Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment



Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment

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S.A.N.E Promoting awareness and understanding of coastal conservation issues.
Bells Beach is unlike anywhere else in the world. It is a unique part of the Australian coastline and has a special place in surfing culture. SANE (Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment) seeks to protect and restore the reserve's natural beauty and that of the surrounding bushland.

For thousands of years waves generated from Australia’s southern oceans have travelled hundreds of kilometres to break over the reefs of Bells Beach to make it one of the best surfing beaches in the world. Indeed it is the presence of nature, omnipresent as it is in the reefs, or the abundant wildlife (marine and terrestrial), as well as the rugged cliffs, species-rich heathland and unique coastal woodlands that make the beautifully diverse Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve internationally significant.

Unfortunately 50 years of visitors to the Bells area has taken its toll, damaging eco-systems and degrading the land base significantly. Since 1988 when SANE formed, our focus has been to reverse that destructive trend. As a result SANE has:

• Re-planted indigenous species
• Removed introduced plants / weeds
• Assisted with fencing and track management and design
• Held regular monthly working bees on the second Sunday of each month starting at 10am!
• Initiated interpretation projects to inform and encourage positive behaviour from people using the reserve
• Active in an advocacy role with community, local, state and federal government. We are proud to say for example that SANE was officially recognised by State Government for our work in lobbying for the introduction of the Point Addis Marine National Park

SANE believes that at no other time in history has the need to understand the marine environment been more urgent. SANE supports the establishment of a comprehensive network of Marine Parks, specifically at Pt. Addis. Marine Parks are part of the world wide push for sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.

Although SANE is primarily a surfer's organisation, we welcome and encourage all people who share similar aims to join us. So rather than watching nature docos on TV, why not join SANE and do something positive for your environment. Your energy and ideas will be appreciated...

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity


Primary location

Torquay, Victoria

Known address

Bells Beach, Torquay, Victoria 3228 Australia

Website link/s

Date of known website activity

September 6, 2017

Founding Year


History of group

SANE was formed by Charles Bartlett (Charles of the Sea) in 1988 who was alarmed at the perceived mismanagement of the Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve by the then Barrabool Shire. Their heavy-handed approach to provide access for people and car traffic caused a great deal of unnecessary damage to the natural environment. At about the same time, the 13th Beach Ocean Outfall (Sewerage Treatment Plant) was being constructed and SANE’s leadership through the local papers and in the community ensured the Plant was upgraded from primary to secondary treatment of sewerage.

Since then we have focused primarily on restoring the Bells Beach Recreational Surfing Reserve to its more natural state. Readers might not appreciate that large sections of the Reserve had become significantly modified over time and that a large number of serious environmental weeds were invading and replacing the indigenous coastal heath and woodland. SANE has been working to restore the balance now for some 27 years. The bottom line is that restoration and careful stewardship is by necessity a long and slow process (eg. weeding, planting, planning, etc) Degradation and damage on the other hand, can be fast and very destructive (eg. trampling and illegal driving of vehicles over vegetation- or worse still, heavy machinery).

Without doubt, our success is due to a long term involvement in restoring nature’s rightful place within the Reserve. This has allowed us to build a good working relationship with land management agencies (eg. Surf Coast Shire, Parks Victoria) and other key stake holders (eg. Rip Curl). Over the time we have been involved the ecological integrity within the Reserve has increased significantly. For everyone who visits it is a much more enjoyable experience in comparison to how it was (ie. the degradation trajectory it was on before we formed).

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