Under cloudy skies four ANGAIR members set out from the lower Urquhart Bluff Carpark along the Surf Coast Walk, heading uphill through coastal bushland. In places the track showed bitumen remnants of the original Great Ocean Road.
After occasional glimpses across coastal heathland we reached a set of steps leading down to the beach where we enjoyed morning tea.
From there we headed up to a level, well-defined track. Coastal Moonah Woodland gave way to wind and salt-pruned vegetation allowing expansive views of the sea and the reefs below the cliffs from the numerous lookouts.
The track runs parallel to Eagle Rock Parade and at one spot, we saw three large, recently erected vegetation screens.
These imposing structures have been installed by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee of Management, where vegetation including large Moonahs had been illegally lopped and removed giving an ocean view from the houses opposite.
Most of the vegetation we saw flowers in spring or summer, so we shared our knowledge of their foliage to identify plants along the way.
However, the climbing Small-leaved Clematis was in bud, and the White Correa, a common plant along the cliff-top was already beginning to flower.
We passed the Split Point lighthouse and stopped for lunch at the picnic ground near the Painkalac estuary before seeing a Eurasion Coot and Purple Swamphen at the Allen Noble Sanctuary.
By then the clouds looked threatening, and we walked briskly to reach our cars at Fairhaven before the heavens opened.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.