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?

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?

Head out now to look out on our spectacular coast!

Winter is a great time for exploring our beautiful coast at a relaxed and leisurely pace without having to contend with the summer hordes. We love rugging up and heading out on foot, on bike or in the car to take in some of the truly spectacular views on offer from numerous look-outs along the coast.

Here’s some of our favourite look-out spots for winter whale-watching, surf-checking, contemplating or just taking in our coast in all its glory.

  • Point Danger – a fantastic place to look-out over the coast in Torquay. Bird Rock look-out, Jan Juc
  • Bird Rock (right) – sensational views over Jan Juc from an innovative purpose-built look-out, reminiscent of a ship’s bow.
  • Anglesea Hill – a small pull-in bay just out of Anglesea, which offers wonderful views over Anglesea and Point Roadknight, and back towards Point Addis.
  • Hutt Gully – gobsmackingly beautiful views on the drive out of Point Roadknight heading towards Aireys Inlet and Lorne. The vista of the coast, Split Point lighthouse, Lorne and the Otways always takes one’s breath away. Eagle Rock, Aireys Inlet
  • Split Point (right) – another reason to visit Aireys Inlet’s lighthouse precinct. Overlooks the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary and is ruggedly beautiful.
  • Airey’s Inlet Clifftop Walk – there’s no need to rush along this popular walking track, given the great views on offer along its length.
  • Teddys Look-oTeddys look-out, Lorneut (right) – breathtaking views from Queens Park in Lorne over the St George River estuary and Great Ocean Road.
  • Tramway Track – the old horse-drawn tramway route, once used to transport logs from the Otways to the Port of Lorne, is now a walking track that affords magnificent viewing points high above the Great Ocean Road – and an insight into the history of our coast.
  • Lorne Pier – walk to the end of the pier and soak up the sights and sounds of this must-see destination, including different perspectives of the Lorne township, the Otways and the coast towards Aireys Inlet. Gorgeous!
  • Anywhere high in Lorne – wherever you go here, you see yet another side of our coast. Just fabulous.

These are but a few of the many spots on offer – and we love them all year round, not just in winter. What’s your favourite spot for looking-out over our coast? Post a comment to this blog and tell us!

What’s not to love about the coast in winter?

Ahhh! The coast in winter. Many of us who live and work here believe it sparkles even more brightly during the colder months than it does in the harsh sunlight of summer. While we are the lucky ones who love the coast all year round, winter is perhaps the time of year when we love it the most.

As the temperature drops and the hordes depart after the Easter break, we love the way that life on the coast settles into a quieter and more relaxed pace that is very easy to take. We’re sure our native animal and plant life appreciate having less people around to contend with too!

We love the feel of the crisp sea air on our faces and the way it can turn our noses and cheeks into a glamorous shade of red as we take in an ever changing seascape. There’s nothing like rugging up and walking along a virtually deserted beach watching the colours of the sea and sky change depending on the time of day and weather conditions. No day is ever the same but every day is beautiful.

Winter is also the time when the whales come through on their annual pilgrimage to their winter breeding grounds. Whale sightings are common right along the coast at this time of year and have already been reported at various spots, including Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne. It’s impossible to be blasé about catching a sight of these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. We love that too.

And for those of us who surf, we love the winter swells. Non-surfers may find this hard to believe but winter is the best time of year to surf. The waves are less crowded while swell conditions are generally more consistently surfable, whether it’s two foot or six foot plus. Wind conditions often tend to be more surf-friendly too although there’s no accounting for the whims of Mother Nature at any time of the year.

These are just some of the jewels we cherish from our coast’s treasure chest of winter delights. Why not share what you love about the coast in winter by posting a comment on this blog?