Byron Environment Centre: Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary

Back to home page

BEC logo
Click here to return to main web site home page

Cumbebin Wetlands: a tranquil sanctuary in the heart of Byron Bay

BOARDWALKThe Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary, at the corner of the market grounds in Byron Bay (see map below), is managed by the Byron Environment Centre on behalf of the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary Trust. The sanctuary is a pristine area that captures some of Byron's original environment.

A boardwalk offers visitors a glimpse of this natural paradise and seats have recently been installed so you can enjoy the tranquility of this peaceful oasis in the heart of Byron Bay.

The sanctuary has been created to protect an area of habitat for several threatened species.

The Sanctuary also encourages awareness through art and signage. A series of durable aluminum signs have been produced that are suitable to the acidic environment typical of these Melaluka wetlands. Through this imagery and text we hope to inform visitors of the value of these protected areas and of the imminent danger many native species now face.

Bat Boxes go inThe Eastern Long-eared bat, for example has to compete for habitat with urban development, loss of habitat to agriculture and introduced predators such as cats.

Another resident of the wetland is the Wallum Froglet. At only 15mm long, the presence of this rare creature is generally only recognized through its "tinkling" call. Wallum is now a threatened species due to loss of habitat and storm water pollution.

The rarest of all is Michell's rainforest snail. Listed as critically endangered, this large land snail is found only in rainforest and swamp forest areas on the coastal plain between Ballina and Tweed Heads. The National Parks and Wildlife Service have made Michell's rainforest snail the focus of a recovery plan to try and save this unique species from extinction.

Geoff Dawe (Cumbebin Wetland regenerator consultant) has begun a weed management program of the wetland that is chemical free. This program does not overly concern itself with weed seed bank suppression and clears only weeds that are blocking the planting of trees, natural regeneration and the movement of workers along designated pathways.

It recognises that weeds have a part to play in regeneration, and therefore attempts to move with their energy. Weeds shade, hold and provide organic matter to soil, soften heavy rains, and feed many animals all who manure and some of whom are native.

The strategy for weed control concentrates on the rapid expansion for native plantings and natural regeneration as a means of eliminating niche positions for weeds through shading. It aims to weedproof lands. Under heavy shade, most weeds lose energy to remain, and relinquish position to encourage natives.

The BEC with the aid of funding through Coastcare set up an informative talk on wildlife boxes and has erected 10 insectivorous bat nesting boxes along the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary boardwalk. It can take up to 100-200 years for suitable hollows to be formed in our native trees. Wildlife boxes for bats are being provided to compensate for the loss of larger holes where communal roosting is required.

ISanctuary signnsectivorous male bats eat up to 2/3 of their weight in mosquitoes, the female bat eat their hole body weight in mosquitoes and so control insect numbers very effectively. The BEC will be monitoring the use of these wildlife boxes, which can take anytime from 2 months onwards for the bats to occupy. Hopefully by next rainy season the mosquito population will have decreased.

A special thanks to Alan and Stacey Franks from Hollow Log Homes for designing and supplying these wildlife boxes and giving such a passionate and educative talk and viewing of their wildlife boxes in action. Visit their website

All are welcome to visit the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary. It is a magical place that is home to many native plants and animals. Please help protect the Sanctuary by:

  • Staying on the Boardwalk
    Keeping domestic animals out
    Removing any rubbish you see