wetland

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.

Bald Hills Creek Wildlife Reserve

In this small, isolated reserve, make your way along a meandering trail through paperbark woodlands until you reach the thriving wetlands. There’s a chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including swamp wallabies, spoonbills and tree frogs. 

Review

When driving along Walkerville Road, just outside Tarwin Lower, take a right onto Bald Hills Road, which will lead you to this small, isolated reserve.

The reserve is the remaining remnants of the Tullaree swamp, which once ran alongside Tarwin River: an area that has now been taken over by farming.

Take an easy stroll through woodlands and paperbark thickets until you come upon large open wetlands, full of birdlife.

Bring your binoculars to spot spoonbills, herons and cormorants from the bank (there was once a bird hide here but apparently it was destroyed by a deliberately lit fire).

You can also explore a number of smaller trails that lead to different views of the water – though watch where you step, I almost squashed a Southern Brown tree frog hiding in the undergrowth!

The reserve is also home to a number of swamp wallabies, so walk quietly and you may spot them hiding amongst the thicket. They’re generally shy things, but I spotted one just off the trail that seemed quite unfazed by my presence.

The walk will take you half an hour to an hour, depending on how much you stop to admire the view and wildlife.


Level of Difficulty 

Ease of Accessibility 

Wildlife

Scenery

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Overall Rating

Summary

 
  1. Easy Walk

  2. Several different habitats

  3. Numerous chances to spot wildlife

  4. Nice views of the wetlands


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 

bushbeatsrating4.jpg

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