Horsham - Local Species
In terms of plant life, the forest is where east meets west. Gullies at Moleside Creek contain the most westerly tree ferns in Australia and at least 60 other plant species which are found no further west. At the same time many West Australian plants occur here - the edge of their eastern range - so that a total of 700 species, including 50 orchids, can be found in and around forest, heath, swamp and river.
Apart from the rare Soap Mallee, the Portland and Horsham area contains several other rare or vulnerable plant species, including Coast Ground-berry (Acrotriche cordata), Mountain Daisy (Oxide achellaeoides ssp. arenicola), Drooping Velvet Bush (Lasiopetalum schulzenii) and Bog Sedge (Schoenus deformis).
There are several vegetation types in the forest. Wet sclerophyll forests grow along river edges, consisting of tall eucalypt tree species and an understorey of Blackwood, Hop Goodenia, Woolly Tea-tree and Hazel Pomaderris. These forests also include spectacular fern gullies with abundant Coral Fern.
Away from the damp river bank, higher up the slopes, grow dry sclerophyll forests dominated by Silver Banksia, Beaked Hakea and Austral Grass Trees. Floristically rich heathlands grow in waterlogged undernourished soils and contain plants like she-oaks, tea-trees, rushes and sedges. A colony of Rough Treefern grow nearby. This species is restricted to only a few locations so its protection is vital.
The most common mammals in the area are the Red-necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) and Grey Kangaroo. However, a keen observer may be lucky enough to see a koala, or a platypus. The large gum trees and old tree hollows are an important habitat for Yellow-bellied Gliders, considered to be a vulnerable species in Victoria. Eastern Grey Kangaroos graze near the picnic areas and Koalas may be seen in the nearby eucalypts in drier months. Red-necked Wallabies occur throughout the park and Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) can often be seen foraging for ants. Copperhead and Tiger Snakes are sometimes seen sunning themselves on a warm day.
Many bird species also frequent the forest including wrens, honeyeaters, rosellas and Bronzewing Pigeons. They are particularly noticeable during Spring when the rich smell of Soap Mallee nectar is in the air. Southern Yellow Robins, White-throated Tree-creepers and Bronzewing Pigeons live in the wetter forest areas. Galahs, ravens and Gang-gang Cockatoos occupy drier forest areas and various ducks and cormorants frolic on the water. Birds include the Emu, Crimson Rosella, Gang-gang Cockatoo and Currawong. Smaller birds frequently seen include honeyeaters, thornbills, wattlebirds, Silver-eyes, robins, finches and tree creepers. Among the less common bird species are the Southern Emu-Wren, Beautiful Firetail, King Quail and Rufous Bristlebird.