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Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve, Belgrave South

Home > Melbourne > Animals and Wildlife | Nature | Parks | Photography | Walks
by Lyndsey V (subscribe)
I'm an ecologist and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Also visit me at www.instagram.com/victoriafloraandfauna/
Published December 9th 2018
Explore a bushland sanctuary for native flora and fauna
Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve is one of Melbourne's most diverse wildflower sanctuaries. Hidden away on a picturesque narrow road in Belgrave South, the reserve is home to over 250 native plants and more than an entire third of Victoria's orchid species. Although the reserve is relatively small, at 72 ha in size, it protects a surprising variety of vegetation types, including heathy woodland, grassy forest and swampy woodland.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Explore the wildflowers in the reserve like these native peas (Photo: L. Vivian)


There's also plenty of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, swamp wallabies, possums, echidnas and kangaroos. It's a reserve that all nature lovers in Melbourne should put on their list to visit.

An Important Note about Visiting
When visiting it is important to understand that all plants including orchids in the reserve are protected and must not be collected, picked or damaged in any way. It's also critical that all visitors stay on the tracks so that the vegetation isn't trampled. There are plenty of places to spot orchids and other wildflowers right next to the track, so there's no need to go bush bashing. Staying on the tracks also reduces the risks of visitors spreading the plant pathogen Cinnamon Fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi).

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
A sign at the entrance to the Eastern Loop trail - it's important to stay on the track and don't lay down to take photos (Photo: L. Vivian)


Photographers should make sure they don't squash any orchids when trying to get that perfect shot. Look around and beneath you before you kneel or crouch down, especially as orchids often grow in small colonies. Be considerate of the ecological significance of the reserve and make sure that your visit doesn't do any damage: leave the plants as they are for the next person to discover and appreciate.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Orchids can be seen at most times of the year, including alongside the walking tracks, but be very careful not to damage them (Photo: L. Vivian)


Walks
The reserve is in two sections, as it's split in two by Courtneys Road. The best place to park is at the small carpark near the corner of Courtneys Road and Orchid Road, at the south of the reserve. The carpark has an information board which includes a map of the walking tracks and lots of information about the local flora. From the carpark, walkers can follow a short loop walk through the western section of the reserve, which has a series of interpretive signs along the way. The track heads north before turning to the left and then follows Orchid Road back to the carpark.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Information signs on the shorter loop walk (Photo: L. Vivian)


A longer walking track - the Eastern Loop - is in the other section of the reserve. It can be accessed from the same carpark by following a walking track up the eastern side of Courtneys Road, across a bridge and up a gentle slope until an entrance gate is reached on the right. This is the start of the Eastern Loop. This area is often the best place to spot orchids, even along the roadside walking track. The main loop track heads up the hill, before turning left and following the ridgeline. The track then meets back up with Courtneys Road, and walkers can head back south again along the roadside track.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
The track heads over a small bridge along the eastern side of Courtneys Road (Photo: L. Vivian)


Orchids can be seen flowering all through the year, although late winter and spring are the seasons when more species are flowering. The Friends of Baluk Willan Nature Conservation Group have a list of orchid species in the reserve, as well as a list of all the flora species that have been recorded, including what's flowering now.

Autumn and winter are the best times of the year to see fungi, particularly when it's been raining. This is often the time when the glorious Pink Heath (the Victorian state flora emblem) starts to flower. The bird life is great at any time of the year so bring binoculars if you have them.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Pink Heath (Epacris impressa) flowering in the reserve (Photo: L. Vivian)


The reserve's name, Baluk Willam, was suggested by the local Wurundjeri people, and means 'meeting of the clans'.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Visit in the wetter and cooler months to see interesting types of fungi (Photo: L. Vivian)


The walking tracks in the reserve are dirt and mostly well marked. Some sections are a bit rocky underfoot, especially along the east side of Courtneys Road. There are no toilet facilities.

Baluk Willam Reserve, Belgrave South, wildflowers, walks, nature, native plants, photography
Walking track through the reserve (Photo: L Vivian)
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Why? Explore nature in one of outer Melbourne's best wildflower reserves
When: Any time
Phone: 131963 (Parks Victoria)
Where: Belgrave South
Cost: Free
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