boys College Essendon working at Anglesea Main Beach.

St Bernard’s Campus Director Mark Smith said the project was an outdoor education experience for students and that for some it was their first experience of the coastal environment.

“The students gain an understanding of the natural environment and engage with the community and it provides them with great insight into coastal management,” he said.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Team organises the mulching of cut vegetation after working bees, which is then recycled for use at the time of planting.

Conservation Officer Georgie Beale said Coastal Moonah Woodlands were listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, which identifies them as a threatened ecological community and a high conservation priority.

“Our team works to protect and enhance Moonah plant communities on a regular basis by removing environmental weeds along a wide range of sites right along the coast,” she said.

Once the site has been prepared, the Torquay Landcare Group facilitates approximately 40 staff volunteers from Quicksilver to plant 1500 indigenous plants in one day.

Torquay Landcare Group (TLG) member Rhonda Bunbury said that for four years, Quiksilver Foundation has sponsored Torquay Landcare in the group’s re-vegetation projects.

“It’s a fun day as well as hard work but there is a reward in watching the dunes come back to life with plants that belong in the dunes’ environment and which enrich the dune habitat,” said Ms Bunbury.

The project is supported by a $4,300 grant from the Coastal Small Grants program at the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.

The ACA group meets on the second Saturday of each month at the Motor Yacht Club Point Roadknight for a working bee held 10am to 12noon. Anyone who would like to get involved can contact Carl Rayner on (03) 5263 2193 or (03) 9331 2810 email:

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