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June 18, 2022

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Here's the latest news from the South Gippsland Conservation Society.

Conservation Society News

Queen's Birthday Honours

Terri Allen and Dr Margaret Rowe have been awarded The Australian Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).  Terri was a member for twenty-five years and Margaret has been a member since 1976. Both retired school teachers, they received this much deserved award in recognition of their years of dedication to a range of conservation projects.


Yes, it's that time again!

We value your support of the SGCS. Please renew your membership by June 30.

If you are not a member, please consider joining. Membership entitles you to:
  • participate in all our activities
  • meet like-minded people who want to help our local environment
  • attend meetings and vote at the annual general meeting
  • get a 5% discount on most items in the Bunurong Environment Centre

All the details of fees and methods of payment are on the website

Project Updates

The Feathers, Fur, Frogs and Fins Program


Part 3: The Moonlit Sanctuary Visit 

The imagination of a better environment brought locals together 46 years ago, on 12 August 1976.  From that action came the South Gippsland Conservation Society.  Imagination driven we stay, and persistence and consistency got us here today.  

The times are exciting.  Environment and conservation with no limits have exploded across our world.  Gippsland is exciting.  The decimated ecology of our land is the opposite of the comparatively intact but unknown richness of our rocky shore.  Both spell opportunity for us. 

After 46 years, with a consistent membership since 2006 of between 280 to 300 members we are a mature and connected group with a sphere of influence well beyond our membership.  But what to do?  As I see it, our job is to help and support those who want to participate (environmentally).  We have a strategic plan, imaginative and energetic individuals, a centre, communication and education programs, a retail presence and well-practiced auspice program of collaboration to assist others.

The imagination of a better environment that has motivated so many has taken many forms.  We created our SGCS presenter’s program to bring their experiences to you to inspire and invigorate.  On May 28 the SGCS organised to travel to Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park for a personalised tour by the founder and manager Michael Johnson.  Moonlit Sanctuary is a world class conservation asset just over one hour’s drive from Inverloch.  Moonlit Sanctuary is a 25-acre biopark within the Pearcedale Conservation Park at Pearcedale on the Mornington Peninsula right on Westernport Bay.  

Beginning in 1998, Michael has devoted his personal resources, intellect, and effort into saving the endangered animal species of our region.  Very importantly, he is doing it in our region and Moonlit Sanctuary is independent of government funding.  

Moonlit Sanctuary now employs over 45 staff and many volunteers.  Here you can get up close and personal with local bird and animal species lost to us locally including the Orange-bellied Parrot, Regent Honeyeater, Swift Parrot, Spot-tailed Quolls, Owls and others including Bettongs and Squirrel Gliders.  These animals are interesting and incredibly beautiful.

To obtain a real appreciation of the Moonlit Sanctuary we encourage you to visit their web page. Here you find details of the park and a concise description of how they dedicated themselves to help rescue the critically endangered Orange Bellied Parrot from impending extinction.

Imagine the laser focus, the persistence and consistent effort required every day, for years, needed to breed animals back from extinction.  It requires a special kind of dedication.  With numbers in the 2017/18 breeding season in the wild down to less than 20, imagine the combination of talents needed: the acute observational and practical skills, the appreciation and application of endangered species genetics, keeping and the breeding science and then there are the strategies to release the captive bred animals into the wild, not to mention the labyrinth of State and Federal bureaucracy.  Every multivariate detail matters.  This is high stakes conservation poker at the extreme.  Michael Johnson willingly put into practice the meaning of these quotes by Elon Musk:

"When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour."

"Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster."

- Ed Thexton
SGCS President

Moonlit Sanctuary visit

Sue Howard’s experience 

What a great way to spend a Saturday! Thank you John Cuttriss for having the inspiration to arrange a bus trip to this special place. Sadly, there were not enough of us to warrant a bus, but private cars did the job. Our small group of enthusiastic people enjoyed an interesting and informative three hour, behind the scenes, tour led by Michael Johnson, Director of Moonlit Sanctuary.  Michael is the dedicated founder of the Sanctuary who has devoted much of his life to the preservation of endangered animal species, including the Orange Bellied Parrot.  

We started with the viewing aviaries with regent honeyeaters and other bush birds, in another were cockatoos and the large Eclectus Parrot, it fascinated some of us by the fact that the male is coloured with beautiful green feathers while the female is a completely different colour of scarlet and blue. 

But it was the Orange Bellied Parrot that was the star of the show, so wonderful to see them up close.  It has been pulled back from extinction, thanks largely to the dedicated and specialised work of Moonlit Sanctuary.  The Swift Parrot will get the Moonlit treatment next.

Leaving the parrot enclosures, where we had learned much about the successful captive breeding and release of these birds, we were taken into the “kitchen”.  Here the birds and other animals’ meals are prepared.  Special recipes (46) are made up to meet the dietary requirements of each species.  Plenty of chopped up mice and mealy worms.  Have to say I am glad I’m not a bird.

After many different sightings and much information buzzing in our heads our tour was now complete.  Ed thanked Michael sincerely and we headed to the café to enjoy our lunch and a well-earned sit down. 

With lunch complete and at our own leisure most of us headed back into the Sanctuary to view many of the exhibitions that we had only glimpsed during the tour. High on my priority list were the Owls. Although it was their sleep time, we could view the pairs sitting against the thoughtfully blackened interior of their shelters. Several species were on display including the Barn and Sooty Owls but I have to say my favourite was the Barking Owl who gave us a soft “Woof Woof” as we stood there looking at him and his partner. What a privilege it was.

We are reliably informed that the Moonlit Sanctuary Night Tour is even more amazing than the daytime tour, and SGCS is hoping to arrange an evening excursion for us some time in the next few months, so stay tuned…
- Sue Howard
SGCS member and Shop Volunteer


The South Gippsland Conservation Society at the 14 June 2022 meeting decided on a gold sponsorship of a Swift Parrot for twelve months ($150) as a token of our appreciation for Michael’s personalised three hour behind the scenes tour.  But really, do yourself and the Sanctuary a favour and make the effort to go yourself.  You won’t regret it!

‘Rally Round Our Dunes!’ and Petition


Minister D’Ambrosio has responded to our letter seeking funding for urgent short and long term works at Inverloch Surf Beach. The Minister outlined funds previously expended at the beach and for the Cape to Cape Resilience Project. The Minister also explained that funding decisions for future coastal management and adaptation options would await the completion of the current Coastal Hazard Assessment.
The response did not acknowledge or respond to the community call for additional action to ‘hold the line’ over the 91% of the Surf Beach that remains unprotected, as demonstrated in the hundreds of locals and visitors that attended our ‘Rally Round Our Dunes!’ in January this year and the 430 people who signed our petition.


Cape to Cape Resilience Project

An on-line briefing provided to the project’s Stakeholder Reference Group in early June revealed that Stage 1 of the Cape to Cape Resilience Project (i.e., the Inverloch Coastal Hazard Assessment) is anticipated to be completed in July, when a series of summary papers will be released. Government approval processes will mean the final CHA report will not be publicly released until September or October.

A number of key elements of the CHA have been completed, including the coastal hazard mapping, a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment and an Economic Base Case Analysis. Submissions received to the recent community survey have been reviewed, and the CHA team is currently undertaking an adaptation options assessment:
  • The Risk and Vulnerability report has developed a regional risk rating for each locality within the Cape to Cape Region, from which Inverloch Surf Beach and Rotary Park have been identified as locations currently requiring adaptation action
  • The Economic Analysis has developed estimates of potential average annual damages from coastal hazards over the study area and potential losses in the event that Inverloch Surf Beach was not able to be used for beach-related recreation
  • The community survey revealed that the community’s most preferred adaptation option is a beach nourishment/dune enhancement approach. Seawalls were the most unpopular option, although both seawalls and groynes were also strongly supported. The survey responses also confirmed the community’s concern with the potential loss of the Surf Beach
The CHA team is undertaking a Multi Criteria Analysis of a broad range of adaptation options for Inverloch Surf Beach, including relocation of infrastructure, beach nourishment, seawalls, breakwaters and groynes. Indications are that beach nourishment, supported by either groynes or nearshore breakwaters, may emerge as preferred treatments for the Surf Beach.

While the Society acknowledges the comprehensive and important work being taken by the Cape to Cape study team, we are concerned with the further delay to the public release of the final CHA, noting that it will now not occur until just before the next Victorian State Election in November. We will be looking to discuss the implications of this for the timing of funding and implementation of the study recommendations with the Cape to Cape team members, our current local State MP Jordan Crugnale and other candidates over the coming weeks.
- Philip Heath
SGCS C2CRP SRG representative

Working Bee - Tree Guarding Maintenance

Looking for something to do tomorrow?

Project: Wonthaggi's Hidden Gem and Ecosystems for the Future
Where: Carney's Rd Wonthaggi
Date: Sunday 19 June
Time: 9.30am - 11.30am
Bring/Wear: Warm clothes, sturdy boots, gloves
Activity: Walking through the revegetation pockets and removing tree guards for plants that no longer need this support.
- Linda Pettit

Working Bee - Sunday 24 July - Thompson Reserve, Inverloch

Save the date for this important Working Bee.  We'll be preparing for the Spring Planting Day on July 31.

Keep an eye out for further details in the next newsletter and on Facebook.

Bunurong Coast Education

Winter School Holiday Program


Bookings are now open!


These are just a few of the activities available in our Winter School Holiday program. Get all the details at Eventbrite.

Bunurong Environment Centre

In the shop

A large number of Koala scats have been recently noticed in the large tree right in front of the environment centre! How exciting to think that we had one sitting out the front for a day! And how important these large remaining trees on the streets of Inverloch are!

In the shop we have a lovely new book for sale that some members might be interested in: Kulin Tales-Seven Seasons on the Bunurong - written by Sonia Mariea proud Bunurong woman, in collaboration with magnificent artist Judy Prosser.

Each story is entwined with Traditional language and knowledge, taking you to a special place.

Step back in time and share the seasonal movements of the Bunurong People.

Seven Stories for Seven Seasons.

Each painting has been chosen specifically to enhance the stories shared.

This unique book provides beautiful insight into the Indigenous seasonal calendar of the Bunurong people.
- Kirby Leary
Centre Manager

World Ocean Day

Last Wednesday 8 June, on World Ocean Day, Inverloch-Kongwak Primary School, SGCS and Clean Ocean Foundation (COF) came together to support and participate in an Environmental Day with combined school members.

Children of all ages and abilities (multi level groups) had fun participating and working in an exciting daylong series of activities. They found out about the effects of plastic rubbish on the ocean to all creatures living above and below the surface. They watched amazing underwater film taken by Steve Dunn in our local waters and got inspired. They created insect houses out of plastic milk bottles and found objects. They wove and designed sea creatures and people from discarded wool and garden refuse. They even identified and then sorted rubbish into appropriate bins. Finally groups created colourful posters designed to inform the public about these issues. These will be displayed through Term 3 in the Discovery room at the BEC.

It was a great day to be involved in a well run, exciting venture. Thank you to all school staff involved, Bob and Jen Manhal (COF) and Mike Cleeland (SGCS).

- Linda Senhenn
Centre Working Group Convenor


Guest Author Event

Come to an inspiring talk from local garden sage Meredith Freeman. She will be talking about her new book: A Garden of Useful Plants. It is an expansive tale of what she has learnt over many years of closely observing nature. The book is sprinkled with anecdotes of pure whimsy. We have so much to learn about our earth, especially this corner of Gippsland. 

Read more about the book on Meredith's website.

This session will take place on Tuesday 12 July 2022 from 10.30am to 12.00pm at Bunurong Environment Centre. Morning Tea will be provided.

Hope to see you there!

Public Consultations

Disappointing result


2-4 The Esplanade Inverloch


Thank you to everyone who made a last minute effort to have this planning application denied. However, despite all our hard work, the Bass Coast Shire Council has approved the development albeit with the condition that the 4th floor bar/cafe be removed. Thanks also to Crs Leticia Laing and Les Larke who spoke against the proposal.

SGCS will be reviewing our position and will approach the developers to discuss our views.

Members News

Welcome to new members

Last month the newly formed Membership Working Group hosted an information get together inviting all members who had joined the Society since COVID began. We felt that these new members had had little chance to get to know each other or to hear first hand about the opportunities available through the various projects and activities of the Society.

Everyone had the chance to hear Kirby Leary describe her role as Centre manager as well as explaining the opportunities for people to work in the shop. Yvonne Kidd presented information about the various groups that operate within the Society and the volunteering opportunities there. Possibly the highlight of the evening was the chance to meet like-minded people over a casual drink and nibble and many expressed their appreciation of the session and the wish for more chances to get together. Some people also signed up to further explore some of the options of being more involved.

Following the success of this event, the membership team plan to hold another session in August, this time for all members. Keep an eye out for more information closer to the event. If you'd like to be part of this membership team that is committed to enhancing the experience of being a SGCS member, please email Margaret Barnard.

- Margaret Barnard
Membership Working Group

Volunteer Voices


Susan Atkins and the Blue Wren Project

Susan joined SGCS earlier this year after returning to Inverloch, her childhood home, in 2020. She was aware of the SGCS and the work they do and has seen Inverloch change over the years. Now was the right time to volunteer: ‘I just thought why not? I’ve got time, get involved. You’re doing something positive, you’re making a contribution. There’s never enough funding so we need to be active and involved. I enjoy nature, I think its important for my well-being and also the well-being of us. We often disconnect with that, we forget it but people are increasingly re-embracing that idea'. 
Susan is part of the Blue Wren Project. In an increasingly urbanised area the project aims to create more natural habitat in existing green spaces, and to connect areas such as Ayr Creek and Screw Creek: ‘The idea is to build habitat for small birds, such as the Blue Wren, small mammals and reptiles.’ It will also demonstrate what plants grow well and attract small birds. Hopefully people will be inspired to plant more of those plants in their gardens.
The project takes a long term and holistic approach pulling together the work of numerous smaller initiatives. It also aims to build partnerships between SGCS, the community, Bass Coast Council and others. As Susan explains getting the community involved and taking ownership of the project is paramount.
 ‘The idea is to get the community involved so that it’s not just SGCS or the council taking responsibility for those plots of land but that the local community sees it as part of their environment and something they want to look after. For that to happen it’s about helping people to understand the value of those areas in terms of habitat and amenity. I think that’s a challenge but I think it’s at the core of it being successful’.
If you want to get involved the first thing is just to say I’m interested. As Susan says, ‘It is an enjoyable thing to do and it’s contributing to something I believe in. It’s a good way to meet people and understand a bit more about what’s going on where you live’.
If you are interested in finding out more about the SGCS or Blue Wren Project please contact John Cuttriss.
- Sue Whyte
Membership Working Group
Other News

Anomalies in the Atmosphere


These two maps were recently published on the Climate Reanalyzer website. They both show a highly irregular situation in the atmosphere to the south of Australia. The 2m T anomaly shows that parts of Antarctica on 9 June were up to 20C above the long term average temperature, at 2 metres above the ground. Other parts, more above the ocean were up to 20C below the long term average. The second map shows the position and strength of the two jet streams – which traditionally would circle the southern hemisphere in two more or less unbroken bands. They guide the path of weather systems – highs and lows. The large loop northward has allowed cold air to travel all the way from Antarctica to southern Australia – and explains the current cold snap. Warming at the poles has weakened the jet stream.

Aileen Vening is interested in sharing her understandings with interested members.  If you are interested let us know.


Climate Change 

Just a reminder that it’s not all about us

Right now, in India and Pakistan, a record-breaking heatwave is impacting the daily lives of nearly a billion people. Scorching temperatures are damaging wheat harvests, preventing many labourers from working outdoors, and making people vulnerable to serious health issues and even death. Kenya and Bangladesh are suffering too: Northern Kenya is facing a prolonged drought that is putting rural communities at greater risk of starvation and last year, torrential rains left one-quarter of Bangladesh under water and destroyed the homes of millions. These are some of the latest examples of how the 3.6 billion people in developing countries are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, and a preview of what the “new normal” will look like if the global community doesn’t immediately step up its climate action. Given their power, wealth, and responsibility for the climate crisis, the onus is particularly on rich countries like Australia to help vulnerable countries weather climate impacts – and it has never been more urgent. Despite the negligible contribution that most vulnerable countries like our Pacific Island neighbours have made to cause climate change, these countries are the most ambitious in tackling it – but they cannot fight the crisis on their own. Not only is this the moral thing to do, but it will also help minimise the challenges and costs down the road, such as disaster recovery efforts and the migration of climate refugees forced to leave their homelands as they become increasingly uninhabitable.
Ed Thexton

This piece was adapted from an article by Saleemul Huq & Mohamed Adow in Al Jazeera, May 11 2022. Read the full story here...

Deadline for contributions

We would love to share your photographs and stories in the newsletter. Please send your contributions to Yvonne at by Tuesday 12 July.

Newsletter archive

Read past copies of the newsletter in our archive.
The South Gippsland Conservation Society wishes to acknowledge that the Bunurong and Boon Wurring peoples of the Kulin nation are the traditional owners of this land, over which they have never ceded sovereignty, and we pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
 Copyright © 2022 South Gippsland Conservation Society, All rights reserved.

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