The 50 ha Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve consists of open grasslands for passive recreation, two wetland lakes, the salt marsh and mangrove conservation area, Wader Beach and the Kororoit Creek.
The open area to the north of the lakes includes the Bay trail for cyclists and walkers together with seating, playgrounds and native planting's.
Panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay, Point Cook, the You Yangs, Altona and the Bellarine Peninsula can be seen from the reserve on clear days.
The open grassland areas of the reserve connect with the Rifle Range housing estate via its paths, playgrounds and open grassland areas.
The reserve stretches from Bayview Street to Maddox Road, south of Kororoit Creek Road in Williamstown. Access to the site can be achieved by the Bay Trail which has side tracks leading visitors to viewing points at several places in the reserve before it crosses the lower lake in a boardwalk on its way to Altona.
Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, named after a small promontory known as 'The Jawbone: protects a variety of coastal and marine habitats. The sanctuary is significant as a scientific reference area for marine plants and animals. The species here were relatively untouched for over 100 years during the operation of the Merrett Rifle Range.
Thirty hectares and almost two kilometres of coastline have been set aside to protect the sanctuary's natural, cultural and recreational values.The Sanctuary has intertidal and subtidal basalt reefs that support dense and diverse algae communities, numerous fish and invertebrate species.
Jawbone Marine Sanctuary's unique community of mangroves, considered unusual because of their growth amongst basalt rocks are one of few stands of mangroves in Port Phillip and of state significance. Along with intertidal saltmarsh and mangroves, mudflats and seagrass beds, the reefs provide important habitat for many species including seabirds and shorebirds.
The wetlands at Jawbone Reserve provide habitat for water birds. The type of birds seen vary with the weather conditions.
You may see:
Purple swamphens, stilts, grebes, coots and dusky moorhens in the reeds
Waterfowl such as black ducks and black swans searching for plants or small water bugs
Pelicans, terns and gulls visiting to rest after feeding offshore
Cormorants on the rocks drying their wings after diving for fish
Shorebirds is a general term to describe a number of bird species found frequently on beaches. coastlines and inland shores. These birds feed by wading in shallow waters and probing into the water or sand for insects and crustaceans.
Hobsons Bay is home to five significant sites which provide important habitat for a large number of resident and migratory shorebirds. These sites are Truganina Parklands in Altona, Altona Coastal Park, Sandy Point, Paisley Challis Wetlands, Rifle Range and Jawbone Reserve in Williamstown.
Resident shorebirds can be observed in Hobsons Bay all year round. They move from place to place for breeding, feeding or roosting but, unlike migratory shorebirds, they do not travel large distances following seasonal changes. The red-capped plover with its reddish chestnut crown is a common sight in Hobsons Bay along wetland and mudflats while black-winged stilts hang around in large groups and can be recognised by their thin red legs and high pitched barking call.
Migratory shorebirds use the summers of both southern and northern hemispheres to conduct their life cycle. During their non-breeding phase they inhabit the southern hemisphere in flocks, arriving in Hobsons Bay in September and feeding mainly on small creatures living in mudflats at important sites including internationally recognised Cheetham Wetlands and Truganina Parklands at the mouth of the Laverton Creek.
In April, these birds fly from their Australian feeding grounds to breed in the tundra areas of the northern hemisphere such as Siberia and Alaska. These birds range from the smallest, the red-necked stint, weighing no more than two fifty cent pieces, to the largest of the waders, the eastern curlew, which feed on small crabs and molluscs with their long down-curved bills.
There are other important birds that share this habitat. The pelican, black swan and cormorant are examples of highly adaptive all rounders and can be found along our shorelines, waterways and unique parklands throughout much of the year. Shorebirds are sensitive indicators of change in their environment and can provide early warnings of environmental problems including those caused by climate change and deteriorating habitat quality. Threats to shorebirds and their habitat in Hobsons Bay include loss Of coastal and inland wetlands, invasive weeds, introduced predators, human-related disturbance and climate change.
Access for Dogs:
Dogs are required to be on leash in the Jawbone Reserve and in some areas, the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, they are prohibited.
An interesting area to explore with grassy areas to walk through plus the protected Flora and Fauna Reserve which includes an Arboretum.
There are a number of access points to the reserve including Mullins Court and along Crofton Drive.
A 2.3km long path winds through the reserve which starts in the east at Bayview Street and continues all the way to Maddox Road next to the J T Gray Reserve.
Along the path there are seats and rubbish bins. For the kids, there are a couple of playgrounds at the south east end of Crofton Drive and the north west corner of Crofton Drive.
For thousands of years the western volcanic plains were a mosaic of grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, brackish wetlands and saltmarshes. The arboretum contains a number of plants indigenous to these vegetation communities. It shows how individual elements like plants, soil structure, and microorganisms work together to form a healthy ecosystem. The plants also provide a valuable habitat for native fauna.
There is a boardwalk Arboretum which has some tracks running through it which has a range of different vegetation which is labelled. There are a wide range of plant communities including woodland (Golden Wattle, Hop Bush and Sweet Bursaria), Shrubland (Seaberry Saltbush and Nodding Saltbush), Saltmarsh (Rounded-noon Flower, Austral Seablite and Shrubby Glasswort), Grassland (Blue Devil, Coastal-tussock grass and Red-leg grass), Riparian (River Red Gum, Common Tussock-grass and Tall Sedge) and Brackish Wetland (Cumbungi, Water Ribbons and Creeping Monkey-flower).
Snakes occur naturally in this area. To avoid snakes keep to the path and if you see a snake remain calm and avoid disturbing it. There is a boardwalk you can walk on to get into an area with saltmarsh plants.
Overall there are lots of water birds to see and information boards about the environment, especially around the lagoons in the north west of the reserve.