Sixty people enjoyed a coastal walk earlier this month.

SOUTH Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) launched its new Bunurong Coast Community Onground Action on Pest Plants and Animals project on December 10, with a walk to explore the unique flora and fauna within the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park.

Sixty people enjoyed the walk, which began at Boggabri, the grazing property that has belonged to the Jelbart family since 1948.

Don Jelbart surprised many in the group when he described the barren, rabbit-ravaged landscape of his childhood, as the dunes now boast a thick cover of predominantly native vegetation. This is largely thanks to the introduction in the 1970s of the European rabbit flea, which spread the Myxomatosis virus amongst the local rabbit population.

Botanical ecologist, Alison Oates, explained the Ecological Vegetation Communities (EVC) classification system and pointed out four EVCs on the walk, including coastal banksia woodland and coastal headland scrub.

Local botanists Mary Ellis, Lorraine Norden and Margaret Rowe added to participants’ knowledge by identifying the plants seen on the two-hour walk and sharing how Indigenous Australians used many of them.

Unfortunately, the group also saw the impacts that invasive species such as spear grass (Heteropogon contortus) and sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias) are having on biodiversity within the reserve. Both species dramatically alter the structure of the sand dunes, preventing shorebirds such as hooded plovers, little terns and oystercatchers from nesting.

Another serious threat to these shorebirds (and many other native animals) is foxes.

Gerald Delaney from Parks Victoria spoke about the 1080 baiting pulses being carried out with SGLN to protect hooded plover nesting sites in the reserve.

Gerald emphasised effective pest or weed control needed to involve the whole community, and he encouraged local landholders to work together to get the best results.

Gerald also spoke about the growing threat of deer, which will be the focus of a future workshop in the project.
The next event in this project, which is funded by the state government through the Community Action Volunteer Grants, is a farm tour and beach walk to Grinder Point on January 17.

Cape Liptrap beef farmer Bruce Whittaker and representatives from Agriculture Victoria and Bass Coast Landcare Network’s works crew will discuss strategies for effective weed control. Interested landholders will also be able to develop their own weed management plan. To register, contact Jenny O’Sullivan at leapos@gmail.com or 0419 153 377.