When Ian and Roma Edwards moved to their Jan Juc cliff-top home, a damaged landscape marred their stunning views.
So they did something about it, initiating Victoria’s first coast action group.
With a stream of dedicated local volunteers pitching in over the 25 years since, Jan Juc Coast Action has transformed a dry scrubland blanketed with weeds into an indigenous grassland.
When the Edwards arrived in Jan Juc, a dirt road traced the cliffs and people would regularly camp up there.
“We’re trying to return to the coastline vegetation that would have been here in the 1800s when Bass and Flinders went past,” Ian said.
“Since then, a lot of bad has been done. Introducing sheep and cattle, panel vans and 4WDs, litter and tracks all over the place.”
Teaming up with local horticulturalist Graeme Stockton, the Edwards – together with a handful of neighbours – began by hacking away at the dominant woody weeds.
Their efforts left bare areas in need of vegetation, but no funding to purchase the plants required. This was achieved with state government support to formalise and fund the group.
Since that group of 40 people in 1994, Jan Juc Coast Action now has a mailing list of 90, with about a dozen volunteers turning up to the regular monthly working bee.
“Planting is just the start. The rest is maintenance and that’s just hard, hands and knees, dirt-under-the-fingernails work,” Ian said.
Asked what keeps him motivated Ian explains, “When we look through photographs and are reminded of what it was like, you think, ‘Wow, this has been worthwhile’.”
Roma described the Jan Juc cliff-top as a special place, adding it felt good to make a difference.
“There are a lot of people who use the tracks and I would like to think they would be willing to come and help with their upkeep,” Roma said.
Jan Juc Coast Action meets on the first Sunday of the month, popping up in spots spanning the 5km from Rocky Point to the concrete wave at the start of the Bells Reserve. It also accepts help from schools and corporate groups, enabling mass plantings.
To find out where the next working bee will be, phone Ian on 0428 614 861. Bring your own gloves. Tools and morning tea provided.