Revisiting Long Swamp Part 2 – The 1970s attempt to block ocean outlets at White Sands and Nobles Rocks

Last year I posted a blog about the 1950’s attempt to sandbag the outlet at Nobles Rocks, and now (with the 3rd phase of the current restoration trial underway) it seems like a good time to give a brief summary of the attempt that followed in the 1970s.

Present day Discovery Bay Coastal Park was created through the State Government resumption or purchase of several parcels of coastal land through the 1960s and 1970s, which brought then Fisheries and Wildlife Officer, Gavin Cerini, into regular contact with this part of the coast.

In the mid 1970s – possibly 1974 – Gavin took levels at the Nobles Rocks ocean drainage outfall and for 200-300 metres north into the swamp bed, detecting significant fall between the swamp and the ocean. Around that time, through his role with Fisheries and Wildlife, Gavin contracted a bulldozer operator to come from Greenwald to push up substantial sand dune barriers to close the two outfalls at Nobles Rocks and White Sands. Although initially effective, both were later reopened and Gavin felt this interference (to re-drain the swamp) was most likely caused by eel fishermen (using these remotely located outlets for eel fishing) or owners of low land on the north (inland) side of Long Swamp.

In the case of White Sands, the outlet remained open for another 30 years, until the Millenium drought enabled the foredune to naturally close this outlet off permanently from around 2004 or 2005, while at Nobles Rocks it took another 40 years before NGT initiated the current restoration trial in 2014.

The remains of an old timber footbridge over Long Swamp – at the same location mentioned to Gavin Cerini in the 1970s

It was also interesting to learn that Gavin met Edna Millhouse and another family member about 40 years ago (in approximately 1975), and was told about this person’s (possibly an Uncle’s) use of the rotting footbridge over Long Swamp to the dunes. Apparently he had recently fallen into the water and only just managed to climb back up – meaning that he probably slipped into the same small spring pool next to the bridge that Edna and her sister learned to swim in!

Special thanks to Gavin for sharing his knowledge of Long Swamp, and for several decades of fantastic commitment to wetlands in the South West.

The spring pool next to the footbridge, in Long Swamp.


Mark Bachmann