Sunday 7th October 2007

Guide: Julia Pickwick (Ranger). Facilitator: Doris Weigert.

A group of us (6 cars) drove from ‘The Briars’ across the Peninsula to Westernport Bay. We were met by the Ranger at the Salmon Street end of the Park. We then dropped off our passengers and proceeded to take the cars on to Jack’s Beach to save the
walk back.

We walked from the foreshore out onto the boardwalk and the salt marshes. A Swamp Harrier hovered above the mangroves. We walked on towards the Warringine Creek where a close up inspection of the White Mangroves (Avicennia marina) which can be seen at the bridge. Their thick hard leaves release salt from special pores and they have aerial roots projecting above the mud which provide oxygen for the plant. Mangroves keep the shoreline stable and provide a home for fish and birdlife. Small crabs can be seen under the mangroves at low tide. The mangroves are very slow growing.

We then walked on the boardwalk to the lookout where Julia explained that you could see the sea, with Sea Grass flats (exposed at low tide); then the salt marshes; then the Mangroves; then the Swamp Paperbarks marking the high tide level. Along the pathway were some Rounded Noon Flowers (a Pig Face). This plant tolerates saline soil. The leaves can be triangular or round when cut across.

We continued on the boardwalk across the salt marshes. The main plants here are the Beaded Glasswort and Shrubby Glasswort, the red fruit of which floats on the water. Cattle grazed here 50 years ago (they like the salt) and you can still see the remnants of fences. We saw swallows darting over the water and heard several birds in the woodland behind us. We then headed inland to a small woodland area. Saw some Love Creeper, Fringe Lilies, wattles and a Butcher Bird on its nest. Mosquitoes appeared!!!.

We then walked along the path to Jacks Beach. Here Julia explained the historic tanning pit where the Jack Brothers used to tan their cotton fishing nets by boiling wattle bark and soaking the nets in it. This area also shows the end of a lava flow from the Red Hill area and is very noticeable at low tide. (Around March there are hundreds of black swans in this area). The area is now part of the Westernport Ramsar Site and is managed by ‘The Briars’ Park Rangers.