Lake Claremont is a somewhat unusual selection for the Urban Treasures pages. Once extremely degraded, through the highly successful partnership between the Friends of Lake Claremont and the Town of Claremont the Lake is now a shining example of the benefits of a major environmental rehabilitation program.
Lake Claremont has become a delight to visit, particularly between August and January when birdlife is abundant.
The information below has been adapted from the Lake's Management Plan - see references.
The area in which Lake Claremont is located was originally a large wetland area which was abundant in plant and animal life. It formed a part of the hunting and food gathering territory of the Mooroo people. Aboriginal families lingered there until the 1940s, when rising waters and the needs of a 'beautification' program led to their eviction.
The first recorded reference to Lake Claremont was in a letter written by Mr John Butler to the Surveyor General Mr J.S. Roe on the 15 November 1831. "I wish to have a grant of ten acres on the east side of the lagoon about one and a half miles north of my home at Freshwater Bay, in the name of William Burton Butler, my eldest son". Official records of Butler's occupancy are lacking and it is possible that he used the land for a considerable period without ever receiving an official grant.
Around the turn of the century, orchards and market gardens began to flourish around the swamp and its popularity as a picnic spot began to wane. Rising waters destroyed much of the market gardens, rendered Stirling Road impassable and profoundly changed the character of the vegetation. The Paperbark trees, unable to withstand the permanent submergence, died off.
It was not until 1949 when further moves were made to turn the swamp into a beauty spot. Naturalists wrote to the paper describing the variety of bird life, and urging that the swamp be cleaned and beautified. After considerable discussion and many suggestions, a plan was agreed to in 1954, but was, unfortunately, never fully implemented.
The Local Geology
The swamp lies in a valley between coastal dunes where, on the west side of the swamp, the ground rises rapidly from 1.5 metres to 12 metres. Immediately prior to 1950, the swamp at high water mark enclosed an area of approximately 20 hectares. During the 1950s and 1960s areas were reclaimed and this reduced the area of the open water to approximately 15.7 hectares at high water mark.
Lake Claremont's Birds
There are over 87 recorded species of birds at Lake Claremont. A tremendous record has been maintained with bird censuses being carried out since 1993. Three of the most common waterbirds include the Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal and Eurasian Coot and one of the rarest - the Freckled Duck.
The richest period for bird observation is November to January, this being due to several factors including the presence of breeding pairs and young and the change in habitat structure brought about due to the natural decline in lake water levels. The species' diversity and abundance are generally at their highest in January when the lake is nearly dry.
The most valuable habitats for birds in the area are those that provide adequate shelter for breeding. The shallows and mudflats are valued by birds including the five species of local wading birds recorded at Lake Claremont.
Lake Claremont can be accessed from many points via the local roads network. There is a dual use path surrounding the east and northern shores and pedestrian pathways circumnavigate the entire Lake.
ReferencesTown of Claremont - Lake Claremont Page.
The Friends of Lake Claremont look after this place. Please visit their excellent website.
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