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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve

Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve, 40 km SE of Melbourne, is an island of relatively undisturbed natural bushland surrounded by the outer suburbs of Frankston and Langwarrin. Following recognition of its important conservation values, the Victorian Government purchased the former military area from the Commonwealth Government in 1982 and it was proclaimed as the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve in December 1985.

The Langwarrin Military Reserve was established in 1886 and used for various activities by the Victorian Colonial Defence Forces. In April 1889, for instance, 2195 men were engaged in manoeuvres for four days, using 669 horses and 29 wagons. At Federation in 1901, the area passed to the Commonwealth.

During World War 1 German prisoners of war were detained at the reserve and a hospital was set up for the treatment of soldiers returning from France and Egypt with venereal disease.

Developments included many buildings, a rifle range, roads, water storage and distribution systems and an extensive drainage system. Most of the buildings were removed soon after World War 1 and although the area was rarely used by the Army, the area was retained by the Commonwealth because of its strategic value. About half the reserve was cleared to establish pasture for military horses and grazing leases were issued between 1908 and 1945. A hall, sheds and an oval were built for local community recreation activities.

Today all the buildings are gone. Remaining evidence of past use include earthworks, drainage and foundations and changes in the pattern of vegetation following regrowth after clearing.

I visited this large Reserve on April 6, 2007, exploring the main walking tracks.

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