Fauna & Flora
Melbourne has a diverse & unique landscape that constantly changes throughout each part of the State you travel through. From our amazing coastline of the Great Ocean Road with spectacular beaches on one side of the highway to the lushness of the Otway ranges on the other or the magnificent mountains, rivers and waterfalls through the magical Grampian Ranges - you will always discover hidden treasure and marvellous scenic experiences.
Our Flora & Fauna state emblems consist of the Common Heath, a flower, the Leadbeater Possum, a mammal, and the Helmeted Honeyeater, a bird.
The Common Heath
The Common Heath is a slender, upright shrub growing to about a metre in height. It has narrow, sharply pointed leaves with tubular flowers growing to about 25 mm in length arranged singularly in between the leaves forming a cluster of flowers to give it a brush like appearance.
It can be found around our coastal regions and adjoining foothills, within the Grampians and the Little dessert. It is also grown in Tasmania. The Common Heath grows in a variety of colours ranging from pure white, pale pink, rose pink, crimson, scarlet, with the pink variety being chosen and proclaimed as Victoria's floral emblem.
The Leadbeater's Possum
This possum is a shy small nocturnal marsupial, highly agile and living only in Victoria and habitats within the tall eucalypt forests within Central Victoria. This possum is regarded as one of the rare members of our fauna species. It was originally found in 1867 north of the Wonthaggi area of West Gippsland. With sightings few and far between it was thought that the possum became extinct with last sightings in 1909. It was a great surprise to science when the species was rediscovered near Marysville in 1961.
The length of Leadbeater's Possum is about 40cm in length from nose to tail tip. About half of the possum's length is made up from its long club-shaped tail. It has a cute little face with soft dense fur in a dark greyish-brown colour with a whiter underbelly sharp claws and strong fingers to help them in climb. It is a nimble creature that jumps from branch to branch feeding upon insects living in the foliage.
The attractive Helmeted Honeyeater's territory is in a small area on Woori Yallock Creek near Yellingbo on the outskirts of Melbourne. The Helmeted Honeyeater has sadly become an endangered species due to being particularly vulnerable to habitat disturbances, as it requires a combination of manna and swamp gums, with tea-trees and shrubby bushes alongside grass-lined watercourses for a balanced existence.
The birds are about 20cm in total length with the upper parts of the body olive-grey with the outer wing and tail feathers greenish-yellow. Underparts are yellowish-green with dark streaks. The sides of the head are glossy black with golden ear tufts and a yellow throat. Both crown and forehead are golden yellow with plush like feathers projecting slightly over the base of the bill and forming the distinctive helmet that distinguishes them from all other honeyeaters.
Helmeted Honeyeaters gather most of their food from the bark, twigs and leaves of the eucalypts. Manna is a key source of food. Manna is the substance secreted by trees at broken or damaged parts to trunks and branches. When it is available nectar is gathered from eucalypt flowers. It also feeds on insects and spiders, which provide essential proteins in the Helmeted Honeyeater diet.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia