Grassland Walk, Violet Town

Mahers Rd., Violet Town 3669

Grassland Walk, Violet Town

Mahers Rd., Violet Town 3669

Staff Pick
1 h 29 m
5.99 km
Easy

Big, flat and beautiful in its own special way, Balmattum Grassland provides an excellent 6km walk for those wanting to spend a quiet time in a sizeable natural space with its own unique character.

Grassland Walk, Violet Town

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Summary

Big, flat and beautiful in its own special way, Balmattum Grassland provides an excellent 6km walk for those wanting to spend a quiet time in a sizeable natural space with its own unique character.

Description

Options
There are two entrances to choose from, the origin mapped here at Mahers Rd or from the Old Euroa Rd.

1. For the mapped loop, a Mahers Rd start introduces you to the site as a natural progression from grassland into and through grassy woodland. It may be a bit wet underfoot at the beginning as you cross the soft, soaked ground of a waterway. This route follows an established track to a disused shearing shed. By the time you get there you will feel comfortable enough with the site to enjoy free ranging back to the start. You can make this a much longer walk if you choose to explore the whole Reserve.

2. If you can only drop in for a short visit or picnic, choose Old Euroa Rd entrance to scout the different landscapes close at hand.

This is Gilgai Plains country made up of heavy clays, broad grasslands, Grey Box and Red Gum grassy woodlands. Also known as “crabholes,” gligai are ephemeral water holes or lakes that form on the surface of cracking clay soils. An important water source for Aboriginals where permanent water was unreliable, gilgai extended their food gathering range. They are also important for local fauna as a water source. During wetter months, shallow gilgai are scattered throughout as swampy ground. In some places they may form a mosaic of pools in superficial depressions that can make much of the ground seem boggy. However, you can either navigate your way around or some will be shallow enough to walk through.

Grey Box woodland is a favoured habitat of the Grey-crowned Babbler (listed as endangered in Victoria). Balmattum Grassland Nature Conservation Reserve is one of the Victorian sites for a Project that targets improvement of Grey-crowned Babbler habitat. A finding from Project monitoring has been the greater the number of large mature trees the more likely Babbler populations will continue to occupy a site. Fortunately, with a remnant of large mature trees, this site is still home to a Babbler population. Taking your time, being patient and quiet may well see you rewarded with a sighting of a busy family flock as they duck, dart, dive, forage and chase from tree to tree. They are a very entertaining bird.

Wildflowers are best in spring, with swathes of Billy Buttons.

Amenities:
Car parking
Trail head sign
Alternative routes
Designated flora & fauna habitat

Cautions:
Open water
Limbs may fall
Embankments
Uneven ground
No potable water
Remnant fencing
Slippery surfaces
Subject to flooding
Snakes may be active
Tracks may not be clear
Carry food, water, be SunSmart
Be equipped for self-reliant hiking
Mobile reception may be unreliable
Be mindful to keep within the Reserve

Restrictions:
No dogs
No firearms
No hunting
No camping
Take rubbish with you
No rubbish dumping
No wildlife poaching
No firewood collection
Do not remove soil or rock
No theft of forest produce
Native flora & fauna are protected
Closed on days of total fire ban
No 4WD or motor bike access

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Points of Interest

1. Balmattum Grassland sign

This is a Parks Victoria managed site. It exists for conservation purposes. Any prohibited activity should be reported to Parks Vic.

2. Alternative entrances

You can enter from gates on either Mahers Rd or Old Euroa Rd. Mahers Rd can be a bit damp underfoot initially, but follows a clear track into the Reserve. The other is a better picnicking location.

3. View back to the Tablelands

Looking east outside the Reserve are attractive views of the Tablelands rising out of the plains country.

4. Discarded wire

A common hazard in Reserves created from reclaimed farmland is discarded wire. It may be in the open like this, it may be still attached to remnant fencing, it may be buried in vegetation. Take care.

5. Watering place

Deviate from the track to the white clay mounded embankments of this dam seen nearby . It is a significant watering place for fauna and flora surrounded by Billy Buttons in Spring

6. Sundews

These small carnivorous plants trap prey in sticky hairs. Long tentacles protrude from their leaves to snare, then draw victims into a digesting cup.

7. Tiny Stars

Various wildflowers appear across the seasons. In the swampy wet areas across the site, masses of Tiny Stars are a feature of early spring.

8. A variety of vegetation

In some parts low shrubs such as these Cassinia dot expansive open grassland, in others grassy woodland dominates.

9. The Track

The SE, SW & NE Reserve boundaries are easily navigated on a slightly raised perimeter track - useful in swampier wet months. The broad grassland & open woodland spaces make free ranging attractive.

10. The cycle of life

The site accommodates a variety of fauna and flora subject to significant seasonal changes. Winter is cold and wet with a lot of surface water. Summer is very hot and dry. Conditions can be harsh.

11. New life

Given the right space, native life will continue. Island Nature Conservation Reserves like this serve to preserve native ecosystems in an otherwise hostile agriculture dominated landscape.

12. Popular with water birds

A superficial look at this area suggests flat and dry. However, even though the clay surface does dry out quickly, in wetter months water sits atop it in gilgai attractive to water birds.

13. Revegetation and waterways

Revegetation has been undertaken in a number of locations across the site. These plots of new woodland are providing maturing diverse habitat for local species. Both entrances have small waterways.

14. Old shearing shed and sheep pens

This old shed looks rustic and attractive. It is certainly a nice feature for photographers. However, there is also a lot of rotten wood, collapsing fencing and wire around. Take care.

15. Grey-crowned Babbler Project

The site is the home of a Project to provide improving habitat for the threatened Grey-crowned Babbler. Please visit this site with a mind to this important role it plays. Leave only footprints.

16. Grey-crowned Babblers

How will you know if you spot Grey-crowned Babblers? This photo of a fledgling and parent bird describes their distinctive features. They travel in noisy and entertaining family flocks.

17. Grey Box woodland

The area around the shed is a woodland dominated by mature Grey Box eucalypts. Many are popular habitat trees. Do not interfere with the trees themselves, the wood they drop or their inhabitants.

18. Heavy traffic

How many kangaroos have passed this way since it last rained?

19. Grand survivors

Naturally seeding the areas around them, there are a number of grand survivor trees that predate farming and establishment of this Reserve. As you walk enjoy their grandeur and next generation.

20. Evidence of a tree felling past

Throughout the Reserve are the remains of trees felled for timber in the past as the site was cleared for farming. Imagine, the ecosystems re-emerging here once existed across the entire landscape.


Features

Picnic Spot Picnic Spot
Nature trail Nature trail