Friends support sea research

Friends of Point Addis (FoPA) volunteers are working with Parks Victoria to monitor the health of marine national parks as part of a state-wide coastal data collection project.

The Sea Search program is a Parks Victoria initiative which sees local volunteer groups conduct research into marine wildlife populations and environmental processes in marine protected areas.

Counting the number of algae and invertebrate species, particularly sea snails, has been FoPA’s main focus since becoming involved in the program.

Parks Victoria’s Sea Search program is an initiative which sees local volunteer groups conduct research into marine wildlife populations and environmental processes in marine protected areas. Photo: Luka-Lesosky Hay

Parks Victoria Ranger Peter Hayes hopes the data collected will be used to support efforts to tackle environmental threats and to encourage others to take responsibility for their coastline.

“The information we gather will help us to identify the number of different species, especially algae and invertebrates, in the area and to monitor their health,” he said.

Pest species are also identified, with information collected used to assist in the prevention of outbreaks and reduction of threats.

“We are also tracking a number of invasive species with particular focus on the Northern Pacific sea star and Japanese Kelp,” said Mr. Hayes.

FoPA President Bronwyn Spark said the ongoing program will provide reliable data about the number of species local to Point Addis and how to protect them.

“The data we collect will tell us what is living in our backyard and will be reported back to the community.

“The project has provided FoPA with more information than ever before about the variety of species in the area,” she said.

“The program’s ongoing nature results in a good snapshot of the health of the area and helps us to identify if a trend is seasonal or long term,” said Mr. Hayes.

Parks Victoria provides an experienced ranger and equipment to support volunteers as they conduct the comprehensive research.

“Sea Search is about getting people in the marine sanctuaries, discovering what is there, teaching people to identify the different species and helping educate others,” Mr Hayes said.

More information on the program is available at Parks Victoria.

To learn more about the Friends of Point Addis and other environmental volunteer groups operating across our region, visit

Have you thought of volunteering? Visit our website for more information.

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 or

Spotlight on the Rufous Bristlebird

The Surf Coast is one of the last places in the world you will be able to find the rare and threatened Rufous Bristlebird and we are very lucky to have this gorgeous little creature call our coast home!

The Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyorni Broadbenti) is only found in Australia with a predominance along coastal areas in south-western Victoria.  The species has previously been sighted in south-western Western Australia and south-eastern South Australia, but unfortunately frequent burning has led to its extinction in W.A.

Adult male- Rufous Bristlebird- photo courtesy of
Adult male- Rufous Bristlebird- photo courtesy of

The Rufous Bristlebird is from the Dasyornithidae family, and is a medium sized primarily ground-dwelling songbird. Its colouring is predominantly dark grey-brown and they have distinctive long tail. The Rufous Bristlebird has a very loud unique call.

Their natural habitat is in coastal shrublands and woodlands.  They are weak flyers and often build their nests close to the ground in low shrubs or tussocks. They feed primarily on ground-dwelling invertebrates.

The Rufous Bristlebird
The Rufous Bristlebird

All species are threatened nationwide due to habitat loss as the result of clearing for agriculture and coastal urban developments.  Additionally, because they are ground-dwelling birds,  they are prone to predation by cats and foxes.

The Rufous Bristlebird is often found in coastal thickets and they have been sighted at Jan Juc, Point Addis, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Wye River Loch Ard, Wye River and inland areas of the Otway Ranges.

Have you been lucky enough to spot a Rufous Bristlebird on the coast?

Rufous Bristlebird- Photo courtesy of
Rufous Bristlebird- Photo courtesy of

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11492_hooded-plover-chicks-pt-roadnight1 Protecting our endangered locals
Wildlife require expert care

Protecting spectacular Point Addis

Stand at Point Addis and look east to Port Phillip Heads in the distance. Gaze west along the coast to the Split Point lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. Look across the southern ocean and glimpse gannets diving or swallows swooping past the cliff face.

Spectacular Point Addis and the Ironbark Basin are fairly new additions to the Great Otway National Park but they have been important to people for thousands of years.

The importance of the area is evidenced by the middens that have been found in the Basin.  Middens are the remains of meals of shellfish once gathered and eaten by Aboriginal people.  These middens show that the Wathaurong people feasted on the sea bounty available here thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately the area’s more recent popularity has put increasing pressure on this fragile but beautiful and diverse environment, already scoured by wind and wave. Some older locals remember driving their cars onto Addiscott beach to go surfing and swimming although fortunately beach access is now only by foot on a new boardwalk and steps.

The work of volunteers in the area has become integral to its wellbeing. The Friends of Point Addis (FOPA) formed around the time that Point Addis became a Marine National Park in late 2002. Under the passionate guidance of Lynne Flakemore, the group embarked on cliff top revegetation, intertidal monitoring of the shore species, film nights and disseminating information to the public.

In the past two years, FOPA have worked closely with Parks Victoria which now manages the Ironbark Basin and Point Addis. Rip Curl and Quicksilver have also given invaluable support to the group.

Working bees have included a ‘Boneseed Blitz in the Basin’, weed eradication, plantings of indigenous species on degraded areas, mulching and fencing to protect against rabbits.

Members have also been on “rock pool rambles” and participated in the Great Victorian Fish Count to assist in monitoring marine species at the Jarosite Reef at the eastern end of Addiscott Beach.

Warning to visitors: stop the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi!

The group has turned its attention to the dangers posed by Phytophthora or Cinnamon Fungus as it was once commonly referred to.  The FOPA is calling for all visitors to the area to be aware of the damage caused by the Phytophthora which can be spread by walkers and bike-riders. You can avoid the spread of this disease by sticking to the designated track signs and keeping their dogs on a lead.

An invitation to all those passionate about the area:

To get involved, call Bronwyn Spark 5263 2224 or email to register your interest.

This article was published in the Surf Coast Times as part of the publications fortnightly “Going Green Column”.

Explore Underwater Victoria

From the comfort of home or even your holiday abode, you can now dive in and explore what lies beneath the waves along the Great Ocean Road without getting wet.

Victorian National Parks Association’s new interactive website, Explore Underwater Victoria, features an amazing collection of underwater photographs and videos, up to date educational resources and group contacts.

As you weave your way along the Great Ocean Road, starting off at Torquay to Apollo Bay, the website showcases the marine national parks and sanctuaries in the area, including the deep water sponge gardens off Point Addis.

Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)
Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)

As you journey further along this spectacular landscape, the underwater arches off Port Campbell are on display as well as the hidden wonders of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)
Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)

Next up as the end of the Great Ocean Road approaches near Warrnambool images of the majestic Southern Right Whale with calf, Australian Fur Seals and the ledge dwelling Port Jackson Sharks are on display.

Port Jackson Shark ( Photographer Mark Norman)
Port Jackson Shark (Photographer Mark Norman)

The Explore Underwater Victoria website is an initiative of the Victorian National Parks Association with support from Museum Victoria.  The goal with this new website is to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of Victoria’s natural marine environment as well as associated local coastal and marine activities and how to get involved.

For further information on the Victorian National Parks Association and their marine and coastal campaign visit: and to discover more of the hidden wonders of Victoria’s underwater world go to

Or contact: Simon Branigan, Marine & Coastal Project Officer, Victorian National Parks Association, Level 3, 60 Leicester St, Carlton 3053. E-mail: 03 9341-6508.

Story contributed by the Victorian National Parks Association.

Protecting Our Endangered Locals

Three very special bird species are calling the Surf Coast home and need your help to survive.
Birds Australia volunteers work tirelessly every year to protect and monitor endangered coastal birds, nesting along the coastline. They have the challenging task of protecting the birds from the many threats they face.

Three coastal birds species are particularly vulnerable along the Surf Coast; Hooded Plover, Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers.    


Hooded Plovers

Hooded Plovers are a rare, endangered species and the Surf Coast is home to several  Hooded Plover nesting sites.  The plovers are now extinct in Queensland, fewer than 50 occur in New South Wales and only 400 are thought to remain in Victoria. 

The species is especially vulnerable because they nest on beaches and their eggs are easy to step on and their chicks are susceptible to danger.  Any disturbance will also drive adult birds away from their eggs and chicks.                                                                                                                

Hooded Plover Chicks at Point Roadknight
This year pairs have been spotted nesting at Point Addis (Red Rocks Beach) and Point Impossible in addition to the well known pairs nesting at Point Roadknight – made famous through their own Twitter site and identifiable by their orange leg flags.
Hooded Plover Chicks at Point Roadknight
The pair at the tip of Point Roadknight produced the first chick for Victoria this season, and just recently chicks have hatched in their second nest.  Unfortunately the Point Addis pair has not been so lucky – having abandoned their nest, possibly due to dogs which are often left to roam in the area.


Red-necked Stints

Red-necked Stints are small migratory waders which forage on exposed reefs and in wet sand and shelter amongst the seaweed.

The protected species lives only in estuarine tidal flats, meaning we are very lucky to have them call the Surf Coast home.   Around 170-200 of these vulnerable little birds have been sighted in the area.

The stints breed in Alaska and Siberia, and take about 1 ½ weeks to get to Australia with one stopover in Asia.  They spend their time in Australia building up their bodyweight for the long trip home in autumn.


Red-capped Plovers

Red-capped Plovers are similar in size to the Red-necked Stints, but are white with a grey back and red cap on their heads.  They are also beach nesters, so that their eggs and chicks are very vulnerable to disturbance and they are now declining in numbers.

Measures are being taken to protect these vulnerable birds

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee has built a fenced refuge area and erected special signs along the beach at Point Roadknight for the hooded plovers while the Surf Coast Shire Council has designated dog-free zone areas and Birds Australia volunteers monitor sites and identify threats to the birds.

You can help

By ensuring dogs are on the leash on beaches where the birds are found and by avoiding the dog prohibited refuge sites.  You can also help by observing the signs and staying well away from any birds.

To get involved

Get involved and play a more active role in their conservation please contact Meghan Cullen at Birds Australia or phone 03 9347 0757.

Story provided by Birds Australia, Birds Australia Volunteers and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee for the Surf Coast Times ‘Going Green’ column.