Stewarts Reserve- Conservation Playground on Our Doorstep

Published Tue 11 Oct 2016

Did you know we have a historically significant reserve adjacent to Warralily Coast? Stewarts Reserve on Armstrong Creek is a rare grassy woodland gem, located on Stewarts Road between the Surf Coast Highway and Horseshoe Bend Road.

Stewarts Reserve- Conservation Playground on Our Doorstep In 1856 a farmer named John Stewart donated a parcel of land along Armstrong Creek for use by local Aboriginal people as a place where the “dispossessed could camp unmolested”. His preference was that it be named Dooliebeal, which means red gums, however, on official maps it appears as Stewarts Reserve. Stewart also donated food to the Aboriginal people who camped at this unofficial reserve.
 
Stewarts son, interviewed in the late 1960s when he was 80, recalled “he could clearly remember the last camp of the Aborigines…..they camped in Stewarts Lane opposite the Stewarts farm gates on a bush setting”. He said that this area was significant to Aboriginal people, with Armstrong Creek forming part of a travel route leading from Mount Moriac to Lake Connewarre, then onto Barwon Heads.
Ref: Cultural heritage management plan no. 10607
 
In recognition and acknowledgment of the Indigenous people who once lived in the area on which Warralily now sits, we recently sought permission from the traditional owners, the Wathaurung People, who have granted us permission to use the name Dooliebeal as the name for a new Avenue at Warralily, which will follow Stewarts Road along the Creek.
 
The reserve is now managed by the City of Greater Geelong who have protected and preserved this fragment of the Creek as it once was.

Stewart reserve is a remnant of the Grassy woodlands which once occurred across the whole volcanic plain, all the way from Melbourne to near the South Australian border but are now fragmented - isolated to patches within roadsides, farm land or along creeks like Stewarts Reserve.

Eucalypts dominate the over storey with Manna Gum, Swamp Gum, and large old River Red Gums providing hollows and a safe haven for native animals. Prickly plants such as the Hedge Wattle and Sweet Bursaria provide protection for small woodland birds and butterflies.

Five species of bat have recently been recorded in the four hectare reserve and over 56 different birds have been seen in, or near, the reserve. These include birds of prey such as Goshawks and Falcons and smaller birds like Cuckoos, Wrens and Honeyeaters.

A relatively intact ground layer remains at Stewarts Reserve, with a variety of native grasses, wildflowers and sedges. Armstrong Creek meanders through the reserve, providing habitat for frogs as well as other aquatic native plants and animals. The creek with its old tree hollows, leaf litter and fallen timber makes this an important and precious environmental area.

The City of Greater Geelong undertakes regular environment works at Stewarts Reserve to remove invasive species and encourage natural regeneration of indigenous plant species.
 
Tips when visiting:
• Take your binoculars and a bird book and try to spot some of our local feathered friends.
• Visit in spring and summer to see the wildflowers and native grasses flowering.
• Please take your rubbish with you and keep the reserve and creek clean.
  •   Take care not to move or disturb fallen branches, rocks or vegetation.
  •    Ensure you wear sturdy boots or closed toe shoes,
  •    Snakes may be active, especially during the warmer months.
 
Stewarts Road has recently been permanently closed to traffic and will be developed into a green walkway  from Horseshoe Bend Rd to the Surf Coast Highway that will run alongside Warralily Blvd and provide for a substantial conservation corridor for nature lovers to enjoy.

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