Screw Creek is on the eastern boundary of Inverloch and the track is through the sandy soil of a vegetated dune system. Our leaders’ knowledge of the area and vegetation were helpful in giving an understanding of this coastal reserve. Eulalie explained that the first part of the track was fenced to protect the orchids and a number of Pink Fairies were flowering.
In flower were Hibbertia sericea and Purple Swainson-pea Swainsona lessertifolia – the flowers of the latter grow on stalklets on erect long-stalked racemes. Clematis aristata rambled along the fences with silky green feathers on their unripe fruitlets. Also making use of the fence was Bower Spinach Tetragonia implexicoma, the fleshy leaves of which were food for Australia’s original people. Beneath the fence were Bidgee-widgee and Native Raspberry Rubus parvifolius.
Coastal tea-tree Leptospermum laevigatum in full bloom, Coastal Beard-heath Leucopogon parviflorus and Banksia marginata were among the taller plants. Eulalie warned people against eating the fruit of the Kangaroo Apple Solanum aviculare unless it was really ripe, otherwise it is poisonous.
From the boardwalk we could see New Holland Honeyeaters darting through the shrubs, then one sat atop the highest point of vegetation to survey the landscape, and a Grey Fantail could be heard. The White Mangroves lining the creek were doing well. High overhead a Pacific Gull winged its way seawards.
The mouth of the creek forms a small estuary flowing into the larger estuary of the Tarwin River, which is what Anderson Inlet is. At the edge of the water is a bed of the grass Spartina or Rice-grass, a weed introduced from America and planted in the 1930s in the dunes to prevent their erosion and protect the farmland behind them. It was spreading across the inlet and destroying the feeding grounds of many wading birds. Attempts are being made to control it, but the patch is still persisting although it has been sprayed twice.
Beside the boardwalk grow tall tussocks of Poa, Yellow Sea Lavender with its spoon-shaped leaves, Marsh Saltbush, Shrubby Glasswort with its jointed fleshy stems. Between the boards were patches of bright gold leafy lichen. On the far side of the boardwalk the path was edged with Swamp Paperbarks Melaleuca ericifolia with a dense covering of fluffy flowers like short brushes. A Bronze Cuckoo was heard calling.
A European Goldfinch had been heard singing, then, as we began the walk up the hill we could see flashes of colour as it flitted through the shrubs below. An Eastern Yellow Robin watched us for some time from the branches of a Drooping She-oak but turned its back on us and flew off as soon as we produced our cameras. The wind was “sighing through the She-oaks” but once we moved out into the open areas it became “a bit wild” as one person described it.
The tide was out and below the cliff was a wide stretch of sandy mud-flats and, beyond them, a panorama of blues, from deep indigo to pale aqua. Far to the west, just discernable, was the rock stack of Eagle’s Nest. Down on the sands were Pacific Gulls, Silver Gulls and a Cormorant.
We all made it to the top of the hill where we were surrounded by a medium-height forest. When this was farming country, the area was cleared. We rested at the top before returning to the car-park the way we had come. Other birds seen or heard were the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, a Shrike-thrush and a White-browed Scrub-wren.
Latrobe Valley FNC
Mangroves along Screw Creek.