By Jack White
Over the past 40 years, Newport Lakes has established itself as an urban oasis of bushland that attracts visitors both local and from surrounding areas. Now more than ever, the reserve is a reminder of the value and importance of biodiversity, the beauty of our indigenous environment and the need to protect and preserve these precious sites.
The setting of the reserve transports visitors to places only found in parts of Victoria many hours outside of Melbourne’s limits. Spread over 30 hectares are scenic walking trails bordered by native trees and shrubbery, broad vistas of open water frequented by a wide variety of bird species, and an Arboretum containing a mix of European and American plant life. In addition, an on-site local nursery provides one-of-a-kind access to quality indigenous flora that can be brought home by members of the gardening public.
The character of Newport Lakes is unique, owing to its origin as a bluestone quarry site and later as a refuse tip for the City of Williamstown in the 1970s. The function of the site is written into its topography, with undulating grounds and a feeling of being enclosed by nature. Through a long history of local advocacy, environmental conservation and extensive revegetation, the reserve is now a proud testament to community goodwill and an appreciation for access to nature in urban spaces.
During the pandemic lockdown period, the reserve provided solace to those lucky to sit within its five kilometre radius. Now that the world is re-emerging, there is a renewed interest in grassroots projects and time spent in nature. The Friends of Newport Lakes, in collaboration with Hobsons Bay City Council, has been ahead of the curve in this respect. Since 1997, these two entities have been aligned as stewards of the reserve by collaborating on community planting days and working bees. For many local residents, the opportunity to give back to their community and engage with nature brings joy, connection and a sense of purpose.
To keep Newport Lakes as a beautiful and unique bushland oasis for all to enjoy, visitors are encouraged to follow some simple rules. Dogs are to be kept outside of the conservation areas that are signed in the reserve, in order to protect the local fauna. Although it can be done with good intentions, birds shouldn’t be fed by members of the public. This discourages their natural foraging instincts and is an inappropriate food source for the indigenous species. Instead, why not bring along a camera or pair of binoculars, and enjoy the sight of eurasian coots swimming with their chicks (endearingly called “cooties”) or Superb Fairy-wren twirling from branch to branch? (There are signposts and information boards to help with your bird spotting.)
By engaging with nature, respecting its beauty and taking on a “leave no trace” approach, visitors will ensure that Newport Lakes continues to thrive as a much loved and one-of-a-kind natural site for all to enjoy. If you would like to get directly involved with conservation and sustainability efforts at the Newport Lakes, there is more information about monthly events held with the Friends of Newport Lakes and Hobsons Bay City Council below. Photo submissions from your visits to the reserve are always welcome via social media, too.
Hobson’s Bay City Council volunteering calendar: https://www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/Community/Conservation/Conservation-volunteering
Newport Lakes is located off Lakes Drive, Newport
Melways Ref: 55 G3
The reserve is open to pedestrians at all hours.