Inner Melbourne Reedbeds (Vic)

This short article originally appeared in VicBabbler, a journal of Birds Australia.

Throughout Victoria reedbeds have become an increasingly scarce habitat with large areas of destruction through development, road construction, drainage and pollution. Despite this one of our largest reedbed stands is just over a kilometre away from the centre of Melbourne.

Located on the western edge of the Dockland precinct on the Moonee Ponds Creek this reedbed is both brackish and tidal. Dominated by the common reed Phragmites australis and other emergent macrophytes, such as sedge and rush, it provides an extremely important habitat and food source for a diverse range of bird species, including those that are specifically reliant upon this type of environment, such as Golden-headed Cisticola, Little Grassbird and Clamorous Reed Warbler.

A large variety of waterbirds feed and nest amongst the reeds including Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Chestnut and Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Sacred Ibis, Hoary-headed Grebe, Darter, White-faced and Nankeen Night Heron, Little Pied, Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant. The area contains both the Royal Spoonbill and Great Egret, which hunts like a stalker on the edge of the tidal flat, and it is a potential site for bittern, rail and crake, as well as migrating waders.

The Moonee Ponds Creek reedbed can be classified as a riverine environment, and despite suffering considerable negative change since European settlement through loss and degradation it remains an important habitat for a wide range of birds. It also provides support for many plants and animals, such as snails, dragonfly and moths. In general the pollution levels of the Moonee Ponds Creek have improved, with a range of new litter traps being built on the creek, however more conservation measures are obviously necessary.

How to get there?
Located at the the intersection of the Moonee Pond Creek and Footscary Road west of the ‘Dockand Stadium’ the main stand of reeds is next to an area signposted the ‘Moonee Ponds Ck Native Revegatation Area’. Access is awkaward, with no parking facilaties at this cite. Probably the best place to park on Sudholz Street via Docklands Drive (Melways Map 43, A7); alternatively some parking is available at the BP Service Station on Footscary Road – and the area can also be access via Capital City Bike Trail. I recommend that you investigate both sides of the Moonee Ponds Creek as well as heading northward for several hundreds towards Flemington.

While in the area visit a rare stand of White Mangroves (Avicennia marina) at the Stony Creek Backwash, located directly under the West Gate Bridge. It's a good site for Royal Spoonbill and Great Egret, with access via Hyde Street Melways Map 42, C11.