Northern Uplands


Overall area233,373 hectares
Climate502 mm per annum at Lal Lal
Main townsBunninyong
Land useBroadacre grazing
Plantation forestry
Main IndustriesAgriculture
Nature based-tourism
Urban water supply
Main Natural FeaturesMoorabool River
Leigh River
Yarrowee River
Leigh River Gorge
Mount Buninyong
Mount Mercer
Mount Warrenheip
Enfield State Park
Steiglitz Historical Park
Lal Lal Falls
Map of the Northern Uplands Landscape System including link to NRM Portal
Click on map to access Natural Resource Management Portal interactive mapping


This area spans the northern part of the region and extends from Ballarat in the north, is bounded in the south by the Basalt Plain and includes the townships of Meredith, Rokewood and Skipton, but does not include the urban area of Ballarat City which forms its own landscape system. Undulating hills and broad valleys characterise the landscapes formed on folded sedimentary rocks and granite plutons formed around 450 to 350 million years ago. Remnants of an ancient plain, formed about 40 to 30 million years ago, occur as caps of gravels sporadically distributed at various elevations. The majority of this landscape system is within the Central Victorian Uplands Bioregion.

Of particular local significance for their environmental values are the gorges extending along parts of the Leigh River. Due to the gorge’s steep escarpments they remain largely non-arable, protecting bands of remnant vegetation and providing important corridors of habitat for wildlife.

The Northern Uplands is split vertically across three catchment basins – Lake Corangamite, Barwon River and Moorabool River Basins. Three river systems drain the Northern Uplands of the Corangamite Region – the Moorabool River (east), Leigh River (central) and Woady Yaloak River (west). The Northern Uplands system is also the home to a number of other priority waterways including Lal Lal Creek, Spring Creek, Yarrowee River, Williams Creek and Little Woady Yallock Creek (upper).

Other environmental values identified include:

  • known rare and threatened species
  • significant Ecological Vegetation Classes
  • rural water source
  • aquatic invertebrate communities.


Most of the land in this landscape system is privately owned (approximately 80%).

The area contains highly productive agricultural and horticultural areas used for broadacre grazing and cropping, with some areas of intensive agriculture, including horticulture, viticulture and poultry. There are also large areas of pine plantations.


The Northern Uplands supports a population of over 27,500 – around 6.7% of the Corangamite region. The most densely populated areas of the Northern Uplands are around the townships of Gordon, Mount Helen and Buninyong. The municipalities of the Ballarat, Golden Plains and Moorabool are partly covered in the system. The Traditional Owners are the Wadawurrung.

This landscape system has a rich gold mining history. The gold rush period of the mid to late 1800s, while notable in the colonial history of Victoria, also had a major impact on the health of the Yarrowee, Leigh and Moorabool rivers. The Moorabool River, its associated tributaries and water storages in the north form part a ‘Special Water Supply Catchment’ and are a source for urban and rural township water including Ballarat, Geelong and Meredith.

The area’s goldmining and cultural heritage and diverse landscapes attract many visitors and residents. The natural resources in the area support industries such as agriculture and nature based-tourism, supply urban water needs and provide important habitat for flora and fauna. Major features include Mount Buninyong, Mount Mercer and Mount Warrenheip along with the Enfield State Park and Steiglitz Historical Park.

The natural resource community of the Northern Uplands Landscape System is very robust with a good coverage through groups. Many of these groups come under the umbrellas of the Leigh Catchment Group and Moorabool Landcare Network. The Bunanyung Landscape Alliance is an alliance of community members, Landcare and Friends groups, networks and associations involved in promoting the health of biodiversity for the urban and rural catchments of the Moorabool, Leigh and Woady Yaloak waterways.

There is a diverse array of community groups engaged in natural resource management or environmental volunteer or lobbying activities. Community based groups in this area include the Ross Creek Landcare Group, NapoleonsEnfield Landcare Group, Garibaldi Landcare Group, Meredith Bamganie Landcare Group, Upper Williamson’s Creek Landcare Group, Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group, East Moorabool Landcare Group, Lal Lal Catchment Landcare Group and Wattle Flat/Pootilla Landcare Group. Many of these groups come under the umbrellas of the Leigh Catchment Group and Moorabool Landcare Network.

Lal Lal Falls
Moorabool River