Sunny Creek is southwest of Trafalgar in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges in west Gippsland.
The biodiversity site measures approximately 140ha, with over 100ha managed under a formal agreement. The site is characterised by tall eucalypt forests and deep fern gullies. It is home to the world’s tallest flowering plant – mountain ash (eucalyptus regnans), which towers over Cretaceous sediments and volcanic rocks (Australia Geoscience, 2015).
Sunny Creek is unique among our biodiversity sites for protecting two threatened rainforest types –cool temperate rainforest and Strzeleckis warm temperate rainforest. Populations of three threatened fern species exist within these environs. The site also provides habitat to a further seven rare and threatened flora and fauna including trees, invertebrates, birds and mammals.
The site is also home to populations of superb lyrebirds and koalas.
Work over the next 10 years to conserve and improve the site includes:
- Planting of canopy trees in areas where none, or very few exist.
- Eradication of weeds including blackberry, ragwort and wandering trad.
- Control of pest animals including foxes, rabbits and deer.
- Protecting the site by maintaining and installing fences for exclusion of stock.
Rare fern at Sunny Creek
The delicate filmy maidenhair fern (Adiantum diaphanum) is critically endangered in Victoria and is only found in a handful of locations in the state’s Strzelecki Ranges, including Sunny Creek.
The fern is just one of the many endangered species of fauna and flora Gippsland Water’s environment team is supporting and preserving in the region.
More commonly found in warmer parts of the country as well as New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Southern China and Fiji, the fern prefers wet rock faces and riverbanks near waterfalls where humidity is higher and protection from fire is ample.
Dark green in colour, the fern has tufted fronds that can grow up to 25cm long.
There are currently two small colonies at Sunny Creek, each measuring no more than two meters squared.
Gippsland Water’s environment team has been actively managing and monitoring weeds, pest animal activity and disturbance events at the site for several years.
In 2016 the Sunny Creek population of filmy maidenhairs became permanently protected under a conservation covenant.