The Aireys Inlet Coastal Reserve is 2.7km long and runs between the clifftops and Eaglerock Parade from Boundary Road to the Inlet.
In 1856, the Government surveyor visited the area reporting that it had a woodland of sheoak and stringybark trees with a varied understorey. This was cleared in the late 1800s for farming enterprises that eventually failed allowing gradual reclamation by indigenous species such as coastal heath with a few sheoaks and gums. Over time local residents and householders added to the naturally occurring regrowth by planting more vegetation. Unfortunately, some of these, although Australian, were not indigenous to the area and prospered mightily, preventing the growth of the original species.
The 1983 bushfire seriously affected much of the Aireys district and burned most of the reserve to the ground. The resulting regrowth consisted largely of weed species from their extensive seedbed. In 1991, local people – mostly ANGAIR members – began removing the unwanted weeds so indigenous species would have a chance to regenerate. The Friends of the Coast Reserve was born!
Since then the Friends, working with ANGAIR, have gained grants from the Surfcoast Shire and the Victorian Government. Peter Godfrey, a long-time and enthusiastic member, also gave us a very generous bequest. Using this money, we have been able to successfully clear almost all of the weed growth, allowing us now to concentrate on simply removing germinating weeds.
This work will continue for many years to come until the cover by indigenous plants is so complete that weeds cannot survive germination. The great difference that you can see in the photos is representative of that throughout most of the reserve.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.