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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Balnarring Coast and Coolart Wetlands, Westernport Bay

On Saturday August 22, 2009, I visited the Balnarring (Tulum) Beach Foreshore and adjacent Coolart Wetlands, on Westernport Bay, about 70 km south of Melbourne.

I completed a 5 km hike, starting at the Balnarring Beach car park, then along the Bayview Wallking Track, and the recently constructed Merricks Creek Walking Track, which can also be reached from the eastern end of the camping park.

This scenic track follows the Merricks Creek Estuary, and has information boards with location maps, describing the development, fauna, and flora of the area.

Shorter tracks leading from Bayview Track are Fern Tree and Saltbush Tracks.

Merricks Creek Track then swings back onto the foreshore.

From there, I followed the foreshore, reaching the Boardwalk Track, which took me over the footbridge to the Coolart Wetlands, on the northern side of the Merricks Creek Estuary.

I then followed the signed Woodland Walk to the west, passing a nice lagoon, and reaching another footbridge.

This was my turnabout point, and I returned to the car park via the same route.

There are several signed tracks in the Wetlands area - a map is available from the adjacent Visitor Centre, on Lord Somers Rd.

See all of the Photos of my visit!

The following information about Coolart is acknowledged to Parks Victoria:

Coolart is a magnificent late Victorian mansion situated on the shores of Westernport. In the superb grounds are ever-changing wetlands that you can view from the observatory, and a lagoon where thousands of Australian white ibis nest every year.

Coolart has a large diversity of wildlife despite its relatively small size. It has nine species of frog, including the increasingly rare Growling Grass Frog. Thirteen species of mammal ranging in size from the tiny, mouse-sized Agile Antechinus to the large Swamp Wallaby.

There are eleven species of reptile including the Common Long-necked Tortoise, Blue-tongue Lizard, Copperhead, White-lipped Snake and several species of skinks.

Birds are the most numerous of the larger wildlife and 177 species have been recorded. Eight species of fish and four crustaceans have been found in the waterways.

The varied vegetation is the key to the wildlife diversity at Coolart. The property consists of different plant communities including manna gum/banksia woodland, grassland, paperbark swamps and wetlands of sedges, reeds and rushes.

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