This billabong up till 50 years ago was a magnificent, large U shaped billabong with two entrances to The Yarra and extending almost to The Boulevard. It contained water most of the time and teamed with fish, eels and birdlife – some migrating from as far away as Japan.
Like so many areas in Yarra Flats Park the Banksia Billabong has had a torturous history since European settlement [see 'Story of the Banksia Billabong' ]. It was consumed by farmland for 140 years and then subjected to “land reclamation” in the 1970’s destroying much of it apart from 200m of the south-east section.
The natural flooding of The Yarra has diminished significantly so it is now dry most of the time.
To make matters worse further neglect by Parks Victoria over the last 30 years has resulted in severe weed infestation.
It is amazing that anything natural has survived!
However, of all the billabongs in the park it actually has the best old growth River Red Gums around it. These can provide the framework for regeneration if a mechanism for re-watering the billabong can be found.
Fortunately the nearby Banksia Street stormwater drain can be the source of this water, and this is exactly what Melbourne Water is working towards.
However, the spectre of the Treetops development right across the un-destroyed section of the billabong is a major threat to this.
Visiting the billabong
The best section of the billabong to visit is the section between the shelter at the end of the carpark road and the river. This has had the least disturbance and has all the old growth trees.
However, it is not easy to walk around as there are only meandering, unmarked, informal tracks to use.
Use the ‘Interactive Map’ to help find your way.
The Bunyip Hole is very interesting and reasonably easy to see. It has several old growth River Red Gums around it. Its history is vague but probably is a natural basin in an old billabong that has been excavated and filled at various times. It often has water in it.
The easiest path to follow is from the very far end of the road. This leads to the river side track at the entrance of the billabong to the river. From here it is about 30m downstream along the riverside track to a good view of the Bunyip Hole.
It is possible to walk along the floor of the billabong but there is no track there, so take care. Snakes from October to April will be present!