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In an earlier article in this series, I wrote about small parcels of Crown land being ‘left over’ along rivers and streams, after the surrounding area had been taken up. The same thing happens along roads too, and there is an example on the Great Ocean Road at Aireys Inlet.

Between Boundary Road and Aireys Street, both sides of the Great Ocean Road have unusually wide verges. This land is now the Great Ocean Road Nature Reserve, managed by the Surf Coast Shire.

mapGreat Ocean Road Nature Reserve

It is predominantly Ironbark and Messmate forest, but Swamp Gum and Scent-bark have also been recorded. The understorey was naturally a variety of shrubs—wattles and teatree in particular—but especially on the south side, it has been slashed for fire protection.

slashedSlashed Ironbark forest

This has opened up areas for smaller herbs to flourish, including an impressive 26 orchids, but it also encourages introduced grasses and broad-leaf weeds.

Walking track through teatree thicket

As it is long and narrow, the reserve also suffers from edge effects—run-off and litter from the road, encroachment and dumping by neighbours. Weeds also come from these sources, as well as via foxes and birds. Despite these issues, the species list is only slightly below average for shire reserves, and the indigenous/weeds ratio is not too bad either.

sweetbursariaSweet Bursaria seed pods

At nine and a half hectares it is one of the shire’s larger reserves, and it has recorded 214 species in all categories. Easy to access, easy to explore—why not have a wander one day?

Neil Tucker