Books

The Story of an Australian conservation society: “ANGAIR: the first 50 years” by Roslyn Gibson.

I recently arrived in Australia two months ago for the second time and freshly joined the Barwon Estuary Project. It was time I wrote my first post.

As a new member of the BEP I attended my first group meeting hosted by a lovely couple, Margaret and Martin. I was excited, it started to feel like I was officially a member of this. I was still unknown by the majority of the people in the room, as was my partner, John. However, there was more news to come. Roslyn Gibson, member of BEP and the ANGAIR society, was happy to present her book, just recently published, to the rest of the group. By the end of the meeting this book arrived in my hands.

The name ANGAIR and their work was unknown to me, but just by having a quick look at their pages I could get a grasp of the contribution to the environmental conservation the ANGAIR Society has been promoting since its beginnings in 1969. The book relates the history of an Australian conservationist society from the details of its formation 50 years ago in a coastal town in the State of Victoria, their contribution with other conservationists groups, their activities such as monitoring, maintaining and enhancing the indigenous vegetation, educational activities, and basically a good handful of the reasons why they became a successful conservation society in Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.

To me, the work of Roslyn Gibson is an inspirational story of how a community building a network and working together can bring great results. It’s a good example for younger generations who dream to have a positive influence on the world.

The book can be ordered from the link below:

https://www.angair.org.au/publications

Reviewed by Loreto R

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Beach Clean Up

Hello BEP peoples,

Confirmation of Beach Clean Up – 322B Beach Patrol from Brooke Connor (Parks Vic) and she is happy to share and encourage more volunteers to join, so feel free to share.

We are meeting at 34W, the Surf Lifesaving Club along 13th Beach Road, Barwon Heads.

Date: Saturday 25th of May, 2019.

Time: 9:30am

Location: 34W – Surf Lifesaving Club, 13th Beach Road Barwon Heads.

Facebook link-   BeachPatrol322B 

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Guided Walk Report

Saturday’s walk along the Barwon Estuary was not for the faint hearted. It was a sharp reminder that winter is once again approaching, and it was actually lovely to rug up and feel the rain on your face, which we certainly did!

This time we started our search at the end of River Parade at Moonah Park. The Coastal Saltmarsh plant community is very evident in this area along the River, although for people new to these plants, it first seems a little daunting trying to distinguish one patch of green from another. The secret is to concentrate on a small area, and just stare at it. In one such patch, it was evident that there were 3 different species of saltbush, beaded glasswort as well as Twin leaf and bower spinach.

The Beaded Glasswort is quite prolific along the track that heads from the carpark along by the farmland and on to the levies.The Beaded Glasswort is flowering at the moment, although you have to look hard to find the tiny little flowers that form on the tips of the segmented succulent stems. The following seeds are an important food plant for the migrating rare Orange Bellied Parrot, that arrives from Tasmania in the Autumn and overwinters along this coastline.

Although we didn’t see any Orange bellied Parrots, the Blue Wrens seem to be enjoying the rain, as we squelched pass, warmed by our enthusiasm for these amazing adaptable and resilient plants.

beaded glasswort

Beaded Glasswort – Sarcocornia quinqueflora

Cassandra Twomey

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Guided Estuary Walk

Cassandra Twomey, our local horticulturalist,  will guide us along the banks of the estuary and talk to us about the local plants and seasonal changes. She also has a vast knowledge of Aboriginal uses of plants.

When: 9.30 a.m. Saturday, 30th March 2019

Where: turn around at the end of River Parade (Moonah Park)

What to bring: FREE. Bring along cameras and sketching gear if you wish. Sunscreen and insect repellent.

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Monitoring Water Quality in the Barwon River

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

The EstuaryWatch training earlier this week. BEP working party members Deb, Ros and Cassy participated in the training with other community members and EstuaryWatch volunteers.

EstuaryWatch Victoria do fantastic citizen science work collecting long term data on the health of the Estuary and the BEP is excited to be able to be part of it. Water samples are taken from near storm water drains. They are then tested for ph levels, ammonia, turbidity and e coli.Data will be published regularly.

To keep up to date with what is happening to to Corangamite Catchment Management Authority website or follow on instagram 

The next monitoring day is Thursday January 3rd.

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CONNEWARRE CHEVRONS

Lake Connewarre is the womb of the Bellarine Peninsula. Life gestates
in her amniotic fluid and bursts forth in great tidal surges. Graceful
long necked water birds journey from across the world to bath in her
fecundity. Joining the local waders, warblers and waddlers in gorging
gastronomical delights.

Yet too few of the two legged, terrestrial mammals of the area are aware
of the Natural Heritage status of this great treasure. As they zip past
along the highways, at sense numbing speed, encased in noisy metal
cocoons, these creatures, who too long ago left the generative waters
for dry land, rarely cast a glance across Murtnagurt Swamp towards the
placid waters of Lake Connewarre.

Heedless of such careless disregard, the large lake lies placid and
peaceful, as she has done for millennia. A womb of sanity amidst the
crazed flurry of development. Tractors trawl the hills all around. The
natural bush and grasslands of yore recently razed, as carelessly as a
morning shave. The farmland which replaced it stretches out and away
from the swampy shore, bare and vulnerable in its ecological
inauthenticity. Protected from an inundation of wilderness by neat,
orderly lines of  fencing, here and there augmented with dissonant
cypresses. The population of incomers huddle away from the winds and
waters in elaborately constructed houses.

In the surrounding villages, towns and city these houses are breeding as
ferally as rabbits. River flats are tamed into parks, muddy tracks
paved, swamps filled for factory footing, creeks concreted into gutters
and scrub becomes suburb. The room to roam shrinks daily.

All these heights of development overlook the vast flat plains of Lake
Connewarre and the muddy course of the Barwon River, feeding fresh water
in and draining her of despair. Together they engorge these enduring
expanses of wetland wilderness. Creating and maintaining, with the help
of the salty influx from the sea into the Barwon delta, a cornucopia of
fresh and salt water marshes, sedgelands, grasslands, tidal creeks,
swamps, moonah scrub, herblands, shrubland and Australia’s southernmost
stand of mangroves.

The source of Connewarre’s waters, the Barwon River, too is threatened
in the heights of the Otway Ranges where the giant forest trees are
still being tumbled for profit. Though injured the great serpent gathers
strength and wends eastwards in great curves to stream through the
bulging womb of the lake, and onto the sea, where fresh magically merges
with salt beneath the looming goanna like guardian of Barwon Heads
Bluff.

The cycles of the moon suck the tidal salt water back up, past the
mangroves and into Lake Connewarre herself, through the narrow channels
of the Sheepwash. Here one of the few growing fan deltas in Victoria
forms a shifting population of silty clay islands covered with plants
like spike sedge, chaffy saw sedge and tangled lignum. To the feral folk
of the developing shore it looks dangerous and inhospitable.
Perambulation is impossible, and even a fleeting thought of exploration
invokes images of sinking into a slimy morass, flailing flesh cut to
shreds by the spiky, sawy, tangles of vegetation.

Yes, to the eye of the civilised human, used to valuing the pastures of
Leopold, the orchards of Wallington, the lush gardens of Ocean Grove,
the caravan parks of Barwon Heads and the shopping malls of Geelong,
which surround Lake Connewarre Game Reserve, it looks like an
unapproachable and daunting wasteland. Very few boats venture up its
sinewy channels to disturb the sanctity of this secret jewel.

Indifference is less of a poison than the pollution slowly seeping in.
It leaves the truly appreciative population of the area in relative
peace to pursue their consumption of Connewarre’s delights. They float,
flutter and flap contentedly throughout the complex ecosystem.

On a sunny spring day the gleaming sheen of the lake is speckled with
the dark dots of black swans in their hundreds. Some already shadowed by
fluffy grey cygnets. The  swan is indeed the signifier of this lake,
which is named after the local Aboriginal word for swan – connewarre.
Now and then a jumbo like pelican descends onto the mangrove mud flats.
The shores are stalked by high stepping white egrets who stand out
starkly against the darkness of the salty scrub. They share this domain
with the grebes, herons, egrets, ibis, and spoonbills, whilst the
endangered orange bellied parrots and terns also flit about.

Lake Connewarre is also a precious home to a vast diversity of  wetland
flora. The frogs and fishes of the waters are no less appreciative. This
natural womb enables their continued survival. Observing from one of the
few firm land, public reserves overlooking the open watery expanse the
ear rests on the deep serenity of this endurance. The silence is broken
only by the gentle hoot hooting of the swans or the persistent croak of
an endangered frog. Such aural nourishment rests and replenishes the
stressed soul.

Flying chevrons of black swans wing the imagination back to times before
the encroachment of civilisation. Then the Bengalat-Bulluk clan of the
indigenous Wathaurong, whose totem was Waa the crow, favoured
Connewarre’s shores. Large numbers of them spent extended periods here
in bark hut villages, foraging for the abundant and easily collected
food. On the north western shore lies an important 5000 year old, shell
midden also listed on the national estate register.

The survival of Lake Connewarre is a fitting tribute to the memory of
the Bengalat-Bulluk and their remarkable culture. For millennia they
performed sacred ceremonies and danced for the land and her creatures.
No doubt each nook and cranny of  the Connewarre wetlands was bathed in
myth and celebrated in evocative, chanting song. Then she was known not
as wilderness, but as a living breathing being replete with a powerful
spiritual life.

Though now humbled, as a Heritage site Connewarre can continue to
nourish and generate life. Such protection is invaluable to the natural
and spiritual well being of the Bellarine Peninsula and all her
creatures. For without the continued existence of a generative womb we
all face extinction.
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CHRIS SITKA