Matthews Hill Grassland, Sunshine

Saturday 19 September 2020. Over the years the Handels have cycled many times to Tom O’Brien Park, a playground in Sunshine on the Footscray–Sunshine bike path, as well as to the adjacent Matthews Hill Reserve, but before today we had never previously visited the adjoining Matthews Hill Grassland. Matthews Hill Grassland is a rare urban pocket of Natural Temperate Grassland, a vegetation type once widespread across the Victorian Volcanic Plain bioregion, which stretches from Melbourne to Hamilton in Victoria’s south-west. Natural Temperate Grassland is considered to be critically endangered. After a pleasant ride through West Footscray and Tottenham, we arrived at Matthews Hill Reserve, parked our bikes inside one of the access gates to the grassland and began to walk along the designated path. A social trail continues beyond the official path, but of course one would not want to disturb the habitat, and besides, when the weather warms up, the danger of snakes is quite real: Stony Creek runs along the grassland’s eastern boundary. At the western end of the grassland, metal kangaroo structures have been installed; they simultaneously complement and sit in contrast to the decommissioned silos of the former Sunshine Barley Terminal, which remind one of the industrial heritage of Melbourne’s west – as does the prominent Olex tower to the grassland’s east. After our walk in the grassland we played football in the reserve and rode back to Handel HQ for afternoon tea. Lovely.

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