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The Human Impact

Teachers and students are reminded that activities involving the collection or removal of any material, including animals, plants, shells, rocks, sand or seaweed, are not permitted within the Bunurong Marine National Park.

Activities along the coast, including the Dinosaur Discovery and Rockpool Rambles, must take place at low tide. Tide times are charted here for Inverloch or can be downloaded from Marine Science Australia. (The times for Point Lonsdale are close enough to Inverloch tide times.)

Area of Study

Thanks to an unusual set of environmental and geological conditions the range of marine life in the Bunurong Coast is diverse and unique. The area features extensive reefs and an unusually rich array of marine plants, including seaweeds and seagrass.

Within this area lies the Bunurong Marine National Park, stretching about 5 km from Cape Paterson to Eagle's Nest Beach and three nautical miles out to sea. Adjacent to the national park is the Bunurong Marine Park & Coastal Reserve, which stretches along the coast for about 17 km from Coal Point to Wreck Creek and 1 km out to sea from the high water mark.

This fragile environment is easily damaged by human activities such as urban development, pollution and intensive fishing. The Anderson's Inlet catchment area is also affected by farming practices and land clearance.

The coast from Cape Liptrap to Cape Paterson was first surveyed in 1841 by George Douglas Smythe and initially broken up for selection in the 1870s. Coastal development from Cape Paterson to Venus Bay quickly followed the establishment of the mining town of Wonthaggi in 1910.

In the last two decades coastal towns such as Inverloch have grown dramatically, as more tourists, holiday makers, retirees and families discover the Bass Coast region. This has put huge pressure on this environmentally sensitive area as well as increasing the demand on local services and infrastructure.

Issues to Consider

  • Clearing vegetation along the coast and in water catchment areas
  • Habitat reduction of indigenous and endangered species
  • Impact of introduced plant and animal species
  • Pollution of the waterways
  • Expansion of town boundaries
  • Effect of dramatic population increase during holiday periods
  • Storm water management
  • Rubbish removal
  • Rising sea levels and coastal erosion
  • Impact of industrial developments such as the desalination plant and wind farms

Time Required

The best way to cover a range of these issues would be to take a guided bus and walking tour in specific areas. Depending on the focus and year level involved, this could take more than a day. Areas such as the mudflats and rock platforms near Inverloch are best visited a couple of hours either side of low tide.

Equipment Required

Students should wear protection from the sun and sturdy walking shoes. Cameras would also be useful to keep a photographic record of the issues studied.

Supporting Resources

These are available from the Bunurong Environment Centre, Inverloch.
Shifting Sands: Inverloch, a fascinating place - Lis Williams, $20
Bunurong Coastal Reserve - E. Brewster, $5