19 October, 2011

A hidden gem

Gateway Sanctuary, Leopold
Tucked away next to the busy Bellarine Highway is a sanctuary. I had driven past this place for years without noticing it was there, until a recent excursion landed me in its midst. Called the Gateway Sanctuary, it is located in Leopold on the corner of Melaluka Road and the Highway.
This little pocket of parkland consists of a series of shallow lakes and islands connected by wooden bridges with unsealed walking tracks in between.
Gateway Sanctuary, Leopold
Stormwater drains into the complex from nearby areas of Leopold situated to the north of the highway and - as is the case with other such wetlands - the flora and fauna which thrive here act as a biological filter, cleaning the water which passes through. Whilst this naturally swampy area is now a man-made rather than a natural wetland, it didn't take long for me to discover that water from the sanctuary drains into Reedy Lake and ultimately into the Barwon, thereby qualifying this hidden wetland as a suitable topic for this blog.
Like the Jerringot Wetlands and Balyang Sanctuary further up river, the Gateway Sanctuary is located at a distance from the river/lake but boasts the usual array of bird life. A quick count on a couple of occasions has so far turned up about twenty-four different species of birds, all of which I have seen on other parts of the river at one time or another.
Black swan and sygnets at Gateway Sanctuary
Possibly the most interesting inhabitants at the present time are a family of black swans who are by far the biggest birds around. Why they have chosen this small wetland as their home, rather than the much larger expanse of Lake Connewarre as many of their compatriots have done, I have no idea.
Due to its location, this park is a strange mix of urban and rural. Periodically and in sequence with the traffic lights, noise from passing traffic overrides the more natural bird noises which predominate in quiet moments, whilst a short distance away, the calls of sheep and cattle from adjacent farmland provide a further interruption to the sounds within the park.
Somewhat disappointingly, I can find very little information about the establishment or development of the sanctuary, so if anyone knows more please fill me in.


  1. Good afternoon, I’m a Year 12 student from Christian College and I was hoping I might be able to ask you a few questions for my Geography project relating Jerringot reserve. Any information in relation to Jerringot will be immensely appreciated.

    1: Do you visit Jerringot for bird watching or other recreational activities?
    2: How often do you visit Jerringot reserve?
    3: What changes have you observed in Jerringot over time?
    4: Do you live in the surrounding area of Jerringot or another suburb?
    5: What are positive aspects of Jerringot?
    6: What are negative aspects/problems of Jerringot?
    7: Are you aware of the Jerringot master plan? If so do you see it as a being effective? As well as whether you think the master plan will be a positive or negative change to the area?
    8: addition comments on Jerringot reserve?

  2. Hi,

    Hope I'm not too late for your project! Sorry, been busy! Now to answer your questions:
    1: Yes, I bird watch at Jerringot, but also look for other wildlife (including the tiger snake I nearly stepped on). I also pass through either running or riding my bike on occasion.
    2: I visit irregularly. If I am looking for a photo of a particular bird it may be several times a week but if not, it can be months between visits.
    3: With the increased rainfall last year, the water has become very choked with reeds and other aquatic plants. I also notice planting and weed control measures which stopped while the path was closed but seem to have resumed now that the path and new bridge are open.
    4: I live in the suburb of Geelong.
    5: the haven provided for wildlife is a definite positive, the catchment and treatment of water run off from Belmont improves water quality entering the Barwon. The area is regularly used by bird watchers and local workers who stop there for lunch.
    6: polluion is an ongoing problem. I have seen both liquid and solid waste in the water. Pedestrian access to the wetlands opposite the bird hide (behind the golf course) would be nice, but possibly not good for the ecosystem. Signage and possibly road markings connecting the track from the new Breakwater Bridge to the path beside Barwon Heads Road which leads over to the Barwon via the cycling course would be useful.
    7: I believe I have seen the Jerringot master plan, but haven't studied it in detail. If as I suspect I remember, there were plans for improved pollution control then that would go a long way to improving conditions. Adequate consultation with other interested groups such as the Geelong Field Naturalists would also be necessary. The plan should be a positive move provided there is adequate funding.
    8: signage detailing the relationship of Jerringot to the river and the quality of water entering the river, its indigenous significance and the now no longer visible Kardinia Creek may be of interest to the community.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.