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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yarra Flats - Ivanhoe East

Yarra Flats Park, 10 km NE of the city, in suburban East Ivanhoe, nestled beside the Yarra River, features 85 ha of pastoral and heritage landscapes, natural bushland, shimmering wetlands, abundant birdlife and informal picnic areas.

There are 3.5 km of fine gravel trail, including a section of the long Main Yarra Trail.

The Yarra Flats area was originally inhabited by members of the Wurundjeri tribe of Aboriginals. The area is still significant to the existing descendants of the Wurundjeri.

During the 1830s some of the earliest land sales in Melbourne originated at Yarra Flats.

In the 1860s droughts and floods forced many farmers and most of the intensive agricultural practices off the land. It was during this time that dairy farmers established themselves.

During the flourishing years of the 1880s-90s large estates were built and the Heidelberg School of Art enjoyed the landscapes. The likes of Condon, McCubbin and Streeton captured these memories on canvas. They are now recognised as National Treasures. Many of the paintings are reproduced along the Artists' Trail.

At the turn of the century farms were being gradually replaced by grand houses such as those of the Glenard Estate designed by Walter Burley Griffin.

The last dairy farmers were the Flemming brothers who sold their land in the 1970s.

The park was officially opened to the public in 1984.

With its tranquil wetlands and riparian vegetation, Yarra Flats supports a unique array of birds such as owls, herons, kingfishers and parrots. Possums, wombats, frogs, reptiles, insects and fish are also important inhabitants of this area and the Annulus Wildlife Sanctuary (a conservation area within the park) has been fenced-off to protect these and other species of native fauna (and flora).

During the late 1800s, much of the native vegetation was cleared for agriculture. Since the 1970s, Yarra Flats has slowly been revegetated and now has a healthy degree of regeneration. Remnants of those earlier farming practices can be seen by the rows of Cyprus Pines used to separate and protect the paddocks or fields and now stand as a reminder of our heritage. The native vegetation of Yarra Flats provides valuable habitat for a wide variety of animals.

I visited the Park on July 30, 2007, with a hike of some 6 km along the Tracks.

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