Walk around a grassland that was once part of a racecourse
Epsom Conservation Reserve is a small grassland park in Mordialloc, and once used to be the centre of the Epsom Racecourse. It's a small reminder of the long history of horse racing in Mordialloc and now serves as an open space for the local community.
The seating area at Epsom Conservation Reserve, Mordialloc
Covering 3.6 hectares, there's a walking path around the outside of the reserve, and concrete boardwalks that cut through the centre. A full lap around the outside of the reserve is approximately 0.9 kilometres.
On the reserve's northern boundary, along Jenkins Street, is an undercover seating area.
Epsom Racecourse was built in 1886 and was considered by some to be one of the best private racecourses built in the 1800s. It had a 'handsome' grandstand with views of Port Phillip Bay, well-maintained lawns, a fountain and a clock tower. But after more than 100 years of operation and the increased suburbanisation of the local area, the racecourse was closed in 1998. The site was then sold for housing as the Epsom Park Estate.
During the planning stages for the development, it was discovered that endangered native vegetation still occurred on the site. And so Epsom Conservation Reserve was formed.
The reserve is unusual in that it protects native grassland and wetlands. This means that there are no naturally occurring trees, although trees have been planted around the outside. Native grassland, in particular, is a rare vegetation type, with much of it in the Melbourne region cleared for agriculture and housing.
There's a diverse range of native grasses in the reserve, including Kangaroo Grass, Common Tussock-grass, Wallaby Grasses and Five-awned Spear-grass. There's also Common Reed in the wetter parts of the reserve. Two rare species also occur here: Purple Blown-grass and Pale Swamp Everlasting. In among the grasses are native wildflowers such as Sun Orchids, Onion Orchids, lilies and daisies.
Common Reed growing the wetter parts of the reserve
Epsom Conservation Reserve is a very short walk across Governor Road to Mordialloc Creek. A walk around the reserve can be easily joined up with the walking trails along Mordialloc Creek, which head all the way down to Mordialloc Pier and Mordialloc Beach.