These data consist of a number of subsets of soil samples gathered from the upper Garwood Valley in January 2002, January 2003, January 2005 and January 2006. Replicate randomly-located samples of surface soils to 10 cm depth have been gathered from the most common landforms in the area. Within the most widespread landforms, the same type of samples have been gathered along transects of increasing ... distance from Lake Colleen in the valley's centre. A third subset relates to soils on an experimental site at which the biotic response to additional of local biotic detritus (algal mat and lakeshore foams). For each soil sample, field and later lab-based measurements include: bulk density, texture, repeated measurements of moisture content and temperature at depths of 1 cm and 5 cm, organic carbon (after acidification to remove carbonates) and total nitrogen by Carlo Erba elemental analyzer, ammonium and nitrate (in KCl extraction) by TRAACS auto-analyzer, chlorophyll concentration, field CO2 flux at ambient temperature at the soil surface by LiCor 6400, lab CO2 flux at controlled (and varied) temperature and moisture by LiCor 6400, and lab CO2 fluxes after addition of carbon and nitrogen at controlled temperature and moisture by LiCor 6400. Results indicate relatively high rates of soil respiration and thus turnover of the soil carbon pool, and possible limitations by both carbon and nitrogen under different conditions. Subsamples of soil samples have been stored at -80C for future analysis of microbial diversity using DNA and RNA probing techniques.