The Long Forest Reserve, 245 hectares, is 50 km west of Melbourne, between the towns of Bacchus Marsh and Melton.
This is the only naturally occurring patch of mallee south of the Great Dividing Range. At one time mallee scrub was common in the area but as the climate cooled most of it was supplanted by eucalypt forest. However, this reserve rests on a bed of shale and sandstone which is not conducive to eucalypts.
This area was first mapped in the 1830s by a surveyor who described it as 'barren forest hills'. There was an unsuccessful attempt to mine gold here and, late in the 19th century, timber was cut for milk factories at Bacchus Marsh. With subdivision proceeding 245 ha was set aside in 1981 in recognition of the site's ecological rarity.
The dominant species in the reserve is bull mallee although blue box can be found along Coimadai Creek and grey box and yellow gum on drier sites. The reserve also has turkey bush, fragrant salt-bush and some rare orchids. There are about 200 species of birds, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, gliders and possums. Birdwatching, nature studies and bushwalking can all be enjoyed.
I did a 6 km hike along the Oldhouse, Mallee, Gravelly and Happy Valley Tracks on November 14. 2006.
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