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Queenscliffe Herald Article - June 2007

Friends of the Queenscliffe Narrows

Sue Longmore, Coastal Officer, Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Committee

Framed by sparkling waters and dark, wooded dunes, the entrance to Queenscliff through the Narrows is very appealing. Much is known about Swan Bay, an internationally important marine wetland, but the secrets of the tangled dune woodland are largely untold.

About three thousand years ago, as sea levels dropped, wind-blown sand from exposed sea beds began to accumulate along the coastline. A series of parallel dunes formed between Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale, creating the narrow neck of land we call ‘The Narrows’. As plants began to colonise the dunes, their roots stabilized the sand. Over time leaf litter formed, enriching the sandy soils so that a greater variety of plant life could grow. Close to the beach, hardy grasses and rushes - Hairy Spinifex and Knobby Club Rush -pioneered the tough conditions of the primary dune. In the sheltered and richer soils of the rear dunes a Coastal Moonah Woodland Community flourished.

Walking along the Lovers Walk track between the dunes is like entering another world. Shade and quiet prevails. Dappled light plays on the trunks and branches of the Moonahs showing off the beauty of mosses and lichens growing there. The understorey of the Moonah Woodland is alive with scrambling plants such as Seaberry Saltbush, Bower Spinach and Small-leaf Clematis.  During autumn and winter, many different fungi grow in the litter beneath the Moonahs and in spring, Gnat Orchids and Pink Fairies carpet the ground.

Coastal Moonah Woodlands in Victoria are now so depleted and fragmented that they have been listed as threatened communities and afforded protection under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Our Narrows Coastal Moonah Woodland is in need of our help. Environmental weeds and wind-blown sand have invaded and are smothering the indigenous woodland plants.

You may have noticed over summer that the Borough of Queenscliffe has fenced the massive dune-blow out at Dog Beach, laying matting over the bare surface. More matting is to be laid in June over sand that has accumulated in the woodland behind the blow-out. Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Committee (SBICMC) will be working with the Borough and many others in the community over the coming months to facilitate awareness, knowledge and care of the Narrows woodland.

Guided by a revegetation plan developed by SBICMC, a Green Corps team will plant the dune blow-out slope in the last week of June using 5000 indigenous plants grown by volunteers at the Queenscliff Community Nursery.

SBICMC invites you to participate in a Community Planting Day in the woodland behind the blow-out on Saturday June 30th between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. We plan to have a Conservation Volunteers Australia team assisting too. For those wanting to learn more about this special area, short guided walks through the woodland will depart from the planting site at 11 a.m. and 2p.m. Bring your favourite gardening gloves and dress appropriately for the weather and activities. Why not bring snacks /lunch and a thermos and make a day of it? I hope to see you there. From the Dog Beach car park follow the SBICMC signs along Lovers Walk to the revegetation site.


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