The Barwon River Estuary is an extensive wetland ecosystem south of Geelong characterised by large areas of native vegetation interspersed with shallow brackish-water lakes. Much of the estuary is in relatively natural condition, particularly in the lower section between Lake Connewarre and the river mouth at Barwon Heads. The estuary has among the most diverse saltmarsh and estuary vegetation in south-eastern Australia, with major occurrences of both wet and dry saltmarsh.
The estuary covers wetlands designated as a Ramsar site including Lake Connewarre and the lower Barwon River Estuary, important links in the east west flyway for migratory water birds. It represents the largest remaining patch of native vegetation on the Bellarine Peninsula, including the westernmost population of the white mangrove, an important stabiliser of the estuarine mudflats.
While significant conservation work was undertaken in 2008 by Parks Victoria in partnership with local groups, subsequent years have seen a big reduction in funds and resources available to maintain the ecological integrity and the biodiversity of the area which are increasingly under threat. In order to protect and ensure the long term future of terrestrial and aquatic habitats for native plants and animals, it is important that the local community and visitors become more engaged with and informed about the high value and fragility of the Barwon Estuary, and their potential role in its active protection.
This project focuses on the Estuary areas of Lake Connewarre, Reedy Lake and the section of the Barwon River located between Lake Connewarre and the Barwon Heads/Ocean Grove bridge. Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove are located approximately 20 kilometres south-east of Geelong in the Australian state of Victoria.