The Boardwalk (on MCAS grounds) is open to the public at all times. Groups visiting may wish to access the Interpretative Centre which may be used as a Training Centre for any groups connecting with the Focus Farm and the Wetland. The Centre can be booked by phoning 8556 8219.
The Mount Compass Wetlands Boardwalk is a 730 metres long boardwalk over a swamp along the creek on the outskirts of Mount Compass. The boardwalk meanders along through very wet areas, across natural drainage lines and over seasonally dry areas. The more recent 100 metre extension of the Boardwalk to Arthur Road now provides easy access. This small but important wetand contains many rare, vulnerable and endangered plants. Over 100 plants have been identified in the swamp. Unusual birds frequent the area: the shy, endangered Southern Emu Wren is a permanent inhabitant. Rare and delicate orchids and ferns have also been found scattered throughout this fascinating wetland. The Boardwalk provides easy, damage-free access to this interesting and important swamp at Mount Compass.
IMPORTANCE OF WETLANDS
Wetlands are areas of land that are permanently or temporarily waterlogged or under shallow water. Wetland areas are very important for several reasons:
• wetlands provide vital habitats for many of our unique native plants and animals. Wetlands provide food, water and shelter for a wide variety of plants and animals. They are homes, breeding grounds and refuges for many fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The protection of these wetlands, like the Mount Compass Swamp, plays a key role in attempts to conserve rare and endangered native species by preserving their natural habitat.
• wetlands function as water filters. They have the special ability to remove pollutants from stormwater by various physical, chemical and biological means.
• wetlands help with flood control. They can act like natural sponges, absorbing large volumes of water during heavy rains and later releasing it during dry periods.
In the past, wetlands were often viewed as useless wastelands to be drained, filled and reduced in area so that their character changed, native vegetation and wildlife was harmed, and water quality was reduced. These days the value of wetlands has been realised and many people are working together to protect and conserve our wetland areas for everybody’s benefit.
BIRDS AND ANIMALS OF THE BOARDWALK
The Mount Compass Swamp is home to many different birds and animals because it includes a wide variety of habitats that provide food, water and a place to shelter or hide. Many larger birds, including the Sacred Ibis, Great Egret, White-faced Heron and Masked Lapwing are only visitors searching for food in the swamp. Smaller birds such as wrens, warblers, grassbirds and the rare Southern Emu Wren will find food and nest in the swamp. Most swamp animals are naturally shy, secretive creatures but if you walk the boards quietly and listen carefully, you may be fortunate to see an Easter Water Skink or Swamp Rat.
Special thanks to Mick Owers who supplied most of the photographs for the birds and animals section.
PLANTS OF THE BOARDWALK
Rushes and sedges are plants especially adapted to live along the edge of shallow swamps partially submerged in water. Their tall, slender, round or flat, stem and sheathing leaves grow upright out of the mud of the swamp forming thick masses of mobile green vegetation, that moves with the wind, and provides shelter for the birds and animals that live in the swamp. Their root system is shallow, serving only to anchor the plant in the swamp without wasting energy growing deeper in search of the minerals that do not exist in the poor swamp soil. Instead, the lower stems of the rushes and sedges are able to absorb mineral nutrients directly our of the swamp water, thereby greatly reducing the level of mineral nutrients in the swamp water. It is this process, together with the ability of the dense reed beds of rushes and sedges to slow down the movement of water through wetland areas, that improves the quality of the water as it passes through the swamp. Water leaving the swamp is cleaner and purer than water entering the swamp.