Urban green spaces are the markers of what we value in our land. They are our commitment to history and our gift to the future. Alisa Piper.
As regular readers will know, we frequently visit our daughter and family, who live in Melbourne. During our visit in May we stayed in accommodation close to our daughter’s suburb, but in a new area for us to explore; Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown North, (named Jawbone because the shape of the sanctuaries are roughly the shape of a human jaw.)
We drove south from Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) to Melbourne and Jawbone Sanctuary is on the Port Phillip Bay.
We arrived in the late afternoon, and as good fortune would have it, our apartment had views across the Sanctuary to the sea.
When we looked out of the apartment window in the morning, I felt as if I was back in my childhood home in Africa.
The grasses, the colours, the still water…. I almost expected to see a hippo coming up out of the water!
Barely ten kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, two coastal havens, Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, and Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, provide a peaceful stretch of nature reserves, in what was an industrial area (and in some parts still is..).
Years ago this particular area was a rifle range, (once famous for target practice leading up to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.)The range only closed in 1990 as surrounding housing was developing.
This reserve land, with uninterrupted views of the sea could easily have been swallowed up by developers, however, finally, it was decided that the reserve should be set aside for conservation.
Fortunately the local community formed what is now known as The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands. This wonderful community group have worked tirelessly ever since to ensure the reserve continues to be well protected.
Salt water plants such as Samphire and Glasswort grow and can change colours with the seasons, and at the end of autumn there is a wonderful mix of colour to see.
The mangrove amongst the basalt rocks, along with saltmarsh mudflats and seagrass beds, provide an important habitat for many species of seabirds and shorebirds.
On our first morning walk we could see the long landscape of land and sea, and the big skies…
In the distance the tankers and ocean liners are sailing by…
The houses built along the edges of the reserve all have enormous wide windows, and ever -changing views of the weather on the reserve and out into the sea.
Bird watching is very popular in this area, and more than 160 bird species have previously been recorded at the Reserve. Migratory seabirds and shorebirds can be seen among the mangroves, mudflats and saltmarshes.
This was just one of the colourful signs showing some of the birds sighted in this area. The Royal Spoonbill looked quite regal I thought.
Our grandchildren enjoyed seeing a Purple Swamp Hen (with unbelievable claws) and her chick coming very close to the window of our apartment every morning. Our granddaughter’s favourite was the black swan and her signet.
This peaceful sanctuary protects 30 hectares of coastal waters and fishing, netting, spearing or taking marine life is prohibited.
The Reserves are now well known, and enjoyed by all for diving, snorkelling, walking, jogging, bird watching, photography….and I was very pleased to read the Sanctuary is also well know for sunset watching… here are two of the sunsets we saw….
The water near us turned golden one evening as the birds settle down for the night.
A lovely memory on our last evening at Jawbone sanctuary.
Many thanks to the The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands and, indeed, to volunteers and community groups all over the world who give up so much of their own time to maintain public places for us all to enjoy.
Just a week later and here we are back home, looking out over the almost constant rain, wind and freezing cold weather……..winter has arrived with a vengeance.
Paul and our daughter’s dog Charlie are bravely walking around our garden in this wet windy weather…Paul is checking on our veggie crop and Charlie thinks he can smell possums (and he is right!)
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog today, and may the sun shine even in winter!
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