Epsom Conservation Reserve is a significant grassland located within the Epsom Estate between Jenkins Street and Jack Holt Way (Mel Ref 92 J1) in Mordialloc. Formally the Epsom Racecourse (the site was actually the centre of the racetrack), the reserve covers approximately 3.6 hectares of native grassland and significantly adds to the regions biodiversity. The adjacent man-made wetland provides almost two hectares of important bird habitat, stormwater filtration system and complements the nearby grasslands in its diversity of flora and fauna species.
The Epsom grassland is a rare vegetation community listed under the State Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988) as it contains species of state conservation significance. About 85% of Grassland in Victoria has been removed or substantially altered for agriculture and urban development.
The site contains three ecological vegetation classes with the most dominant being Plains Grassland (EVC 132_62), a rare and extremely important EVC in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Typical grass species found in this EVC include the attractive Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) Common Tussock Grass (Poa labillardierei) Smooth Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia laevis) and Australian Salt-grass (Distichlis distichopylla). During the latter months of winter and into spring, the white flowers of the Smooth Rice-flower (Pimelea glauca) can be seen along with the yellow button flowers of the Pale Swamp Everlasting (Helichrysum aff. Rutidolepis). A closer inspection will reveal some surprises including Sundews (Drosera sp.), Sun Orchids (Thelymitra sp.), Onion Orchids (Microtis unifolia) and the delicate native lily Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica).
There are two other vegetation classes in the reserve, Plains Grassy Wetland (EVC 125) and Tall Marsh (EVC 821). The former is dominated by water sedges (Eleocharis sp.) while the latter is dominated by Common Reed (Phragmites australis). Much of Epsom Wetland contains Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) in addition to wetland grass, rush and sedge species.
Both the Epsom Grasslands and Wetland provide important habitat to a plethora of terrestrial and water bird species, as well as frogs and reptiles. Birds often sited include the Buff-banded rail (Gallirallus phillippensis) Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyria) Great Egret (Ardea alba) White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) as well as several species of ducks and cormorants. In the wetter months the grasslands often resemble flood plains, giving rise to a chorus of frog calls, particularly in the southern parts of the park. Due to the close proximity to Mordialloc Creek, the Lowlands Copperhead snake (Austrelaps superbus) may be present in the warmer months, feeding on the frogs and skinks which thrive in the vegetation, it is therefore important to stick to the paths and watch your step!
Council Rangers along with volunteers from the Friends of the Mordialloc Catchment care for the park, carrying out weed control, revegetation and track maintenance works regularly.