Wind, water and vegetation are reshaping the Long Swamp restoration site at Nobles Rocks

The restoration of Long Swamp has been quite a journey, and nearly two years on from the completion of final major restoration works at Long Swamp, natural coastal processes have taken over and are reshaping the dunes around the project site.

The restoration works of 2019 involved pumping around 500 cubic metres of sand over our 7000-sandbag structure near Nobles Rocks to restore the natural dune and permanently close the former artificial channel. Revegetation of the dune slopes followed in 2019 and 2020, but all the time, the action of wind and water in this dynamic and high energy coastal environment have been reshaping the former channel into something much more natural.

Sand has gradually been filling in the formerly free-flowing drain (for a previous update click here), and on the beach where it used to flow to the sea a huge volume of sand is building up, continuing to knit together a new foredune.

Nobles Rocks outlet from Long Swamp, when flowing and eroding in 2014, before the restoration trial commenced. Photo: Mark Bachmann
The same view in April 2021, with the dune continuing to rebuild where the artificial channel used to flow freely to the sea. Photo: Mark Bachmann

Up the channel at the re-instated sand dune that covers the site of the 7000 sandbag trial structure, coastal coloniser plants continue to emerge, crawling over and stabilising the sand. Some of the planted and naturally regenerating species include Sword Sedge (Lepidospermum gladiatum), Pigface (Carpobrotus rossii), Knobby Club-sedge (Ficinia nodosa), Sea Rush (Juncus kraussii) and Coast Daisy Bush (Olearia axillaris).

The reinstated dune – covering the existing 7000-sandbag structure – and the former artificial channel to the right. Photo: Mark Bachmann

For all involved, it has been rewarding and a relief to watch nature take the reins, after a little helping hand to kick start the process from this long-term NGT restoration project.

Next month, with our works at the site complete, NGT will be handing over to Parks Victoria and winding up the Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP) project funded by the Victorian Government. While we’ll continue to be involved at Long Swamp wherever we can, including with future biodiversity and hydrological monitoring, it will mark the end of the long and winding road to the current restoration at Nobles Rocks that began as a locally-driven call for action by the Nelson Coastcare Group, before NGT commenced the investigations in 2012 that led to the restoration process proper kicking off from 2014.

This final phase of the Long Swamp restoration project is supported by the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP) program:

Jonathan Tuck