By Sandra Aloi
You’ve probably heard of the Orange-bellied Parrot. It occasionally makes the news when developers try to build infrastructure in its flight path.
Well now the rare and critically endangered bird from south-west Tasmania is setting up temporary residence at the Melbourne Water Western Treatment Plant on Wadawurrung Country in Werribee.
There are fewer than 100 Orange-bellied Parrots remaining in the wild. They travel across the Bass Strait every year to roost and feed at the Werribee Plant, which is a haven for birds due to the water supply, diverse plants, and a variety of landforms.
Sightings of the rare species highlights the importance of preserving aquatic ecosystems amid an increasing population (especially in the western suburbs) and climate change.
As an internationally significant wetland under the Ramsar Convention, the Western Treatment Plant is one of the only wetlands in Australia which actively manages artificial ponds for migratory birds and other species.
It’s incredibly special to be visited by the Orange-bellied Parrot at this time of year and unlike other places in Victoria they visit, they will stay here for the entire winter before returning to south-west Tasmania in summer to breed.
The Western Treatment Plant treats half of Melbourne’s sewage through a world-leading environmentally friendly process.
Across more than 10,000 hectares of land – about the size of Phillip Island – sewage flows through a series of lagoons where bacteria gradually break down organic material. As efficiency at the plant improves, lagoons that are no longer required for sewage treatment are purposefully managed to create the ideal habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Melbourne Water is transforming the sewerage system to best recover waste, turning it into water, nutrients, and energy ready for reuse. It considers it part of its unique role as caretakers of the water cycle to enrich the plant’s biodiversity, making sure to preserve and improve this gem of the west.
Small group tours and birdwatching permits are available at the Western Treatment Plant. Call or visit – melbournewater.com.au/services/licences-and-permits/birdwatching-Access