The City has acquired 500 hectares of land to provide for the capture and treatment of urban stormwater runoff from the Armstrong Creek development area. The natural and constructed wetlands will occupy around 200 hectares with all areas subject to flooding at times from the Barwon River.
A Sparrovale Master Plan is currently being prepared for the site. This process will include community consultation and engagement.
Currently access to the site is restricted as it transitions from farming activities and construction works on new wetlands and flood management. In the future the site will become a diverse and sustainable wetland and waterway wildlife reserve where you can enjoy nature and open space.
Along with Lake Connewarre and Hospital Swamps, Sparrovale forms part of the largest area of remaining native vegetation in the Geelong region.
Sparrovale is a part of the Barwon River floodplain and supports a diverse range of salt marsh, sub-saline marsh and freshwater wetland vegetation which are reliant upon the dynamic wetting and drying regime that has been operating on the highly modified landscape for over 100 years.
Works to be undertaken by the City will seek to maintain this balance and diversity as more stormwater is added to the system from adjoining urban development areas.
Sparrovale provides habitat for a large number of migratory shorebirds and waterbirds including sharp-tailed sandpipers, whiskered terns, a variety of ducks, herons and stilts, as well as brolga. The existing vegetation and wetlands provide important habitat for frogs and fish.
The Barwon River floodplain and wetland environments provided an abundance of seasonal food and resources for the Wadawurrung including game which could be hunted and materials used as weapons and for domestic and medicinal purposes. Strappy vegetation was used to make baskets and to build fish traps.
In 1849 the first racecourse was built on the site and it was the first home of the Geelong Racing Club. Facilities included a large timber grandstand and its own railway branch line. The course hosted the Geelong Cup from 1872 to 1906.
In 1905 the racecourse was moved to its current location in Breakwater and the Geelong Harbor Trust took over management of the land to set up a progressive dairy farm.
The farm was called Sparrovale after ER Sparrow, the secretary of the Geelong Racing Club. The farm had a boiler and refrigeration plant for milk, steam traction engines to pull ploughs and a small tramway to move fodder and other materials. A levee bank was constructed to protect livestock and crops from regular flooding from the Barwon River. The farm was a financial drain on the Harbor Trust so it was sold into private hands in the mid 1930s.