The primary objectives of this project conducted by Maldon Urban Landcare Inc. (MULGA) in 2017-2019 were to obtain detailed records for eucalypts that were growing before 1852 (pre-European settlement) in Maldon, and to achieve long-term protection for these trees under the Mt. Alexander Shire Council Planning Scheme, or an appropriate alternative scheme. The large, old indigenous eucalypt trees still surviving in the township of Maldon are of significant environmental and historical significance, and are rare examples of pre-European settlement vegetation in an urban setting.
Initial work for this project was carried out by the late Wendy French in 2009-2010. In early 2017, MULGA members, assisted by Frances Cincotta from Newstead Natives, conducted a detailed survey of trees with a circumference of at least 1815mm (using formula described below in reverse for trees at least 165 years old), measured at a height of 1.3m (breast height, BH). Further surveys were conducted by MULGA members in 2018 and 2019. The data recorded were the eucalypt species, GPS location, circumference at 1.3m, and a photograph was taken. The tree diameter at BH over bark (DBHOB) was calculated by circumference/3.14. An average growth rate of 3.5mm1 was used for all species recorded and the estimated age was calculated by DBHOB/3.5. Sites surveyed included public land (Maldon Primary School, Maldon Hospital, Police station land, Bill Woodfull Reserve), private land (including St. Brigid’s Catholic Church), roadsides managed by the Mt. Alexander Shire Council, and parts of the Maldon Historic Reserve (Pond Drive, lower slopes of Anzac Hill, The Butts Reserve, near Stump and Reef Sts).
Of the 263 pre-1852 eucalypts surveyed in Maldon on public and private land (64) and roadsides (199), 45% are Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box); 31% are Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box), 8% are Eucalyptus goniocalyx (Long-leaved Box), 8% are Eucalyptus leucoxylon subsp. pruinosa (Yellow Gum), 7% are Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. vestita (Red Box) and there is 1 Eucalyptus macrorhyncha (Red Stringybark). The surveyed eucalypts are estimated to be aged between 170 and 545 years old; 82% are estimated to be 200-399 years old and there are 9 trees estimated to be aged 400-499 years and 3 trees aged 530-545 years. This means that 82% of the trees are estimated to have started growing between the years of 1620 and 1819, and 12 trees between the years of 1474 and 1619.
In addition, MULGA members surveyed 44 pre-1852 eucalypts on parts of the Maldon Historic Reserve – the lower slopes of Anzac Hill, Pond Drive, part of The Butts at the base of Mt. Tarrengower, and an area near Stump and Reef Sts. The species recorded are Grey Box (41%), Yellow Box (23%), Long-leaved Box (23%), and Red Box (14%). All of these trees, estimated to be between 190 and 645 years old, are protected in the Maldon Historic Reserve, which is managed by Parks Victoria.
The data and location for all 307 pre-1852 eucalypts surveyed are now entered on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.
Go to http://www.connectingcountry.org.au/landcare/mulga to access 3 maps which show the location of all of the pre-1852 eucalypts surveyed. There is also a brochure, Living Treasures, available in the Maldon Visitors Information Centre, which includes information and a map for some of the pre-1852 trees in the central part of Maldon.
1. ECC (2001) Box-Ironbark Forests & Woodlands Investigation. Final Report. Environment Conservation Council, Melbourne.
2. DELWP (2016) Biodiversity Interactive Map – 1750 EVCs. Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Melbourne.
Image caption: Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box), at Bill Woodfull Reserve, estimated age 530 years.