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Coolart Wetlands & Homestead

Coolart Wetlands & Homestead

Name of organisation: Parks Victoria

Funding support: Victorian Government, Friends of Coolart

Number of staff: 3.2

Number of visitors per year: 40,000

Overall aims of the centre

Conservation and education

Description of the centre

Coolart Wetlands and Homestead (87ha) is located on the Mornington Peninsula, at Somers, approximately 65 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. Within the Reserve are important built and natural features including a variety of historical settings, the Homestead, gardens, outbuildings, farmland and farm buildings.

The wetlands support a wide varity of water birds reflecting the diversity of habitats in different parts of the wetlands.On the lagoon can be found Australian White Ibis and Straw-necked Ibis which breed there, 4 species of cormorant, and up to ten species of duck. Crakes, rails and reed warblers inhabit the reed beds and various species of heron, egret and spoonbill and waterhens can be seen. Several species of birds of prey can be seen including Swamp Harrier, Brown Goshawk, Black-shouldered Kite and the occasional Wedge-tailed eagle and White-bellied Sea Eagle. The Ibis colony represent one of Coolart’s key visitor attractions and are promoted for nature based recreation and education uses. The Reserve contains five vegetation communities, including an area of remnant coastal banksia/manna gum woodland. A good day’s birdwatching at Coolart can yeild a tally of over 60 species.

Main CEPA work areas

Visitor Centre with various interpretive displays. Information boards, Timelines Calender (current flora and fauna sightings and activity),  identification charts in bird hides. Binoculars and bird identification charts available for visitors to borrow. Junior Ranger programs. Conservation field days and seminars – mostly aimed at volunteer community groups.Teachers resource kit for schools including information booklet and activity sheets. Audio-visual presentation on Coolart’s history and wildlife. Bird surveys

Top three successes

Information boards – visitors like to have up to date information on what they might see and what is happening, they like the hand written notes as it gives a personal touch to the information.

Junior Ranger Program – Engaging with children and encouraging their interest in the natural world, great response from children to the activities (bird watching, bush detective).

Taxidermied birds and feather display – Visitors are fascinated by how birds are built and having mounted specimens gives them a chance to really study the birds and have a good look at shape, beaks, feet and plumage. The positive response to the taxidermied birds really surprised me.

The feather display consists of feathers that have been picked up, photo-copied and the photo-copied shape cut out and the name of the bird written on the photo-copy which is then stapled to the feather and hung on a string line. It’s a simple thing but people love looking at the different types of feathers.

Top three challenges

Brian Thomas, Coolart Wetlands & Homestead, Lord Somers Road, Somers, Victoria, Australia. email: bthomas@parks.viv.gov.au    Phone:03 5931 4000

Interpretation techniques

Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools; Developing nature trails

Visitor centres

Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures

Participation

Engaging young people; Engaging the local community;

Working with volunteers

Education and communication

Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools;Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials

General

Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety; Fund-raising; Project planning.

Brian Thomas, Coolart Wetlands & Homestead, Lord Somers Road, Somers, Victoria, Australia. email: bthomas@parks.viv.gov.au Phone:03 5931 4000

Website address: www.parkweb.viv.gov.au

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