Upon entering Kinglake, stop at the Parks Victoria Office to pick up a map and chat to the great staff about the many walks and sites the area has to offer. We chose to visit Masons Falls, where we were promised remarkable views and the chance of encountering lyrebirds!
From the office, follow the Whittlesea-Kinglake Road (C724) to National Park Road and turn left. Author note: Between Kinglake and National Park Rd, keep an eye out for Frank Thomson Reserve: a simple carpark and picnic area offering city skyline vistas and a view of the coast, from Arthurs Seat in the east all the way to the You Yangs in the west.
The track to Masons Falls is a sedate walk of 700 metres. It is best taken slowly and quietly, to improve your chances of observing the active bird, reptile and insect life abounding at the site. We met thornbills, fairy wrens, currawongs and butterflies, as well as being treated to the calls of two male lyrebirds, among countless other species.
The first half of the walk is actually part of the Lyrebird Circuit: a gentle loop amongst lush, wet eucalypt forest. Extremely dense post-fire growth (erupting after the 2009 fires devastated the region) makes it impossible to see far off the track. However, delicate fungi, moss and lichen at the edges reward those with a keen eye, and there are many small forest birds to be enjoyed here.
In Winter, male lyrebirds stand atop scraped mounds and display to females, making this a great time to visit and be sure of at least hearing their calls. The song we heard included the mimicked calls of currawongs, magpies, wrens, kookaburras and three species of cockatoo, not to mention countless calls that we recognized, but could not identify. As you rise out of the valley and head towards the Falls, the track passes out of the lush, moist forest and into dry, scrubby bush. An information board pinpoints the exact moment you move from one vegetation class to the other, and explains that the change is due to declining soil fertility as you move up the incline.
Heading to the Falls, there are several somewhat-steep hills. However, the path is wide, well-maintained and includes a handrail, ensuring that the destination is easily accessible. Here there are lots of rocks beside the path, so on warm days move slowly and focus your attention ahead for the chance of seeing a basking lizard. Unfortunately, the only non-avian animal we saw was a black feral cat, proving just how pervasive this introduced pest has become across our natural areas.
At the end of this walk, you are rewarded with spectacular views of an impressive gorge and 45-metre waterfall. The volume of water cascading over the cliffs is highly dependent on recent rainfall, so the best time to see it flowing is in late Winter or in Spring. The incredibly sheer mudstone walls are actually fossilized seabeds from the Silurian geological period, and are filled with the fossilized marine life of the time. A large platform and viewing area with seating and informative signs make this a lovely, if exposed, place for a long rest, some lunch or simply to drink in the view. The walk itself should take about 40 to 60 minutes, but there is plenty to see and listen for, so expect it to take longer.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY 2/5
EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY 3/5
OVERALL RATING 4/5
1. Spectacular views
2. Birdlife (especially Superb Lyrebirds)
3. Proximity to Melbourne
4. Lots of interesting information along track