In Melbourne's southwest, about 5 minutes drive from a major industrial centre, is a shining jewel: six and a half hectares of virgin bushland. The Grange Heathland Reserve has never been logged or developed. The result is an inspiring biodiverse ecosystem. 48 bird species and 230 plant species have been recorded, as well as reptiles, frogs and insects.
In the past the Reserve would have been home to a large variety of mammals. Today there are just four species of mammals: brushtail and ringtail possums and two species of bats. An uncomfortable reminder that Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate of any other country in the world.
The Reserve sits on the side of an ancient sand dune. The sandy soil means that high up on the dune tree cover is sparse and bracken is the dominant ground cover. In the middle of the Reserve there are medium sized trees, with low lying shrubs and a dense ground layer. There is also a lower, swampy part, with plants that tolerate water logging.
|Eucalyptus cephalocarpa , Silver Leaved Stringybark - with plastic bags|
|Acacia oxycedrus, Spike Wattle|
|Correa reflexa, Common Correa, Native Fuschia|
Australia has more hollow dwelling species than any other country. In the absence of birds like woodpeckers, it takes hundreds of years for a tree to form a hollow. When trees are logged, they never get the opportunity to create hollows.
This strange plant is a Hyacinth Orchid, not yet in flower. It is leafless, and emerges from the dry sand.
|Dipodium punctatum, Hyacinth Orchid|
This incident is commemorated by the flying saucer in the playground next to the bushland reserve.