Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published March 14th 2020
Stay Calm and Escape the City
Feel like getting away for the day to somewhere quiet, where you can stroll in peace and commune with nature. Escape the city, the hubbub, the news noise. Breathe clean air, wander amongst the shrubbery, the reeds, and the flowers. Spot kangaroos, perhaps an echidna, maybe a wallaby or two and definitely some rabbits. Feel the serenity as you watch waterbirds swimming peacefully. Look up to the trees and the skies where native birds are abundant. If this appeals to you leave Melbourne in your rearview mirror and head to the Wonthaggi Victorian Desalination Plant Ecological Reserve. (VDR)
At 225 hectares of reclaimed and rehabilitated land, the Victorian Desalination Ecological Reserve is impressive. 127 species of indigenous plants were reintroduced. It is hard to imagine this reserve was only created in 2012, so well has the vegetation grown.
There are many wide compacted gravel walking tracks and there are some boardwalks. A boardwalk near the parking lot leads to a high viewing platform overlooking the Desalination Plant. Another boardwalk winds through reed beds to a large and well set up bird hide.
Information posts throughout the reserve indicate estimated walking times. Of course, that's if you are just out for a walk. If, like me, you re distracted by the natural beauty of the place and its wildlife, it's going to take a bit longer. All up there are 8 kilometres of trails suitable for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
There are a large variety of water birds on the wetlands here. I have many times seen black-shouldered kites hunting. Dusk is a great time to be here as flocks of birds come in for the night. It was here that I first witnessed birds flying in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky. It was nearly dark and I was too far off to identify the birds but I suspect I have seen a murmuration of starlings. It was a marvellous sight.
I have seen eastern grey kangaroos here every time I have visited. There is evidence of wombats although I have not spied one myself; they are nocturnal. I have come across an echidna and there are plenty of rabbits about. Friends have reported seeing an emu here with chicks. Wouldn't that be special?
The trails are classified as easy with some moderate to difficult undulations. I have chosen to take the trails in a series of manageable sections and they are organised in such a way that this is easy to do. For the fit and experienced walkers, the eight kilometres of trails should take between two to three hours to traverse. The trails are shared paths suitable for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Make sure you take a look at the Desalination Plant while you are there. You cannot enter the plant itself but you are able to walk around the front and take a close look at the amazing movable and reflective panels the line the side of the building.
The reserve is accessed from Lower Powlett Road. Take the signed turnoff to the Desalination Plant and drive a short way to a parking lot on the left just before you get to the plant itself. This is a marked bitumen car park. There are public toilets, a drinking tap and shaded picnic tables.
Never knew of this place. It sounds very much like 'my kind of place' - serenity and quiet... I will definitely make a visit one of these days when I can... Thank you for your article Gayle, I NEED to go and see the birds.