I'm an ecologist and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Also visit me at www.instagram.com/victoriafloraandfauna
Published June 26th 2018
Bushwalking on Melbourne's outskirts
Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve is a bushland sanctuary located on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne. The 214 hectare reserve is managed by Parks Victoria and is home to a rich variety of native plants and animals, including several threatened plant species. It's an accessible and scenic spot for bushwalking and exploring, without having to travel too far from the suburbs. The reserve is also a favourite destination for runners, and horse riding is permitted on the outer perimeter track.
The main entrance to the reserve is off McClelland Drive, where there is a small carpark. An information board at the start of the main Centre Break track provides useful details on what to see and several suggestions for short walking routes. Alternatively, a map showing the network of trails throughout the reserve allows visitors to choose their own route and distance. A bushwalk following the majority of the meandering interior tracks could easily bring the distance up to around five or six kilometres. The tracks, which are generally sandy underfoot, are flat to gently undulating, and traverse through heathland and woodland vegetation.
Late winter and spring are picturesque times to walk in the reserve, as this is when many wildflowers are in bloom. The beautiful flowers of Victoria's state floral emblem Common Heath (Epacris impressa) can be seen in the winter months, with the wildflower season at its most spectacular in September and October. Native orchids are found throughout the reserve, including the Purple Donkey-orchid (Diuris punctata var. punctata), which is listed as threatened in Victoria. Bird watching is also a popular activity, with almost 100 different species recorded in the reserve. If walking quietly, visitors might also be lucky enough to spot native animals such as echidnas and swamp wallabies.
Visitors can also learn about the reserve's military history. Between 1887 and 1979 the reserve was used for a range of military purposes, including training, the detention of German prisoners of war in WW1, and as the site of a hospital to treat returning WW1 servicemen. Remnants of this military history can be seen scattered throughout the reserve, particularly on the Langwarrin Historical Trail, a 3 km loop trail with interpretive signs that passes by features such as an old reservoir and the old hospital site.