Surfrider community clean up for Jan Juc

The Surfrider Foundation, and Plastic Bay Free Torquay recently worked together to conduct a Jan Juc litter blitz, uncovering some interesting items of rubbish along the way.

Volunteers from and members from the local community helped collect 25 large bags of litter – litter that would otherwise be left to impact our oceans.

Volunteers display the 25 bags of rubbish collected on the day. Photo: Surfrider (Surf Coast)

Items collected included old carpet, a broken fishing rod, a body-board, a tent and lots of plastic and glass tumblers.

The Surfrider Foundation has been holding regular beach clean ups along the Surf Coast since 1996 to reduce the presence of litter on beaches and promote community participation.

Volunteers gearing up to clean up the coast. Photo: Surfrider (Surf Coast)

Hot refreshments were provided by Mark Clatworthy from Ocean Gind who donated the day’s profits to the Surfrider Foundation.

The Ocean Grind caravan at Jan Juc carpark to provide support the Surf Coast Surfriders Foundation volunteers.

The Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast partners with Plastic Bag Free Torquay and the Take 3 initiative, working in collaboration to reduce plastic pollution along the Surf Coast.

How can I help?

  • Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags when you go grocery shopping.
  • Keep reusable bags handy in the boot, glove box, backpack or handbag to use when shopping.
  • Reuse plastic bags you have accumulated at home as garbage bin liners, freezing food or while walking your dog.
  • Collect rubbish you see when walking along the coast and put it in the bin.
  • Help spread the word! Education is so important in reducing plastic pollution, so please help educate and inspire others to look after the environment.
  • Volunteer with a local environmental group and start making a difference in your area

And remember ….

Refuse disposable plastic, Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle and Respond by picking up rubbish.

Photo courtesy of

Interested in volunteering and making a difference?  Visit our website here for more information on local coastal volunteer groups.

Have you found any strange items of rubbish on the beach? Let us know in the comments below!

Winter weed blitz

Despite the cold weather, winter is the perfect time to combat the spread of environmental weeds and revegetate residential gardens with beautiful (native-animal-attracting) indigenous species.

Agapanthus – a very popular garden plant – are also a noxious weed that have a devastating impact on natural habitats.

Environmental weeds are plants that displace native vegetation which impacts the vitality of indigenous flora and fauna.  Surprisingly, many environmental weeds are popular garden plants that have grown to become major threats to the biodiversity in the natural environment.

Freesias look friendly, but they can spread quickly, out-competing precious indigenous species.

Common garden plants such as Agapanthus, Arum Lily, Gazania and Freesia are all environmental weeds that are detrimental to native flora and fauna.

Gazanias are sold at many nurseries – but don’t be fooled. These invasive weeds are having a huge impact on our coastal environment.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale, encourages locals to remove environmental weeds from their gardens this winter.

“If we remove environmental weeds and plant indigenous species in their place, we are able to provide a haven for our precious wildlife and protect coastal habitats.

“Revegetating gardens in winter provides plants with ideal soil conditions and the best chance of survival.

“Seeds from invasive species are easily spread by the wind and animals, which is why it is important to avoid planting environmental weeds in the garden,” she said.

The flowering Moonah tree is a native alternative for Surf Coast gardens.
The flowering Moonah tree is an indigenous alternative for Surf Coast gardens.

Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE) Chair Graeme Stockton is urging locals to think of plants as more than an aesthetic addition to the garden.

“Plants provide vital habitats for local birds and animals, and the type of plant determines the fauna it attracts.

“As a community, we have a large impact on the environment and it is up to us to choose whether  we have a positive or negative impact.

“Removing environmental weeds from the garden and coastal habitats is a great start to environmental stewardship,” he said.

Flowering Samphires at Painkalac Creek, Aireys Inlet is a native plant.
Samphires (pictured here in flower at Painkalac Creek, Aireys Inlet)  are perfect for coastal environments.

Weed eradication programs are a vital component of GORCC’s extensive conservation effort to protect and enhance fragile habitats along the coast.

Local schools and environmental volunteer groups actively contribute to GORCC’s conservation effort and dedicate hundreds of hours each year to coastal protection works.

Coastal volunteers in action
Coastal volunteers in action along the Surf Coast

For more information on what plants are weeds (and what alternatives to plant in your garden), check out the  Weeds of the Surf Coast Shire booklet.

Want to do more?  Environmental volunteer groups operate right along our beautiful coast.  For more information,  click here.

Want to purchase some indigenous plants or get a helping hand?  Otways Indigenous Nursery in Aireys Inlet is a great place to start.

Have you identified any weeds in your garden?

Research highlights vital hoodie sites

New research conducted by Deakin University and Birdlife Australia has found that endangered Hooded Plovers select breeding locations based on food availability.

The research compared 56 different beach sites in Victoria and collected more than 7,500 invertebrates to determine the potential food source available at each location.

Study sites along the Victorian coast, between Nelson and Lake Reeve, Gippsland Lakes. Photo: Anna Cuttriss
Study sites along the Victorian coast, between Nelson and Lake Reeve, Gippsland Lakes.
Photo: Anna Cuttriss

Deakin University Honours student Anna Cuttriss worked with Birdlife Australia examine known breeding sites and sites where Hooded Plover’s had not been recorded.

Researchers collecting invertebrate samples using pitfall traps along the Victorian coastline. Photo: Mike Weston
Researchers collecting invertebrate samples using pitfall traps along the Victorian coastline.
Photo: Mike Weston

Birdlife Australia’s Coast and Marine Program Manager Grainne Maguire, who co-supervised the research, said the findings were significant.

“This information will assist in the identification of potential breeding sites and help us to better understand how many Hooded Plovers should ideally exist in Victoria.

“An abundance of food was found in the vicinity of known breeding sites and these sites were largely dominated by amphipods (such as sand hoppers) whereas non-inhabited sites hosted more beetles,”

Hooded Plovers are tagged to track their nesting locations. Photo: Mike Weston
Hooded Plovers were tagged by Birdlife Australia to monitor and identify hooded plover breeding sites.
Photo: Mike Weston

The quantity of Hooded Plover food available on beaches across Victoria varies immensely, highlighting the importance of the current known breeding sites which are limited in number.

Deakin University Senior Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation Biology Mike Weston said Hooded Plover’s have limited breeding capacity and need help to survive.

“This research has provided insight to how much habitat is actually suitable for Hooded Plovers and the types of food sources they look for when breeding.

“There are so many people in the community engaged in the conservation effort and this research is another piece of the jigsaw,” he said.

Great Ocean Road Coat Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale worked tirelessly with volunteers last breeding season to protect three breeding sites on GORCC managed land.

It was estimated that the Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast volunteers have donated over 1,800 hours of their time working to protect chicks.

Volunteers built huts to shelter nesting hooded plovers at Eastern View.
Volunteers built huts to shelter nesting hooded plovers at Eastern View.

“As a community we need to work together to conserve these known breeding sites and give the Hooded Plovers the best chance of survival.

“The research confirms that these local breeding sites are vital for the ‘Hoodies’,” Ms Beale said.

The full research paper will be published in CSIRO Marine and Freshwater Research Journal later this year.

Hooded Plovers are listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 and have one of the lowest survival rates of any species in the world.

More information on Hooded Plovers is available at our Save the Hoodie website.

Are you interested in helping our wonderful volunteers protect our precious hoodies? Click here for more information about volunteering in the Surf Coast.

Eco burn for Jan Juc cliffs

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) has partnered with the local CFA to conduct an ecological burn as part of a trial to investigate how important grasslands respond to different treatments.

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Torquay CFA volunteers performing controlled ecological burns at Jan Juc

A five year ecological burn plan has been developed between JJCA group and Torquay CFA in an effort to optimise the flora vegetation at the Jan Juc cliffs.

The conservation plan is designed to increase overall biodiversity in the area by allowing plants time to set seed before the second fire.

Local CFA volunteer monitors the planned burn to ensure the fire remains under control.

Australian flora needs fire for plants to seed and regenerate evolving from thousands of years of controlled burns by Indigenous Australians.

JJCA Chairperson – Luke Hynes is hopeful the ecological burns will improve the coastal vegetation along the cliffs and was grateful for the local CFA support.

“Our main challenge organising the ecological burns was finding a day to complete the burn when the weather is appropriate.

“We rely on fantastic local CFA volunteers to undertake the burns and really appreciate the time they put in,” he said.

Six CFA volunteers helped clear the tussock grasses to create space for other native species.

The fire creates space between native grasses which allows smaller, indigenous herbs and plants room to grow.

Torquay CFA Captain, Phil Campbell was pleased at the outcome of the ecological burn, and said that the day was well organised and uncomplicated.

“We were very lucky with the wind and weather conditions. It was a coincidence that the weather on the day was perfect for burning, which made it a lot easier for us to control,” he said.

Mr Hynes is eager to see the results from the initial burn and hopes more native species will grow in the area.

“The Jan Juc cliffs were revegetated over 10 years ago with positive results, so hopefully we will be able to see a larger variety of herbs and grasses regrow along the cliffs,” he said.

The JJCA group is particularly interested in whether the fire will increase populations of the native rare orchid, Swamp Diuris, in the area.

Funds has been provided by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne to collect and grow seeds of the rare orchid and the JJCA group hopes the ecological burn will improve the populace.

The JJCA group works to preserve and revegetate the Jan Juc coastline with Indigenous species and the removal of environmental weeds.

Ongoing environmental conservation works are being conducted in the are to help combat erosion, pest invasion and the provision of tracks and lookouts.

Check out the JJCA Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s happening along the cliffs.

Are you fire ready for this summer? Share your tips of how you keep your home safe in the comments below. 

Seagrass secrets uncovered

Researchers are uncovering the secrets of seagrasses in Port Phillip Bay and Victoria as part of a collaborative study into this vital part of our marine ecosystem.

The project includes researchers from Melbourne University, the University of Tasmania, the Sydney University of Technology and Deakin University and is funded by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP).

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Seagrass in Port Phillip Bay. Photo: Tim Smith


The project aims to understand the resilience, reproductive biology and genetics of seagrass which is a primary producer – playing an important role as an ‘ecosystem engineer’.

Seagrasses recycle nutrients in the water and stabilise the marine environment helping to promote biodiversity and protect habitat.

Similar to the way in which coral reefs provide habitat in Queensland, seagrass colonies are part of vital habitat for a range of fauna species such as the King George Whiting, Australian Salmon and Pipefish.

Sieving seagrass sediment sample to look for seeds. Photo: Tim Smith
Sieving seagrass sediment sample to look for seeds. Photo: Tim Smith

Deakin University School of Life and Environmental Sciences Senior Lecturer, Craig Sherman said researchers were initially unsure of what the study would uncover.

“We discovered more seagrass diversity than expected in our research which helps us understand the regeneration processes in the bay.

“Diversity is essential for environmental adaptation which is why it is important for us to gain a greater insight about the processes that maintain seagrass populations.

“This research helps us understand the fluctuations in populations and how the seagrass responds to different influences,” said Mr Sherman.

Dr Paul York cutting  seagrass sample for research. Photo: Tim Smith
Researcher Dr Paul York cutting some seagrass samples for research. Photo: Tim Smith

Deakin University postdoctoral researcher, Tim Smith also worked on the project, examining the recovery times of seagrass in Port Phillip Bay.

“Our research showed that the Geelong arm is an important source of seagrass in Port Phillip Bay with high levels of seed production which suggests it is a ‘source site’.

“Seagrass is a really important ecosystem, so we need to understand its recovery mechanisms to ensure seagrass in Port Phillip Bay can recover from disturbances and environmental change in the future.

“It is particularly important to identify ‘source sites’ of seagrass that can enhance threatened sites so that they can be managed accordingly,” Mr Smith said.

Cut seagrass for research. Photo: Tim Smith
Cut seagrass for research. Photo: Tim Smith

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Greening the Coast column.


Interested in learning more about seagrass? Watch the video below to find out more.

Related Blogs

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Beacon Ecologist Luke Hynes helps GORCC conservation supervisor Georgie Beale and Snapshot of the coast

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Research reveals pest’s adaptive abilities

New research has confirmed that an invasive species is rapidly adapting to different ecosystems along the coast, allowing it to spread fast and threatening the health of the marine environment.

A team of Deakin University researchers have been studying the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis) in Australia to better understand its potential to expand its geographical range.

Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias Amurensis) adult. Photo: Mark Richardson
Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias Amurensis) adult. Photo: Mark Richardson

The invasive seastar species originates from Japan and is a voracious predator which has a major impact on the marine food chain, devastating marine wildlife.

Deakin University PhD student Mark Richardson has been conducting research to test whether its larvae have the ability to cope with elevated water temperatures, which may determine the seastar’s potential range.

“The experiments have established that Northern Pacific Seastar larvae from Port Phillip Bay have several genetic differences that allow them to adapt to the local environment.

Northern Pacific Seastar larvae viewed under a microscope in the experiment to analyse its adaptive abilities. Photo: Mark Richardson
Northern Pacific Seastar larvae viewed under a microscope in the experiment to analyse its adaptive abilities. Photo: Mark Richardson

“The same experiments were performed on native Japanese Northern Pacific Seastars to evaluate their genetic profiles and see whether the individuals living in Australia have developed greater tolerance to higher water temperatures.

“The results indicate the Northern Pacific Seastars in Australia have a higher ability to thrive in elevated water temperatures compared to the native Japanese individuals”, Mr Richardson said.

The heightened ability for the seastar to adapt to different water temperatures could pose a threat to the native marine wildlife along the East Coast of Australia.

The Northern Pacific Seastar spreads through ocean currents and could infest waters eastwards from Port Phillip Bay along the coast.

Project leader Dr. Craig Sherman from Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said the experiments conducted on seastar larvae would improve understanding about this invasive species in Australia.

“From this research we have developed a better understanding about how seastar populations are connected and how this species is adapting and spreading along the coast.

“We are interested in the ecological impacts the seastar is having on marine communities and the rapid evolution the seastar undertakes to survive in the environment,” said Dr Sherman.

The water temperature research will be able to provide information for future marine pest management strategies in Australia.

Marine pests threaten our local marine environments. To find out more about what marine pests to look out for click here.

Perfect day to get the gardening gloves on

Now is a better time than any to pop the gardening gloves on and plant a tree or shrub.

With School Tree Day today and National Tree Day this Sunday July 27, there is something fun and interactive happening near you.

The Plantago Hispida plant is one of many unique plants sighted on the coast.
The Plantago Hispida plant is one of many unique plants sighted on the coast.

Developed by Planet Ark, National Tree Day is an Australian environmental initiative aimed at promoting community planting of native trees and shrubs with a huge range of celebrities endorsing the day. Click here to see who is supporting the 2014 Tree Day.

Trees allow a canopy and habitat for wildlife, encourage biodiversity and produce oxygen, but they provide many additional benefits that you may not be aware of.

Trees of all shapes and sizes enhance the appearance of our beautiful coast.
Trees of all shapes and sizes enhance the appearance of our beautiful coast.

As stated by Planet Ark, near-by trees have a calming effect which can significantly reduce workplace stress levels.

Why are trees so important to our community?

  • Trees have a calming effect which can significantly reduce workplace stress levels and fatigue.
  • They muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, as well as calm traffic.
  • Tree plantings provides an opportunity for community involvement and engage all cultures, ages and genders in the important role of tree planting or tree care.
  • Trees beautify communities and improve the views.
  • Trees make great landmarks that can give communitie.s a new identity and encourage community spirit.
  • Trees improve air quality by absorbing polluting gases and odours and filtering air particles.
  • Trees save water as shade from trees slows water evaporation.
  • Trees combat the greenhouse effect through carbon sequestration (the general term used for the capture and long-term storage of carbon dioxide).

You don’t need to dedicate just one day of the year to plant trees and shrubs. If you’re interested in getting the gardening gloves on any day of the year, click here for step-by-step instructions.

If you would like to find out about events near you, register your tree planting event, or learn more about the benefits of tree planting days click here .

Volunteer Profile

Amelia Featherston is a dedicated volunteer for Jan Juc Coast Action
Amelia Featherston is a dedicated volunteer for Jan Juc Coast Action

There are so many fantastic reasons to become a volunteer, just ask any one of the 1.5 million Victorians who are actively involved in their local community.

Alicia Patterson, Communications Manager from Volunteering Victoria said there are so many positive benefits to experience from undertaking a volunteer opportunity.

“Research shows it makes you happier, but it’s no wonder really. The four main reasons we hear (and research shows) that people volunteer include to give something to the community, to get skills and experience for work and other pursuits,  to meet and be with friends and for good physical and mental health,

“All of these things can be personally satisfying through giving back to the community you live in and being engaged with others. Basically, you’re a productive part of your community and doing something that adds meaning to your life,” she said.

Still not convinced? We interviewed Jan Juc Coast Action volunteer Amelia Featherston to find out what she loves most about being an environmental volunteer.

Name: Amelia Featherston

Age: 30

Occupation: Environmental Planning

I am a volunteer for… Jan Juc Coast Action

I have been a volunteer for… about 3 years with Jan Juc Coast Action

I contribute 2-3 hours to volunteering a month

I decided to become a volunteer because… I wanted to get involved in conservation in the local area, and saw the great work that Jac Juc Coast Action have done

Volunteer activities that I have been involved in include… participating in working bees which usually involves weeding, but sometimes planting and mulching, attending committee meetings, and helping to organise speakers and activities for the AGM. I also occasionally help with writing submissions and typing up meeting minutes.

My favourite volunteer activity is… working bees. It is great to learn from the expertise of other Coast Action volunteers, and it’s quite a good social activity, with lots of chatting while we weed and work away on the cliff tops.

My most memorable/exciting experience since being a volunteering has been… our AGM last year – it was was fantastic! The JJCA committee organised speakers to talk about local birds, and we also ran several bird themed activities for little kids, including making birds nests and eggs and we had colouring in sheets featuring local birds. Getting people involved and engaged and interested in the local environment is really important. Last winter I spent a day with other committee members hand pollinating orchids, to improve the chance of seed production, which was also fun and interesting.

My biggest achievement as a volunteer has been… I think as a group, Jan Juc Coast Action has made a real impact on the ecology of the coastal vegetation at Jan Juc, reducing the weeds and planting and protecting indigenous vegetation, meaning that the cliff tops remain a healthy, functioning ecosystem.

Volunteering is important to me… because I am involved in my local community and contributing to conservation.

My 3 favourite things about volunteering are:

1: Networking and making friends

2: Contributing to conservation projects that achieve real gains in the local environment

3: Being connected to the coast in a meaningful way

My least favourite part of volunteering is…  missing out on volunteer working bees and meetings due to work commitments!

My favourite local flora/fauna species is… the windswept moonah woodland at Jan Juc, and I really like seeing the Bristlebirds bounce off into the scrub.

I would encourage other people to become volunteers… because it is really enjoyable. You always get more out of it than you put in!

I do believe there is a need for younger generations to get involved in volunteering… because many of our core volunteer groups are older and there is a need to pass the knowledge and drive to work in volunteer groups on to the next gen of volunteers.

For more information on volunteering opportunities click here.

Related blog posts:

dsc00188GORCC thanks volunteers
img_0118Indigenous groups join weed action
Ford employees got their hands dirty last month as part of a GORCC run program, planting over 1000 coastal saltmarsh plants along the Anglesea River. Photo: Abhishek Sharma.Ford motors towards a healthier coast

Cool creeks for kids

Seven organisations have  worked together to bring  environmental education alive for 170 local students as part of National Water Week and in celebration of 20 years of Waterwatch.

Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.
Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.

The ‘Creek Connections’ event, which was  hosted by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) at Spring Creek,  saw the students learn about local water catchments.

The day involved volunteers and staff from Waterwatch, The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), Estuarywatch and EcoLogic.

Grade 3 and 4 students from St Therese Primary School, Torquay P-6 College, Lorne Aireys P-12 College and Anglesea Primary School enjoyed everything from  ‘water bugs’ sessions and  ‘estuary discoveries’ through to a ‘walk and talk’ with Wathaurung Elder Bryon Powell.

GORCC Conservation Officer, Georgina Beale who helped to host a ‘recycle relay’ and conduct planting sessions in  threatened Moonah Woodlands  said students learnt about keeping water catchments healthy.

“The kids learnt about the interconnectedness of our catchments, rivers, estuary and marine environments and the protection and conservation  of our river systems and their dependent eco systems,” she said.

Students worked tirelessly to create water bug costumes out of recycled items for the ‘Terrific Transformer bugs Creative Costume Challenge’ in the lead up to the event.

Winners  of the best costume prize received special computer microscopes which will allow their whole class to view water bugs up close on a large screen.

Waterwatch Facilitator, Cate Barham said the diverse range of activities aimed to encourage students to develop an appreciation and understanding  of marine, estuarine and freshwater environments and  Wathaurung culture.

“Everything we do in our catchment can have an impact on our waterways. If you drop a piece of litter, it will eventually find its way to a waterway and then out to the ocean, where it can have devastating effects on our marine life,” she said.

Waterwatch Victoria recognises that only 22% of Victoria’s rivers are considered in good or excellent condition, highlighting the need for action to protect and maintain the health of our local water catchments.

Ms Barham encourages other community members to become active in protecting and caring for their local water catchments by joining a Landcare, Coastcare or Friends group in their area.

“We are all responsible for caring for our catchments and hopefully others will feel inspired by the enthusiastic efforts of our Creek Connections ambassadors,” she said.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column

Related blogs:

Discover what’s intriguing about estuaries

EstuaryWatch volunteers monitor Erskine

Students think local for national event

Protect our precious wildlife

October 4 is World Animal Day (WAD) and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) is asking the community to respect and protect our unique coastal wildlife.

The endangered Swift Parrot can seen along the Surf Coast when it migrates from Tasmania between Mar-Jun each year. Photo: Chris Tzaros
The endangered Swift Parrot can seen along the Surf Coast when it migrates from Tasmania between Mar-Jun each year. Photo: Chris Tzaros

WAD started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species and is now a day for remembering and paying tribute to all animals and the people who love and respect them.

According to Naturewatch UK, the aim of the day is to encourage everybody to commemorate their love and respect for animals by doing something special to highlight their importance in the world because increased awareness will lead the way to improved standards of animal welfare.

Our coast is home to a range of threatened and endangered species including the:

  • Hooded Plover
  • Southern Brown Bandicoot
  • Swift Parrot
  • Swamp Antechinus
  • Rufous Bristlebird and many more.

GORCC has a native wildlife care plan in place to protect our coast’s unique indigenous fauna against threats including:

  • Loss of habitat due to invasive weeds
  • Climate change impacts
  • Impacts of people and their pets using the coast.
  • Impact of feral animals such as foxes and rabbits.

How you can help:

Tell us below what your favourite coastal animal is and why you love them?

Related blogs:

km-entanglement-4_mg_7092 Volunteer saves injured Hoodie
bandicoot1 Endangered species spotted on coast
rofous-bristlebird-pic Spotlight on the Rufous Bristlebird
91699992  Fluffy ferals prey on fauna
dog-on-the-beach Top tips to care for the coast