Recently I travelled over to Warnambool with NGT volunteers, Rowena Hamer and Jonathan Tuck, to meet with local native plant enthusiast and author Kevin Sparrow.
While preparing his latest book, Plants of the Great South West, Kevin had discovered the presence of populations of Exocarpus syrticola (a species not previously recorded from the Warnambool area) and Stackhousia spathulata, a threatened species in the South West.
The hope is that at some stage, we can propagate examples of both these species in the native Display Garden currently being planned at Swan Reserve in Warnambool. This Garden is a cooperative effort involving Nature Glenelg Trust, Warnambool City Council, The Friends of Swan Reserve, local aboriginal people and a nearby school. The aim of the Garden is to improve the community’s understanding of the both the biodiversity value of local native flora and its importance to the local aboriginal people.
Kevin happily agreed to lead us to the spot where these species are literally maintaining a ‘beach head’ near Levy’s Point, West of Warnambool. Our quest started off along a clearly defined path through dense coastal vegetation but it wasn’t long before we got slightly ‘bushed’ and the path – and Kevin, who was acting as the forward scout – completely vanished from view inside a very dense and tangled thicket of Coastal Tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum).
To our relief, it wasn’t long before we could hear the distant voice of Kevin announcing that there was open ground beyond the thicket and all we had to do was crawl on our hands and knees through the undergrowth and we’d find it too.
A short time and a few scratches later the rest of us emerged from the thicket to find a rather pretty open area with a small wetland nestled behind some dunes. Not only were there fair numbers of both the plant species we were seeking but also what sounded like some sort of Pobblebonk (perhaps Limnodynastes dumerili). At this point we discovered that Rowena has a fascination with frogs which she promptly demonstrated by removing her boots and socks and setting of on a quest through the ‘wetland’ to find the secretive creature making the ‘bonking’ sound.
After, some persuading we managed to get Rowena to give up her frog quest and instead join us in search of larger critters…. such as whales. Happily, we had much more success with the latter, arriving at Logan’s beach, just east of Warnambool, in time to see several Southern Right Whales frolicking not far off shore.