Stewarts Reserve on Armstrong Creek is a rare grassy woodland gem, located between the Surf Coast Highway and Horseshoe Bend Road in Mount Duneed.
Grassy woodlands once occurred across the volcanic plain west from Melbourne to near the South Australian border but are now fragmented - isolated to patches within roadsides, cemeteries, farm land or along creeks like Stewarts Reserve.
Grassy woodlands, like native grasslands, are classified as endangered vegetation in Victoria.
Eucalypts dominate the over storey with Manna Gum, Swamp Gum, and large old River Red Gums providing hollows and a safe haven for native animals.
Prickly plants such as the Hedge Wattle and Sweet Bursaria provide protection for small woodland birds and butterflies.
Five species of bat have recently been recorded in the four hectare reserve and over 56 different birds have been seen in, or near, the reserve. These include birds of prey such as Goshawks and Falcons and smaller birds like Cuckoos, Wrens and Honeyeaters.
A relatively intact ground layer remains with a variety of native grasses, wildflowers and sedges. Armstrong Creek meanders through the reserve, providing habitat for frogs including the Southern Brown Tree Frog, Pobblebonk Frog, Spotted Marsh Frog and the Striped Marsh Frog as well as other aquatic native plants and animals. The creek with its old tree hollows, leaf litter and fallen timber makes this a valuable environmental area.
As the Armstrong Creek area is developed, Stewarts Reserve will become increasingly important as a habitat sanctuary for native plants and animals.
We undertake regular environment works at Stewarts Reserve to remove invasive species and encourage natural regeneration of indigenous plant species. In the future, managment of domestic animals and perceptions of fire safety will become critical.
How to get there
The reserve is on Stewarts Road which is unsealed and runs between Surf Coast Highway and Horseshoe Bend Road.
Look for a gate, small parking area and picnic table.
Melways ref page 479 J5.
Tips when visiting:
• Take your binoculars and a bird book and try to spot some of our local feathered friends.
• Visit in spring and summer to see the wildflowers and native grasses flowering.
• Please take your rubbish with you and keep the reserve and creek clean.
• Ensure you wear sturdy boots or closed toe shoes, snakes may be active, especially during the warmer months.