Coomoora Woodland is a small woodland reserve in Keysborough, south-east of Melbourne. The reserve provides important habitat for a range of flora and fauna in the heart of a busy suburban and industrial area. It's also a peaceful place to wander around in and forget that you're surrounded by houses and busy arterial roads.
Species that have been spotted in the woodland include the endangered Swift Parrot, orchid species such as the Hyacinth Orchid, Prawn Greenhood and Nodding Greenhood, bats, small reptiles such as the Marbled Gecko, a huge variety of birds and a diversity of plants. The reserve acts as a 'stepping stone' for mobile species such as birds and bats that might be moving through Melbourne's urban areas. It's a good spot for bird watching.
A colony of Nodding Greenhood orchids in the reserve, which flower in late winter
The best place to access the reserve is from Serpentine Road, Keysborough. There's an open grassy area adjacent to the road – walk through here to get to the woodland. The reserve is also easily accessible by foot or bike along the Dandenong South Trail.
There are several walking tracks through the reserve, and a loop walk can be made by returning along the bike path that runs along the south-west boundary. Along the way are several well-placed seats to sit and watch. The tracks are flat and mostly sandy or mulched.
There are lots of great interpretive signs along the paths, with interesting stories about the history and ecology of the reserve. For example, the surrounding area of Keysborough and Springvale was once an important food gathering area for local indigenous people, with an abundance of food sources.
Coomoora is an Aboriginal work for wattle – visit the reserve in late winter and spring to see the wattles in flower. Spring is the time to visit to see the wildflowers in bloom, ranging from native shrubs to lilies and orchids – don't forget the camera for wildflower photography.
The woodland supports two types of woodland: Herb-rich Woodland, growing on deeper sandy soils dominated by Coast Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis subsp. pryoriana), and Plains Grassy Woodland on more fertile soil, dominated by River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). The signs challenge walkers to spot the difference!
"Few areas of natural woodland remain throughout Melbourne and several botanical species are of particular interest"
Back in 2012, the south-west section of the reserve was destroyed to build the adjacent Dingley Arterial Road. It's possible to see this change using the historical imagery on Google Earth. The edge of the road now runs along the south-west boundary of the reserve.
The view of the reserve from the bike path that runs alongside the Dingley Arterial Road - there are several access points to the reserve along the bike path