In a region where more than 90% of native vegetation on privately owned land has been cleared, Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative is part of an important network of remnant bushland blocks linking Warrandyte State Park with Kinglake National Park.
In 1991 the Co-op was registered under the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s ‘Land for Wildlife’ Scheme in recognition of our commitment to integrate nature conservation with residential living. Our property is also located within a formally described site of flora and fauna significance.
Selectively logged for fence posts and firewood in the late 1800’s and last burnt by wildfire in 1962, the Co-op is located in a “rain shadow” with average annual rainfall rarely exceeding 700mm per year. The shallow soil in the area is poor in structure and highly prone to sheet erosion on the ridges and steep slopes.
Understorey and ground cover plants are naturally sparse. However, over 200 indigenous plants have been recorded on the property to date including a number of species of regional significance (refer attached flora list).
Much of the property is remarkably free of noxious and environmental weeds due to the concerted and ongoing weed control program employed by members over the past 29 years.
Box- Stringybark Woodland characterised by Red Box, Red Stringybark, Long-leaved Box, Red Ironbark and scattered Yellow Box dominates the dry ridges and northern and western facing slopes grading into Valley Sclerophyll Forest on eastern and southern aspects and along gully lines. Here a mixture of Swamp Gum, Messmate Stringybark, Narrow-leaved Peppermint and scattered Candlebarks occur.
A higher diversity of plants occurs on the deeper, moister soils of the Riparian zone associated with Stevensons Creek which forms the northern boundary of the Co-op, including Manna Gum, Swamp Gum, Silver Wattle, Hazel Pomaderris, Swamp Paperbark and assorted sedges, rushes and ground ferns.
August to November is our “wildflower season” and following Spring rains, the dry bush is transformed with the colourful displays of a variety of Wattles, Heaths, Bush Peas, Pink Bells, Guinea Flowers, Purple Coral-pea, Blue Pin-cushions, Chocolate Lilies, Grass Trigger Plants, Austral Bears Ears and Small Grass Trees.
Over 50 species of terrestrial orchids have been recorded on the property and many of these also reach their peak during this time, including Wax-lips, Green Comb Spider Orchids, Pink Fingers, Tall and Nodding Greenhoods and Leopard Orchids.
The diversity of habitats present on the property support an equally diverse range of fauna.
Overall a total of 130 native and 8 introduced species have been recorded on or immediately adjacent to the Co-op. The native species include 87 species of birds (1 of State Significance, 9 of regional significance), 24 species of mammals (3 of State significance, 8 of regional significance), 10 species of reptiles and 9 species of amphibians. A number of native fish species are also likely to occur in the permanent waters of Stevensons Creek.
Approximately 60 species of birds are resident on the Co-op including the White-winged Chough, Laughing Kookaburra, Crimson Rosella, Red Wattlebird, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Shrike-thrush and Grey Fantail. Wedge-tailed Eagles that breed in the local area are also seen occasionally, soaring overhead. During the summer months a range of migrants visit the property to breed including the White-throated Nightjar, Rufous Whistler, Leaden and Satin Flycatcher, Sacred Kingfisher, Olive-backed Oriole and Brown-headed Honeyeater. White-throated Needletails may also be seen at this time.
The majority of mammals resident on the property are active mainly at night. However, a number of these species are regularly seen in the early morning or at dusk including the Short-beaked Echidna, Common Wombat, Black Wallaby, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and the occasional Koala.
A number of the nocturnal birds and mammals present can also be identified by their characteristic calls including the Southern Boobook Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Powerful Owl, Owlet Nightjar, Koala, Sugar Glider, Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possums and White-striped Freetail Bats. These and other species can be seen and heard on still nights, particularly during the summer and autumn months.
Also during the summer months and often following rain, the calls of a variety of frogs can be heard coming from wet gullies and small soaks including the Victorian Smooth Froglet, Brown Tree Frog, Striped Marsh Frog and Eastern Banjo Frog. During the winter months the raucous shrieks of Grey headed Flying Foxes penetrate the surrounding bushland as they feed on the nectar of flowering Ironbarks.
Reptiles are present in relatively low numbers but Tree Dragons, Blotched Blue-tongued Lizards and Garden Skinks are regularly sighted during summer months.
Of particular note is the occurrence of the endangered Tuan or Brush-tailed Phascogale and the Powerful Owl. Both species are of State Significance and listed under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
The dry, sparse Box-Stringybark Woodland on our property is the preferred habitat of the Brush-tailed Phascogale and specific management strategies have been developed to conserve this species on the Co-op.
The Powerful Owl requires in excess of 1000 hectares to survive and the Co-op provides important hunting and roosting habitat within the home range of a breeding pair resident within the Environmental Living Zone.