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Wonthaggi, Baxter Wetlands Bird Hide

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Free | Fun Things To Do
by Gayle Beveridge (subscribe)
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 December 31st 2014
Relax and Revive with these Beautiful Birds
A Free Day Out for Young and Old

Armed with our camera, a set of binoculars and a monopod and despite the heat of a 30 degree day we arrive at the Baxter Wetlands in Wonthaggi. We are headed for the bird hide, our appetite for birdwatching having been piqued at the Mathoura Reed Beds Bird Hide in New South Wales.

great egret, egret, birdwatching, baxter wetlands, wonthaggi
A Great Egret displaying breeding plumage.

The Baxter Wetlands are in Wonthaggi at the western end of Campbell Street just past the Chisolm Road intersection, and are one of a number of birding sites around the town. We can hear bird song as we start along the trail, wrens I think, but I cannot see them. There are butterflies in abundance.

baxter wetlands, wonthaggi, birdhide,
The trail to the bird hide.

The trail runs through regenerated bush and is gently undulating. Large patches of ferns cover the ground and banksia grow amongst the eucalypt. Magpies and Wattlebirds are prevalent. I had heard kangaroos were common here but they are no doubt more sensible than us and have retreated from the heat.

The bird hide is at the bottom of a fairly steep slope which may present a challenge to the elderly or unfit. As we approach a Great Egret is coming in to land. A long fence of shade cloth shields walkers from view. The hide has a board seat and a foot rest and would comfortably seat two at once, perhaps three. Alongside the hide a short brush fence presents gaps through which the birds can be viewed.

baxter wetlands, birdhide, wonthaggi
The Baxter Wetlands and bird hide.

The wetlands stretch out in front of the hide, an expanse of water dotted with reeds and nesting boxes. The six wind turbines of the Wonthaggi Wind Farm can be seen behind distant trees.

On top of many of the nesting boxes Pacific Black Ducks lounge in the sun. In the distance the Egret stands atop another. It has its breeding plumage and the soft white filaments blow in the breeze. A magnificent sight.

Pacific black duck, Baxter wetlands, wonthaggi, birdhide
Pacific Black Ducks.
Black Swans glide gracefully across the water, stopping occasionally to groom themselves. Welcome Swallows dart about. A Little Black Cormorant dives and afterwards dries his outstretched wings, perched atop one of the boxes.

black swan, swan, Baxter wetlands, wonthaggi, birdhide
A Black Swan.

A dragonfly buzzes past the hide and on the floor a beetle struggles with a leaf twice its size. There are webs in the corner but we don't see any spiders. Flies drone in and out. Thankfully our Aerogard is working.

cormorant, baxter wetlands, birdhide, wonthaggi
A Little Black Cormorant.

A Purple Swamphen darts out of reeds beside the hide. It only stays in the open for a moment, too quick to be photographed but patience pays off. A pair venture out later and we have our picture.

swamphen, baxter wetlands, wonthaggi, birdwatching
A Purple Swamphen.

Happy with our sightings we pack up for the drive home. The hide is noted for its excellent morning sightings and a local told us the birdwatching along the trail between five and seven in the evening was also good.

The Baxter Wetlands Bird Hide is at the western end of Campbell Street just past the Chisolm Road intersection, in Wonthaggi. Wonthaggi is around an hour and 45 minutes from the Melbourne CBD via the South Gippsland and Bass Highways.

Entry to the reserve and the bird hide is free.

Any time, with morning and evening likely to yield the best sightings. I recommend daylight hours only.

What to Take
Sensible closed shoes, a hat, sunscreen lotion, insect repellent and bottled water. Just go for the walk and the birdwatching or take your camera, a tripod or monopod, and a pair of binoculars and if you're really serious, a bird field guide.

There is room to park off-road near the entrance.

There are no public toilets. Check the National Public Toilet Map for facilities around town.

More Information
Details of this and other birding areas in Wonthaggi and along the Bass Coast can be found at
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Why? A fun and relaxing day out.
When: Daylight Hours
Phone: 1300 854 334 Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre
Where: At the western end of Campbell Street just past the Chisolm Road intersection, in Wonthaggi. Wonthaggi is around an hour and 45 minutes from the Melbourne CBD via the South Gippsland and Bass Highways.
Cost: Free
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