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February 14, 2022
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.

Conservation Society News

SGCS-Bunurong Land Council repatriation of artefacts


On the 26th January members of the South Gippsland Conservation Society gathered at Townsend Bluff to return Aboriginal cultural artefacts to the Traditional Custodians from the Bunurong Land Council. The ceremony began with these words by Ed Thexton, President of the SGCS:

The South Gippsland Conservation Society has been the custodian of these cultural artefacts, passed on to us by others, and housed at the Environment Centre. These have been displayed as a point of discovery for visitors of our first people’s tools and belongings. Through time it has been recognised that these artefacts are of significance to the present traditional owners and are their ancestral history, not ours. We recognise Australia’s First Nations, so it’s with respect we return these items for repatriation to their traditional home.

Thanks to Terry Melvin and Laura Brearley for their work on the video which is now available. Thanks also to Steve Dunn for his still photography on the day.

Max Parnell 1934 - 2022


Many members of the South Gippsland Conservation Society will remember my father, Max Parnell, who sadly died on 8th February aged 87 in his home town of Foster.  Max had been ill for a few months and typical of his practical and philosophical view of the world, accepted that he had had "a good innings" and held no complaints.  

When Max retired from paid work in about 1990, he and Mum moved to South Gippsland from Melbourne.  They loved this corner of the world for the environment, the community and because it was a great place for Mum to grow flowers.  They both threw themselves into community work and Max was part of just about every group in the district, including Rotary and the Friends of the Prom, where he was a Life Member and active volunteer in the nursery right up until his health gave way in the last few months.  Sadly Mum died 20 years ago but Dad stayed and continued his community work with partner Millie.   Max has earned various gongs over the years including local citizen of the year and other awards for his community service.  Until age slowed him down a bit, here were very few people in Foster who didn't know Max, especially if there was work to be done, because Dad could always be relied on to roll up his sleeves.  Sadly, the Foster group of SGCS went into recess a few years back but I suspect it is ready for revitalisation.  

Max's life and dedication to community has had a lasting impact on his family and his friends.  But it cuts both ways and Dad learnt from us as well.  I even managed to get him a bit excited about Green politics!

Typical of his "no fuss" approach to things, Dad specifically requested that there be NO funeral service, just a private cremation.  Max asked for his ashes to be distributed back to nature, including down at the Prom, a part of the environment that was very dear to him.

I know Dad's decision not to have a funeral has disappointed many of his friends who want the opportunity to celebrate Dad’s life and perhaps say a few words.  So, I said to Dad not long before he died “it doesn’t say anything here about not having a wake!”  He agreed.

So, we are planning a “This is Not a Funeral” event, which will be held in Foster on Monday 28th February, from 2-5pm in the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre.  This will be an afternoon tea event and there will be an opportunity for people who knew Max to say a few words.  Some of us from Max's family will contribute, but it would be great to hear from others he worked with or knew over the last 30 years in South Gippsland, including his friends in conservation.  We can also read out any messages or reminiscences of those who can't attend.  Yes it will be sad, but we think it will be a lot of fun too as we celebrate a long life well lived.

Mark Parnell 
(Max's son and former Greens Member of the SA Parliament and environmental campaigner with TWS, ACF and EDO)  


Project Updates

Working Bee Dates for 2022


This year our Working Bees will again be held on the third Sunday of each month from February to November, 10am till 12pm. Hopefully, we'll have a covid-free cuppa afterwards. The first for the year will be at Thompson Reserve on 20 February. 

This is the proposed calendar. We will confirm each event and provide details in the newsletter. Please let John Cuttriss know if you are interested in attending.

Screw Creek Boardwalk


The planking material has finally arrived and we have the all clear from Parks Victoria to start this project. We have applied for a grant for some specific tools and PPE, the on-site plan is being prepared, and we intend to start building by mid-March.

We are seeking expressions of interest from Society members and the community who wish to be involved in the building of this link from the fishing platform to the Inlet Waters Estate. We are aiming for a team of ten with a roster of six per day as the size of the site is limited. A current Working with Children check and registration with Parks Connect is required (we can help you get these). 

Sea Spurge eradication


For the past two years, the South Gippsland Conservation Society, with assistance from the Bass Coast Shire, has supported the Woodleigh School hand pulling sea spurge at Point Norman, Inverloch. We expect the partnership will continue at the identified sites to foster environmental education. The Projects Working Group will be coordinating working bees with the aim of eradicating the invasive weed.

As part of the proposed trial deployment of the biocontrol agent for sea spurge across south-east Australia, SGCS members walked the dune zone from Screw Creek at the eastern end of Inverloch to the Cape Paterson Boat Ramp, including the Bunurong Marine Coastal Reserve beaches.

You can read the full explanation with photographs and comments on the level of invasion in the attached report.

- John Cuttriss, Projects Working Group

Presenters Program 2022 - Feathers, Fur and Fins, Frogs and Fungi


The first stage of our Feathers program kicks off with a presentation by Peter Wiltshire, Senior Ranger Darebin Parklands. Peter has worked for many years restoring a former tip site into a wildlife haven at Darebin. His presentation will discuss aspects of their extensive nest box program. 

Following this Jane Taylor and Dallas Wyatt will outline our local bird species, their habitats, threats and opportunities. They will identify the species that require habitat assistance.

In Autumn, we will construct appropriate nesting boxes for our target species and deploy them into local woodland and parkland areas identified for installations.

The monitoring phase, in Spring, will utilise a Wi-Fi camera for minimal impact viewing of the progress of the nest box sites.  Students from Inverloch Primary School will be involved in collating the outcomes.


Nest Box Information Day - Saturday, 5 March 2022

Morning Session 10 am - 12 noon
Location: Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club - 163 Surf Parade, Inverloch
Guest Speaker: Peter Wiltshire – Head Ranger at Darebin Parklands, Melbourne
Lunch 12 - 2pm  

Participants will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.

Afternoon Session 2 pm – 4 pm

Location: Ayr Creek Reserve - 62 Royal Parade, Inverloch
Walk, Talk and Gawk activity along restored reaches of the Ayr Creek Reserve with Peter to discuss the logistics of implementing a “pilot” Nest Box Project within vegetation planted in 1990s.
Due to covid restrictions (vax and mask required) this event is limited to 50 people.  Attendees must register by 25 Feb 2022.

Other News

Clean Up Australia Day - Sunday 6 March, 2022


Clean Up Australia Day is almost upon us. There are two ways you can become involved:
If you have already registered an event, let us know and we'll advertise it in the next newsletter!

Friends of the Prom - Weekend 26/27 February 2022


Friends of the Prom have two activities planned for Saturday 26th February 2021 – the main activity is a beach cleanup, and they also plan to build more tree guards.

The beach clean-up is their annual contribution to Clean Up Australia Day. They will form a number of groups to patrol Prom beaches, picking up rubbish and making sure not to disturb nesting shore birds like the Hooded Plover.

After the beach clean, groups will return to either Tidal River nursery or the Stockyards (whichever is closest) to weigh, sort and record the rubbish collected. The data recorded will be sent to the Tangaroa Blue Foundation for inclusion in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database which will help the Foundation build a clearer picture of how debris reaches our beaches.

They are looking for  a handful of volunteers prepared to build treeguards at the Yanakie works yard for the Koala Habitat Restoration Project. These industrial strength tree-guards are made from sheep-yard mesh and chicken wire. The work involves cutting the materials, forming the mesh into cylinders and clipping chicken wire around the base. They need up to 7 volunteers for this task.

A Parks Victoria ranger will supervise the activities.

Deadline for contributions

We would love to share your photographs and stories in the newsletter. Please send your contributions by Friday 25 February. Email to

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