Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published November 20th 2015
Perfect for a Picnic and Views for Miles Around
If you're travelling the South Gippsland Highway, the Col Utber Swamp Tower Reserve just south of Koo Wee Rup is a great place for a rest or a picnic. This day time rest area has off road parking suitable for caravans and big rigs and is easily spotted by the high wooden lookout tower that dominates the picnic grounds.
The Reserve on the South Gippsland Highway, Koo Wee Rup (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
It's worth stopping just for the vistas from the tower which provides 360 degree sweeping views of the surrounding area. The waters of Westernport Bay are visible to the south. A distance and direction marker on the top platform points to over 30 different locations; San Remo 35km south, Tooradin 7km west, Melbourne 58km north-west, Warragul 40km north-east.
Picnic grounds at the Reserve (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
The tower is accessed by stairs which curve around supporting poles. It is rather tall but even though heights bother me I felt secure enough to get to the top. The structure is very stable, the stairs and platform are enclosed by high, closely spaced railings and the stairs themselves are wide enough to be comfortable but narrow enough to enable you to hold the railings on both sides.
The platform atop the tower is a great vantage point (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
The car park and reserve are well maintained and the grass looked freshly mowed when I arrived. There is a shelter with a picnic table, and several open air tables. A ring of wooden benches would serve well for group seating. A small bridge crossing a dip in the picnic grounds adds charm to the area. There are ample rubbish bins.
An information board has useful area maps, and a town map of Koo Wee Rup. The history of the area is documented on one side. Wander about and you will find a number of historic information and dedication plaques. A set of wheels from a German Dredge, imported in the early 1900's is proudly displayed. The late 1800's release of deer into the area is commemorated. Another plaque commemorates the 1991 opening of the South Gippsland Highway duplication.
Wheels of a German Dredge imported in the eraly 1900's (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
The reserve is fenced but there is access to a small path at the back which leads through interesting vegetation to the Bunyip River. I walked the path but plants are encroaching on either side making it unsuitable for children. Walkers would be advised to keep an eye out for snakes in the warmer months. Shrubbery with a variety of flowers and reeds along the water are worth a look. Birdlife is prevalent in the bushland around the reserve. Fairy wrens were about in abundance.
The Bunyip River (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
If a picnic is not on your agenda the town of Koo Wee Rup is only a few minutes away. Road signage beside the reserve encourages visitors.
What you will not find at the Col Utber Swamp Tower Reserve is a swamp. Drainage works began in the area as far back as 1856. The drain carrying water from the Cardinia and Toomuc Creeks to Westernport Bay was created in 1875. Hundreds of men were employed for further work on drainage and by 1893 the swamp was declared drained and the area suitable for settlement.
Koo Wee Rup township is minutes away and would love you to visit (Photo Copyright by Gayle Beveridge)
The Col Utber Swamp Tower Reserve is a daylight hour reserve on the South Gippsland Highway, Koo Wee Rup. It is immediately west of the road bridge across the Bunyip River and east of the Rossiter Road intersection with the Highway. Entry to the car park is on the west (Melbourne side) of the lookout tower which is easily spotted from the road. The car park is suitable for caravans and big rigs, there is mobile 'phone coverage, and picnic facilities. There are no public toilets. Pets are permitted.