A biodiversity hotspot along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road
Anglesea Heath is a remarkably diverse area of heathland, woodland, forest and swamps, located next to the coastal town of Anglesea, on the Great Ocean Road. It is home to around a quarter of Victoria's plant species, including a dazzling array of orchids, over 100 bird species and an assortment of mammals. Exploring Anglesea Heath is a delight for photographers, bushwalkers, birdwatchers, wildflower enthusiasts and nature artists.
The view from Dusty Miller Track looking west over the Anglesea Heath
The area has a network of vehicle trails that serve walkers, mountain bike riders and four wheel-drives (although check the Parks Victoria website for seasonal track closures). There aren't any official walks as such, so for walkers, it's a matter of simply parking the car near the entrance to a track, packing a bag and heading off to explore along the tracks. Make sure you pack weather-appropriate clothes, water and a map and let someone know where you're walking and what time you'll be back.
According to the Parks Victoria brochure, good tracks for exploring springtime wildflowers include Dusty Miller, Honeypots and Harrisons South Tracks. These can be accessed from the east of the Anglesea Heath, off Forest Road. There are good views from Dusty Miller across the heathland to the west.
These tracks mostly pass through heathy woodland vegetation. In spring, the flowers in the understorey vegetation of the woodland are spectacular, and include a huge variety of native bush peas, banksias, tea-trees, guinea-flowers, orchids, lilies, ferns, rushes and grasses. Take binoculars and walk quietly to hear the birds of the bushland.
The website of local environment group, ANGAIR (Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna), is a great source of information on the ecology of the Anglesea Heath, including the species that can be found. The group also organises guided walks and other activities. In spring there is also the annual Wildflower and Art weekend.
Until recently, part of the area had been used by Alcoa for mining, with the company holding a long-term lease over the Anglesea Heath for the extraction of brown coal. In 2017, it was announced that Alcoa would be transferring the Anglesea Heath back early, with the area to be incorporated into the Great Otway National Park.