New online nature search launched

The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.

The Surf Coast Nature Search homepage.
Surf Coast Nature Search homepage

The online resource, which has been developed by local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA),   is a detailed database of hundreds of indigenous plants and environmental weeds on the coast between Point Impossible and Bells Beach.

Users are able to search based on a range of criteria including plant type, flower colour, size, leaf shape and more.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes said the website is a great local asset for locals that will help support an increase in environmental awareness.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.
Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.

“The SCNS database has been a dream of the JJCA group for many years,” he said.

To date, JJCA volunteers have added 181 plant species to database, which is expected to grow as species are added and the tool extends to include fauna and cover more areas of the Surf Coast.

“It’s exciting to think that people with a limited understanding of botanical terms will now be able to identify local plants, pinpoint environmental weeds in their backyard and learn more about the environmental impacts and benefits of particular species,” said Mr. Hynes.

JJCA group volunteer Graeme Stockton said one of the aims of the database is to help coastal property owners create environmentally friendly gardens.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.
JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.

“The SCNS is a simple tool for identifying environmental weeds in your garden and selecting indigenous alternatives,” he said.

Weeds, which easily escape from local gardens, have been identified as the number one threat to the natural environment on the coast due to their ability to out compete indigenous species.

“Indigenous plants are vital, providing vital habitat for local birds and animals,” said Mr. Stockton.

Mr Hynes said the group had worked hard with locally based web design experts Boojum to ensure the platform was as interactive and easy to navigate as possible.

“Our biggest challenge was trying to incorporate complex plant characteristics in a searchable format that is flexible and user friendly,” he said.

Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs
Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs

The database can be accessed at

The project was supported by a $5000 State Governments CoastCare Grant, $2500 Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant and $1000 Surf Coast Shire Grant.

Check out the Surf Coast Nature Search today and see how many plants you can identify from your garden! Let us know how many indigenous plants you find in your backyard in the comments below. 

Grab a grant and get involved!

Do you or your organisation want to contribute to caring for our precious coast? Apply for a Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coastal Grant!

Applications are now open to open to projects that have a coastal focus and relate to the 37km of Crown Foreshore land managed by GORCC between Torquay and Lorne.

Each year GORCC provides $10,000 in grant funds towards approved environmental and community activities in coastal areas under our management.

Previous grant rounds have funded a diverse range of projects, from the procurement of tools and cigarette butt bins to weed control, revegetation, educational projects and coastal events.

Stuck for ideas on how you help protect our coast and enhance our coastal communities?

Previous grant rounds have funded a diverse range of projects, from the procurement of tools and cigarette butt bins to weed control, revegetation, educational projects and coastal events.

Coastal locals enjoying all the fun at the 2013 Lorne Model Boat Regatta, a successful applicant of last year’s GORCC Coastal Grant Program. Photo: Warwick Tucker


Or, take some inspiration from one of last year’s successful applicants – the 2013 Lorne Model Boat Regatta.

We interviewed Penny Whitehead, Marketing Manager of the Lorne Model Boat Regatta to see why she applied for a GORCC Coastal Grant.

How much funding this this project receive from GORCC?

Why did you apply for a GORCC Coastal Grant?
The project profiles an iconic space and place on the Great Ocean Road foreshore so seems like a close fit.

What aspects of the event did the GORCC Coastal Grant fund?
Marketing and promotions of the event.

What was the purpose of this event?
To run a family friendly event allowing everyone to have fun sailing model boats together in an iconic part of Lorne.

Why do you believe it is important to hold events such as the Lorne Model Boat Regatta?
These events bring the community together, encourage children to get outside and interact with nature, allow adults to explore their inner-child and profile the great outdoors of Lorne!

Will you be applying for another GORCC Coastal Grant to fund the next event?
 Yes indeed!

Do you believe it is important for organisations such as GORCC to offer funding to environment and community projects? If so, Why?
Yes. Grants allow small community organisations like the Lorne Business and Tourism Association (LBTA) to run events that attract people, media and community conversation. Without the grants, the events just cannot exist.


Applications close Friday 24th October 2014. Up to $2500 per project is available. For more information, including the online application form, click here.

Surf Coast groups benefit from funding

Local community groups within the Surf Coast and Bellarine have received a share of over $40, 000 in State Government funding.

The Coastcare Victoria Community Grants Program aims to support local action that protects and enhances coastal environments.

In 2014, local groups including Jan Juc Coast Action, ANGAIR, Torquay Coast Action and Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment have all been recognised and received funding for their conservation projects.

Local environmental volunteer group ANGAIR has received $2, 000 to count towards re-establishing threatened Moonah Woodlands in Anglesea – a project the group has been working on in partnership with GORCC for more than 7 years.

ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar and GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale on the Melba Parade (Anglesea) site where the seven-year restoration project had been taking place.
ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar and GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale on the Melba Parade (Anglesea) site where the seven-year restoration project had been taking place.

ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar said the group had just 200m of site left to rehabilitate, with the funding set to help complete the project.

“When we started, coastal tea tree – a native to Australia but non-indigenous to the area and an invasive weed – had taken over.

“The occasional Moonah and Bearded Heath had survived, however, they were stretched to the limit and competing for space,” he said.

Melba Parade, the Anglesea site where the seven-year restoration project has been taking place, has seen significant improvements over the years.
Melba Parade, the Anglesea site where the seven-year restoration project has been taking place, has seen significant improvements over the years.

Mr McKellar said the project had been worth seven years of hard work and dedication.

“The results are magic – it really is extraordinary,” he said.

GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale said the project was one of GORCC’s most successful restoration projects.

“The increase in biodiversity has been significant.

“As their habitat is re-established, native fauna are moving back into the area as evidenced by the increase in tracks and burrows on the site,” she said.

Schools are also playing an important part in the project.

Christian College students can finally take a break after years of hard work, including this planting day in July last year.
Christian College students can finally take a break after years of hard work, including this planting day in July last year.

“Many school groups have supported the works through the GORCC Environmental Education Program including Christian College and St Bernard’s College who have dedicated many hours to the project over several years,” she said.

Mr McKellar said the work has resulted in the return of indigenous flora as well.

“Satin Everlasting (Helichrysum Leucopsideum) – a very pretty flower – has reappeared on the site. This is the only place it can be found on the Surf Coast,” he said.

The Satin Everlasting flower is starting to provide some beautiful colour to the Melba Parade site.
The Satin Everlasting flower is starting to provide some beautiful colour to the Melba Parade site.

Department of Education and Primary Industries Coastcare co-ordinator Alex Sedger said the contribution of volunteers was integral to coastal management.

“All volunteers are passionate about their special patches, and often work without asking anything for their efforts,” she said.

Want to get involved?  Find out more about coastal, environmental volunteering here.  ANGAIR welcomes new volunteers, and information on the group and the upcoming Wildflower Weekend can be found at


Funds for rare flora

A local environmental group has been granted $9000 to enhance two rare flora populations on our iconic coast.

The state government awarded Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) with $9000 in funds as part of the Communities for Nature Grants program.

Chairperson of Jan Juc Coast Action Luke Hynes said the grant will foster the protection of two state significant flora species and enable them to continue their weed control efforts.

“We will use these funds to assist botanical experts Neil Anderton and Graeme Stockton to propagate the Swamp Diuris and increase the diversity of the Peninsula Daisy-bush in Jan Juc.

“We need to work actively to prevent these species from becoming locally extinct, encourage the recruitment of seedlings, and ensure populations are secure into the future,” he said.

Mr Hynes believes the grant will have significant benefits for the local coastline.

“This grant will benefit our coast by helping us protect local ecological values through weed control and protecting and enhancing these rare plant species,” he said.

The Peninsula Daisy Bush
The Peninsula Daisy Bush

The JJCA group 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 has been been working tirelessly to protect the survival of these precious flora species.

In 2010 the group pollinated Swamp Diuris by hand and collected seed to ensure the survival of the species.

This complex process required members to pollinate the tiny orchid flowers using tooth-picks.

The community can support the group’s efforts and help to ensure survival of these species by planting indigenous flora in their own gardens and removing environmental weeds.
“The invasion of foreign pasture grasses, noxious weeds and escaped garden plants are common threats to these fragile species.

“The Gazania, a common, pretty garden plant, is a particular threat, especially to the Swamp Diuris.
“Most community members don’t realise how easily these garden plants spread and how devastating they are for the environment,” said Mr.Hynes.

For more information on coastal volunteering in our region, visit
Related blog posts:

swamp-diuris-diuris-palustris1Rare orchid survives on edge
image001 Father’s Day fun in Jan Juc
img_0792 Cleanup helps conserve the coast

Anglesea heath back to its former glory

The coastal reserve above the Anglesea Surf Club has undergone a remarkable environmental transformation, thanks to a five-year project carried out by students and volunteers.

Year nine students from St Bernard’s College and Anglesea Coast Action (ACA) volunteers have spent more than 700 hours restoring the heathland back to its natural state. Students and volunteers met regularly at the site to remove the weeds with loppers and saws.

A big thank you to the St Bernard’s students and volunteers who spent over 700 hours restoring the area above the Anglesea Surf Club.

Why did this site need attention?

The site’s Indigenous vegetation was damaged during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and struggled to recover due to the quick regrowth of weeds.

Carl Rayner, secretary of ACA, said only small amounts of biodiversity remained in the reserve when the project began.

“The area has gone from a weed-infested coastal reserve with half a dozen species to a thriving heathland, which is now home to over 110 species of Indigenous plants,” he said.

“The result is amazing and I have never seen a transformation quite like it before.”

Vice president of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet Society for the protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR), Neil Tucker, said the weeding work meant smothered native vegetation was able to germinate again and grow naturally.

“A wonderful variety of native plants have bloomed in the area including orchids, which no one knew were there,” he said.

How do St Bernard’s students give back to the environment? 

St Bernard’s campus director, Mark Smith, said the program taught the students about the need for everyone to take responsibility for the protection and preservation of the natural environment.

“We wanted them to contribute to an ongoing community project that fitted with our theme of environmental awareness – and the project was a perfect fit,” he said.

“The students are all from the city and spend four weeks at the school’s Santa Monica Campus each year. The students have benefited by gaining a better understanding of the coastal environment, especially in terms of learning about what plants are Indigenous and why it is advisable to plant them – and how invasive species have affected the coast and dunes.”

Year 9 student Josh Saliba is one of many St Bernard’s College students who have helped restore Anglesea Heath back to its natural state.

What other benefits have emerged from the project?

Mr Rayner said plenty of positive feedback had been received about the restored site.

“The view from the nearby lookout is magnificent and people have said to me that it’s now arguably one of the best views along the Great Ocean Road.”

The project was made possible through Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, ACA and ANGAIR funding.

Have you seen the coastal reserve above the Anglesea Surf Club recently?

Tell us what you think of the transformation!

Want to get involved in GORCC’s Environmental Education Program for schools? Click here for more information.

Interested in protecting and preserving the coast? Find out more about environmental volunteering on the coast here.

Check out what other local schools have done lately to protect our beautiful coast.

Action and art for conservation

Queens Park blitz a group effort

Action and art for conservation

Students from St. Therese Catholic Primary School have been working alongside local environmental volunteers to protect threatened Moonah trees while encouraging others to look after our coastline.

Grade 3 and 4 students from St. Therese Primary School students teamed up with with volunteers from Surf Coast Inland Plains Network (SCIPN),  Torquay Coast Action (TCA) and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to plant 400 Moonah and Wirildra trees near  Whites Beach.

Drawing inspiration from the latest SCIPN wildlife card collection by local artist Mark Trinham, students also created and displayed their own artwork at the planting site.

St. Therese Primary School students Mickey Cotsopoulos, Charlotte Morgan and Olivia Gross with their artwork and GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale

Native animals such as frogs, reptiles, mammals, bats, freshwater fish and many birds from the region feature in the cards, which were developed to promote local  wildlife and conservation education.

SCIPN operations manager Mandy Coulson said students had researched Moonah Woodlands in class and also worked on their art.

“Their artwork depicts local trees and animals, and has been displayed near the planting site to raise public awareness of the coastal environment,” she said.

For more information on Moonah Woodlands, please click here.

Glenda Shomaly, a volunteer from TCA, said St. Therese Primary School plays an active role in educating its students on the importance of maintaining and enhancing the local environment.

“St. Therese Catholic Primary School students plant 400 trees a year  as a part of their carbon offset project,” she said.

The school’s sustainability coordinator, Gerard McCarthy, said students were excited to participate in the day’s activities.

“Opportunities like this allow the students to further understand their local environment and how to look after it,” he said.

“As they grow up, they will be able to appreciate their own efforts made to protect the area.”

This educational activity was made possible by a grant received from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, which is celebrating 25 years of land care this year.

Why did the site need rehabilitation?

The area, which borders Fishermans Beach and Whites Beach, was chosen because only one per cent of Moonah trees remain there due to decimation.

GORCC coastal project manager Mike Bodsworth said GORCC was grateful to the students and volunteers for their assistance in an area requiring restoration.

“GORCC has supported their work by fencing the site to protect the re-vegetated area and give it the best chance of survival,” he said.

Our coastal ecosystem will be threatened if Moonah Woodlands are not planted in the area.

More information

Torquay Coast Action hold regular working bees along the coast.

For further information please phone 5261 6266.

Check out what other students have done to help the coast in our previous blogs:

Queens Park blitz a group effort

Plunging in for fish count

Students take lead on coast care

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.

Protein Science Conference Gets Behind Foreshore Rehabilitation

North Lorne is returned to its former glory thanks to Protein Society support.

The mouth of the Erskine River on the Lorne Foreshore has been revitalized by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) thanks to financial support received from the annual Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function.

The conference runs over five days each February and has been held in Lorne since 1976. The special event attracts approximately 450 protein scientists gathering together to participate in trade workshops, displays, social events and to highlight leading edge protein science.

In 2008, the conference organising committee was inspired by growing climate change concerns to take proactive steps to reduce the conference’s environmental footprint.  In preparation for their 34th Conference in 2009, the committee chose to make an environmental contribution to the Lorne region, in recognition of the many years they had been visiting the area and made a financial donation to GORCC, the Crown Land Committee of Management for the Lorne Foreshore.

The Project Begins

In January 2009 the coastal project commenced to remove weeds and re-establish native vegetation along the coastal reserve from the Erskine River mouth to Stirling Street. The aim of the project was to rehabilitate Lorne’s native vegetation as it provides habitat for a range of native animals and gives the town its distinctive bushy character. A wide variety of weeds threaten Lorne’s natural areas, both inland and along the coast.

The above pictures are of the North Lorne site in October 2008 before the rehabilitation work commenced.

GORCC installed information signs at the site to create awareness about environmental weeds and encourage people with gardens in Lorne and other coastal towns to rid their gardens of invasive plants as many of the weeds are garden escapees.

North Lorne Rehabilitation Sign


The above pictures are of North Lorne in January 2009, this was in the early stages of the rehabilitation project.

The above pictures are of North Lorne in June 2009, after the environmental weeds were removed.

The Results

The funding has been used to purchase indigenous seedlings, planting and weed control conducted by GORCC staff, contractors and student volunteers. Native plants lost amongst the weed infestations have been restored in the process, including some beautiful old Eucalypts. The areas have been revegetated with a wide variety of local species including approximately 1200 plants in 2010, for example:

  • 200 Allocasuarina verticillata (Drooping Sheoak)
  • 100 Stylidium armeria  (Common Trigger-plant)
  • 100 Acaena nova-zelandii ( Bidgee-Widgee)
  • 200 Lomandra longifolia (Spiny-head Mat-rush)
  • 50 Dianella brevicaulis (Small flower Flax Lily)
  • 100 Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka)
  • 3 Correa alba (White Correa)
  • 19 Olearia ramulosa (Twiggy Daisy-bush)
  • 50 Leucopogon parviflorus (Coast Beard Heath)

The above pictures are of North Lorne in December 2010 after the native revegetation was completed.

Volunteer School Students Get Involved

In the August 2009 representatives from 24 victorian schools attended the Junior Landcare Victorian Youth Environment Conference held in Lorne. The Junior Landcare Conference promotes the environment within schools throughout Australia, encouraging students to come together and educate each other about a range of environmental topics. The funding provided opportunities for the student delegates to engage in hands on coastal care supported by GORCC staff.

Upcoming Conference

This coming February conference delegates will return for the 36th Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function, hosted by Erskine Mantra Resort. For more information about the conference visit their website

Next steps to realising our future

The forum generated various ideas for the next steps that could be taken towards realising our future aspirations as coast carers. These ideas could be grouped into four key themes.

In the conversations we have from now onwards, we need to:

  • continue to talk about the BIG questions that we hold and find ways of communicating the key messages simply – with each other and with others (e.g. Why is our work important? What does it matter?)
  • create opportunities for more conversations between our community and the various agencies involved in coast care
  • look for opportunities where people are gathering to talk about related topics (e.g. fire management) and draw links to our purpose and activities, and
  • reframe the language we use when communicating with others (e.g. refer to ‘vegetation’ as ‘habitat’ – see Birds Australia publications for good examples of simple, accessible language).

We also need to use the stories we share as a foundation to:

  • create an ‘interpretive story’ for visitors to experience on the soon-to-be-built Surf Coast Walk
  • set a mission that everyone shares the stories (i.e. what we do and why) with as many people as we can and then invite them to join us in taking action
  • capture and share the great stories that we all know about (and start to actively collect these stories in words, photos and video), and
  • use our broader network to create its own online space that is accessible and simple, and allows local groups to upload and share stories, photos, event details, questions and video.

In the work we do together, we can start to:

  • fund and prioritise ongoing monitoring programs to inform our learning and outcomes
  • make our activities more visible to other people, starting with working bees and other activities on the Great Ocean Road (Note: during the forum, Coast Action/Coastcare provided a sign template that groups could use to promote their activities)
  • start to research and document (e.g. in a story) the extent to which we are ‘winning or losing’ the battle to save key ecosystem species/the war against environmental weed species, and
  • begin looking to the philanthropic sector as a possible funding source for our projects (e.g.

By networking more we could:

  • find a central point of contact that works across all the agencies (e.g. Coast Action/Coastcare)
  • update our own lists of all current volunteer groups, starting with centralised information sources (e.g. Surf Coast Shire, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee), and
  • make the effort to do more ‘volunteer exchanges’ when doing on-ground works.

If we focus on implementing some or all of these ideas as we talk, share, work together and network, we will move forward together and achieve more on-ground success in caring for the coast!

If we had a magic wand…

During the forum, the group was asked this question:

If we had a magic wand that we could wave to make our work together everything we hoped for, what tangible things would we see?

The following responses provide a glimpse into our goals and hopes for the future as coast carers:

  • We have more volunteers, especially younger people joining us.
  • Community participation in our on-ground activities is filled with people from all parts of the coast, of all ages and cultures, and with a gender balance.
  • We have better links with land managers and agencies, and they are providing more help with our working bees.
  • We have more funding for on-ground works – and we are accessing new funding sources.
  • Funding agencies recognise the need for longer-term funding of our projects, which is enabling both certainty and monitoring of these projects into the future.
  • We have found ways to generate money from tourism to put into our on-ground works.
  • Applying for grant funding is now simple and accessible for all groups – only the essential information is needed to complete the submissions.
  • Our efforts have resulted in improved communication between all agencies, land managers and groups.
  • Our education efforts have raised awareness of the fact that we all share many goals, which has resulted in greatly strengthening communication.
  • We have evolved our communication to a point where each player has full knowledge of what each other is doing. As a result, groups are building on each other’s work, sharing skills and resources.
  • Succession planning and management has become a reality, and all groups are working together to plan ahead and share ideas.
  • The ongoing ‘politics’ continues… despite this, our work continues to get stronger with a healthy focus on catchment boundaries (instead of political lines on a map).
  • One single regional agency (or point of contact) has been established.
  • Our successful work has been widely acknowledged and promoted throughout the community.
  • It has become the norm for companies and larger organisations to provide staff on paid time-out to assist with on-ground works (e.g. Rip Curl Planet Days).
  • Growth in the employment of our people and groups has happened!
  • We are seeing richer biodiversity through the removal of weeds.
  • More and more people now know the difference between weeds and indigenous plant species.
  • Our community of volunteers and groups is using online tools in unique and effective ways. We use these tools to coordinate, share knowledge, and recruit and attract new people.