1. Overview

The Mornington Peninsula has a diverse geological history with the granite intrusions at Arthurs Seat, Mt. Martha and Mt. Eliza, older volcanic basalt through Cape Schanck, Flinders, Red Hill and Shoreham and the younger calcareous dunes of the southern peninsula. Associated with this diversity of geology comes a rich array of vegetation communities, abundant wildlife and wetland ecosystems.

2. Portsea Lagoon

Portsea Lagoon is one of the three remaining dunal depressions on the Nepean Peninsula. The lagoon is a natural ephemeral wetland which is due to seasonal variations in both groundwater elevation and weather patterns. Following a dry spell the lagoon fills up with water and after a couple of weeks of inundation the wetland plants grow and the aquatic insects hatch out attracting a wide collection of bird species.

From the viewing platform off Ibis Way in Portsea, the elegant Black Winged Stilts can be seen foraging for aquatic food within the shallows, duck species like the blue Billed Ducks can be observed diving for food in deeper water, Heron species can be seen hunting for amphibians and Eurasian Coot nests made from reeds can be seen floating on top of the deeper water

You can visit Portsea Lagoon all year round. It is located at 13 Ibis Way Portsea. 

3. Western Port Wetland Walks

The wetlands fringing Western Port are internationally protected for the large number of native birds, animals and plants that call them home as well as migratory birds that stopover on their global journeys. They also present some stunning nature walks that are easily accessible and ideal for bird-watching.

When visiting a wetland, remember to avoid disturbing birds – they are likely nesting or recovering from long migratory journeys; obey regulations relating to access and dog walking; and take your rubbish home, especially fishing lines and plastics.

Here are some of the best walks in the Western Port Ramsar wetlands, as voted by wetland protection experts.

4. Bittern Coastal Wetlands Boardwalk (Mornington Peninsula)

This popular boardwalk showcases the southern-most mangroves in the world, with plenty of bird life and good views to French Island. The trail is shared by cyclists and walkers and runs from Western Port marina in Hastings to Jack’s Beach in Crib Point. 7kms return. Melway map 164.

5. French Island National Park

The northern area of the island has a ‘remote wilderness’ feel, yet is so close to Melbourne. Along the northern shore is one of the most extensive areas of saltmarsh and mangrove communities in Victoria. Large numbers of migratory wader birds visit, and the seagrass beds are nursery areas for fish such as King George Whiting, Bream and Mullet.
Take the passenger ferry from Stony Point. Bookings are essential. The trip takes about 12 minutes and delivers you to Tankerton Jetty on French Island. Melway map 195 and Page 18.

6. Warringine Park

Warringine Park is one of the best kept secrets on the Mornington Peninsula. It was declared a conservation park in 1994 and came under Mornington Peninsula Shire management in 2006. The park is divided into three sections: a Coastal Wetland, a Creekland and Woodland; all with their own special values.

The coastal wetlands form part of the internationally significant Western Port Ramsar site. To find out more visit our section on Warringine Park

7. Tootgarook Wetlands

Tootgarook Swamp was once the largest landmark on the southern end of the peninsula stretching almost the whole length between the bay and the ocean. The wetland is made of a special peat soil and used to be home to hundreds of species of native fauna, many now extinct in the area.

It is home to over 120 different bird species, some of which are endangered or threatened. Many are migratory and travel thousands of kilometres to the area to use breeding site and produce new generations of birds.

The Swamp contains many indigenous flora species which no longer readily occur on the peninsula. Visit the Friends of Tootgarook Wetland Reserves on Facebook and view further information below.

8. Friends Groups

Friends Groups consist of members of the local community who are the heart and soul of bushland reserves and wetlands. Friends Groups are people who, with the Shire’s consent, undertake activities to positively impact the environment. Mornington Peninsula Shire has more than 50 Friends Groups volunteering their time. Some members enjoy getting their hands dirty, some contribute by publishing the newsletter and some prefer to keep track of the dollars. You don’t need specific knowledge, just an enthusiasm and a love of the environment.

For a list with contact details, please visit our Environmental Care Volunteering in our section Volunteering  

9. Friends of Tootgarook Wetland Reserves

The friends group has two reserves that they work in, Tootgarook Wetland reserve and Sanctuary Park Bushland Reserve, both which make up a part of the greater Tootgarook Wetlands.

We welcome you to come along and learn about this unique swamp, help volunteer and make new friends at the Shire’s supported friend’s group days.
The group normally meets on the first Saturday of each month for weeding (except public holidays) at 10am.  The group also meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month for a Birdlife survey done in conjunction with Mornington Peninsula Shire.

For more information and details and confirmation of all upcoming events visit them on Facebook or contact Friends of Tootgarook Wetland Reserves:

Cameron Brown or Jessica Durrant via email tootgarookwetlandreserves@outlook.com

Melbourne Water video about wetlands and fauna.