Friends of Williamstown Wetlands Inc
President’s Report 2019
The twelve months to July 2019 have been filled with activity as we continue to play our role in looking after the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and the Paisley-Challis Wetlands, in conjunction with Hobsons Bay City Council and Parks Victoria.
We began the year noting the contributions of Helen Tregear, who died in July 2018, aged 99. Helen was a founder of the group in the late 1980s and our Secretary until 2001. She remained active for years after that and became an honorary member in 2009.
In another significant change, our Treasurer for almost a decade, Marilyn Olliff, stepped down at the Annual General Meeting so as to have more time for her latest project, the Hobsons Bay Wetlands centre. So we began the year with a new Treasurer, Vesna Djuric, and after twelve months I am happy to say that the books are still in excellent order.
Our seasonal programme of planting in the cooler, wetter months, and bird walks in the drier months, continued, with maintenance and ground preparation taking place whenever it was necessary and volunteers were available to work. Our planting has been more concentrated this year on the area to the south of the lake, for which the responsible authority is Parks Victoria. Peter Smith again arranged and supervised our Clean Up Australia Day effort at the Paisley Challis Wetland in March. We also participated in Council’s World Environment Day event at the beginning of June.
A group from the Ford Motor Company, workers from their proving ground north of Geelong, had two Volunteer Activity Days working on our patch. On the first of these activity days, in September 2018, the volunteers removed old fencing and associated rubbish and watered our recent plantings on the south side of the lakes. On the second day, in June 2019, they planted 1500 plants in the area near the shallow section of the eastern lake. Staff from Hobsons Bay City Council and Parks Victoria were in attendance, and site preparation for the plantings was carried out by Richard Leppitt and Andrew Thornton. Their use of an auger to prepare holes has become a standard feature of our planting routines.
We have been accustomed to seeing tiger snakes as we work at the Jawbone and the Paisley Challis Wetland, but we have become aware that there are other snakes in the area, notably the white lipped snake (seen on the goat track). The little whip snake is also reported as having been sighted in this region, although we have not seen any on our patch.
The stormwater lakes and their surrounds continue to attract a rich birdlife and our summer bird walks attract other twitchers in addition to regular members of our Friends group. We continue to receive reports of fox sightings, which is probably why there are not so many rabbits around. Domestic dogs are, however, still causing problems on the coastal flats and Council officers have responded to our suggestions for better communication with dog walkers and their pets that harass migratory and other birds.
The great increase in sporting activity at the J. T. Gray Reserve is the cause of parking congestion on our workdays at Paisley Challis. Some other activity there has caught our attention and we forwarded our comments to the working group of Hobsons Bay City Council. This group, which also includes Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria, and VCictoria’s Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning (DELWP)
have been reviewing the status of the fishing club rooms on the bank of the Kororoit Creek. At the time of writing it seems that the disused building of the Deaf Anglers Club will be removed because it is derelict. Plans to close the car park at the foot of Maddox Road and incorporate the area into the Wetland Reserve are also under consideration.
By August 2018 we noticed that the eastern storm water lake seemed to be shallowing. There was excessive growth of the shallow water reed, Typha, the lake had receded from its original shoreline, and a shallow section of the lake had become almost dry land. It seemed that that device at the western end of the lake, near the causeway, that was supposed to maintain the water level in the lake, had failed. This was confirmed by an inspection by an environmental engineering consultant, and we pitched our case to Council for inclusion of the necessary action in their 2019-2020 budget of remediation works. This approach was successful, and Council has approved a three- stage work programme to restore the lake to something more like its original form and remove the overgrown vegetation.
Associated with the inflow of storm water to the lakes, Nick Olliff has investigated the gross litter traps and found that some of them have not been receiving regular attention. Council staff have rectified this oversight.
Governance and Organization
The committee has continued to function well, with major contributions from Secretary Sandra Thorn, good attendance at meetings, and activity planning by Vice president Richard Leppitt. Publicity for our activities, through our website and FaceBook, has been aided by graphic design by Peter Cross and, of course, new volunteers are always welcome.
Ian D. Rae