Thompson’s Creek starts north of Anglesea, near Modewarre, and heads east then southeast to enter the sea near Breamlea.
This is the easternmost point of the Surf Coast Shire, 200 m before the end a small tributary called Mullet Creek enters from the west. Although it brings a lot of stormwater from parts of Torquay, it passes through extensive saltmarshes that have been reserved as the Breamlea Flora and Fauna Reserve, more popularly known as the Karaaf wetlands. Wild and remote? – perhaps not so remote but certainly wild.
It has an interesting history. Before white settlement, it was occupied by the Wadawurrung, and they played host there to William Buckley, living on the swans on the lakes, and shellfish from the Point Impossible reefs. Then during World War 2 it was used by the military for artillery training and practice. Officers were housed under the Moonahs, and unexploded ordnance has been found nearby. Part of it was used as the Torquay tip. It had already been alienated for farming, and some of it was sown with oats, but it was poor quality farmland and was eventually sold to a Malaysian prince. He had also purchased the adjoining land with the intention of building a resort with golf course, now known as The Sands. Some of the locals were so concerned at the threat to such an important area that they fought to get environmental significance overlays on the wetlands. When bulldozers started knocking down ancient Moonahs in the overlay areas, they got all work stopped. At the end of the legal wrangling, together with change of council boundaries, the current situation emerged, i.e. The Sands relinquished the Karaaf, which ended up with Parks Victoria, but kept their resort, including the golf course part of which was on the old tip. The Surf Coast Shire owns a strip of Moonah woodlands as a nature reserve with that name. It will be the subject of a future article in this series.
Being salt-affected, the range of plants is naturally limited, with only 40 species recorded—even the weeds do better than that, with 64, but this is compensated for with the impressive bird list of 134. Naturally, many of them are waterbirds, some notable ones being Black-tailed native hens, Brolgas, Cape Barren Geese, stilts and avocets, crakes and rails, Whiskered Terns, Red-kneed Dotterels. Black Kites, Diamond Firetails and ospreys have been seen, but the most important is the Orange-bellied Parrot. It likes feeding on saltmarsh plants, including Shrubby and Beaded glassworts, found here in abundance. Nevertheless, it has only been recorded twice—I walk the reserve twice a year just hoping. Eastern Grey Kangaroos are here in abundance too.
If it wasn’t for Mark Trengove, Jeanette Spittle (Surf Coast Shire), Rod Goring (GORCC) and Glenda Shomaly, we and the OBP’s wouldn’t have this important area. We should thank them.