As they say in Monty Python, ‘And now for something completely different.’
Last time I wrote about Kuarka Dorla reserve in Anglesea; this time I am telling you of not one but two reserves, not Surf Coast Shire-managed but Parks Victoria, not bushland but water, and not local but out in the volcanic plains beyond Winchelsea.
Volcanic plains cover much of south-western Victoria, including a third of the shire and outcropping at Point Impossible. It is characterised by low-profile country with some small volcanic cones such as Mounts Moriac and Duneed. The vegetation is correspondingly very different from what we know around Anglesea and Aireys Inlet—large areas were natural grassland, now largely converted to improved pasture, with some Casuarinas, Blackwoods, and Red-gum woodlands along water courses. My two reserves are lakes in volcanic depressions.
Mirnee N 49 Lake Reserve (what an inviting title!) is northwest of Winchelsea and east of Lake Murdeduke. It is a saline lake of 28 ha, nearly all shallow water and completely surrounded by private property. The very narrow vegetated shore is classed as plains grassy woodland which is endangered. It is rarely visited—my visit in December 2018 was the first attempt at recording the life there, and I found only 12 indigenous plants (except for some planted trees and shrubs, all were grasses and herbs), 15 weeds, 11 birds and 12 animals (and apart from sheep and rabbits, all were insects). Orange lichen was prominent on rocks and tyres.
Mirnee N 50 Lake Reserve is west of Winchelsea and south of Lake Murdeduke. It is slightly bigger at 33 ha, but it is fresher water. There is access to the southern edge, but again, few people visit, although enough to have created a bird list of 18 species. My survey, also in December 2018, discovered only eight indigenous plants (all grasses and herbs), 15 weeds, 35 birds and seven insects. Birds, (especially Red-browed Finches and Restless Flycatchers) enjoyed the southern shore near the private residence and Milky Beauty-heads, Calocephalus lacteus, were scattered over the western shore in a small expanse of Plains Sedgy Wetland—it too is endangered.
It’s a shame so little of the vegetation remains, but the lakes are still important for birds. There are many such depressions throughout the volcanic plains, some more, some less ephemeral. Many are on private land and have little or no natural values remaining. We need to keep and look after these remnants.
More information on all the reserves in the Surf Coast, including plant, bird and animal lists is available in the Angair library.