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Queenscliffe Herald Article - December 2004

Take a Walk Along our Environmental Trail

How many locals have walked the Swan Bay Environmental Trail? It runs along the bike track from the Railway Station to the old High School site. Tourists are often seen walking along the Trail holding the trail guide and we recommend that locals too take the time to read about the values of Swan Bay. It is especially important that our young people learn to appreciate and protect this very special place.

Along the track are numbered signposts which correspond to the numbered sections in the trail guide. The brochure gives information and illustrations about the marine environment, the birds, the plants and other features which can be seen from the path.

Probably the most obvious importance of Swan Bay is as a habitat for birds, both local and migratory, which can usually be seen feeding on the mudflats. Bird counts have shown that around 10,000 waders may be present in Swan Bay during February. Some of these birds, including godwits, curlews and stints, migrate to Swan Bay from the Northern winter as far away as Asia and Siberia. And the famous orange-bellied parrot, one of Australia’s most endangered birds, flies from Tasmania in winter to feed on the glasswort and other saltmarsh plants.

Signpost number 11 points out the number of stormwater drains which flow into Swan Bay. These drains carry rubbish, cigarette butts, dog poo and chemical run-off, in fact everything we use outdoors. Recycling and responsible disposal of rubbish assists in keeping the bay free of such pollutants. The Queenscliff Primary School has assisted in the stencilling of messages on the drains around the town to remind us that everything dropped in the street, and the oils and chemicals used in gardens and on cars, washes either into Swan Bay or into Port Phillip Bay.

The extensive seagrass meadows lying beneath the surface of Swan Bay provide food for the swans and also serve as fish nurseries. Important too are the indigenous plants which provide food and shelter for a myriad of birds and insects. The local vegetation is in danger of being displaced by weeds and plants which have spread from local gardens and re-vegetation projects on the shores of the bay have been undertaken by volunteers and conservation groups.

Most of Swan Bay is now included in Victoria’s Marine Park system, a fitting recognition of its local, national and international significance.

Swan Bay Environmental Trail brochures are available from the Queenscliff Visitor Centre in Hesse St or in the wooden boxes at the beginning (near the Railway Station) and end (at the lookout in King St near the old High School site) of the Trail.


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