Bunurong Coastal


The Bunurong Coastal local area includes the Country of the Bunurong Traditional Owners and the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners. At present, there are parts of the local area where formal recognition is not in place. Traditional Owners have a deep and continuing connection to the land and waters of the area and have an ongoing role in caring for Country.

The Bunurong Coastal local area extends from the rugged coastline and sandy inlets to the Strzelecki Ranges. Much of the area was cleared following European settlement and remaining vegetation is highly fragmented. The area has high and generally reliable rainfall providing runoff to the rivers and creeks that flow to the coast.

Major towns in the local area include Wonthaggi, Inverloch, Korumburra, Leongatha, Meeniyan and Fish Creek. The close proximity of the area to Melbourne has driven population growth in this area, resulting in development pressure and a changing demographic1.

There is a vibrant and active network of volunteers in the area and community interest in environmental stewardship is high. Landcare volunteers and groups in the local area are supported by the Bass Coast Landcare Network and the South Gippsland Landcare Network. Community led projects include long-term revegetation and weed control activities in the Powlett and Tarwin catchments and pest control and coastal adaptation projects associated with Anderson Inlet and the coast.

The major river systems in the catchment are the Tarwin River and the Powlett River. The Powlett River’s main tributary is Foster Creek. The Tarwin River divides into two branches (east and west) as well as receiving flows from its main tributaries: Coalition, Wilkur, Berrys and Fish Creeks2.

Water is a valuable resource in the catchment supporting agriculture, domestic and urban consumption and the environment. Lance Creek reservoir is an important asset supplying water to Wonthaggi, Cape Paterson, Inverloch and Korumburra. There is no environmental water held in the South Gippsland basin, however there is other water in the system that contributes to environmental outcomes3.

The Wonthaggi desalination plant is the largest in Australia and can deliver up to 150 billion litres per year to supplement Melbourne’s water supply. Improvements to South Gippsland Water’s infrastructure and connection to Melbourne’s supply system to supplement Lance Creek Reservoir has provided a more reliable supply of water, particularly during periods of drought.

The land and soils of the Tarwin and Powlett catchments are highly valued for supporting agricultural production and threatened vegetation. Whilst the soil is susceptible to acidity, it is largely intact where managed appropriately. Upper reaches of the catchment can be erosive4.

Major coastal wetlands and estuaries include the Powlett River estuary, Anderson Inlet and Shallow Inlet, all of which are listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands Australia. Shallow Inlet is an internationally important shorebird site in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway4.

The marine and coastal environment includes extensive intertidal rock platforms and sub-tidal rocky reefs, which are home to diverse ecological communities. It contains fossil sites of international and national significance and areas of cultural heritage sensitivity. The seagrass and saltmarsh communities found within the area provide habitat for migratory waders, resident birds and native fish.

The Bunurong Coastal local area contains important areas of fragmented habitat including along the Bass Coast, the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park and the Shallow Inlet barrier. These areas are valued for the recreational opportunities they provide and the threatened species they support5. Infrastructure planning for the new Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park is currently being finalised. The park extends along 40km of coastline between San Remo and Inverloch incorporating and extending existing reserves and improving facilities and access to the coast.

In the coastal hinterland rare freshwater wetlands such as Bald Hills Wetland provide habitat connectivity and support a range of bird species and threatened vegetation communities in a largely agricultural environment. Roadside vegetation reserves also contribute to the network of native vegetation and habitat providing a framework for connecting vegetation across the landscape5.

Collaborative action for Biodiversity

The local area incorporates the Bunurong Coast and Western Strzeleckis landscape areas for Biodiversity Response Planning.

The Bunurong Coast is a focus area due to the high biodiversity values and the potential to effectively address threats to flora and fauna. The area supports an array of diverse native flora and fauna, including threatened species such as Eastern Spider-Orchid, Powerful Owl and Hooded Plover. Important vegetation communities in the priority landscape include Coastal Moonah Woodland (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victorian)) and Sub Tropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Federal))6.