Jawbone Arboretum and Marine Sanctuary, Williamstown

Sunday 21 June 2020. The Mobil oil refinery sitting on the horizon to the north-west of Williamstown’s Jawbone conservation zone (which includes the arboretum and marine sanctuary, a flora and fauna reserve and the Paisley-Challis Wetlands) does not detract from the appeal of the area nor impinge on its importance as a home for many species of water birds. In some strange way the industrial infrastructure actually enhances it; certainly it underlines the need for such places as sanctuaries for people too. And there is a new, if temporary, feature of the landscape: an oil rig, the Ocean Onyx, laid up in Port Phillip Bay since April due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s quite spectacular, even at a distance. Today’s visit saw three-quarters of the Handels present. Although the arboretum is one of the lesser attractions of the conservation zone it still has its interest, but today’s highlight was the short walk to a wooden viewing platform within the marine sanctuary. One is struck by the lovely, muted colours en route: the reds and greens of the saltmarsh plants combine with the yellows and greens of the lichen-covered rocks to imbue the landscape with an understated beauty.

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