Swan Bay and its islands are a natural environment of scientific value, archaeological significance, ecological diversity, economic importance and natural heritage value. Swan Bay is a shallow, 30-square-kilometre marine embayment at the eastern end of the Bellarine Peninsula in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia. The township of Queenscliff lies at its southern end and St Leonards at its northern.
Matthew Flinders named Swan Bay ‘Swan Ponds’, after its black swans. These birds occur in most seasons but their largest numbers, more than 2,500, can be seen in summer and early autumn. These are the only birds which graze the seagrass meadows and their presence in such large numbers attests to the richness of the area.
One of the most diverse ecosystems on the Victorian coast, Swan Bay supports a variety of native plants, invertebrates, fish and birds. Nearly 200 species of birds have been seen in Swan Bay. The intertidal mudflats of Swan Bay are home each summer to about 10,000 migratory waders such as plovers, sandpipers, godwits, knots and curlews.
The Bay is an important destination for many species which breed as far away as Siberia, Alaska and Japan. One of Australia’s most endangered birds, the orange-bellied parrot, flies to the Bay from its breeding grounds in south-west Tasmania to spend the winter and early spring. The area has been internationally recognised as a very significant habitat for waterbirds and is listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The Convention's mission is "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world".
In addition to the environmental values of the area, the great natural beauty of Swan Bay offers a wide range of passive recreation opportunities and educational activities. It is a good spot for canoeing, snorkelling and swimming on sheltered beaches, bird-watching, studying plants and wildflowers, or sketching and painting the many moods of the area.
Points of interest
|Swan Bay Environment Trail - Commencing from the end of Hesse Street, Queenscliff (over the railway line). Information leaflets are available at the commencement point and in King Street overlooking Swan Bay. Within this three-kilometre return walk there are three viewing platforms and a number of seats offering opportunities to view many species of bird life and vegetation.|
|Salt Marsh Gardens - At the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre (Victorian Fisheries Authority, Queenscliff). Information leaflets available at site.|
|Boardwalk and Viewing Platform - At the intersection of Ward and Murray Roads, Queenscliff.|
|Edwards Point Wildlife Reserve - Entrance from Beach Road via Cliff Street, St Leonards. Walk along the bush track and return via the beach to view diverse vegetation. Information leaflets available at site.|