Lot 2 in the Painkalac Valley has been purchased by AIDA members, Mick Loughnan
and Jacinta Halloran, and its wetland and indigenous vegetation are being restored. This wonderful project has the support of AIDA and ANGAIR. Mick’s updates on the work dated March, July and November 2019 can be found below.
ANGAIR’s Roger Ganly is coordinating the working bees to help with the restoration work as well as the long-standing working bees on the coastal reserve.
The coastal reserve working bees will continue to be on the first Saturday of the month and on Lot 2 Bambra Road on the third weekend on the month or as required.
If you would like to join the working bee group you will need to become an ANGAIR member as AIDA does not have any insurance cover for volunteers.
Details of the working bees will be included in the ANGAIR calendar published in the monthly newsletter and posted on the Aireys General Store notice board.
If you would like more information please contact Roger on 0409 502 480 or [email protected]
Update November 2019 – from member Michael Loughnan:
The Painkalac Valley Rehabilitation Project has recently received a Landcare Grant to support their ongoing work on an 11 acre section of the upper part of the Painkalac Valley. ANGAIR had applied for the $18,600 grant through the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority for work on Lot 2 Bambra Road.
The grant will be used to assist with continued revegetation of both the drier, elevated part of the block near Bambra Rd and the more extensive flood plain extending approximately 300 metres along the Painkalac Creek. This area includes a natural billabong, shown in the photo during August, which forms during the wetter winter months. The grant recognises the benefit to the environment both through the creation of wetland habitat and to water quality in the upper part of the Painkalac Creek from removing stock and establishing more normal, naturally-filtered water flows through revegetated areas.
The owners, ANGAIR and AIDA members have worked thoughout the year with weeding, fence removal and the planting of around 1500 seedlings, all propagated from local seed. One of the most satisfying aspects of this has been the creation of habitat for local birds and animals. The billabong has been brought back to life with the blocking of a pipe, previously used to drain the area. By September the billabong was home to several species of waterbird and was full of tadpoles, water plants and insects. It was also somewhat fouled by rotting weeds. One of the challenges for next year will be to clear the whole area of weeds prior to autumn rains.
The grant will be used in 2020 to support the planting of a further 4000–5000 seedlings adjacent to the Painkalac Creek, providing more habitat for local animals and further enhancing water quality in the creek. We also plan to sow an area of native grasses next to the billabong for the kangaroos to feed on.
The Landcare Grant is supported by the volunteer labour provided by ANGAIR and AIDA members, which is counted as a contribution.
Working bees are held at regular intervals during the year. If any AIDA members would like to join the working bees they would be very welcome but would need to join ANGAIR as AIDA does not have any insurance to cover volunteers. For more information please contact Roger Ganly: [email protected] or 0409 502 480.
Update July 2019 – from member Michael Loughnan:
Progress on Lot 2
Given how hard you all worked for the Valley I thought you would appreciate a general update on the rehabilitation work on Lot 2. Many of you will know most of this but I’ll put it all in for completeness. I’ve also attached a planning map very largely prepared by Nan NcNab.
- The laneway has now been closed to the horses from Blazing Saddles since the Tuesday after Easter and the laneway fence has been removed.
- Extensive areas of the fencing wire around the conservation area have been removed.
- The barbed wire is off from most of the fencing between Lots 1 & 2 and Lots 2 & 3.
- Jo and Adam (on Lot 3) are as keen as I am to get rid of the white plastic droppers and the barbed wire and the process has already begun.
- They are also keen to plant more indigenous plants, including manna gums, in the conservation area on their lot, especially down by the creek.
- The council has agreed to the removal of the bottom strand of wire on the boundary fence along the creek and a lot of it is already gone.
- Extensive weeding of the more invasive species has been ongoing and Rob Hanna will be spraying the kikuyu grass soon.
- Jo and Adam have agreed to the blocking of the pipe on Lot 3 draining the wetland and Adam and I blocked it off a few weeks ago.
- The council wanted a full engineering report for the proposed little clay wall on Lot 2 to block off the drainage of the wetlands; this is on hold for now while we see what happens with the water in the lake with the pipe now being blocked off.
- The bore holes we had dug in February demonstrate a clay base to the lake and a different water level to the creek. Rory Nathan, a local hydrologist, tells me this is a good thing as it implies that the lake doesn’t leak.
- Another tap is being installed on the section of the block near Bambra Road for summer watering.
- Kim Neubecker is researching what is known about local Indigenous people’s usage of the area prior to European settlement.Working with Roger, Neil Tucker and Peter Forster, who have put in an amazing amount of time and effort, we also now have a plant list, scope of works for the first year (initial areas of planting are highlighted in pink on the attached map) and planned working bees to start planting. The working bees will be the third Saturday of the month; the first one was on Sunday 23 June. Thanks to the 33 people who braved a cold morning to plant almost 300 grasses, understorey plants plus a few trees. As well as planting and weeding, there will be a storage shed on the site of the house cutting, and, yes Janice and Nan, a bird hide. In addition, Roger, through ANGAIR, is preparing an application for funding from the CCMA.All the very best and thanks so much to everyone for their help with the project.
March 2019 – from member Michael Loughnan:
It’s easy not to fully appreciate the geography of a place, even one you’ve visited for over 40 years.
Of course, having crossed the bridge over the Painkalac Creek between Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven hundreds of times I had seen the transformation of the inlet and estuary from a degraded, treeless landscape to the wonderful wetland area it is today, a transformation due to the commitment and hard work of many members of the community over a long period. What I hadn’t really noticed was how, hidden from view when crossing the bridge, there was also an upper part of the Painkalac Valley, a flood plain skirted by Bambra Road running from the bottom of the Aireys Inlet hill to the meandering edge of the Painkalac Creek.
This flood plain, despite having been cleared over a hundred years ago, still contains a series of remnant water features: ephemeral lakes, billabongs, watercourses and small tributaries to the main creek, despite the limiting effect of the Painkalac Dam upstream. Around the world it is these wetland habitats, so important for birds, animals and plants, that are most under threat from human activity. The Painkalac Creek is such an important environment that it has recently been listed by the Federal Environment Minister as one of twenty-five ‘salt wedge’ sites around the Australian coast worthy of special protection.
Having seen the successful rehabilitation of the lower valley, I joined The Painkalac Project (TPP), a local community group committed to finishing the project by extending the rehabilitation of the Painkalac flood plain to the upper valley. After a busy two years working with this wonderful and committed group of volunteers, my wife Jacinta and I bought an area of approximately 11 acres in the upper valley on Bambra Road near Old Coach Road. We were particularly interested in this site as it included a large old drained series of billabongs.
The billabongs are visible in a 1930s aerial survey photo but were drained and back-filled several decades ago. Still working with the TPP, AIDA and ANGAIR, we aim to revegetate the block and reinstate the billabongs and ephemeral lake that still frequently form over winter and spring (as seen above in the drone photo taken after heavy rain in September 2017). The wetlands will provide not only habitat for birds and native animals but also improve the water quality of the creek.
Work on the land has already started with the removal of some fencing and extensive weeding. This year we also plan to reinstate the billabongs and lake, plant and, of course, do more weeding. ANGAIR and AIDA will be helping to organise planting and weeding working bees, so if you’re interested in helping we would love you to come along. Both AIDA and ANGAIR will advertise dates in their newsletters.