Enjoy the Wetlands
Beyond the equestrian centre and Arilla restaurant, Boneo Park has a quite extraordinarily biodiverse natural landscape of 300 hectares right in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula. There are more than ten kilometres of trails through the wetland, woodland and grassland of this unique property.
Most of the freshwater Tootgarook Wetland is in Boneo Park, providing habitat for 160 bird species. There are hundreds of native plant species in the wetland and woodland with 60 hectares of the iconic Moonah, the beautiful gnarly old trees of southern Victoria.
Walkers, birdwatchers, photographers, and nature lovers are welcome to walk around this paradise. Photographers can choose between the birds, or the incredibly varied landscape and flora.
The freshwater Tootgarook Wetland is the Mornington Peninsula’s dominant wetland. Most of its 300 hectares is within Boneo Park, and most is in excellent condition and protected in perpetuity by a conservation covenant. There are tracks around the wetland, mostly constructed early last century for farming agriculture and peat-extraction for fertiliser production. Today we are fortunate that this network of trails makes it easy to explore the property.
The wetland provides habitat for a large variety of birds, including many migratory and endangered species. The full list is here. The wetland vegetation is extremely diverse, with a range ground-forbs, herbs, ferns, sedges, tussocks, reeds, shrubs and trees. The property has so far described 13 different EVCs (Ecological Vegetation Classes) all endangered, and an amazing 74 different habitat zones. Boneo Park has biodiversity in its vegetation!
The 50 hectares of grasslands in Boneo Park show the greatest impact of 150 years of farming, but despite this some have retained their environmental value. The grasslands have been used for market gardens and grazing in the past and are now mostly used for the equestrian centre and haymaking. The high-quality grasslands of about 10 hectares have been covenanted. We are gradually restoring more of the degraded to grassland.
Moonah woodland, or Coastal Alkaline Scrub, is now an endangered EVC. Boneo Park has perhaps the best example of these beautiful old trees (some hundreds of years old) with 60 hectares in excellent condition.
Mostly an open woodland, there is an understory of grasses, mosses and orchids. Notable is the EPBC listed Leafy Greenhood Orchid.
Our most common tours are suitable for walkers, photographers and bird watchers. Boneo Park has
two guides; both have been working full time for Boneo Park for more than six years and know the property intimately. Cameron Brown is an excellent photographer, bird watcher and environmental campaigner. Cameron discovered the rare Australasian Bittern and photographed the Southern Emu-wren on Boneo Park. The bird photos on this web site were taken by Cameron. Maayan Rousso knows and loves every detail of Boneo Park and is constantly reminded that this wetland will never cease to surprise and intrigue. Her passion, knowledge and enthusiasm make her an excellent guide.
The tracks are mostly grassed and level, so the walking is not difficult. You may choose from the free
1.5 km circuit of our wetland lake, or part of. More extended walks up to 10 km require a guide, which we provide for a charge. Bookings essential.
OPENING TIMES - In winter 2019 the property is open Wednesday through to Sunday, 9.00am to 4.00pm for booked tours. Opening hours are expected to be extended later in the year.
Lake Circuit 1.5km
This easy circuit of the wetland lake can be walked in less than half an hour, but allow longer to watch the birdlife and enjoy the scenery. There is no charge for this walk, and you are welcome to do this any time at your own convenience while Boneo Park is open.
BOOKINGS: NO BOOKING REQUIRED
These walks require a guide, yours or ours. Our guide costs $50 per hour or part of an hour for the group, regardless of size. The maximum walk is about 10 km, and we tailor the walk for you. You may want photography, bird watching, variety of scenery, or just a brisk 10 km walk to work up an appetite for lunch. This is your choice. Walks are commonly two hours.
COST: $50 per hour
GROUP SIZE: 1 - 40
BOOKINGS: Bookings are essential and require 24hrs notice.
TIME: 2 hrs recommended
Every Wednesday at 10.00am there is a two-hour walk around the property. This walk tours the wetland and Moonah woodland, and the best birdwatching and photography spots.
WHEN: Wednesday at 10 am
COST: $25 per person
BOOKINGS: Bookings are required by Tuesday at 4.00pm.
TIME: 2 hrs
MEET: At the front of the restaurant, Arilla
WHAT TO BRING
You may bring your camera and binoculars. Dress sensibly for the weather, and take water. There are no toilets on the walk. The terrain is quite flat, so walking shoes are fine. The walk through the Moonah woodland has some undulations.
Boneo Park offers a range of educational school group tours and school holiday activities that can be tailored to the student's level.
PROTECTING BONEO PARK
The Boneo Park property has the largest privately protected habitat on the Mornington Peninsula. Environmentally diverse with hundreds of species of native flora and fauna, including about 160 bird species, the property deserves protection. In January 2013 the most significant 200 hectares were placed under a Trust for Nature conservation covenant which protects this land in perpetuity from development and insensitive use. Funded by an offset scheme, the property is being cleaned up and restored in what may be the largest clean up on private land in Victoria. Whilst there is still work to be done, we are proud of what we have achieved, and we are happy to throw our doors open for you to appreciate this precious land.