104 field naturalists from all around Victoria converged on Port Campbell for the autumn get together hosted by the local Timboon Field Naturalists club.

Locals and visitors participated in a series of organised excursions along the coast from Loch Ard Gorge to the Bay of Islands.

Nightly presentations at the Port Campbell SLSC, which were catered on Saturday and Sunday night by the Cobden Rotary club, covered a range of topics from kelp in the bay, research into fossil footprints in local cliffs, and native Blackfish in our freshwater waterways.

On Friday night local marine naturalist Marg O’Toole presented a citizen science project recording the Giant Kelp (Macrocystis) growth in the Port Campbell bay. It has revealed unexpected renewed presence along the southern coastline. Saturday guided walk with marine naturalist Marg O’Toole along the Wild Dog Cove beach across sand and rock pools.

Saturday night Dr John Sherwood presented on how the fossil footprints, belonging to species from megafauna to thylacines, are being revealed in both the Port Campbell limestone cliffs and Princetown sandstone cliffs as they slowly erode.

Once common in our local waterways the native Blackfish is being bred and raised in a nearby hatchery in an effort to preserve this now rarely seen threatened fish. Stephen “Sticks” Meuller presented on Sunday evening his efforts to construct the hatchery, source the genetics and breed and release the fish.

There were a range of excursions including a beach combing walk near Peterborough and birdwatching in the estuary and wetlands. For those interested in botany there were guided visits to the coastal wetlands to investigate the wetland plants. Groups also enjoyed walks at Halladale Point at Peterborough and the Discovery Walk at Port Campbell. Revegetation projects at Port Campbell were examined and appreciated and visits to a broad range of sites marvelling at the coastal geology were made.

Crofts Bay Wetlands Walk – Peterborough a tour of the plant communities of the coastal cliff top wetlands with local plant expert Dave Smurthwaite. Beginning at Crofts Bay carpark a look at the rehabilitation site following coast wattle removal. Then to one of the many small coastal wetlands to discover the range of plants that create a differing ecological community in each of the ponds.

“Rubbish Tip” – Port Campbell. Just on the edge of town we will park beside the transfer station and walk east along the sandy vehicle track through part of the National Park. Easy walking – Banksia’s flowering and hopefully birds.

Pot Luck Tour – Port Campbell National Park West. A series of 5 short walks and drives to view a range of different coastal sites with very different formations, views and vegetation, between Port Campbell and Peterborough. Including a stop at London Bridge.

Plantation Rd – Port Campbell. Turning left (north), inland opposite Loch Ard Gorge, we travel past the remnants of a pine plantation and make our way beside a slashed fire brake adjoining the surrounding national park.

Loch Ard Gorge – Port Campbell NP East, Parking at Loch Ard Gorge tourist car park, walks along the tourist trails to viewpoints and/or descending down stairs to beach.

Halladale Point Walk – Peterborough. Friends of the Bay of Islands, Linda Avery led the walk from Bay of Martyrs,sit to Halladale Point, historic shipwreck site, and on to the Well through an old car park being revegetated by the, an area with several interesting geological forms.

Drawing Workshop – Peterborough – Join local artist, book illustrator and Friend of the Bay of Islands, Maureen, for a more relaxed afternoon, to explore the art of drawing with pens you will create from common reeds (Phragmites australis).

Discovery Walk – Port Campbell – Two Mile Bay a 2.2 km walk back to Port Campbell, finishing with a descent down many new stairs and across the Campbell Creek via the suspension bridge to end in Port Campbell.

Coast Gully Thicket Walk – Port Campbell – A guided walk with local bush rescuer Annie Schofield through a rehabilitated patch of endangered Coast Gully Thicket ecological vegetation class. The patch is a local community lead revegetation project aimed at corridor creation strategically linking the East and West sections of the Port Campbell National Park which are presently divided by the Port Campbell township.

Birds with Kerry – Join local Beach-nesting Birds and Latham’s Snipe volunteer and birdwatcher Kerry Vickers at Peterborough for a morning exploring a range of habitats in search of birds. Kerry regularly records his sightings on eBird and writes and publishes Peterborough Bird News, a newsletter aimed at residents and visitors:

Back Tracks Tour – Port Campbell NP East, Starting with the geology walk at Loch Ard Gorge a set of 4 walks up to 500m long, coastal vegetation and heathland featuring a few interesting plant species and some stunning coastal views.

The Timboon Field Naturalists would like to acknowledge the support of the Port Campbell SLSC, Cobden Rotary, Port Campbell VIC, Port Campbell NPWS, HDLN, Port Campbell Historical Society, and SEANA.