After our last excursion out into the ’sticks‘ to the Mirnee Lakes, I thought we should come back home to another Surf Coast Shire Nature Reserve.
Two thirds of the shire’s reserves are 5 ha or less—the largest, at 50.4 ha, is Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve. Despite the title, most of it is managed for nature conservation.
Bells Beach Reserve
Bells Beach Reserve is 168 times the size of the smallest, but that doesn’t mean it has 168 times more species (in fact it’s only 7½ times) or that it is 168 times more important. It has the most indigenous plants of any shire reserve, but not the most species overall—that honour is held by Coogoorah Park and Painkalac Creek where the waterways allow for large bird counts. The Geelong Field Naturalists Club has undertaken animal surveys, which have resulted in a valuable list that includes five bats. Bells Beach is near the extremity of the Rufous Bristlebird’s range.
The types of habitats here include:
Sandy beaches—many microscopic creatures live between the sand grains, insects live amongst the seaweed wrack, and birds feed on them. As the shire reserve extends only to the high tide mark, most beach areas are managed by Parks Victoria (Point Addis Marine National Park) and DELWP.
Rock platforms—provide habitat for many seaweeds and invertebrates. (also managed by the shire only above the high tide mark).
Cliffs—seashore boulders harbour periwinkles and other molluscs, while only the hardiest of plants cling on to the steep faces.
Coastal scrub—includes what we understand by the term scrub, plus Ironbark forest and Moonah woodland, and also some areas of heathland.
Shrubby dry forest occurs on the inland side of Bells Beach Road.
Some notable records are 15 species of orchids, including the Forest Sun Orchid, Thelymitra arenaria, and the Swamp Diuris, Diuris palustris. Other species include the Dwarf Aphelia, Aphelia pumilio, the Bellarine yellow gum, Eucalyptus leucoxylon subsp. bellarinensis, and the Dwarf Skullcap, Scutellaria humilis. Birds include the Eastern Osprey and a variety of sea birds.
Bellarine yellow gum
The Surf Coast walk passes through the reserve, connecting to Point Impossible in the east and to Fairhaven in the west, and of course there are several beach access points.
Thanks should go to SANE (Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment) for their work in revegetating areas previously cleared for farming, and for controlling infestations of the African weed orchid, Disa bracteata.
Meadow Argus Butterfly
More information on all the reserves in the Surf Coast, including plant, bird & animal lists is available in the Angair library.