Woodlands Historic Park
former Back Paddock (Western Part)

See areas 8 and 9 on Aerial Photo Map. These areas were included in the Back Paddock until 2002 or so. (Although area 8 ends at the park boundary just south of the creek, the original back paddock extended across the creek onto the airport land.)

When the Back Paddock was down-sized the netting was reused on the new Back Paddock fence. The posts were pressure treated hardwood with plenty of life left. They were removed but some of them were used to build a new fence to keep horses out of the southern part (area 8). The division corresponds very approximately to the division between the original Woodlands and Cumberland properties (see History). The original boundary was in line with the southern boundary of the sugar gum plantation (area 4), and still shows up on the aerial photo as the edge of the trees.

Thus the horse riding area was expanded to include area 9, but not area 8 or the creek area to the south. The management plan was not updated however. Unfortunately the gates in the fence between area 8 and area 9 have been removed or are left open, so horses can now go where-ever their riders wish. This is why you are likely to see horse manure on the bike path - which is a lot better than seeing hoof prints in the grassland.

Capeweed in Area 9 in Sep. 2015, a dry year
Capeweed in the former Back Paddock Area of
  Woodlands Historic Park, Sep. 2015

The rationale for allowing horses into area 9 but not area 8 was clearly the lower quality of the ground cover on the former Woodlands property, where only a few of the hardiest native grasses survive and the most common plants are the weeds Paterson's Curse and Capeweed. In summer there is a lot of bare ground.

Chocolate Lily near the Bike Path
Chocolate Lily near the Bike Path in the former Back Paddock Area of
  Woodlands Historic Park, Oct. 2015

Conversely in the area that was originally Factor's land Kangaroo Grass is still common, along with Common Tussock Grass, Soft Tussock Grass and Iron Grass. In a limited area north of the western end of the bike path some native wild flowers were seen in 2015, including Sweet Hounds Tongue, Pink Bindweed and more rarely Small St. Johns Wort and Pale Sundew. In an even more limited area (including next to the bike path where they get slashed) there were some Chocolate Lilies and Bulbine Lilies.

The Pale Sundew has leaves with sticky glands to catch insects
Pale Sundew in the former Back Paddock Area of
  Woodlands Historic Park, Oct. 2015

However the natives are massively outnumbered by weeds including Paterson's Curse, Cape Weed, Cape Tulip and Large-flowered Wood Sorrel. Herbicide spraying in a wide strip along the bike path in 2016 controlled some of these. It retarded the growth of the natives but does not appear to have killed any.

Paterson's Curse in Area 8, Nov. 2016
Paterson's Curse in the former Back Paddock Area of
  Woodlands Historic Park, Oct. 2015

In area 9 Cape Tulip is mainly in smaller patches. To the east of the track from the homestead it only occurs near tracks and along the old Back Paddock fence line.

The blue line on the map towards the south of area 8 marks (approximately) the position of an old fence line. South of this line exotic grasses including Chilean Needle Grass and Phalaris become more common, along with Artichoke Thistle. There is a small hill with lots of basalt outcrops, and here at least 99.9% of the plants are weeds - this was already the case when the park was formed according to Robertson. On the other hand the flat land between the bike path and the creek seems to have become much more degraded since Robertson's survey. It is now dominated by weeds including Cape Tulip, Cape Weed, Soursob and Large-flowered Wood Sorrel.

A spectacular mix of Soursob (yellow) and Large-Flowered Wood Sorrel (pink) near Moonee Ponds Creek. Before European invasion such colourful displays would have been common, but of native instead of foreign plants, and with much more diversity.
Soursob (yellow) and Large-Flowered Wood Sorrel (pink) near Moonee Ponds Creek in Woodlands
  Historic Park, Sept. 2016

Apart from the weeds mentioned above, Serrated Tussock is also common in both area 8 and area 9 and was dense in some places in 2015. Any control will be temporary as long as there is no control of the extensive infestation on the Melbourne Airport land the other side of the creek. In recent years the Airport have sprayed Artichoke Thistle (somewhat ineffectively) but not Serrated Tussock which spreads much faster.


One of the many Rabbit Warrens in Area 8
Rabbit Warren in former Back Paddock area of Woodlands
  Historic Park, Jul. 2015

There are many large rabbit warrens in area 8. The worst problem is around the group of trees which is just above the figure 8 on the map , where there are four big active warrens in close proximity. At least another four warrens can be found within 70m to the north, east and south.