Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Head for the beach

Torquay is a beautiful spot, especially on a beautifully calm autumn day. So where was I? Inside all day for a weed information session. I managed to get down to Torquay a little early so that I could have a look at the ocean. This is Front Beach, a long east-facing beach that is very popular with families. The wind surfers and kiters like the northern section of this beach.

But just around the corner are the south-facing beaches. Here the low tide exposes a rocky coastline that just begs to be explored. About twenty ships have been wrecked offshore in the last 150 years. This part of the coast is treacherous.

And around the next point is the world-famous (if you're a surfer) Bells Beach. The clifftop vegetation in this area was suffering badly because spectators and surfers were allowed to stand,walk and climb anywhere. Then a group of surfers got together, called themselves SANE (Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment), and have done a power of work revegetating the clifftops with the species local to the area. School kids and community groups have helped. The soil here is very shallow, over marine sediments up to 23 million years old. The plants have to survive in a hostile environment so they get their roots down into cracks in the rocks and hang on. The SANE group has learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. They throw pruned branches down first to provide protection for the seedlings.

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