See our swamp history page here...
The LIDAR image below this text shows elevations. Blue is low and red is high. Dark blue is sea level. See an enlarged legend below the image
It shows the current extent of the 4.5km long wetland (extending south over Limestone Road, Boneo) and its very low elevation is clearly visible as the same dark blue colour as the beaches
A dark blue broken line deep in the Capel Sound dune system shows the old Chinamans Creek course lying to the west of the current man-made channel. Below that is the former shire tip and current Truemans Rd recreation complex, on infilled former swampland
The central part of the picture shows ridges of the aeolian calcareous (made from shells) sand dunes of the Cups landform
Coastal Moonah Woodland occurs on these sand ridges and the lower frost-prone depressions (in light blue) of the cups once supported grassland vegetation with scattered Sheoak, Banksia and Wirilda Wattles (Smythe 1846)
The Boneo plain begins at the right edge (in pale yellow)
The elevated area at top right is the Rosebud South acid sands land formation and the parallel bay dune deposits that Rosebud, Tootgarook and Rye are built on, are obvious
2,000 years ago, the swamp and those town sites were under the sea, which was up to 1.5 metres higher for 5,000 years until it receded to it's eventual present level, leaving behind the series of low parallel dunes in the process
Click on the map to view a zoomable version with main roads marked or go to this page to see more detailed LIDAR images of the swamp
All but invisible to peninsula residents and visitors alike, the greater Tootgarook/Boneo wetland complex has suffered considerable attrition since European settlement of the area, but is still an important and uniquely biodiverse wetland system
See this page for the list of significant natural attributes including 8 endangered vegetation communities
Classified by DSE as a Shallow Freshwater Marsh, a wetland type that now only covers 15% of it's original extent in the Port Philip Region, it is of geological interest for it's peat, limestone and marl* (used as a fertiliser and soil conditioner)
Marl and limestone were mined in the past with a tramway running down Truemans Road to a jetty on the bay
Marks' lime kiln was apparently situated on the original course of Chinaman's Creek in the vicinity of the small Tootgarook Wetland Reserve (top left corner of the photograph)
Aboriginal artifacts have been found in the past and formal digs have merely confirmed that swamp edges were very popular home locations for the "Old People"
Fed by Drum Drum Alloc# Creek, from the Rosebud sands to the east, and draining into the bay by the original course of Chinamans Creek, the two waterways have long been linked by a constructed^ drain and the Chinamans Creek Drain runs south to north through the centre of the wetland. The wetland acts as a retarding basin, protecting low-lying residential land between it and Port Phillip Bay (see photo below)
Once covering 800 hectares, today just 450 hectares remain (Condina, 1997) and most is in private hands and much of that is subject to grazing and other pressures
Introduced species and incremental development encroachments (see picture at left) continue to further erode the wetland's total area, habitat and biodiversity
The majority of the remaining 300 hectares is recognised by DSE as a biosite of state significance and supports flora and fauna and EVCs of state and regional significance
If the proposed Mornington Peninsula freeway proceeds (the reservation alignment can be seen entering the wetland at top right) there will be damage done to the biodiversity values as well as having hydrological impacts through bisecting the swamp with a major embankment
Above: 1991. Much of the left foreground has now been filled in and developed
A 1997 report calculated that future planned infill developments, including a freeway embankment, would eventually substantially reduce the flood retarding capacity
SPIFFA opposes ANY development of low-lying flood-prone land, for many reasons
The practice of filling in or "reclaiming" remnant biodiverse ephemeral wetland areas for municipal waste landfill (as has happened here) or for profit from commercial developments or for any other reason, is an environmental anachronism and has no place in modern land use and planning schemes
The greater swamp area is currently under a barely adequate Environmental Significance Overlay in the shire planning scheme (ESO14)
Up until now, the swamp has never been subject to a Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO) (a floodplain) in the shire planning scheme
Late in 2010, Melbourne Water, as the waterways authority, requested that the land be so classified and the shire is still prevaricating over the MW assessment of an inundation area of over 800 hectares (see the map at right) and council cogs are still slowly turning at the time of writing (April 2011)
There is evidence of intense pressure from vested interests to either frame the LSIO so that it doesn't in any way impede infill developments or sink it altogether
Left: an enlargement of the LIDAR map legend
* From F. Chapman - An Ostracod and Shell-marl of Pleistocene age from Boneo Swamp, west of Cape Schanck, Victoria.
"This deposit of marl, which does not now appear to be subject to tidal influence, contains an interesting fauna of fresh- and salt-water Ostracoda, and swamp, land, and marine shells.
Two of the Ostracods are new. Cypris tenuisculpta, and Limnicythere sicula.
It is probable that in late Pliocene and on to Pleistocene times this area was connected with N. W. Tasmania, as an emergence of Bass Strait of 40 fathoms would show the earliest land connection at these points. This theory is supported by the occurrence of Limnicythere both at Boneo and Mowbray Swamps"
# Alloc meaning lagoon (Blake, 1977) of which there were several upstream - download Victorian Coastal Place Names from this page
^ A reference to Edward Williams, the contractor who constructed the drains is in this PDF file about heritage houses in Boneo