A bioregion is an area of land with similar geological and biological characteristics. The Otway Plains bioregion extends from Aireys Inlet to Torquay (to the southwest there is the Otway Ranges and to the north is the Victorian Volcanic Plains).

Torquay is less fortunate than us because most of its original vegetation was cleared for farming, but much of it would have been heathy woodland like ours, with stunted messmates and grasstrees.

When the Council approves a subdivision of land for housing, it requires the developer to set aside some of it for municipal purposes such as sports grounds and public halls, drainage easements etc. Often, the land chosen is unsuitable for housing, or if we are lucky, there may be some land with conservation value. That is how we got Kuarka Dorla Reserve in Anglesea, the first in this series of articles. On Grossmans Rd in Torquay, the Ocean Acres subdivision was farmland with a remnant ‘bush block’ that included a small dam. This bush block of 4 ha is now Ocean Acres Nature Reserve.

oceanacres

Despite its agricultural history, it is in reasonable condition, although the grasstrees are struggling with phytophthora. Some years ago, I documented the exact location and condition of each plant and then treated them. Unfortunately, treatment has not been continued and many are now dead. The dam has been filled in and replaced with a small recreation park, and there is a walking track from there through the middle of the reserve. 

The species list is only half that of Kuarka Dorla, which is a similar size, mainly because it is a single vegetation type without Kuarka Dorla’s herb-rich woodland, but the weeds list is also small. I have found the interesting Yellow bells slime mould, Leocarpus fragilis, here and other interesting records include Swamp Selaginella, Common Fringe-myrtle, Peach Heath, and for bird life, the Australian Pipit and Scarlet Robin.

yellowbellsslimemouldYellow Bells slime mould

It’s an important little island in a sea of suburbia. I hope the local residents value it and join in the shire’s revegetation program.

Neil Tucker

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