Wetland Wanderings Ecotour

The Wetland Wanderings Ecotour is a self-guided tour showcasing a number of amazing wetlands, from coastal and freshwater wetlands to major waterways and smaller creek systems.

The City’s wetlands make up one of the most important waterbird areas in Australia, with the highest concentration of migratory shorebirds in Victoria and a stunning array or other birdlife, the diversity of which rivals Australia’s Kakadu region.

Wetlands are a significant component of the total habitat remaining in the Geelong area and support a number of rare or threatened species listed in Victoria and at a National level.

How it works

The Wetland Wanderings Ecotour offers great flexibility as it enables you to enjoy these fantastic wetlands at a leisurely pace. There are so many great sites to explore!

Here’s how it works; Use the Wetland Wanderings Map to choose the wetlands that you wish to visit. Each site is colour coded and fits one of the following categories:

  • Saline Wetlands
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Points of Interest
  • Ramsar Listed Sites

Each wetland site has its own brochure highlighting the features of the site in more detail. Make sure to select your preferred brochures and make your way to your chosen location.

Some sites may be ‘drive by’ only and some are close to a parking bay so you can stop, read the site information from the selected brochure and go for a wander around the wetland.

This is a great opportunity to discover many different bird habitat and species that call Geelong’s wetlands home.

A little about us...

The City of Greater Geelong is rich in wetlands, with over 100 individual wetlands covering a total of 11,630 hectares. Throughout Geelong, over 1,000 hectares of our wetlands have been lost or degraded due to drainage, filing and other land use practices.

The regions wetlands have been recognised internationally and are one of the City’s most important reservoirs of biodiversity.

The Geelong Regional Wetlands Project is an initiative between the City of Greater Geelong and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. The project brings together landholders, businesses, community groups, local government and government agencies to manage significant wetlands in the Geelong Region.

Geelong's wetlands

Geelong’s Wetlands are very special!

Geelong’s Wetlands are so valuable that many have been listed under the Convention Wetlands of International Importance. This International Treaty was signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. The treaty aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain. By signing the treaty the Australian Government has agreed to conserve its Ramsar wetlands forever.

Why are Geelong’s Ramsar Wetlands so important?

Geelong’s Ramsar wetlands contain many species and wetland habitats, precious areas that were historically more extensive throughout the region. Our wetlands are an important breeding and feeding ground for tens of thousands of waterbirds. Some birds use our wetlands all year round; others are summer migrants from places as far away as Siberia!

Not only are there the Ramsar wetlands but there are the very significant freshwater wetlands all mostly located within an urban environment. These wetland environments are highly diverse and productive and critical for the conservation of biodiversity and ecological productivity. They also have important cultural, heritage and aesthetic values. A lot of native birds utilise these wetlands for food and shelter.

Be sure to keep an eye out for sea-birds, gulls, ibis, herons, spoonbills, egrets, waders, ducks, swans, grebes, coots, crakes and rails! The beautiful birds visiting the Geelong Region.

1. Avalon Beach - “A diverse coastal environment” (R and S)

The Avalon Beach Wetland is a highly productive and diverse wetland providing habitat for migratory birds, local waterfowl and endangered species, including Little Tern, Painted Snipe and Lewins Rail.

It also contains a high diversity of plant life of high ecological value. During the summer months tens of thousands of migratory birds flock to Avalon as it is a prime feeding zone. Sometimes there are as many as 60,000 birds there!

Toilets and picnic tables available.

2. Limeburners Bay - “A dynamic natural system” (R and S)

Limeburners Bay supports the largest remaining area of white mangroves in Port Phillip Bay and one of the most intact saltmarsh complex. Shingle/sand pits and saline herb fields are home to many birds and crabs that feed and shelter here.

A fabulous walking track enables you to walk all the way around the saltmarsh fringes, following Hovells Creek and into the township of Lara. Interpretative signs tell the story behind the lagoon and give an insight into the important features of this special wetland.

Toilets and picnic tables available.

Places of interest (P)
•   Another kilometre on from St Helens is the wide open spaces of Rippleside. This is a great spot to stop, with a fabulous playground, toilets and BBQ’s. Rippleside is also home to the infamous Recycled Plastic Boardwalk that winds over the top of amazing seagrass meadows. Interpretive signs tell the stories of the boardwalk and give some insight to the importance of the seagrass, together with highlighting the magnificent geological cliffs that frame this area.
•   Geelong’s Waterfront: places to eat drink and get an amazing view of the bay.
•   The National Wool Museum
•   Geelong Botanic Gardens

3. Point Henry - “An amazing wetland oasis within an industrial zone” (S)

Point Henry is not only home to Alcoa, one of Australia’s biggest producers of alumina and aluminum but it also is home to an extensive and precious wetland environment.

This site has international significance as it provides habitat for migratory birds, including two internationally significant species, eight nationally significant and three state significant species. These species include Little Terns, Curlew Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints.

Take a walk through the wetlands and admire the interpretative signage and the various bird hides throughout.

Places of interest (P)
•   Bellarine Rail Trail: Walk it, jog it or ride it. The Bellarine Rail Trail stretches some 33 kilometres, linking Geelong to Queenscliff and providing an inspiring passage to the many tourist attractions across the Peninsula. The surrounding reserve features areas of remnant, indigenous vegetation, creating a safe and tranquil environment for users. A community supported revegetation program will link the areas of existing vegetation to create a continuous green corridor through the heart of the Bellarine Peninsula.

4. Lake Lorne - “A great example if a vegetated freshwater wetland” (F)

Lake Lorne is a natural shallow freshwater wetland of approximately 12 hectares. Substantial variation in water levels occurs in the lake, often showing a lag in the response of the prevailing climatic conditions.

It is a very important area for a diverse range of birds. Large numbers of Cormorants roost on the islands late in the afternoon and evening, whilst a range of water birds frequent the lake.

Species to watch out for are the rare Blue-billed Duck, Black Swan, Australian Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Grey and Chestnut Teal and Eurasian Coot.

The Workers Community Group for Wetlands have been undertaking a very successful nest box breeding program, at Lake Lorne for many years.

5. Macleod's Waterholes - turn left off Geelong Portarlington Rd in to Granville Street (F)

McLeods Waterholes comprises of two freshwater lakes. These have important historical significance as they provided the early natural spring water supply to the local community. They are named after a local pioneer, Angus McLeod and are important in respect to aboriginal heritage.

The upper lake is much smaller and shallower and is a popular site for various waterbirds, including the rare Blue-billed Duck.

The lower lake was deepened in the 1980’s creating an island at the Western end. It is fed by a large stormwater drain which impacts on the quality of the water within the lake. It is used by various waterbirds but is not as popular as the upper lake.

6. Swan Bay, Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park - “The most significant ecosystem in Port Phillip Bay; extremely high ecological value” (R and S)

Swan Bay is a diversely rich marine habitat with seagrass meadows, foreshore dunes, mudflats, saltmarsh meadows and remnant woodlands. Vast underwater seagrass meadows provide essential nursery areas for fish such as King George Whiting and Yellow-eyed Mullet.

Habitat types found within the park include seagrass beds, sheltered intertidal mudflats, intertidal sandy beaches and rocky shores, subtidal soft substrata and rocky reefs, as well as the open water environment. The diversity and abundance of marine flora and fauna in this region are greater than many comparable habitats elsewhere in the world. The Swan Bay area is renowned for its diversity of migratory wader birds and includes various sites listed under a number of treaties including the Ramsar Convention, designed to protect migratory bird habitat. Managed by Parks Victoria.

Places of interest (P)
•   Queenscliff: the main street is filled with great little shops, cafes, pubs and the best fish and chips on the Peninsula!
•   Point Lonsdale: great cafes and restaurants and during October - November you may get a chance to see Henry the Seal!
•   Emily Street Wetlands: a man-made wetland that catches stormwater from new developments and eventually directs water into Lake Victoria.

7. Lake Victoria Wildlife Reserve - “A special sub-coastal wetland” (S)

Lake Victoria is a natural shallow saline lake approximately 139 hectares in size and is separated from Bass Strait by a narrow strip of coastal dunes, however it lies below sea level. Water and salinity levels are highly variable. Over the past decade the lake has been known to dry out and at low levels, extensive mudflats and limestone outcrops are exposed. The plant communities consist of salt tolerant species typical of coastal dune woodland and saltmarsh in the region. Ancient Moonah trees, Melaleuca lancelota, surround the lake, which are recognised as a threatened species.

Lake Victoria is of international significance for Red-necked Stints, Banded Stilts and the globally endangered Orangebellied Parrot and of state significance for the nationally vulnerable Hooded Plover and for the Little Egret which is critically endangered in Victoria. Managed by Parks Victoria.

8. Begola Wetland - “An interesting wetland environment existing in urban surroundings” (F)

Begola Wetland is a freshwater wetland replenished solely by stormwater run-off. The wetland has significant habitat value, providing habitat for a range of flora and fauna including migratory waders such as the Lathams snipe. It is generally a large shallow open water zone with a number of dense stands of emergent macrophytes (ie. River Club-rush – Schoenoplectus validus). P – Ocean Grove has many fabulous cafés and restaurants and has an amazing outlook to the Bluff at Barwon Heads. P – Barwon Heads Marine Sanctuary; an amazing spot that is about 17 hectares in size. The intertidal and shallow subtidal sandstone and basalt reefs of the marine sanctuary provide habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Places of interest (P)
•   Barwon Heads Village: a great main street of shops; lots of yummy places to eat, drink and take in the magic surroundings!!

9. Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve - “An icon of the Bellarine Peninsula”

Lake Connewarre is a large, shallow estuarine lagoon linked to the sea by the mangrove-fringed channel of the Lower Barwon River. The Barwon River flows through the reserve, creating a diversity of wetland habitats supporting numerous creatures.

Lake Connewarre protects the largest remaining remnant vegetation on the Bellarine Peninsula. Extensive areas of reed swamp across the lake provide excellent habitat for wildlife with tall stands of Phragmites prolific in some areas and Juncus rushland along parts of the lake shore.

The lake itself harbours extensive seagrass meadows which provide important spawning and nursery sites for indigenous fish species. Over 20 species of fish have been recorded.

Managed by Parks Victoria.

10. Breamlea Flora and Fauna Reserve - “A unique lineal coastal reserve system”

The township of Breamlea is located behind a large open dune system that is vegetated with coastal grassland and shrubland vegetation, providing habitat for many birds including the threatened Hooded Plover.

Permanent saline wetlands surround the northern face of the Breamlea Township; Beaded Glasswort is one of the major plants in this saltmarsh environment which plays an important role as habitat for the Orange-bellied parrot.

Managed by Parks Victoria.

Places of interest (P)
•   Breamlea Caravan Park: great surf, great views, beautiful beaches!

11. Jerringot Wetlands - “A very valuable wetland environment”

Jerringot Wetland is a freshwater marsh consisting of two main wetland areas and is linked to the beautiful Barwon River Floodplain. It is home to many native plants and a high concentration of native species.

It is home to the Yarra Pygmy Perch and contains 12 species of plants which are considered regionally significant, including the rare Common Nardoo and Water Plantain.

Wetland Wanderings Ecotour map - includes legend: S = Saline wetland; F = Freshwater wetland; R = Ramsar listed and P = Places of interest

For further information contact:

Logos of sponsor organisations: action Salinity & Water Australia, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Geelong Region Wetlands Project and Parks Victoria

A project sponsored by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality program. A joint Initiative of the Victorian and Australian Governments.

When visiting wetlands...

  • keep 200 metres away from roosting, breeding or feeding waterbirds. Many have travelled vast distances and need to conserve energy to fly home to breed.

  • keep dogs on a lead and away from bird areas.

  • clean up after your dog!

  • don’t trample plants. Coastal and wetland plants are easily damaged and can take many years to recover. Short-cuts and new paths encourage weeds, cause erosion and destroy plant and animal homes.

  • don’t leave any rubbish behind. What you leave pollutes wetlands and can directly kill or injure wildlife (particularly fishing line, plastic bags and cigarette butts), as well as spoiling it for other visitor

Page last updated: Monday, 9 December 2019