Tom Parkinson's monthly column, introducing the diverse range of flora and fauna on show at Sanctuary Lakes.

At this time of year when Sanctuary Lakes flora and fauna are in the midst of a wellearned restful hibernation, I normally write a piece on our past history. But this year
I thought it might be fun, particularly in these uncertain Covid 19 times, to reverse that thought and gaze through the crystal ball into the future. The Sanctuary Lakes Estate is now over twenty years old, what will it be like in a further twenty years’ time?

What will our future Estate inherit? Beside the architecture and layout, the absolute stand out are and will be, the thousands of maturing trees. To see a foretaste of that future we only have to turn into our Resort’s entrance and see the welcoming sight of our magnificent river gum trees

Sanctuary Lakes Entrance Boulevard

This woodland vision is already starting to be echoed in various maturing groups of trees around the Estate. Not only are they becoming visually beneficial but there are other benefits that are starting to stack up. The USA University of Illinois research found that people living in large housing estates surrounded by multitudes of trees felt emotionally and physically healthier than those in developments with limited or no trees. Large tree number around estates also gave dwellers the feeling of safety and reported 52% less crime. A Japanese University study found that multitudes of trees close to homes had beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate and the immune systems.

Not only are the maturing tree copses benefiting the human residents, but as can be seen around the Resort, there is an influx of new bird species that are enjoying nesting and living their life cycles around and within our Resort’s trees.

Our Parks and Gardens are also starting to come of age. Later this financial year SLRS will be commissioning a new landscape master plan to refresh and update our open spaces, creating new ways for Sanctuary Lakes residents to occupy and enjoy them.

St Andrews Square Gardens

As always, the Landscapers guiding instructions, is to promote a ‘holiday’ and social atmosphere within the Parks and Gardens by varied vegetation planting and creating open communal spaces that can be used recreationally. It is within these open areas that the use and occupancy should reflect our demographics. Already out-door gym equipment is being installed in certain Gardens. Maybe that could be extended to outdoor social seating for our broader aging community. The younger demographic might favour a linking skate board track.

The Good Samaritan Beach

Another important communal space in our Estate are the Lakeside Parks and Beaches. Some of the older BBQ areas are starting to need refreshing. The seats and tables could also do with a relook, as could their positioning. The majority of the trees and plants are satisfactorily maturing, but we need to encourage more community involvement. Children love running up and down the sand, maybe we could attract adults to enjoy playing on the beach. Besides the out-door gym equipment already in place, adding recreational facilities could be another way.

Regatta Beach

Regatta Beach has successfully created a Volley Ball area that might be good to extend to other beaches. Likewise, an area for Petanque (French Bowls) could fit comfortably within some of the Resort’s smaller sandy coves and lakeside parks.

In todays world of lockdowns, we are all finding a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure exercising within our Estate. In the future I feel our Parks, Gardens and Beaches will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but could be well-used, common areas for social community enjoyment.

In the last couple of years, the Lake seems to have attracted more bird life, with a number of visiting shore and water birds now becoming permanent residents. Besides the regular large flocks of Gulls and Coots, the increase in Swans, Pelicans and Cormorants has been almost dramatic. Darters, Ibis, Egrets and Spoonbills are also starting to take up residency along with the Purple Swamphens. The only reason for these new neighbours’ permanent residency is that our Lake is brimming with good healthy food. The shoals of Bream, Flat Heads, Hardy Head and various varieties of Seagrasses are all adding to the Lake’s success.

Any future physical changes to our Lake will come from outside factors. The Wetlands and Port Phillip Bay to the waterholes around Jamison Way and Skeleton Creek all of whom source the lakes water supply. Also, we might find that the Lake’s Seagrass could be commercially viable.

This month Wyndham City Council have endorsed a management plan for our marine and coastline. Although the plan does not directly affect Sanctuary Lakes itself, I think it is going to have a major influence on our Estate in the near and distant future.

The Sanctuary Lakes Estate, Coastline and Cheetham Wetlands

The plan, which was developed by community consultants, will over the next five years spend 14 million dollars protecting our coastline through revegetation, erosion prevention and other conservation works. The Key to the plan is a pedestrian and cyclist’s paved trail starting at Laverton Creek by the Truganina Park where a recreation of the local pre-European landscape can be seen.

The pathway then ventures down towards the fringes of Sanctuary Lakes via the Skeleton Creek weir. Here we can see two important landscapes, the remaining sea pans of the Cheetham Salt Works and the turn of the 21st century housing estate Sanctuary Lakes. The track then follows the Estate’s fringes passing through the wetlands by the Bird Watching Tower and towards the Point Cook Homestead. The Trail will then turn westerly past the Airport and down to Campbell’s Cove and finishing at Werribee South where it meets the Werribee River Trail. The Plan also incorporates Picnic and BBQ areas, Parking and other accessible amenities.

Residents of Sanctuary Lakes to date have had just one entrance via Point Cook Road. This new plan will give a charming and secluded second. A “Back Garden” entrance.

And we all know that Back Garden stories are far juicier than Front Door yarns.