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Donna Buang Range, Warburton, VIC, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Indicative Place
Place ID 15429
Place File No 2/16/297/0009
Nominator's Statement of Significance
The Donna Buang Range is of regional significance due to: its outstanding visual importance as a component of the beautiful Upper Yarra Valley; the magnificent panoramic views obtainable from many places within the range; its importance as a habitat for native plants and animal species; its role in the provision of nature based recreational activities that are easily accessible to people of Melbourne.
Official Values Not Available
Description
History:
The earliest inhabitants of this area, the Yarra tribes, are believed to have referred to these Ranges as Thuonna-be-wong, meaning the place of the mist and this name appears to have remained in the modified form as Mount Toole-Be-Wong. Although the Yarra Flats area was settled in 1837 and the Yering Pastoral Run extended to the foothills of Mount Toole-Be-Wong, the upper section of the Yarra Valley and its enclosing mountains were not properly explored until 1844, when Robert Hoddle, the Surveyor General, took a party of explorers to locate the headwaters of the Yarra. The search for gold in the 1850s and 1860s assisted in the settlement of the Yarra Valley but had little impact on the steep forested slopes of the Donna Buang Range. Utilisation of the forest for timber may have started earlier than the 1880s, although transport of these logs to the Melbourne markets must have been exceedingly difficult before the rail link from Melbourne to Lillydale was opened in 1881. The railway line to Warburton was opened in 1901 and provided substantial impetus for the development of an extensive network of timber tramways throughout the Upper Yarra forests. Fires swept through sections of these forests in 1926, 1932 and 1939, damaging substantial areas of harvestable timber and ending the period of timber tramways and isolated sawmilling settlements. Although, today, logging in the Yarra Valley contributes only a small proportion of the total Victorian production, there are still a substantial number of sawmills operating in the Valley, reflecting the historical importance of this industry. Timber growing is still considered to have important socio-economic value for this area. Although there is little timber in the region suitable for milling at present those areas which do remain are important to the stability of the local economy, to tide it over until the 1939 regeneration becomes the size and type suitable for economic utilisation.

Description:
The Donna Buang Range includes the steep slopes and crests of Mounts Boobyalla, Victoria, Donna Buang, Ben Cairn and Toole-Be-Wong. This is a vital recreation area for Melbourne and includes features of special scenic beauty and of scientific and educational interest. There are a range of ecological communities within this area whose occurrence is profoundly affected by elevation and aspect. The uppermost peaks carry a sub-alpine woodland of the snow gum on shallow, often skeleton, occasionally swampy, black organic soils. Wet sclerophyll forests of alpine ash and mountain ash grow below the alpine area. In the elevated sheltered gullies are pockets of cool temperate rainforest dominated by myrtle beech. Deep, well structured soils are typical of the area, there appearing to be a graduation in colour from the red soils of the lower slopes with the lower rainfall, to the brown soils higher up with increased rainfall. On the westerly slopes of Mount Toole-Be-Wong dry sclerophyll forest contrasts with the wet environment of the southern slopes. This community is dominated by broad leaf peppermint, red stringybark and long leaf box and was probably once widespread throughout the region. Donna Buang is the closest winter snow area to Melbourne and its recreation significance is high. In summer the cooler climate of the high altitude and forest are a relief from the oppressive heat in the lowlands. To the west are areas of old speculative subdivisions, for example near the top of Mount Toole-Be-Wong and in the Don Valley on the lower slopes of Ben Cairn. Development of these areas would be devastating to both the physical and visual aspects of the landscape. Spectacular panoramic views are available from many viewing points throughout this area, including the view of Warburton through the mature mountain ash forest, the razored Cathedral Range, set amongst the sculptured hills around Taggerty, provides a spectacular view from Donna Buang. To the east mountain scenery stretches as far as Mount Gregory. Beautiful views of the Donna Buang Range across the Yarra Valley take in the River, with its meandering tree lined course flanked by the lush pastures of farms clustered along the valley floor. The mountains form a majestic back drop of a steep, dark, forested range in strong contrast to the cleared flat alluvial plain. Intimate scenes within the range, mountain springs, myrtle beech gullies, tall forests and cleared pasture lands, provide an ever changing combination of elements. Roads such as the Acheron Way and Ben Cairn Road provide excellent scenic drives for locals and tourists alike. The native vegetation that has been retained on this range contributes both to the visual character and the ecological significance of the area. The high quality wet sclerophyll mountain ash and cool temperate rain forest communities along creek gullies within the Cement Creek catchment represent the largest area of high quality vegetation associated with a creek system which is close to and runs into the Yarra River. This community includes some of the oldest vegetation within this area and is extremely visually attractive, adding to the scenic beauty of the range. Within the Myrtle Gully Scenic Reserve there is an outstanding stand of myrtle beech, within an unusual occurrence of mountain ash forest on a hillside, rather than its usual location within a sheltered gully. Along one section of the Ben Cairn Road, partially enclosed by Ben Cairn to the west and another ridge to the east, are several large, dense stands of Lemon Bottlebrush (CALLISTEMON PALLIDUS) which has only been found on two sites in this region. The sub-alpine woodland at the summit on Mount Donna Buang with the white, red and orange trunks of the snow gums and the diverse wildflowers in mid summer, give this small area a very different character from the surrounding lower altitude forests. The wet sclerophyll forest on the section of the Range east of Ben Cairn supports a high number of bird species, including the lyrebird and good populations of most wet forest animals including the frequently sighted wombat and black wallaby. Leadbeater's possum is known to occur in the Cement Creek catchment and has been sighted at Ben Cairn, on the Donna Buang Tourist Road and along the Acheron Way south of the Acheron Gap. This animal is one of the two mammals which is endemic to Victoria, the other being the smoky mouse. Although considered extinct since the early 1900s, it was rediscovered in 1961 near Marysville. Its range appears to be largely confined to the tall montane forest of the Central Highlands. This possum seems to require a mixed age forest and all known populations centre on areas containing an over mature (over 150 years old) forest overstorey, which provides suitable hollows for nest sites. The drier slopes of Mount Toole-Be-Wong provide a substantially different type of habitat which supports a wide range of animals including many reptiles (eg White's skink, water skink, McCoy skink and the lace monitor).
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
Good. (1996)
Location
The Donna Buang Range is located approximately forty miles east of Melbourne, generally between the townships of Healesville and Warburton. The area extends from the Healesville to Koo Wee Rup road in the west to Smith Hill in the east and from Badger Creek in the north to the Yarra River in the south. It abuts the Upper Yarra River landscape and to the east the O'Shannassy Catchment landscape.
Bibliography
Fleming, M.R. "Sites of Zoological Significance in the Upper Yarra Regions". M.R. Fleming, I.D. Temby, R.L. Thomson. Environmental Studies Program, Task Report No. 247, Ministry for Conservation, Victoria, 1979.
Gullan, P.K. "Sites of Botanical Significance in the Upper Yarra Region" P.K. Gullan, D.M. Parkes, A.G. Morton, M.J. Bartley. Environmental Studies Program, Ministry for Conservation, Victoria, 1979.
Hodges (1993), Hodges, Sue for the Australian Heritage Commission, Survey of Art and Literature Sources: relating to East Gippsland and the Central Highlands Area, 1993.
Johnston, Lewis, Mathews & McCann (1993), Chris Johnston: Context Pty Ltd, Nigel Lewis: Nigel Lewis Richard Aitken Pty Ltd, Steve Mathews and Joy McCann, Places of importance from the Central Highlands Workshops, Unpublished, 1993.
Kelly, R. From Healesville to Mt Donna Buang "Victorian Naturalist" Vol. 28, 1911.
Light Railway Research Society of Australia "Tall Timber and Tramlines" LRRSA, Victoria, March 1974.
Marriott, K.L. "The Yarra Valley" Melbourne, Sorrett Publishing, 1975.
National Trust of Australia (Victoria) - November 1982, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Landscape Resources: Upper Yarra Valley & Dandenong Ranges, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Melbourne, 1982.
National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Landscape File L53.
Tansley, M.R. "The Conservation of Sites and Structures of Historical and Archaeological Significance in the Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Region". Research Report, BTRP, University Of Melbourne, 1978.
Upper Yarra Conservation Society "The Don Valley Wedge": A Submission to the Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Authority. November 1977.
Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association - no date (a), Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association, How to Enjoy the Upper Yarra Valley (tourist brochure), Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association, Warburton, Victoria.
Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association - no date (b), Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association, The Upper Yarra Valley (tourist magazine), Upper Yarra Valley Tourist Association.
Victoria, Forests Commission "Forests of the Acheron Way and Mt Donna Buang Road" (Pamphlet).

Report Produced  Mon Sep 22 03:40:54 2014