ESA 2024 Field Trips

Planning is in full swing for ESA 2024. If you would like to propose a Field Trip for the final day of the program, Friday 13 December 2024, please download the below form and return it to

Wilsons Promontory National Park (4-day pre-conference Field Trip)

Date: Thursday 5 – Sunday 8 December
Departure time: 1000 on Thursday 5 December (departing from MacLeod Railway Station in mini buses)
Return to Melbourne: 1800 on Sunday 8 December
Participation fee: $495 inc GST
Inclusions: 3 nights accommodation; dinner on Thursday; breakfast, lunch and dinner on both Friday and Saturday; breakfast on Sunday. Lunch is at own expense on Thursday 5 December and Sunday 8 December.

PLEASE NOTE: Accommodation will be shared rooms in a group lodge, with communal shared facilities.

CANCELLATION NOTE: Because accommodation has been arranged for this field trip, any name changes or cancellations must be sent to the Conference Secretariat by Wednesday 30 October.

Tour leader: Emeritus Professor Mike Clarke

What to bring: for safety, please wear enclosed, practical footwear, long trousers and sun protection. There is no difficult terrain or strenuous activity on this field trip. There are no cafes etc nearby so please bring a drink bottle to carry plenty of water during the day.

This Field Trip will explore sites across the promontory that showcase the fire ecology of the park, it’s diverse ecosystems and the different challenges to management they pose. Hear briefings from researchers and managers working in the park. There will be free time to explore the wonders of this stunning landscape.


Thursday 5 December
1000Depart from MacLeod Railway Station in mini buses
1200Lunch (Korumburra or Leongatha, participants buy own lunch)
1400Arrive Wilsons Promontory National Park (Yanakie Isthmus section of the park)
Introduction to the landscape ecology, geomorphology and fire history of the northern section of the park. Sites to be visited will include Airstrip Wildlife Viewing area and Darby Saddle
1600-1700Arrive at Tidal River and settle into accommodation
2000Presentation: Introduction to the ecology of Wilsons Promontory and some of its fire management challenges.
Friday 6 December
0900The morning will be spent exploring the challenges of managing heathlands in the face of rapid invasion by Coast Tea-tree. We will walk from Tidal River through recently burnt heathlands to the Lilly Pilly Gully carpark and then over Tidal Overlook to inspect the impact of recent management actions, before returning to accommodation at Tidal River for lunch (length of walk 5.4 km, moderate grade).
1200Lunch at Tidal River Accommodation
1300-1500Introduction to the challenges of managing tall wet forests in a landscape that has suffered from too frequent fires; creating ‘landscape traps’. We will walk 0.5 km to a lookout on Mt Oberon to view affected areas and discuss management strategies in an era of climate change.
2000Presentation and discussion: TBA
Saturday 7 December
0900The morning will be spent gaining an understanding of the role of fire and herbivore control in managing invasion of Coastal Grassy Woodlands by Coast Tea-tree and Coast Wattle, and restoration of grasslands in the northern section of the park. Sites to be visited on foot (1km walk) will include Old Burn Track, Grasslands Track and the Big Hummock.
1200Lunch in the field (Stockyards campground near park entrance)
1300-1500We will explore the challenges of sand heathland conservation action involving combined application of mechanical mulching of invasive Coast Tea-tree, followed by prescribed fire. We will visit examples of healthy heathland along the Five Mile Track and inspect  tea-tree invaded sites at which both mulching and fire treatments have been applied along the Airstrip Firebreak.
2000Sharing of insights gained and opportunities for the future
Sunday 8 December
1000Depart from Tidal River
1200Lunch (Korumburra or Leongatha, participants buy own lunch)
1800Arrive Melbourne City
Note: The order of the field activities listed in this itinerary may alter depending on weather conditions on the day.

Birrarung Trial Floating Wetlands

Dates: Tuesday 10 – Thursday 12 December

Time: 1230-1330

Depart from: MCEC

Participation fee: $5 inc GST

Picnic lunchboxes will be provided for participants.

A trial to support the health of the Yarra River Birrarung and its wildlife, the City of Melbourne has installed floating wetlands as part of a project to reintroduce the lush biodiversity that once lived in around the Yarra. The project includes 5 floating wetlands that have been located in three locales along the river: the Turning Basin, Enterprize Park, Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands and on the river near Webb Bridge. As well as being visually attractive, these installations are a practical part of a commitment to restore and preserve Melbourne’s natural habitats.

Made from a series of interlocking modules, each floating wetland is planted with local indigenous species. The final plant choices were made with input from Wurundjeri’s Narrap team. The plants used differ across the three locations as decisions were made so that each floating wetland was populated with species that reflected the conditions in each area. The plants aim to replicate the ecologies that would have historically existed in the lower reach of the river. These include a variety of sedges, grasses, low shrubs and ground covers.

Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary, La Trobe University – Breakfast with the Birds

Date: Friday 13 December 2024
Departure Time: 0600
Return to Melbourne: 0900
Participation Fee: $TBA

Includes: Breakfast

What to bring: for safety, please wear enclosed, practical footwear, long trousers and sun protection. There is no difficult terrain or strenuous activity on this field trip.

The Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary is 30 hectare area of River Red Gum Grassy Woodland, dedicated to the conservation and restoration of native Australian flora and fauna. The Sanctuary was set up in 1967 and has been regenerated from a degraded farming landscape into a river red gum grassy woodland reminiscent of what this area was like when the traditional custodians of this land, the Wurundjeri, still resided in this place. Over time the Sanctuary has transformed into a leading educational facility with over 140 species of bird have been recorded at the Sanctuary.

This field trip will conclude with a light breakfast at Yellowbox Hut in the Sanctuary

Wild Otways Initiative: Conserving threatened species in the Otways through landscape-scale integrated threat management practices (Phytophthora cinnamomi and vertebrate pests)

Date: Friday 13 December 2024
Departure Time: 7:45am (pick up point to be advised)
Return to Melbourne: 6:15PM
Participation Fee: $225 inc GST per person

Includes: morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

What to bring: for safety, please wear enclosed, practical footwear, long trousers and sun protection. There is no difficult terrain or strenuous activity on this field trip. There are no cafes etc nearby so please bring plenty of water.

The Otways are home to varied and diverse landscapes; from flowing waterfalls amongst dense, towering wet forests of the Otway Ranges to heathy woodlands of the plains and the rugged coastline. People are drawn to the Otways for its endemic beauty, but beauty is not all it holds. The Otways are home to a vast array of native wildlife, many of which are threatened species. The Otways spans from the outskirts of Torquay in the east to Peterborough in the west and covers mixed tenures of private land, Great Otway National Park and state forest. The project area encompassed Maar and Wadawurrung Country, and traditional owners were engaged in numerous stages of project delivery.

This field trip will showcase work done through the Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative, which allowed Corangamite Catchment Management Authority to implement cross-tenure, landscape-scale threatened species research and land management actions from 2020 to 2023. The Initiative partnered with research and land management organisations to deliver conservation outcomes for native plants and animals across the Greater Otways region of Victoria, including threatened species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC, 1999).To support evidence-based action, the Initiative was divided into projects addressing the current extent of small native mammals, the quality of their habitat and the prevalence of multiple threatening processes: cats and foxes, pigs and deer and a deadly plant pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi.

ESA delegates attending the field trip will receive on-site talks and demonstrations on threatened fauna monitoring and conservation, including through integrated management practices for key threatening processes impacting these species. In-field presentations will include content from Parks Victoria on the use of Phosphite to manage the impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi – an invasive pathogen which casues habitat decline in a number of environments across Australia. The Wild Otways Initative drove a major step-change in Phytophthora management in Victoria, through securing the first off-label APVMA permit for the use of Phosphite in natural ecosystems. Background on the pathogen will be presented during travel time by globally renowned expert Professor Giles Hardy of Murdoch University. Integrated management for vertebrate pests such as pigs, cats, foxes and deer will also be explored through presentations by local stakeholders and researchers. Joint management with Traditional Owners in the Otways will also be explored as a topic of interest for best-practice landscape-scale conservation and land management.

This field trip will provide ESA delegates a practical overview of how applied research, innovative technologies, and stakeholder engagement can deliver outstanding outcomes for habitat preservation and threatened species conservation in Australia.


Depart Melbourne at 7:45. Arrive at Urquart Bluff for a presentation of Fauna Refuges of the Otway Ranges. Travel to Bunjil Mirr Lookout. Welcome to Country by Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation. Presentation on Joint Land Management arrangements between Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria and Traditional Owners.
Travel to Denhams Track. Attendees will be ferried from bus to lookout via Parks Vic/DEECA 4WDs. View Denhams Track Phosphite aerial spray trial viewing area. View the impact of Phytopthora cinnamomi with visible disease fronts, as well as the identified habitat refuge at the gully. Field Air contractors will be invited to speak about the aerial phosphite trial. Parks Vic to present on the predator control program, particularly in relation to the improvements being trialled out of Anglesea.

Mobilise for Carlisle, Peppermint parade. Conservation Ecology Centre to present on feral pig control and lessons learned as a community not-for-profit leading invasive species management. Melbourne University to present on Fire and feral predator interactions.

Mobilise for Melbourne via Colac, arriving back in Melbourne by 6:15pm.

Western Treatment Plant, Werribee

Date: Friday 13 December

Departure time: 0900

Return to Melbourne: 1700

Participation fee: $95 inc GST per person

What to bring: You are advised to wear long sleeves and long pants, with closed-in shoes.

The Werribee Western Treatment Plant processes 50% of Melbourne’s waste each day, but is also one of the best places in Australia for birdwatching. The site is an approximate 1 hour drive from Melbourne, enjoying views along the way of the Great Ocean Road and the Dandenong Ranges.

The Treatment Plant is made up of a number of lagoon systems, which typically contain 10 large ponds. These ponds are a safe-haven for birds throughout the year.

Starvation Creek (Forest Global Earth Observatory Network Site)

Date: Friday 13 December

Departure time: 0900

Return to Melbourne: 1700

Participation fee: $95 inc GST per person

Tour Leader: Professor Patrick Baker, University of Melbourne

What to bring: You are advised to wear long sleeves and long pants, with closed-in shoes.

The forest area at Starvation Creek near Warburton has provided the biggest and most detailed study of its kind, and will help scientists understand how climate change and fire affect trees. The survey – which took 15 months to complete – identified, measured, mapped, tagged and painted a stripe on every tree with a diameter larger than the width of a finger within 16 hectares.

Although the first in Australia, this plot is one of many around the World in the Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO).

Koorie Heritage Trust Scar Tree Walk

Dates: Friday 13 December

Time: 0930-1030

Depart from: Koorie Heritage Trust (The Yarra Building, Federation Square, Flinders St &, Swanston St, Melbourne

Participation fee: TBA

Please note, this walking tour covers a distance of approximately 1.25km

The Scar Tree Walk is a unique cultural experience that blends traditional and contemporary aspects of Aboriginal cultures and histories of the Kulin Peoples. Accompanied by knowledgeable Cultural Experiences Guides, the tour starts at the Koorie Heritage Trust and leads you through the Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) Aboriginal art installations. These installations provide a backdrop to the walk and offer a glimpse into what you will experience on the journey.

As you cross the William Barak Bridge, which spans Batman Avenue, you will gain insight into the historical significance of these two prominent figures who have played a vital role in shaping the history of Narrm (Melbourne) for both the local Aboriginal peoples and settlers. Once you cross the bridge, you will enter a traditional Kulin Nation meeting place, which has become a significant contemporary gathering spot for not just Melbournians and Victorians today, but also internationally as a home for sports and events.

Here, you will learn about the ongoing local Aboriginal culture in the setting of major sporting events at the MCG, before culminating at the Scar Trees, a protected cultural heritage site. This site offers a glimpse into a 60,000+ year-old history and culture within a contemporary, modern setting.