Monday, 20 August 2007

Cliff-hanger

Mt Duneed is a low hill to the south of Geelong – you can see it as you head to the beaches at Torquay. It has a nest of towers on top because it's the highest point in the vicinity. Such an innocuous-looking hill, but actually a volcano that had quite an impact on the countryside.
Once there was a large, shallow embayment on the coast to the east and south of Mt Duneed, and lava from the volcano flowed into and filled the bay. Thompsons Creek now flows along the southern edge of the basalt and out to sea at Breamlea, and the Barwon River and Lake Connewarre are to the north. Just to the north of Breamlea the basalt meets the sea, one of the few places in Victoria that that happens, at a place called, imaginatively, Black Rocks. Surfers like the waves nearby, off the sandy beaches at Bancoora and 13th Beach, and Hooded Plovers attempt to nest on the sand there every year with little success because of human and animal traffic, but at Black Rocks the waves crash in onto the basalt.

Black Rocks

On the exposed cliffs low vegetation battles against the tough conditions and thrives. When I was there yesterday the succulent called Karkalla Carpobrotus rossii was looking very healthy but its pink flowers won't appear until late spring, and the Bower Spinach Tetragonia implexicoma was flowering right on the edge of the cliff.

Karkalla

Tetragonia implexicoma

This area used to be a favourite with birdwatchers because albatross, jaeger and Giant-Petrel used to come in close to the shore when the Geelong sewage outlet ran straight into the sea there, but they've cleaned up their act and the birds are rarely seen there now.

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