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A plan for Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Council has adopted a new masterplan to guide the historic transformation of Elsternwick Park golf course into a natural oasis on our city’s doorstep.

The new Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve will bring nature back into our urban area, providing refuge and tranquillity for both wildlife and people.

Key proposed elements include a ‘chain of ponds’, expanded wetlands, grassy woodland and visitor facilities such as indigenous gathering places and a gateway feature building at the northern end of the reserve adjacent to Nepean Hwy.

Bayside Mayor, Cr Clarke Martin said the plan was strongly influenced by feedback from the broader community and a panel of community and Council/government agency members.

“We know from feedback gathered in early 2019 that our community has a strong vision for the new reserve as a natural, uncultivated space in our increasingly urbanised region,” Cr Martin said.

“This ten year plan will guide the transformation of the previous golf course into a wonderful, magical space for the community to enjoy while also creating a green lung and stormwater basin that is a refuge for biodiversity and nature”, he said.

Developing the design

The masterplan was developed following extensive community consultation in early 2019 and ongoing input from a Community Reference Panel.

The Community Reference Panel includes representatives of Elsternwick Park Association (EPA), Friends of Native Wildlife (FoNW), Port Phillip Eco Centre; and Elwood Flood Action Group (EFLAG) as well as the Cities of Bayside and Port Phillip.

The Panel consulted other stakeholder groups such as the Bayside Dog Alliance (BDA) and local indigenous groups, and has also received presentations from Melbourne Water and Wildlife Victoria.

Implementation of the masterplan

A ten year program of works is proposed to realise the vision for the reserve. Following Council’s adoption of the masterplan, work will now commence on the design and construction of the first stage including the chain of ponds.

Community feedback will be sought on the remaining stages and elements of the masterplan. The timing of this consultation will be confirmed later in 2020 depending on impacts of the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.

Given that the benefits of the new nature reserve will extend to the broader region, Bayside is seeking funding contributions from the City of Port Phillip and Melbourne Water to implement the masterplan.

Elements of the design

The masterplan adopted by Council creates a blueprint for the nature reserve with four key objectives.

Protect the natural environment and encourage biodiversity

The proposed design includes seven zones to provide a range of habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals:

  • Open water (permanent open water e.g. a small lake)
  • Tall marsh
  • Shallow wetlands (areas that can function when both wet and dry)
  • Swamp scrub
  • Damp sands herb-rich woodland
  • Grassy woodland
  • Grassland and native lawn.

It is proposed that the reserve will be open to the public during the day and closed at sunset each night to provide a protected space for wildlife.

Community and visitor facilities

The proposed design provides visitors with infrastructure and opportunities to experience the various natural zones while also protecting areas with high environmental value. It includes:

  • Perimeter fencing with three major and six secondary entrances
  • North-south all-ability paths complemented by discovery paths to encourage exploration of the natural environment
  • Dedicated indigenous gathering spaces where people can congregate, share stories and socialise and provide space for indigenous and other events, such as ‘bush classrooms’
  • Spaces located on the edge of water bodies providing tranquil environments for groups to picnic, or individuals to read and relax.

With dedicated cycle paths outside the perimeter of the reserve, it is proposed that internal pathways are designed for sedate, discovery speeds.

Improving water quality in Elster Creek and Port Phillip Bay

A proposed wetland of approx. 5.5 hectares will contribute towards water quality improvements by reducing nitrogen content in water released into the Bay.

Reduce the risk of flood damage

A series of connected ponds to mitigate flooding has the potential to make a significant contribution to flooding but does not represent a complete solution for Elwood and Brighton.

As a result, Council is continuing to consult with Melbourne Water on options to achieve flood mitigation objectives. These include the removal of soil and/or increasing the capacity of below ground drainage running beneath the nature reserve into the Bay via Head Street.

It is anticipated that by June 2020 Melbourne Water will be able to confirm which option will be progressed over the next 2-3 years.

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Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve

The masterplan includes seven habitat zones including wetlands.

Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve masterplan proposed design

Discovery paths will encourage exploration of the various zones including the grassy woodland.

Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve masterplan proposed designA chain of ponds and wetland will provide a wonderful habitat for wildlife.