birds

Endeavour Fern Gully

This 27-hectare National Trust property is unique. Located in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula, the land is 17.5 hectares of remnant rainforest, with the remaining 9.5 hectares gradually being revegetated by volunteers. 

The two-kilometre walking loop descends from this revegetated area and winds around old gum trees and through a lush fern gully. You then find yourself meandering alongside and over the headwaters of Stony Creek. 

A variety of fungi are abundant along this walk. 

A variety of fungi are abundant along this walk. 

You are bound to see abundant vegetation and birdlife throughout this walk. This land is a haven for flora and fauna to thrive, as it has remained unspoiled. The bushland consists of one of the last remaining untouched areas of a rich, red basaltic soil, which is rare along the Mornington Peninsula. For this reason amongst others, Endeavour Fern Gully has several rare plant species and is a vital source of habitat and food for a wide variety of animals.

In this rich habitat there is, unsurprisingly, a significant variety of birdlife. Endeavour is filled with birds humming and whistling everywhere you go. There are crimson rosellas, eastern yellow robins, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles, and even grey fantails, just to name a few.    

As you delve deeper into the Gully, you are immersed amongst tall messmate stringybark and the smooth-barked subspecies of manna gum. Along the trail, you will come across a large and remarkable burnt-out hollow of a messmate stringybark. This is believed to have been a place where indigenous people smoked animals for food, such as eels. 

The Gully boasts some impressive native trees as well as more low-lying flora. 

The Gully boasts some impressive native trees as well as more low-lying flora. 

For plant enthusiasts, there are at least two indigenous vegetation species that are extremely rare in the area: the Hedycarya angustifolia, a rainforest plant also known as the austral mulberry, and Parsonsia brownii, the silk pod. The latter species is also not apparent anywhere else on the Mornington Peninsula!

On our walk, we had the opportunity to explore the Gully with botanist and one of Endeavour’s most dedicated volunteers, Gillian Tolley. She has been looking after Endeavour since 2004 and hopes to gain more insight into the area’s flora and fauna in the near future. Gillian led the way as our team set up cameras, the footage from which will help us to learn more about animal life in the Gully. Endeavour also welcomes more volunteers – so come and get involved in the conservation of one of the Peninsula’s most incredible hidden gems.

Camera traps will help us to identify some of the more illusive animals of Endeavour Fern Gully.  

Camera traps will help us to identify some of the more illusive animals of Endeavour Fern Gully.  

If you’re looking to be immersed in nature, this tranquil experience is definitely worth a visit!

 

SUMMARY

  1. Located at 195 Arthurs seat Rd, red hill, vic 3937

  2. parking access

  3. 2km walk, approximately 30-45 minutes

  4. for volunteering information, please contact gillian tolley: gilliantolley@gmail.com

 

please note

  1. check for fire danger 

  2. be aware that snakes and leeches are found here


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING


Juliet Israel

Juliet is the Community Outreach Manager of Wild Melbourne and pursues her interests in natural and social sciences through the mediums of photography, nature expeditions and communication. She also works in conservation and land management, where she takes delight in working with like-minded people who are passionate about our environment.


 All images courtesy of James Evans. 

Big Rock Track, You Yangs

Just over an hour’s drive southwest of the northern suburbs, you can find yourself surrounded by the eerily beautiful granite peaks of the You Yangs. Feel like you’re worlds away as you meander through these geographical formations formed during the Devonian Period, and experience the wildlife that thrives here.

Reaching 360 metres above the Werribee Plain at its highest point lie a series of granite peaks that make up the You Yangs. As you enter the regional park, you will be presented with five different trail options. I recommend you decide upon which trail before leaving home, as they all lead in different directions, have different track difficulties and offer different experiences.

We chose the Big Rock Track, which can be accessed from the car park near the park office. The 3-kilometre walk takes you along a dirt path with a steady incline that eventually loops you around the Big Rock and back. Being the driest part of Victoria south of the Great Dividing Range, you are presented with the opportunity to witness some incredible and unique low woodland flora and fauna.

Looking along the Big Rock Track.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

Looking along the Big Rock Track. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

Lining the long dirt track are tall yellow and manna gum eucalypt trees, with thinly distributed undergrowth of native shrubs at their base. This pathway is best taken slowly, keeping a keen eye out for the rich diversity of bird life that flits among the tree branches, as well as the reptiles that frequent the ground below. I set out on this journey with the wish to see a shingleback skink, and with patience came my reward. Being a slow-moving lizard, they are not hard to observe, and are not particularly shy either. The park boasts over 200 bird species and is also home to 30 species of orchid. Although we did not see any orchids on this particular track, we did come across many Australian ravens, sulphur-crested cockatoos, noisy miners, common bronzewings and a scarlet robin!

A confident shingleback lizard peaks through the undergrowth.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

A confident shingleback lizard peaks through the undergrowth. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

To the left of the dirt track is a spectacular view of the Werribee Plain, presenting a typically Australian bushland backdrop. The silence is a welcome change from the daily grind and allows you to hear bird calls from near and far. At the end of the dirt track you will find a plateau of grassland with an area that has been sectioned off for picnics and barbecues. A steep and winding path will lead you to the Big Rock, offering staggering views of the woodlands that lie beneath. From here, you can sit and watch predatory birds circle the area as they scan the premises for a good feed, whilst taking in the astounding view. I suggest that you venture off the given path if you feel the need to! This is how I spotted the elusive and swift scarlet robin, which was such a welcome sighting. However, always be wary of snakes and do not move too far from the track if possible.

From here, you can continue on the looped track to the car park through some gorgeous landscapes laced with towering eucalypts, including some sulphur-crested cockatoos scattered amongst them. A highly recommended location and track for a much-needed dose of fresh air and a welcome change of scenery!

One of Australia's most iconic bird species: the sulphur-crested cockatoo.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

One of Australia's most iconic bird species: the sulphur-crested cockatoo. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

SUMMARY

  1. DIVERSE AND UNIQUE FAUNA

  2. SPECTACULAR VIEWS

  3. CLOSE PROXIMITY TO NORTHERN SUBURBS


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASY OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

Banner image courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Maroondah Reservoir

Known for its monumental landscapes, Maroondah Reservoir Park promises spectacular views overlooking a most impressive 22, 000 megalitre reservoir that flows over the dam spillway into the gorgeous Watts River. Teeming with native wildlife, the surrounding eucalypt forests sport ideal walking tracks for the keen wildlife enthusiast.

Located in the heart of Healesville, just over an hour’s drive from the northern suburbs of Victoria, lies a local favourite: Maroondah Reservoir Park. Heavily based on and around Watts River, the park boasts a diverse range of native flora and fauna, as well as spectacular views of the dam itself.

You will be given the choice of four walking tracks at the information shelter, located north of the main car park area. We chose to walk the Lookout Track and completed our stay with the Maroondah Forest Track. 

Lookout Track ~ 30 minutes

From the information shelter, I suggest you first explore the exquisitely landscaped gardens lined with both native and exotic trees. Native birds thrive in these historical gardens, so keep a keen eye out and listen carefully. Before heading towards the top of the dam wall, visit the spillway viewing platform to appreciate the beauty of Watts River and the force of water exiting the dam. From here you can climb the famous Rose Stairway consisting of 84 steps, leading you to the very top of the dam wall. If you are unable to climb the stairs, there is a bitumen walking track at the eastern end of the car park, leading you to the same destination.

Once you reach the top of the 41-metre high dam wall, you are presented with breathtaking views of the 22, 000 megalitre Maroondah Reservoir with densely forested mountains in the background. Constructed in 1920 and completed in 1927, the reservoir has since been an important source of potable water for Greater Metropolitan Melbourne. The dam wall walk eventually ends at a clearing where there is a lookout that boasts stunning views of the entire dam, the dam wall and the surrounding forests

Maroonda Forest Track ~ 15-30 minutes

From the lookout clearing, the Maroondah Forest Track leads you through a pleasant native forest walk back down to Henderson's Picnic Area (located near the car park). Time spent on this track can really vary depending on an individual's interests. This densely forested walk is lined with native pines, wattles, eucalypts and tree ferns. Home to many Australian mammals and bird life, this walk is best taken slowly and quietly. Once you are tuned in to the distinct sounds of the forest, you will be delighted with what you hear. On our walk, we spotted a swamp wallaby who had lost its footing and gone tumbling into the scrub below. We saw sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, Australian white ibis and bronzewings. Plenty of kookaburra calls could be heard, although the birds themselves were not seen.

This moderate walk is a gem for those who are fond of native plants, which are heavily distributed the deeper you get into the walk and reminiscent of a tropical rainforest. Just before the end of the track is a small bridge that leads you over a quiet section of Watts River. This is an absolutely stunning spot to take in the sights and sounds of the river and surrounding forest - a perfect treat before you set off in your car to discover more of what Healesville has to offer! 

Summary:

  1. Spectacular views
  2. Dense native vegetation
  3. Array of native fauna
  4. Historical landmark 

Level of difficulty:

Ease of accessibility: 

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Overall rating: 

All photos taken by Tanya Rajapaske.


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Birdsland Reserve

Perfectly suited for budding ornithologists and nature lovers alike, this aptly named reserve is a haven for over 130 endemic bird species and approximately 200 native plant species. With 75 hectares of bushland and walking tracks to explore, Birdsland Reserve has something on offer for everyone.

Less than an hour’s drive heading east from the northern suburbs of Victoria, you can soon find yourself surrounded by the densely vegetated, riparian bushlands of Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave. Within the 75 hectares of this reserve lie 28 hectares of the Monbulk Creek retarding basin. Two lakes forming the basin are at the heart of the reserve, providing a sanctuary to an array of native flora and fauna.

The entrance to the larger of the two lakes.

The entrance to the larger of the two lakes.

As you leave the carpark, you will find yourself walking along nearby Monbulk Creek, occasionally lined with signs that tell tales of the platypus that inhabit the area. As elusive as the platypus is, there have been sightings of these shy creatures within this very creek and I highly recommend you take some time out to pause here and wait patiently for an appearance! You can walk off-track alongside the creek to observe its inhabitants and climb over the fallen gum trees to admire the array of plant species that border the muddy banks of the creek.

If you look closely, you may be able to spot eastern grey kangaroos in the background.

If you look closely, you may be able to spot eastern grey kangaroos in the background.

Soon you will come to a clearing that reveals the larger lake, as well as the beginning of the looped walking track that leads you around both lakes. This is the simplest of the walking tracks on offer at the reserve and is approximately 3 kilometres long. The track is completely flat and therefore ideal for people of varying physical abilities. Halfway around the larger lake, you will see the continuation of Monbulk Creek to the right of the pathway. On the opposite side of the creek, I was treated to a beautiful sighting: three eastern grey kangaroos grazing on the luscious riparian vegetation and lounging in the sun.

This walking track is great for a leisurely stroll and is designed to allow you to take in every lush aspect of it. A large part of this is keeping a keen eye out for the native bird species that inhabit the reserve. Plenty of nesting purple swamphen, eastern rosellas, magpie larks, superb fairy-wrens, pied currawongs, cormorants, Australian white ibis and common starlings can be spotted, whilst the unmistakable call of the kookaburra may also be heard.

As you approach the second smaller lake, you will find a well-built boardwalk that takes you through the wetlands of the reserve. Here you can hear various frog calls, and I’ve been told that if you’re patient, you might even spot some!

A purple swamphen strutting its stuff beside the lake.

A purple swamphen strutting its stuff beside the lake.

Beyond the lakes, there are options to take a more challenging walk along the Dargon and Granite Tracks, eventually leading you to the Monbulk Creek Lookout. The scenery changes once you leave the lakes, opening up into what is seemingly dry and lifeless grassland. Mostly uphill, this track is tougher in contrast to the lakeside track and offers a lower diversity of wildlife to observe.

Overall, Birdsland Reserve provides relaxing views that promise to please and is perfect for the avid wildlife enthusiast with a keen eye for the diverse array of native flora and fauna on offer.

SUMMARY

  1. IDEAL FOR BIRD LOVERS

  2. BEAUTIFUL SCENERY

  3. INCREDIBLY EASY TRACK TO WALK

  4. IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO NORTHERN SUBURBS


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASY OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

All images courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Coolart Wetlands

Not far from Balnarring, this relaxing boarded walk winds its way through the coolart wetlands, where several bird hides give excellent viewing of our native waterbirds. 

Pied Cormorant (  Phalacrocorax varius ) sunning itself at the wetlands.

Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) sunning itself at the wetlands.

Review

More a garden stroll than a real bush beat, this easy-level walk is great for those looking for a relaxing, yet exciting activity for a morning or afternoon.

Starting at the historical, Coolart House, one can find enjoyment in viewing the well maintained gardens and old homestead before descending the a hill to the wetlands. Here, a number of tidy bird-hides offer superb and rare viewing of native waterbirds.  

Following the path will eventually lead you to some open woodland where you may chance upon some swamp wallabies or echidna.

From here you have the option to take a short walk across a tranquil estuary to the beach where you can dip your toes in Western Port Bay.

In reality, this walk should take no more than one hour to complete. However, the potential for encountering wildlife is so high, in so small an area, that the keen naturalist is soon and frequently distracted.

Anyone looking for a relaxing, yet intriguing weekend activity, should consider the drive to Balnarring and the Coolart Wetlands.

Level of Difficulty 

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Ease of Accessibility 

Wildlife

Scenery

Overall Rating

Summary

  1.  Easy walk

  2. Several bird hides

  3. Close to beach   

  4.  Lots of wildlife

Location of Coolart Wetland

Location of Coolart Wetland