Toolangi State Forest just north of Healesville, offers an immersive learning environment for schools and community groups in Victoria’s tall forest region. The name Toolangi is derived from an Aboriginal expression describing a stringy-bark gum tree. The forest is mainly Eucalypt forest that has regrown from the 1939 Victoria Bushfires. Large sections of the forest were also burnt in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, although there are some pockets of old-growth forest that have not yet been logged or seriously burnt.
All courses meet multiple curriculum outcomes. Our concentrated learning experiences provide experiential learning, delivers essential field experience, makes learning fun (important after extended lockdowns and home schooling for the last two years), as well as connects and empowers people to relate and interact with the natural environment.
All our educators are specialists in their fields with significant experience – so come join us for a day of experiential learning that will awaken the senses, improve physical and mental wellbeing, as well as deliver curriculum outcomes and essential learning.
We suggest you use the community toilets along the way and be ready to start at 10am sharp to maximise your time in the forest. Our introduction is at the Discovery Tree Room (where you can explore an array of wildlife and see images of logging over the century)…before we set off to visit a Mountain Ash Forest, Temperate Rainforest, River and Logging Coupe. Note our educators guide the program from your bus – so please allow one additional seat on the bus for them.
Toolangi State Forest Excursions
Forest Discovery: Years 3 & 4
Forests are a very important part of our world. Discover the forest environment’s tall trees, soft ferns, mountain creeks, and prickly plants! Use all your senses to find signs of the wildlife that live in the forests. Learn what makes a healthy forest habitat, discover the different ways that people use forests and how we can ensure the sustainability of forests for the future.
Fire and the Forest: Years 5 & 6
Fires have been a natural part of the Victorian forest environment for thousands of years. Investigate how bushfires affect the environment, plants, animals and local communities of Toolangi, and discuss the different ways humans have viewed and managed fire while they have been living in Australia. This tour will visit a majestic intact Mountain Ash Forest and logging coupe, and will also stop off to compare and contrast the eucalypt forest with the lush Cool Temperate Rainforest. Teachers may choose an optional activity for students to complete introductory-level fieldwork sketching and data collection tasks as a part of Victorian Geography curriculum.
Forest Transformations (Adaptations and Changes in the Forest) Years 5 & 6
The constantly changing forests of Toolangi are home to rich ecosystems, amazing biodiversity and a bounty of resources. Explore the ways in which the plants and animals of the forest have adapted to their environment over time. Learn what makes these forests healthy, discuss the different ways that people have manipulated them over time, and evaluate the sustainability of present management choices. Teachers may choose an optional activity for students to complete introductory-level fieldwork sketching and data collection tasks as a part of Victorian Geography curriculum.
Bush Biodiversity: Years 7 & 8
Only for select school repeat bookings.
Going with the Flow: Years 7 & 8
During this excursion, explore the importance of water to the environment and people. Discuss how forests like Toolangi’s contribute to creating, collecting, storing and filtering water, and explore natural and human influences on water movement and quality. Perform field work data collection activities that compare water quality at the start of a river system to that of your school’s local area.
Tale of Two Forests: Years 7 & 8
Forests are more than just a bunch of trees! Explore the difference between State Forests and National Parks, the way different user groups view the forest, the similarities and differences between the Mountain Ash forest and cool temperate rainforest, the timber harvesting process and other human impacts. Students will have multiple opportunities for observations for primary field work information collection as they tour these remarkable locations.
Bushfires and the Environment: Years 7 & 8
Wildfires are a natural force of the environment that can have tremendous impact on both living and non-living factors in the forest. Investigate how fire affects the plant, animal and human communities in Toolangi; discover how it can change entire landscapes in a short period of time; and complete a hands-on fieldwork data measurement activity to assess present bushfire hazard. The day trip includes a visit to a variety of forest ecosystems, where comparisons will be made between the Mountain Ash and Messmate Eucalypt Forests and a Cool Temperate Rainforest.
Biomes and Food Security: Years 9 & 10
The ecosystems of the Victorian Central Highlands have distinctive characteristics which help to class the region firmly as part of a Temperate Forest Biome. Explore this special region as a versatile and reliable source of water, food and fibre; consider the impacts that human resource provisioning has on local ecosystems and the biome as a whole. Complete fieldwork activities that investigate the impact of logging on the local ecosystem, and discuss the economic vs environmental decisions being made by present land managers.
Our Forests Our Future: Years 9 & 10
Forests are vital for our future. Explore the many values our forests provide and assess how they are managed to reduce human-induced change for future sustainability. As a part of the program’s emphasis on the impacts of climate change, students will perform fieldwork data collection activities related to the carbon sequestration capability of the Mountain Ash forest.
Hazards and Disasters in the Forest (VCE Geography Unit 1): Year 11
Explore the magnificent forest ecosystems of the Victorian Central Highlands, and investigate the hydro-meteorological hazards and disasters that characterise the region. Visit sites with contrasting ecological functions and response to bushfire, and that are at varying stages of recovery from such disaster. Discuss human responses to the region’s bushfire hazards and disasters, including prediction of risk and vulnerability, planning protection and mitigation, recovery and reconstruction. Complete fieldwork activities that will collect primary data for the unit’s SAC requirement.
Wood as a Resource (VCE Product Design Unit 1 + VET Building & Construction): Year 12
On this tour of Toolangi State Forest, learn about the forest ecosystems and how they are managed for multiple uses, including the provision of timber resources. Explore how environmental factors can affect timber quality and quantity, discuss the sustainability choices available to timber manufacturing industries and consumers, the value of native forests and the environmental legislation that protects them, economic influences, and the impacts of logging on wildlife and endangered species.
Leadbeater’s Possums (Enviro Science Unit 3): Year 12
During this 4 hour program, visit the majestic mountain ash forests of Toolangi, exploring the intricate ecosystems found in the Victorian Central Highlands and a clear felled logging coupe. Discuss present management of the forests and how this affects overall biodiversity and that of the survival of the Leadbeater’s Possum. Students will make observations and have the option of collecting data to be used for the Outcome’s Assessment task in relation to the management of this threatened endemic species.
Relationships with Forests (O&E Studies Unit 3): Year 12
From the prehistoric beginnings of Australia’s forests to those we know today, explore both the ancient and newer ecosystems of Toolangi and how they have changed over time. In this 4 hour program, you will discuss the relationships between humans and forests, comparing the attitudes and management ethos of the land by Indigenous Australians and the continent’s European colonists. Explore contemporary political, social and economic views of the forest, and how they affect the way in which Toolangi’s forests are utilized today. Students will be able to make practical observations in order to complete journal entries/reports for Outcome Assessment tasks.
What to expect
Toolangi State Forest, less than 1.5 hours from the centre of Melbourne and just north of Healesville, offers an immersive learning environment in Victoria’s tall forest region.
We recommend toilet stops and morning tea/snacks on the bus so you maximise your time in the forest with the educators. We suggest you use public toilets along the way as there are only two toilets at the Discovery Tree and NO toilets in the forest. If you come via Yarra Glen, we suggest the public toiletblock in Anzac Avenue, Yarra Glen (just off the main highway behind the RSL Club) as there are 7 toilets here – 2 male, 2 female and 3 unisex.
If do you do not come via Yarra Glen but along the Melba Highway, there are 4 unisex toilets at Dixons Creek Recreation Reserve (on the left hand side of the road heading to Toolangi near the CFA). You can also stop at Castella Central Park on the corner of Melba Highway and Toolangi Road, although there are only two toilets here and parking can be problematic.
The program starts at 10am sharp – so plan ahead and allow for possible road works and or heavy traffic as well as the convenience stops. You are to meet our educators at our Discovery Tree Room, just behind the CFA (see attached map). Your bus is required to accompany the groups for the entire program, as we move from site to site; visiting a Temperate Rainforest, Mountain Ash Forest and Logging Coupe.
Forest Excursions enable students to experience the natural environment, explore intricate interrelationships of native plants and animals and appreciate the important role that they have in achieving sustainable living now and in the future. State Forests are managed by DELWP (the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) along with Parks Victoria and are not National Parks, though there are some Special Protection Zones. State forests are less developed than National Parks and a broader array of activities can occur within their boundaries, including hunting, fishing and timber harvesting. This makes it an excellent location for teaching students about human impacts on this ecosystem.