The Stepping Stone Corridor begins in the islands at the mouth of Tuggerah Lakes. These islands are part of the northern section of Wyrrabalong National Park and they provide important wildlife habitat.
Travelling south the closest point of the shoreline is Picnic Point to the immediate west of The Entrance Town Centre. A substantial amount of the land was reclaimed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the lakes recovery project. A significant area is open and sandy with little vegetation, mostly casuarina glauca.
Travelling south from Lantara Walk the vegetation changes with a substantial remnant of large melaleuca quinquinerva. These are badly infested with vines and other exotic weeds. This is the first large ‘step’ in the corridor.
Long Jetty Sailing Club is the beginning of the mown foreshore. This area is characterised by large melaleaucas, occasional casuarinas with intermittent artificial wetlands at stormwater outlets. The water quality in these outlets varies greatly and there is evidence of leakage and other pollutants in the water. These patches of bush are important small steps to give the corridor continuity. This character continues south to the Boat Ramp at the Aquatic Club.
The mouth of Saltwater Creek is near the ramp. The creek breaks into two branches, one heading due south along the rear of Bay Village shops, and the other swinging east and then south. The second branch is the path of the ‘stepping stone corridor’ aiming to join Wyrrabalong National Park near Crackneck lookout.
The second branch travels east through the Lions Park at Long Jetty and then south past the rear of houses to Shelley Beach Road. In the Lions Park there are some large Swamp Mahogany and melaleuca quinquinerva, another step. However, at the rear of the houses the corridor here is very narrow and the creek is a concrete channel.
After the creek crosses Shelley Beach Road the corridor again widens out to create another substantial ‘step’ in Peter Clifford Reserve before again narrowing between houses and the high school. At Yakalla Street, there is a substantial patch of bushland in a small picnic area. From here the corridor travels more or less continuously between the retirement village and sporting fields. This area has a bad infestation of coral trees but has a lot of tree planting by Bateau Bay Bushcare group with support from the Community Environment Network.
The playing fields were once wetland and heath, cleared and filled for a landing strip during World War 2. The stepping stone corridor then passes to the rear of EDSACC, the golf range and the sewerage plant to the retention ponds. This area of corridor has seen planting by Bateau Bay Bushcare group and other volunteers. Remnant vegetation in streets and backyards then provides an alternative easterly corridor travelling through Sutton Reserve to join Wyrrabalong near Bateau Bay Beach. Sutton Reserve is home to a rare eucalyptus robusta colony that is protected under the Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995). PHOTO 7 The retention ponds were an engineering response to some heavy rainfall events in the late 1970s, which caused low level flooding around the retirement village. They were constructed by building earth retaining walls to hold back flood flows. Unfortunately, their construction destroyed most of the remnant wetland and heath. A small patch remained within the largest retention basin until August 1997 when a bush fire hazard reduction occurred. This changed the vegetation dramatically to the now dominant casuarina and melaleuca species.
Plantings by council and volunteers then characterises the vegetation as the corridor steps across Bateau Bay Road and through the public reserve to Wandella Street. This is the end of the interconnected public reserves system. However, the corridor then relies on trees in backyards and on the streets to complete the ‘stepping stones’ to Crackneck lookout and south Wyrrabalong National Park.
In 2007 Bateau Bay Bushcare started work in an area of crown land on Colleridge Road, immediately to the west of the National Park. This area will provide an important link to the Tumbi Wetlands.