For 15 years I worked on the grasslands of Melbourne’s West in a variety of roles. I have spent many days with a backpack of herbicide carefully dribbling and spraying herbicide onto weeds.

Firstly, with Wyndham City as a biodiversity officer, part of the conservation crew, and then with Flora Victoria, a fantastic company which grows and harvests its own seed for large direct seeding projects, some of which I believe is soon to be used at the Alcoa coal mine in Anglesea. Prior to moving to Anglesea, I worked with a community organisation, NatureWest, spending my time trying hard to promote the natural environment of Melbourne’s West. Grasslands are hard to sell: that is unless you are a developer!

troopsrdTroops Road North, Mount Cottrell

 

I like to drive the back roads; you never know what treasures you will find. Heading towards Anglesea from Geelong I am on Blackgate Road (where is the black gate?). As I turned left onto Willowite Road (that sounds like a name from Peter Rabbit) there is a large patch of Everlasting Daisies.

willowiterdWillowite Road

everlastingdaisyEverlasting Daisies

Oooh, that is a bit exciting (for me anyway). Further down the road I spot a patch of grassland. Now that really is exciting for me. Chocolate Lilies, Milkmaids, Rice-flowers, Sheep’s Burr and the grasses, Kangaroo Grass, Spear Grass and Wallaby Grass.

chocolatelilyChocolate Lily

milkmaidMilkmaid

riceflowerRice-flower

sheepsburrSheep's Burr

Considering where I was, it was probably once a grassy woodland rather than a grassland only, but I don’t care. I am on my knees photographing the plants and insects with my phone.

flyonsheepsburrFly on Sheep's Burr

Lost in a world of my own, I notice a ute driving slowly past. It pulls into a paddock driveway and turns around. I am surprised by the name on the ute. It is a property developer I know well from Melbourne’s West and they own a lot of grasslands. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I am in a grassland after all! As I continue along Willowite Road I see that a property is for sale and realise why I have seen the ute. 

commoneverlastingCommon Everlasting Daisy

The next time I visit Willowite Road there are surveyors on my grassland (it is mine now, I found it). I am cranky but realistic. I know that the real planners of our growth and development are not government but developers with money to land bank. I once tried to encourage a friend to work with me in Wyndham. He said he couldn’t face watching more grasslands become suburbs as he had in Hobsons Bay.

Is that my fate?

Is it worth fighting for small roadside patches?

Colleen Miller

DISAPPEARING GRASSLANDS …Colleen Miller For 15 years I worked on the grasslands of Melbourne’s West in a variety of roles. I have spent many days with a backpack of herbicide carefully dribbling and spraying herbicide onto weeds. Firstly, with Wyndham City as a biodiversity officer, part of the conservation crew, and then with Flora Victoria, a fantastic company which grows and harvests its own seed for large direct seeding projects, some of which I believe is soon to be used at the Alcoa coal mine in Anglesea. Prior to moving to Anglesea, I worked with a community organisation, NatureWest, spending my time trying hard to promote the natural environment of Melbourne’s West. Grasslands are hard to sell: that is unless you are a developer! I like to drive the back roads; you never know what treasures you will find. Heading towards Anglesea from Geelong I am on Blackgate Road (where is the black gate?). As I turned left onto Willowite Road (that sounds like a name from Peter Rabbit) there is a large patch of Everlasting Daisies. Oooh, that is a bit exciting (for me anyway).  Further down the road I spot a patch of grassland. Now that really is exciting for me. Chocolate Lilies, Milkmaids, Rice-flowers, Sheep’s Burr and the grasses, Kangaroo Grass, Spear Grass and Wallaby Grass. Considering where I was, it was probably once a grassy woodland rather than a grassland only, but I don’t care.  I am on my knees photographing the plants and insects with my phone. Lost in a world of my own, I notice a ute  driving slowly past. It pulls into a paddock driveway and turns around. I am surprised by the name on the ute. It is a property developer I know well from Melbourne’s West and they own a lot of grasslands. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I am in a grassland after all! As I continue along Willowite Road I see that a property is for sale and realise why I have seen the ute.  The next time I visit Willowite Road there are surveyors on my grassland (it is mine now, I found it). I am cranky but realistic. I know that the real planners of our growth and development are not government but developers with money to land bank. I once tried to encourage a friend to work with me in Wyndham. He said he couldn’t face watching more grasslands become suburbs as he had in Hobsons Bay.  Is that my fate? Is it worth fighting for small roadside patches?

 

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