Big turnout at open day
More than 120 people witnessed the wonders of Wanderslore Sanctuary at its annual open day on Sunday 22 October.
They walked in the footsteps of the late Constance Coleman who gifted her patch of paradise to Trust for Nature in 1987 as a reserve for wildlife and native plants.
This 10-hectare jewel at Launching Place in the Upper Yarra Valley has been cared for since by a hard-working committee of management and local volunteers, known as the Friends of Wanderslore.
Visitors were treated to a sausage sizzle, nature walks and a chance to explore Ms Coleman's studio where she painted and wrote poetry inspired by the bush.
Ecologist and committee of management member Lincoln Kern was one of the guides, taking people on a journey past yabby holes and delicate orchids into the heart of Wanderslore.
As we descended the valley to a background of birdsong, it was hard to imagine we were only a few hundred metres from the Warburton Highway.
Insights into nature
Pausing by a giant eucalypt, Lincoln explained that tree hollows are used by 31% of native mammals, 15% of birds and 10% of reptiles. In addition, their bark slabs and crevices are coveted by bats, spiders and insects.
Meanwhile, all around us was a profusion of ferns, mosses and fungi as we traversed lowland forest and swampy woodland.
Emerging into a small clearing populated by grass trees, we discovered the remains of a duck egg likely eaten by a tree goanna.
There had also been signs along the way of wombats, echidnas, possums and antechinus - all of which was confirmed by a display table of scat and skulls lovingly curated by volunteer Carol Clarke.
Trust for Nature is eternally grateful to people like Carol and the other Friends of Wanderslore who aim to keep alive Costance Coleman's vision of a bushland sanctuary.
The Constance connection
One person clearly delighted with the record open day turn-out was Geoff Durham, convenor of the Wanderslore Committee of Management.
For Geoff, Wanderslore has been a labour of love for more than 30 years and he is particularly pleased to see new people falling under its spell.
"The future of this place rests with the local community," he says. "We're always happy to welcome new friends to Wanderslore."
Geoff's connection to the place had its genesis in the 1940s when he was a student of Constance Coleman, then teaching at Bacchus Marsh.
She later encouraged him to take up law and organised a position for him at a city law firm where his career flourished.
Geoff went on to become Ms Coleman's lawyer, acting for her as she bought up blocks of land and later helping consolidate the title for the sanctuary. Ms Coleman had previously inherited her father's fishing shack on a small block of land at Launching Place and this was to become the nucleus of Wanderslore.
She devoted her income to acquiring adjoining bush blocks to create the bushland sanctuary we see today.
Sunday's open day was part of Trust for Nature's program of Spring Into Nature community events.