Bush Beat

Kitty Miller Bay

Located in the south-west of Phillip Island, this walk follows the shore and leads to the top of a cliff, from which visitors will have an amazing view of the SS Speke shipwreck and the ocean side of the island. This walk requires a good level of fitness, as parts can be steep and sometimes slippery.

Phillip Island has many interesting walks for nature lovers to experience, but to me this particular one stands out as it not only offers spectacular ocean views, but also a glance at history. On February 22 in 1906, the SS Speke, heading from Peru to Geelong, crashed onto the reef east of Kitty Miller Bay due to faulty navigation, forcing its crew to abandon the ship. More than a century has passed, but remains of the ship close to the shoreline remind the walker of the unfortunate accident.

   
  
    
  
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  SS Speke, Kitty Miller Bay.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

SS Speke, Kitty Miller Bay. Image: Elodie Camprasse

The walk starts at the Kitty Miller Bay carpark. From there, the walker needs to journey down to the beautiful horseshoe-shaped, sandy beach that surrounds the Bay and head east. At the end of the beach, a path in-between the rocky shoreline and an open grassland gradually leads to the top of a cliff.

It is only at this point that the shipwreck finally becomes visible, or at least what remains of it. Part of the bow lies on its side on the rock shelf. The SS Speke was one of the biggest ships of its kind, over ninety metres long, but the elements disintegrated most of it shortly after the crash; only a few other pieces of debris remain scattered along the shore. As well as these remnants of the past, spectacular ocean views will not disappoint.

   
  
    
  
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  Cape Barren Geese in the open grassland adjacent to the path that leads to the wreck.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

Cape Barren Geese in the open grassland adjacent to the path that leads to the wreck. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Reaching the wreck at ground level can prove challenging at times. A steep path that is not always well defined leads to the beach and can be slippery, especially after rain, so adequate shoes are required to reach the beach. The curious visitor will gather more information on the wreck’s specifications, and its tragic ending, thanks to the interpretive signage at the bottom of the cliff. Access is easier at low and mid tide, where the rest of the beach also remains accessible for a stroll or a picnic. Seabirds are often spotted here and beach wanderers will spot all kinds of marine treasures – shells, sponges, cuttlefish bones, driftwood. However, high tides offer great photo opportunities of the wreck as well.

The rocky shore of Kitty Miller Bay.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

The rocky shore of Kitty Miller Bay. Image: Elodie Camprasse

The whole walk is about two kilometres in length, and takes around 1 to 1.5 hours depending on fitness level and on how far along the beach the walker wants to venture. It is always advised to check the weather and the tides beforehand. Although it can be challenging, this walk remains one of the most unique on Phillip Island. Kitty Miller Bay is also a great snorkelling spot, so depending on how much time you can spare and on the tides and weather, it is also worth a splash.

Have more time on Phillip Island? Read about some other wonderful walks here.

SUMMARY

  • Located on Phillip Island.
  • Steep path which can be slippery at times; good level of fitness and adequate shoes required.
  • Beautiful ocean views.
  • SS Speke shipwreck.
  • Check the weather and tides before embarking on this walk.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

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WILDLIFE

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SCENERY

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OVERALL

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Elodie Camprasse

Elodie came to Australia where she recently completed a PhD in seabird ecology at Deakin University, after studying marine biology in Europe. She is passionate about the natural world and its protection. She is also a dive instructor and Emergency Response Operator at Wildlife Victoria.

You can find her on Twitter at @ECamprasse.

 

 

 


Banner image courtesy of Elodie Camprasse.

Phillip Island Pinnacles Walk

Located on Phillip Island’s Cape Woolamai, this two-hour walk allows visitors to experience a beautiful sandy beach, follow the tops of the cliffs, and finally get down to the bottom of the impressive rock formations displaying vibrant colours. It immerses the bushwalker in a seabird and shorebird heaven. Walkers need to check the weather and tides, and possess a good level of fitness.

An aerial photo of Cape Woolamai featuring the Pinnacles on the left-hand side.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

An aerial photo of Cape Woolamai featuring the Pinnacles on the left-hand side. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Cape Woolamai, located on the south-east side of Phillip Island, is most famous for its amazing pink granite formations; the best place to admire their beauty is from the Pinnacles. Leaving from Melbourne, it is only a two-hour drive to Cape Woolamai.

The walk starts at the Cape Woolamai car park on Beach Road where a set of stairs leads to a beautiful sandy beach that is popular with surfers and beachgoers. Access is easier at low tides and can be limited during high tides, where the water reaches the bottom of the cliffs in some places. A variety of seabirds and shorebirds can be spotted here, including the rare Hooded Plover, which uses the beach and sand dunes to nest. Be careful if you’re lucky enough to spot one, as these vulnerable birds are easily disturbed and it’s always best to avoid getting too close for their protection. After windy days, keen birders are not unlikely to spot petrels and albatrosses from the beach with binoculars. The walk on the beach takes about 30 minutes, and stairs at the end of the beach take bushwalkers to the top of the cliffs.

A clifftop view of the Pinnacles at Cape Woolamai.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

A clifftop view of the Pinnacles at Cape Woolamai. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Cape Woolamai Beach and the Pinnacles in the background.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

Cape Woolamai Beach and the Pinnacles in the background. Image: Elodie Camprasse

The path leading to the Pinnacles at the top of the cliff is the best place to observe Swamp Wallabies and occasional birds of prey hunting for their next meal. Breathtaking views of Cape Woolamai Beach are one of the highlights of the walk, particularly at sunset. This part is relatively flat and easy, and from the top of the stairs it takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the famous granite colonnades. Stick to the path, though, for your safety and for that of the birds, as this is shearwater, (or muttonbird) territory, and a high number of burrows make the soil unstable. After hatching, chicks are home during the day and burrow collapses can be fatal to birds. 

On the way to the Pinnacles, a curious Swamp Wallaby watches passer-by while a bird of prey soars in the background.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

On the way to the Pinnacles, a curious Swamp Wallaby watches passer-by while a bird of prey soars in the background. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Reaching the tip of Cape Woolamai is a memorable moment as the concealed pink rock colonnades - signs of powerful erosion - finally reveal themselves. A path that is not very well-defined leads right to the bottom of the formations. (Be careful - this part is slippery and requires runners or hiking boots, and should not be accessed in rough weather. Make sure you stick to the path at all times.) The perspective from here makes the formations appear even more impressive.

The rocks can be slippery because of sea spray but wandering on the beach will not disappoint. I can personally spend hours here, listening to the waves crash onto the rocks and feeling the sea spray on my face while surrounded by vibrant colours, the blue-green of the sea contrasting with the pink-red of the granite.

The Pinnacles from the top of the cliffs.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

The Pinnacles from the top of the cliffs. Image: Elodie Camprasse

The Pinnacles from the shore.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

The Pinnacles from the shore. Image: Elodie Camprasse

During shearwater season (September to April), the return of adult birds to their burrows is an amazing natural spectacle that Cape Woolamai is also famous for. Clouds of birds start obscuring the sky after sunset as they approach the large colony (more than half a million nests) and land clumsily amongst burrows. There is a bench located along the path on top of the cliffs where observers can sit and wait for the birds’ arrival, but bringing folding chairs and setting them up on the path works well too. (Remember to bring a torch to be able to safely return to the car park.)

The Pinnacles Walk is part of a longer set of walks that surrounds Cape Woolamai, including the Beacon, the Lookout, and the Old Granite Quarry. This walk is approximately a two-hour return; the whole Cape Woolamai circuit is more suitable for adventurous bushwalkers with more time to spare, as four to five hours are necessary to complete the loop.

Have more time on Phillip Island? There are plenty of other wonderful walks to choose from.

SUMMARY

  • Located on Phillip Island.
  • Steep path which is slippery at times.
  • Good level of fitness and adequate shoes required.
  • Scenic path on top of cliffs.
  • Amazing pink granite formations.
  • Seabird and shorebird heaven.
  • Check the weather and the tides before embarking on this walk.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

download+(1)+(1).jpeg

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

download 2.jpeg

WILDLIFE

download+(1)+(1).jpeg

SCENERY

download+(2)+(1).jpeg

OVERALL

download+(1)+(1).jpeg

P1220178_cropped+2.jpg

Elodie Camprasse

Elodie came to Australia where she recently completed a PhD in seabird ecology at Deakin University, after studying marine biology in Europe. She is passionate about the natural world and its protection. She is also a dive instructor and Emergency Response Operator at Wildlife Victoria.

You can find her on Twitter at @ECamprasse.


Banner image courtesy of Elodie Camprasse.

Livingstone Island Nature Walk

Located in Nelson in south-west Victoria, this serene walk leads to a boardwalk through saltmarshes and a bird hide. It offers nice views of Lake Oxbow and allows bushwalkers to spot kangaroos, a variety of birds, and wildflowers.

The south-western part of Victoria has a lot to offer bushwalkers and outdoor enthusiasts, including the South West Great Walk. The scenic tracks that surround the Glenelg River in both the Lower Glenelg National Park and Cobboboonee National Park make a trip to the area well worth it.

Livingstone Island Nature Walk before reaching the saltmarshes.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

Livingstone Island Nature Walk before reaching the saltmarshes. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Visitors who stay in the small and picturesque town of Nelson, a few kilometres from the border with South Australia, enjoy sheltered swimming along the shore of Oxbow Lake and at the mouth of the Glenelg River, sandy beaches and river cruises. Bushwalkers who like areas slightly off the beaten tracks or are pressed for time will also enjoy the Livingstone Island Nature Walk.

Parking is available at the end of Beach Road, next to Estuary Beach, about four kilometres from the visitor centre. A sign indicates the beginning of the walk, which starts with a wide grass track that’s easy to navigate. Here, shy kangaroos take off on approach and disappear into the bushes. Along the track, a vegetation typical of coastal areas grows, including Coast Wattle, Coast Beard-Heath, and Beaded Glasswort.

A boardwalk takes the walker through saltmarshes, which a variety of amphibians and waterbirds call home. North of the boardwalk, a lookout allows visitors to have a better view over the lake and the birds resting in the shallows and on the sandbars. About halfway through the walk, keen birders can stop for a sneak peek of Oxbow Lake’s birdlife, including swans, herons, ducks, and pelicans.

The view from the lookout.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

The view from the lookout. Image: Elodie Camprasse

The bird hide along the boardwalk.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

The bird hide along the boardwalk. Image: Elodie Camprasse

Altogether, the walk is about three kilometres in length and takes about an hour to complete, and is even more spectacular at sunset. Although there are steps to reach the boardwalk and a few inclines and declines on the way, overall this walk can be considered mostly easy. In spring and summer, visitors will marvel at the variety of butterflies wandering from wildflower to wildflower, and the beautiful lilies and orchids lining the path.

A hyacinth orchid.  Image: Elodie Camprasse

A hyacinth orchid. Image: Elodie Camprasse

SUMMARY

  • Located in Nelson, at the mouth of the Glenelg River
  • Lake Oxbow views
  • Boardwalk through saltmarshes
  • Bring your binoculars and go down to the bird hide to spot a variety of waterbirds
  • Bring your camera to snap butterflies and wildflowers in spring and summer

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

download 2.jpeg

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

download+(1)+(1).jpeg

WILDLIFE

download+(2).jpeg

SCENERY

download+(2).jpeg

OVERALL

download+(2).jpeg

P1220178_cropped+2.jpg

Elodie Camprasse

Elodie came to Australia where she recently completed a PhD in seabird ecology at Deakin University, after studying marine biology in Europe. She is passionate about the natural world and its protection. She is also a dive instructor and Emergency Response Operator at Wildlife Victoria.

You can find her on Twitter at @ECamprasse.


Banner image courtesy of Elodie Camprasse.

Woolshed Falls

Alongside the historic gold town of Beechworth in the state’s north-east, a steep gorge cuts deep through the granite. As the gorge falls away from the township, the water plays along a series of natural waterfalls and human-made races and sluices - scars from another century.

Though many parts of the gorge are accessible for walks and swims, a wonderful place to escape the summer heat is Woolshed Falls, six kilometres out of town.

Less than 100m from the carpark you will find the falls, water cascading across a wide granite slope and pooling at intervals into convenient little spas. Lose your shoes and take your time walking carefully down the slope to find yourself a pool to sink into.

In summer, Woolshed Falls is a great place to enjoy the sun and cool down in the pools that surround the falls.  Image: Cathy Cavallo

In summer, Woolshed Falls is a great place to enjoy the sun and cool down in the pools that surround the falls. Image: Cathy Cavallo

With a broad-brimmed hat and a shirt to protect you from the sun, you can rest in a private pool and turn your attention to the little skinks and dragons scampering across the rock faces. Charming little Southern Water Skinks slink and dart around by turns, ambushing or chasing down native flies and wasps. Well-accustomed to the presence of swimmers, they will come close in their foraging and clamber all over your towels, even using them to hide in. During a walk along the woodland tracks, quick Jacky Dragons may reveal themselves, scattering away from your feet. With camouflage this good, they need to be quick to avoid being trodden on.

A Southern Water Skink ( Eulamprus tympanum ).  Image: Rowan Mott

A Southern Water Skink (Eulamprus tympanum). Image: Rowan Mott

A Jacky Dragon ( Amphibolurus muricatus ).  Image: Rowan Mott

A Jacky Dragon (Amphibolurus muricatus). Image: Rowan Mott

Thousands of miners lived in this small area during the mid to late 1800s when the region was in the thick of the gold rush. Signs describe the massive earthworks that went on here, redirecting the course of the creek by carving deep scores into the hillside. While the valley played host to the workers’ tents and lodgings, almost every tree was felled. The woodland that stands here today sprang up to cover all but the most permanent traces of the miners, showing an amazing recovery over the last century. Here, you will find a woodland dominated by Callitris native pines and three eucalypts – Red Stringybark, Red Box and River Red Gum. Along the paths, Goodenia, lilies and orchids may be found.

In summer, the woods ring with the buzz of various cicadas, and common brown butterflies fill the air. In the crevices across the falls, the pretty Austral Stork’s Bill clusters while dragonflies and several types of jewel-like native wasps flit around in search of prey. The melodious calls of Rufous Whistler and Grey-shrike Thrush are welcome company as White-throated Treecreepers cling to the trunks and small birds like Yellow Thornbills and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters play in the canopy.

Austral Stork's Bill ( Pelargonium australe ).  Image: Rowan Mott

Austral Stork's Bill (Pelargonium australe). Image: Rowan Mott

A Yellow Thornbill ( Acanthiza nana ).  Image: Rowan Mott

A Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana). Image: Rowan Mott

A Rufous Whistler ( Pachycephala rufiventris ).  Image: Rowan Mott

A Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris). Image: Rowan Mott

Undoubtedly in winter, the splashing sounds of summer will be replaced with the calls of scores of native honeyeaters, chasing the winter flowering. The falls will be no less beautiful, and the relief of sinking into a cool pool will be replaced with the relief of visiting in the peace of the off-season.

This walk will please those seeking nature, a swim, gorgeous views, and a peek into the historic gold rush era. Though the falls can become busy in the summer, the natural pools spread people out and ensure you can always find somewhere cool to escape.

SUMMARY

  • Located six kilometres from Beechworth in Victoria's north-east.
  • Cool down in summer by taking a dip in the small pools surrounding the falls.
  • Gold rush history
  • A variety of reptile and bird species.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

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WILDLIFE

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SCENERY

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OVERALL

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Cathy Cavallo

Cathy is a PhD student and science communicator with a passion for natural history, environmental engagement and photography. When she isn't running the Remember The Wild social media, you'll find her working with little penguins on Phillip Island or underwater somewhere.

You can find her on Twitter at @CavalloDelMare


Banner image courtesy of Cathy Cavallo.

Mount Oberon Summit

This is a guest post by Monique Winterhoff.

There is nothing quite like the challenging climb of Mount Oberon, where the summit rewards avid walkers with breathtaking views across Wilsons Promontory National Park and over some of the outlying islands.

This incredibly popular walk begins at the Telegraph Saddle carpark, a four-kilometre drive from the Tidal River campgrounds and approximately a three-hour drive from Melbourne. It is a relatively steep 3.4-kilometre track. For the most part, the walk is on a wide, compacted gravel track used by management vehicles until you reach the stair section just before reaching the summit, which consists of some steep steps.

Along the track are glimpses of the view to come and a wonderful walk through the outstanding flora and fauna that the Prom has to offer.

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After making the final ascent, walkers emerge out onto enormous weathered boulders and have 360-degree views across the Prom and Bass Strait. Even in summer, the weather at Mount Oberon can be windy, cloudy and cold, so be sure to check weather conditions ahead of time.

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SUMMARY

  • A relatively steep 3.4-kilometre track.
  • Spectacular views of Wilsons Promontory.
  • A variety of local flora and fauna.
  • Be sure to check weather conditions.

Tim Brown of the Wild Melbourne Productions Team reveals the breathtaking views from the Mount Oberon Summit in this short video.

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Monique Winterhoff is a MSc student at the University of Melbourne studying blood parasites in small mammals on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. One of her interests is the combination of art and science, using art as a medium for communicating scientific research.


All images courtesy of Monique Winterhoff.

Craig's Hut Walking Track

He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride…
— Excerpt from "The Man from Snowy River", by A.B. "Banjo" Patterson 1890

Craig's Hut was built in 1982 as a set for the iconic Australian film, The Man from Snowy River, based on the classic poem by the Australian bush poet, A.B "Banjo" Patterson. The hut has now become one of the most famous in the Victorian High Country, offering spectacular views of the ranges.

Craig's Hut is approximately a four-hour drive north-east from Melbourne, and is easiest to access via the Circuit Road - 19 kilometres of dirt road from Telephone Box Junction. As many alpine roads are closed over the winter, be sure to check on the Parks Victoria website for road closures and conditions.

If in a two-wheel drive vehicle, parking is available at the Day Visitor Area with a moderately steep trail of 1.2km up to the hut. For those with a four-wheel drive vehicle, there is a four-wheel drive track leading to the hut. However, the hiking trail up to the hut is well-worth the effort, rewarding walkers with stunning views and a spectacular diversity of alpine fauna and flora.

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It is a lovely climb through slow-growing, subalpine woodland and low-growing shrubs up to the hut, where patches of burnt snow gum from the 2003 bushfires still remain. In the earlier warmer months, the wildflowers colour the sides of the walking track and there may even be a Flame Robin or two dancing between the shrubs.

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Towards the end of the hike, the woodland opens out to a grassy knoll, and the trail leads around to a door on the north-eastern side of the hut. The grassy field is a perfect place to eat a packed lunch and enjoy the outstanding views across the Victorian Alpine region.

SUMMARY

•   Stunning views over the Victorian High Country.

•   Endemic alpine flora and fauna.

•   Famous hut from iconic Australian film.

•   Four-hour drive from Melbourne.

•   Be wary of weather and road conditions.

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Monique Winterhoff is a MSc student at the University of Melbourne studying blood parasites in small mammals on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. One of her interests is the combination of art and science, using art as a medium for communicating scientific research.


All images courtesy of Monique Winterhoff.

Smiths Gully

This is a guest article by Michael Smith.

October is an ideal time for a gentle walk in the countryside. The extreme heat of December has not yet arrived and you can enjoy wearing some light clothing. I say, what a fantastic time to visit Northern Melbourne for a bushwalk!

About an hour north of Melbourne city, there is a smallish community nestled between Hurstbridge and St Andrews called Smiths Gully. Within this district there is a bushwalk, which begins at Peter Franke Reserve and follows the Smiths Creek all the way to St Andrews. The return walk takes 1.5 hours and is 3km long.

The vegetation along the creek consists of regrowth from two significant events. In the mid 1850s, gold was discovered in Smiths Gully, which convinced thousands of miners to try their luck. As a result, many trees were logged to create shelters and a community was built. After regeneration was well underway, a fire further decimated the bushscape in 1962.

A range of eucalypts on the same slope.  Image: Michael Smith

A range of eucalypts on the same slope. Image: Michael Smith

Today, the gully has a diverse array of plants and ecosystem layers. This is thanks to the eucalypts which provided offspring following both events, due to birds and mammals dispersing seeds from nearby land and the efforts of the local Landcare group to conserve native vegetation.

As soon as you begin the walk, it becomes evident that spiny-head mat-rush dominates the understory along the lower slopes. Don’t be fooled though, as hints of purple and yellow can also be found. Love creeper twines around the mat-rush searching for light, and waxlip orchids pop up where space allows. As you encounter more disturbed areas along the track and the northern fence line, the glossy yellow leaves of native buttercup and Austral bear’s-ear become commonplace. Take time to look for pollinators when you find a decent buttercup patch. The wide petals provide an excellent landing zone for hover flies, Lasioglossum bees and native ants. In conjunction with nectar and pollen, buttercups are irresistible for many insects.

The yellow flower head of Austral bear's-ear. Bees are attracted to yellow and blue petals.  Image: Michael Smith

The yellow flower head of Austral bear's-ear. Bees are attracted to yellow and blue petals. Image: Michael Smith

An ant feeding on native buttercup.  Image: Michael Smith

An ant feeding on native buttercup. Image: Michael Smith

Within the midstory of the slopes, thorny plants such as prickly moses and sweet bursaria are dotted about. Scrubwrens and fantails can be seen darting to and from these trees. These birds feel comfortable feeding on the food provided by prickly shrubs because predators are less likely to risk receiving a thorn in their side.

One of the most magnificent facets of this walk is the array of tall canopy trees that you can see in one glance. Within the forest foothills, narrow-leaf peppermint, swamp gum and the ghost-like trunks of candlebarks tower over the ground story. Alongside silver wattles, these trees provide food and resting perches for honeyeaters and insectivorous birds. White-eared and yellow-faced honeyeaters, as well as spotted pardalotes can be heard regularly, providing a beautiful melody on your gentle walk.

As the track winds down the slope and closer to the riparian zone, the vegetation changes slightly. Swamp and manna gums now become the dominant eucalypt, and tea-tree adorns the riverbank midstory. Common froglets make their home in this zone, and their call, not unlike a ratchet, can be heard in October.

The beautiful flower head of early Nancy ( Wurmbea dioica ).  Image: Michael Smith

The beautiful flower head of early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica). Image: Michael Smith

Yam daisy (Murnong in Woiwurrung language).  Image: Michael Smith

Yam daisy (Murnong in Woiwurrung language). Image: Michael Smith

At regular intervals along the track, signage boards explain the unique relationship that the Indigenous people have with the Smiths Gully area. The local Wurundjeri tribe would move about the wider Yarra River catchment. Their movements were determined by the seasonally available flora and fauna, and some of the bulbous food they would have eaten, including yam daisies (Murnong in Woiwurrung language) and green-hood orchids (multiple species), are on show during the 1.5km stretch.

As you stop to read these signs, or rest by the river, it is easy to quietly reflect. One may think of the deep connections that the Wurundjeri people share with this land. The goldminers might also come to mind, their days spent standing in the cold creek for hours, hoping to finally come face to face with a gold nugget.

Once you reach the end of the trail, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to head back. If you continue down Proctor Street for five minutes, you will come across the small township of St Andrews. Here, you will find an old-fashioned pub and other eateries. What’s more, between 8am and 2pm on Saturdays the renowned St Andrews Market will be in full swing where you may find a trinket or have an interesting conversation with a local.

So, if gentle walks and encountering wildflowers, eucalypts and subtle changes in ecosystems sound like fun, have a crack at the Smiths Gully walk.

Birds identified on the walk: Spotted pardalote, striated pardalote, yellow-faced honeyeater, white-eared honeyeater, grey fantail, white-browed scrubwren, golden whistler, Australian wood duck, superb fairy-wren, crimson rosella, shrike thrush, fantail cuckoo.

Plants identified on the walk: Native buttercup, native violet, early Nancy, waxlip orchid, sweet bursaria, prickly moses, dogwood, prickly tea-tree, yam daisy, Austral bear's-ear, blackwood, silver wattle, snowy daisy-bush, narrow-leaf peppermint, swamp gum, candlebark, manna gum, tall greenhood, nodding greenhood, blunt greenhood.

A waxlip orchid appearing through gaps in Lomandra.  Image: Michael Smith

A waxlip orchid appearing through gaps in Lomandra. Image: Michael Smith

SUMMARY

  • A 3km return walk from Peter Franke Reserve in Smiths Gully to St Andrews.
  • Whilst in St Andrews, check out the eateries or visit the St Andrews Market on Saturday.
  • Bring your binoculars for bird spotting and a camera to capture the magnificent scenery.
  • Information boards along the track outline the significance of the area to the Wurundjeri people and the gold mining history of the township.

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Michael Smith is a trained ecologist who currently works in bush regeneration, habitat engineering and environmental education. He is passionate about community engagement and teaching the importance of biodiversity.


Banner image of a yam daisy courtesy of Michael Smith.

Mount Buller to Mount Stirling

Visiting Mt Buller for some skiing or mountain biking this year? Don’t feel like hitting the slopes? If you’d prefer to head out in your hiking boots, this walk will give you a fantastic view of the Victorian Alps along trails in truly beautiful country.

Beginning in the alpine town of Mt Buller, head out along Chamois Road with the centre of town behind you. You will come across a staircase leading down to the Village Circuit Track, often used as a cross-country skiing trail. Follow it past the water treatment facility until you hit the unsealed Cornhill Road. This road will lead you around a bend before Cornhill Track takes you up into the bush.

From here the route is fairly straightforward all the way to the summit of Mt Stirling. First, however, there’s a long, steep descent into Howqua Gap, where the huts and camping area make a great place to stop and have a rest before tackling the ascent to Stirling. The Howqua Gap Trail, which leads you to the summit, is always fairly clear underfoot and easy to locate, but the steep climbs and descents each way make this a challenging walk.

You’ll pass through some extraordinary snow gum forests as you make your way to the Stirling summit, where the trees give way to a beautiful alpine plain. From the summit, watch crows lifting off and butterflies weaving around you, and take a break to recover your strength before tackling the return journey.

This is a great walk to build up strength and fitness while enjoying the peaceful quiet of the summits – a good getaway from the noise and bustle of the ski village!

SUMMARY

  • A great day’s excursion while staying at Mt Buller.
  • Steep climbs and descents going both ways.
  • Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Not advisable for snowy conditions; always carry a map.

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Alex Mullarky

Alex Mullarky is a writer and environmentalist from the UK who has called Melbourne home since 2014. She is a graduate of English Literature and is particularly interested in the connection between language and landscape.


You can find her on Twitter at @saesteorra

 

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

One of the most spectacular sights Victoria has to offer is to be found, unexpectedly, just off the Princes Highway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy. Tower Hill is an extinct volcano, a massive crater filled with conical hills and round lakes created by an ancient explosion. The primeval landscape of the reserve is brimming with wildlife, from kangaroos and emus, to koalas and snakes.

A single-track road winds through the hills, descending into the centre of the crater. If you haven’t already spied an emu from the road, they can be seen strolling through the car park in the area surrounding the visitor centre. From there, walking trails extend in all directions, following the contours of the reserve’s extraordinary geology.

The Journey to the Last Volcano loop is only a couple of kilometres return and takes you up and around the rim of one of the crater lakes, giving you a panoramic view of the vivid hues of green that colour the reserve. If you’re short on time, the Lava Tongue Boardwalk takes only half an hour to walk. A short loop which takes you out into the wetlands, you’ll find lizards scattering beneath your feet, snakes patrolling the path’s edge, and you may even spot an emu pushing through the reeds.

Not only home to an abundance of wildlife, Tower Hill is rich with history. Originally, the area was inhabited by clans of the Gunditjmara nation, who may have witnessed the eruptions that shaped the landscape we see today. The visitor centre is now managed by the Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative, who offer guided walks and sell arts and crafts. Tower Hill has long been recognised as an extraordinary place; in 1892, it became Victoria’s first National Park.

Whether you’re in the area for a while or passing through along the Great Ocean Road, make sure you factor Tower Hill into your trip. It would be easy to spend a day or more exploring the maze of trails that traverse the park. 

SUMMARY

·      An extinct volcano which has created spectacular landforms.

·      A range of walks for all abilities.

·      Abundant wildlife easily spotted from the trail.

·      Make sure to factor it into a Great Ocean Road trip.

 

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Alex Mullarky

Alex Mullarky is a writer and environmentalist from the UK who has called Melbourne home since 2014. She is a graduate of English Literature and is particularly interested in the connection between language and landscape.


You can find her on Twitter at @saesteorra


All images courtesy of Alex Mullarky. 

Tarra-Bulga National Park

Tarra-Bulga is one of the lesser known temperate rainforests we have in Victoria, tucked away in South Gippsland in the Tarra Valley. Even the drive to the park feels magical. As you wind your way through the tall cliffs of the valley, water cascades down through the rainforest into the Tarra River, which runs beside you. As the car creeps upwards, the air becomes crisper and you leave the rushing sounds of the river – and the rest of the world – behind you.

There are a number of different trails to explore at Tarra-Bulga, as well as picnic and camping areas if you wish to make a day (or two) of it. The Tarra Valley Rainforest Walk is a short and easy stroll to Cyathea Falls, which is a small but beautiful waterfall that you could very well have all to yourself.

Images: Ella Kelly

Images: Ella Kelly

Image: Ella Kelly

Image: Ella Kelly

If you have a bit more time, make your way to Corrigan’s Suspension Bridge – head out from the Visitor Centre Carpark via the Lyrebird Ridge, Ash, and Wills Tracks. This secluded suspension bridge gives you a fantastic view, allowing you to take in the sights from above and get a different perspective of the forest canopy. (And if you’re super lucky, it may look like this.)

But possibly the thing I enjoyed most at Tarra-Bulga was simply wondering along the rainforest paths. You will feel dwarfed by the towering mountain ash trees as you wind your way through the thickets of ferns and fallen logs that make up the crowded understory. The air is filled with the sounds of male lyrebirds calling to attract mates, and if you go quietly you may even catch a glimpse of one running across the path – they are everywhere!

Image: Ella Kelly

Image: Ella Kelly

Summary

  • Towering mountain ash forests

  • Quiet and easy walks; wide paths with some stairs and steep inclines

  • Highlights include Cyathea Falls and Corrigan’s Suspension Bridge

  • Abundant local wildlife, particularly lyrebirds

  • Fantastic atmosphere - a real escape from the world!

 

 

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Ella Kelly

Ella is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne, where she spends a lot of time thinking about why some quolls don’t eat cane toads (if only she could ask them!). She also enjoys talking and writing about science, and would ultimately love to have an actual impact on the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity.

You can find her on Twitter at @ecology_ella


Banner image courtesy of Ella Kelly.

Werribee Gorge

A challenging track hidden in a gorge just an hour from the centre of Melbourne.

On first arriving, Werribee Gorge doesn’t seem like it will be all that peaceful – just off the Western Freeway, only an hour out of the city – but sound evaporates in the gorge. By the time you’ve parked in the Quarry Picnic Area the traffic noise has been muffled, but the voices of hikers up on the ridge can be heard clearly.

The Circuit Track is roughly 10km long, first tracing the edge of the gorge, then winding down through it. The route is clearly signposted with red triangles (mostly faded to burnt orange) and a map in the Quarry Picnic Area. The initial climb is steep but fairly short. Despite it being 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning, we crossed paths with a bold swamp wallaby within two minutes of setting off.

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Walkers are quickly rewarded for their climb with two viewpoints overlooking the interior of the gorge and a valley beyond. From the second viewpoint, the path winds steeply down until it reaches the river. This flat section of the walk is fairly easy-going, aside from the need to bash through some overgrown bushes and navigate some ledges, though the drop is very small.

Beyond this section is a rocky stretch that rounds a bend, with a slight overhang above the water. Parks Victoria have attached a cable along the rocks so that walkers can have a mini climbing adventure, but again, there isn’t much of a drop so there’s no real risk. It’s a fun and unexpected part of the track but it can get a bit congested on weekend afternoons, as families and hikers attempt to traverse it in different directions!

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Photo: Alex Mullarky

A gradual incline follows, at the end of which is a fork. At this point, we took a wrong turn, following the sign for the Short Circuit Track (another option from the Quarry) instead of continuing down towards Meikles Point. This doesn’t seem to cut any distance off the walk but it does add a steep incline as the track goes sharply back up to the initial ridgeline and viewpoint, before we retraced our steps down to the Quarry Picnic Area.

This is another great afternoon walk, taking only about three hours but giving your forgotten hiking muscles a good workout. The varying terrain keeps the walk interesting and the park’s proximity to the highway isn’t a problem – from the highest point you can see cars passing in the distance, but the gorge is peaceful and almost silent. A great afternoon escape.

Summary:

  • An hour’s drive from the city
  • Slightly challenging terrain
  • Can be walked in an afternoon
  • Varying landscapes of ridgeline and gorge basin

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Alex Mullarky

Alex Mullarky is a freelance journalist and works part-time in threatened species conservation. Her other passion is ex-racehorse rehabilitation and she is currently completing her Masters.

Endeavour Fern Gully

This 27-hectare National Trust property is unique. Located in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula, the land is 17.5 hectares of remnant rainforest, with the remaining 9.5 hectares gradually being revegetated by volunteers. 

The two-kilometre walking loop descends from this revegetated area and winds around old gum trees and through a lush fern gully. You then find yourself meandering alongside and over the headwaters of Stony Creek. 

A variety of fungi are abundant along this walk. 

A variety of fungi are abundant along this walk. 

You are bound to see abundant vegetation and birdlife throughout this walk. This land is a haven for flora and fauna to thrive, as it has remained unspoiled. The bushland consists of one of the last remaining untouched areas of a rich, red basaltic soil, which is rare along the Mornington Peninsula. For this reason amongst others, Endeavour Fern Gully has several rare plant species and is a vital source of habitat and food for a wide variety of animals.

In this rich habitat there is, unsurprisingly, a significant variety of birdlife. Endeavour is filled with birds humming and whistling everywhere you go. There are crimson rosellas, eastern yellow robins, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles, and even grey fantails, just to name a few.    

As you delve deeper into the Gully, you are immersed amongst tall messmate stringybark and the smooth-barked subspecies of manna gum. Along the trail, you will come across a large and remarkable burnt-out hollow of a messmate stringybark. This is believed to have been a place where indigenous people smoked animals for food, such as eels. 

The Gully boasts some impressive native trees as well as more low-lying flora. 

The Gully boasts some impressive native trees as well as more low-lying flora. 

For plant enthusiasts, there are at least two indigenous vegetation species that are extremely rare in the area: the Hedycarya angustifolia, a rainforest plant also known as the austral mulberry, and Parsonsia brownii, the silk pod. The latter species is also not apparent anywhere else on the Mornington Peninsula!

On our walk, we had the opportunity to explore the Gully with botanist and one of Endeavour’s most dedicated volunteers, Gillian Tolley. She has been looking after Endeavour since 2004 and hopes to gain more insight into the area’s flora and fauna in the near future. Gillian led the way as our team set up cameras, the footage from which will help us to learn more about animal life in the Gully. Endeavour also welcomes more volunteers – so come and get involved in the conservation of one of the Peninsula’s most incredible hidden gems.

Camera traps will help us to identify some of the more illusive animals of Endeavour Fern Gully.  

Camera traps will help us to identify some of the more illusive animals of Endeavour Fern Gully.  

If you’re looking to be immersed in nature, this tranquil experience is definitely worth a visit!

 

SUMMARY

  1. Located at 195 Arthurs seat Rd, red hill, vic 3937

  2. parking access

  3. 2km walk, approximately 30-45 minutes

  4. for volunteering information, please contact gillian tolley: gilliantolley@gmail.com

 

please note

  1. check for fire danger 

  2. be aware that snakes and leeches are found here


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Juliet Israel

Juliet is the Community Outreach Manager of Wild Melbourne and pursues her interests in natural and social sciences through the mediums of photography, nature expeditions and communication. She also works in conservation and land management, where she takes delight in working with like-minded people who are passionate about our environment.


 All images courtesy of James Evans. 

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve consists of an impressive 50 hectares of wetlands, open grasslands, a saltmarsh and a mangrove conservation area, providing an ideal haven for up to 120 bird species that frequent the area. Equipped with beautifully laid out boardwalks and bird hides, this reserve is a must for any budding naturalist or bird enthusiast.  

Situated in Williamstown alongside Jawbone Marine Sanctuary (the closest marine protected area to Melbourne's CBD) lies Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve. Just minutes west of Williamstown beach, and eight kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, this reserve is often overlooked due to the lack of signage as well as its seclusion from the main attractions of the area. The reserve has various access points via the Bay Trail; however, I recommend walking alongside the Esplanade, westwards from Williamstown Beach until you stumble across the reserve itself.

Upon entering, you will find yourself walking along the shore that lines the 30 hectares of Jawbone marine sanctuary. The sanctuary has been fenced off for 80 years and is an oasis for native marine and bird life. It boasts the largest occurrence of mangroves in Victoria as well as the only ones that grow on a basalt coast in Victoria. Due to the unique collection of habitats here, the distinctive biodiversity of the area becomes increasingly apparent as you meander across the sand toward the reserve. 

As we walked toward the boardwalk along the foreshore, we spotted Australian pelicans diving for fish and black swans feeding on aquatic plants in the shallows of the bay.

Scores of rock pools lead the way, showcasing gorgeous micro-ecosystems within each one. The sand is littered with tell-tale signs of animals that occur in the sanctuary but cannot be seen unless you are submerged in the bay. Sea urchin endoskeletons, shells of various molluscs, and sea jellies are amongst the many items we spotted scattered across the sand.

Once you approach the boardwalk, you will see it has adjoining pathways that lead you through the entire reserve. The boardwalk helps in the preservation of the reserve, allowing visitors to approach the unique habitats up close without having a negative impact on them. Informative signs are dotted along the walk, touching on the reserve history, geological makeup and complex ecosystems within the area.

Here, you have the opportunity to get up close to the reserve saltmarsh (one of the very few remaining in Port Phillip Bay). A sea of salt-tolerant beaded glasswort spreads across the saltmarsh where it evidently thrives. Now recognised as significant ecosystems, saltmarshes act as nurseries for marine life, and in turn are vital feeding grounds for bird species that frequent the area. There are conveniently placed bird hides with identification signs joined to the boardwalk that allow you to view the amazing diversity of bird life without disturbing them.

Lastly, there is a trail that leads you to the Jawbone Arboretum where Friends of Williamstown Wetlands have planted an impressive collection of native plants, each labelled with informative biological facts. The arboretum is a fantastic place to school yourself on indigenous plant diversity, as well as experience alternate views of the lakes and Port Phillip Bay.

SUMMARY

  1. ONLY 8KM FROM MELBOURNE'S CBD

  2. BOASTS A VARIETY OF HABITATS

  3. 120 DIFFERENT BIRD SPECIES HAVE BEEN SIGHTED HERE

  4. LARGEST OCCURRENCE OF MANGROVES IN VICTORIA


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Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

 

 

 


All images courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse. 


Triplet Falls Rainforest Walk

Hidden amongst the 103, 185 hectares that make up the Great Otway National Park lies an ancient forest walk that offers scenery reminiscent of enchanted places only described in fairy tales. The Triplet Falls Rainforest Walk is perfect for those seeking a much needed dose of fresh forest air, accompanied by views of the spectacular waterfalls and surrounding lush temperate rainforest.

Triplet Falls is just under a three-hour drive from the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and can be located by following signposts that lead you from Beech Forest to your destination. Upon arrival you will encounter a small clearing where you can leave your vehicle and commence the one-hour looped trail.

The head of the trail leads you on a compacted dirt track lined with towering myrtle beech and mountain ash trees (some known to be over 200 years old!). The track begins to descend on a slight incline as it takes you into the luscious depths of the rainforest. Well known as an IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area), Triplet Falls Rainforest Walk is best done by tuning your senses into the sights, smells and sounds of your surroundings by taking your time to meander down the dirt pathway.

Above images courtesy of Sara Ellerton & Rhiannon Chapman respectively.

Approximately 60 metres into the walk, you will come to a viewing platform that was initially built to view the upper cascades of the falls. It has since been overgrown with vegetation due to the sheer resilience of the forest. Instead, this is an ideal spot to pause and listen out for not only the falls in the near distance, but also the diverse bird life that frequent this area. Those with limited mobility are able to come up to this point but not any further due to the presence of steps and reasonably steep inclines.

Soon, the pathway turns into one of approximately 150 metres of elevated metal grate, serving as protection for the dense vegetation underneath. Here, the path is completely shaded by a canopy of thick forest growth allowing vibrant mosses and a diverse range of vital fungi to thrive on the native flora. This is an ideal spot to slow down your pace and keep a look out for the impressive fungal diversity that lies amongst the native vegetation. The rainforest quite literally cannot survive without the presence of fungi. Rainforest fungi plays an important role in decomposing and recycling dead organic material so that plants can utilise nutrient bi-products and thrive. Often overlooked, fungal species are fascinating so make sure you pay close attention!

Above images courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse & Sara Ellerton respectively.

The slightly sloped pathway leads you deeper into the valley where the vegetation is incredibly dense and the sounds of the forest are more apparent. You will find yourself approaching the falls just over two thirds into the walk. Here, the three cascades of Triplet Falls are best observed from the impressively laid out and elevated viewing deck. Youngs Creek flows to the falls, which cascades down again into a rocky, clear creek surrounded by a gorgeous array of forest vegetation. It really is a magical scene to take in - one of the many that the Otways have to offer. Although this walk is stunning at all times of the year, the falls are most impressive after heavy rainfall. Once you've taken your fill of the views, the path leads you out of the depths of the valley and back up to the car park via many steep steps.

SUMMARY

  1. JUST UNDER A THREE-HOUR DRIVE FROM NORTHERN SUBURBS

  2. ANCIENT TEMPERATE FOREST

  3. FALLS ARE BEST VIEWED AFTER RAINFALL

  4. STUNNING FOREST SCENERY


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Banner image courtesy of Wikipedia.


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Big Rock Track, You Yangs

Just over an hour’s drive southwest of the northern suburbs, you can find yourself surrounded by the eerily beautiful granite peaks of the You Yangs. Feel like you’re worlds away as you meander through these geographical formations formed during the Devonian Period, and experience the wildlife that thrives here.

Reaching 360 metres above the Werribee Plain at its highest point lie a series of granite peaks that make up the You Yangs. As you enter the regional park, you will be presented with five different trail options. I recommend you decide upon which trail before leaving home, as they all lead in different directions, have different track difficulties and offer different experiences.

We chose the Big Rock Track, which can be accessed from the car park near the park office. The 3-kilometre walk takes you along a dirt path with a steady incline that eventually loops you around the Big Rock and back. Being the driest part of Victoria south of the Great Dividing Range, you are presented with the opportunity to witness some incredible and unique low woodland flora and fauna.

Looking along the Big Rock Track.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

Looking along the Big Rock Track. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

Lining the long dirt track are tall yellow and manna gum eucalypt trees, with thinly distributed undergrowth of native shrubs at their base. This pathway is best taken slowly, keeping a keen eye out for the rich diversity of bird life that flits among the tree branches, as well as the reptiles that frequent the ground below. I set out on this journey with the wish to see a shingleback skink, and with patience came my reward. Being a slow-moving lizard, they are not hard to observe, and are not particularly shy either. The park boasts over 200 bird species and is also home to 30 species of orchid. Although we did not see any orchids on this particular track, we did come across many Australian ravens, sulphur-crested cockatoos, noisy miners, common bronzewings and a scarlet robin!

A confident shingleback lizard peaks through the undergrowth.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

A confident shingleback lizard peaks through the undergrowth. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

To the left of the dirt track is a spectacular view of the Werribee Plain, presenting a typically Australian bushland backdrop. The silence is a welcome change from the daily grind and allows you to hear bird calls from near and far. At the end of the dirt track you will find a plateau of grassland with an area that has been sectioned off for picnics and barbecues. A steep and winding path will lead you to the Big Rock, offering staggering views of the woodlands that lie beneath. From here, you can sit and watch predatory birds circle the area as they scan the premises for a good feed, whilst taking in the astounding view. I suggest that you venture off the given path if you feel the need to! This is how I spotted the elusive and swift scarlet robin, which was such a welcome sighting. However, always be wary of snakes and do not move too far from the track if possible.

From here, you can continue on the looped track to the car park through some gorgeous landscapes laced with towering eucalypts, including some sulphur-crested cockatoos scattered amongst them. A highly recommended location and track for a much-needed dose of fresh air and a welcome change of scenery!

One of Australia's most iconic bird species: the sulphur-crested cockatoo.  Image: Tanya Rajapakse

One of Australia's most iconic bird species: the sulphur-crested cockatoo. Image: Tanya Rajapakse

SUMMARY

  1. DIVERSE AND UNIQUE FAUNA

  2. SPECTACULAR VIEWS

  3. CLOSE PROXIMITY TO NORTHERN SUBURBS


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASY OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

Banner image courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Birdsland Reserve

Perfectly suited for budding ornithologists and nature lovers alike, this aptly named reserve is a haven for over 130 endemic bird species and approximately 200 native plant species. With 75 hectares of bushland and walking tracks to explore, Birdsland Reserve has something on offer for everyone.

Less than an hour’s drive heading east from the northern suburbs of Victoria, you can soon find yourself surrounded by the densely vegetated, riparian bushlands of Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave. Within the 75 hectares of this reserve lie 28 hectares of the Monbulk Creek retarding basin. Two lakes forming the basin are at the heart of the reserve, providing a sanctuary to an array of native flora and fauna.

The entrance to the larger of the two lakes.

The entrance to the larger of the two lakes.

As you leave the carpark, you will find yourself walking along nearby Monbulk Creek, occasionally lined with signs that tell tales of the platypus that inhabit the area. As elusive as the platypus is, there have been sightings of these shy creatures within this very creek and I highly recommend you take some time out to pause here and wait patiently for an appearance! You can walk off-track alongside the creek to observe its inhabitants and climb over the fallen gum trees to admire the array of plant species that border the muddy banks of the creek.

If you look closely, you may be able to spot eastern grey kangaroos in the background.

If you look closely, you may be able to spot eastern grey kangaroos in the background.

Soon you will come to a clearing that reveals the larger lake, as well as the beginning of the looped walking track that leads you around both lakes. This is the simplest of the walking tracks on offer at the reserve and is approximately 3 kilometres long. The track is completely flat and therefore ideal for people of varying physical abilities. Halfway around the larger lake, you will see the continuation of Monbulk Creek to the right of the pathway. On the opposite side of the creek, I was treated to a beautiful sighting: three eastern grey kangaroos grazing on the luscious riparian vegetation and lounging in the sun.

This walking track is great for a leisurely stroll and is designed to allow you to take in every lush aspect of it. A large part of this is keeping a keen eye out for the native bird species that inhabit the reserve. Plenty of nesting purple swamphen, eastern rosellas, magpie larks, superb fairy-wrens, pied currawongs, cormorants, Australian white ibis and common starlings can be spotted, whilst the unmistakable call of the kookaburra may also be heard.

As you approach the second smaller lake, you will find a well-built boardwalk that takes you through the wetlands of the reserve. Here you can hear various frog calls, and I’ve been told that if you’re patient, you might even spot some!

A purple swamphen strutting its stuff beside the lake.

A purple swamphen strutting its stuff beside the lake.

Beyond the lakes, there are options to take a more challenging walk along the Dargon and Granite Tracks, eventually leading you to the Monbulk Creek Lookout. The scenery changes once you leave the lakes, opening up into what is seemingly dry and lifeless grassland. Mostly uphill, this track is tougher in contrast to the lakeside track and offers a lower diversity of wildlife to observe.

Overall, Birdsland Reserve provides relaxing views that promise to please and is perfect for the avid wildlife enthusiast with a keen eye for the diverse array of native flora and fauna on offer.

SUMMARY

  1. IDEAL FOR BIRD LOVERS

  2. BEAUTIFUL SCENERY

  3. INCREDIBLY EASY TRACK TO WALK

  4. IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO NORTHERN SUBURBS


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASY OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

All images courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.

Olinda Falls & Cascade Walk

Known as one of Melbourne’s closest waterfalls, Olinda Falls is an easily accessible and ideal spot to visit for those who would love to immerse themselves in the dense rainforest of Olinda’s wetter gullies. 

Just over an hour’s drive from the northern suburbs of Victoria, you can suddenly find yourself in the incredibly thick, temperate rainforest in the Olinda area of the Dandenong Ranges.

This walk is ideal for keen-eyed wildlife enthusiasts and accommodates people of varying fitness levels. From the car park, a 300-metre sloped path lined with giant Mountain Ash trees will guide you to a junction. Here you have the option of visiting the upper or lower falls, both of which have viewing platforms facing the waterfall. The Upper Falls Track is a lot easier than the Lower Falls Track; however, the latter is lengthier and much more beautiful. If exploring both tracks together, it will only take you a little over 30 minutes, providing you don't stop to look at the stunning flora and fauna (which I highly recommend you do!). Remember to look up at the variety of gum and ash trees that dwarf you as you walk by.

For a bit of a challenge, you also have the choice of attempting the more rugged Cascade Walk, located near the entrance to the Upper Falls Walk. Here, you will get a greater sense of the untouched rainforest in its natural state. Surrounded by ferns and trees that soar to heights of about 85 metres, this walk is serene and ideal for listening out for a wide variety of bird calls. If you're patient, I've been told you might even see a lyrebird, a wedge-tailed eagle, a swamp wallaby or a short-beaked echidna!

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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SUMMARY

  1. JUST OVER AN HOUR'S DRIVE FROM VICTORIA'S NORTHERN SUBURBS
  2. WALKING TRACKS FOR PEOPLE OF VARYING DEGREES OF FITNESS
  3. HOME TO SOME OF VICTORIA'S TALLEST TREES
  4. PERFECT FOR RAINFOREST ENTHUSIASTS

All images courtesy of Tanya Rajapakse

Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit

Located in Wilsons Promontory, this boardwalk through beautiful, primitive rainforest provides walkers with an array of mosses and fungi, and countless species of forest birds to discover!

The spectacular Mount Oberon. Photo: Cathy Cavallo

The spectacular Mount Oberon. Photo: Cathy Cavallo

The Lilly Pilly car park is about five minutes by car from Tidal River on the road away from the campsite. There are two options to explore here: a hillside circuit of 5.8 kilometres (2 to 3 hours) or a pram and wheelchair-friendly stroll of 2.6 kilometres return (1 hour). Both move through a striking variety of vegetation types and feature a 600-metre boardwalk through a remnant patch of ancient warm, temperate rainforest.

These walks offer an insight into the wealth of habitats offered by the Promontory’s landscape. Look out for dry heathland with striking grass-trees, banksia-dominated open woodland and tall eucalypt forest in addition to the jewel in the crown: an ancient rainforest remnant from an earlier era.

Recent fires have left their mark on the tall eucalypts and encouraged vibrant regrowth, resulting in a stunning vista of black and green. Flooding and storms that followed those fires also left their mark, scoring great scars across the mountainsides and creating new open spaces.

The rainforest boardwalk is like entering another world, another time. From tall, open forest you will enter an ethereal, darkened place of utter tranquility. The vegetation changes abruptly and the wildlife in this section is particularly exciting. Frogs call and the odd native galaxiid fish can be seen swimming languidly in the creek. We found three times as many bird species in this small patch as we did across the rest of the walk; Eastern Spinebills, Grey Fantails, Yellow Robins, Thornbills and Scrubwrens flit all around. I suspect some were drawn by the many mosquitos that hovered around the area (repellent would be a good idea).

Once you walk back to the car park, check out the impressive views of Mount Oberon opposite and be sure to keep an eye open down low for lovely mosses, lichens and fungi, the latter of which are particularly abundant at this time of year.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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OVERALL RATING

Summary:
1. Boardwalk through primitive, remnant rainforest
2. Multiple vegetation classes

3. Fungi and mosses
4. Forest birds


Tidal River to Squeaky Beach, Wilsons Promontory

An energetic climb that links two iconic beaches, offers breathtaking ocean views and will most definitely include a wombat sighting!

A beautiful section of the walking track. Photo: Cathy Cavallo

A beautiful section of the walking track. Photo: Cathy Cavallo

This walk begins at the western end of the Tidal River campsite at Wilson’s Promontory, where the new footbridge crosses Tidal River.

A camera is essential, as this track offers spectacular views of Tidal River and Mount Oberon on one side of Pillar Point and Squeaky Beach, as well as several islands on the other.

As the track climbs out of Tidal River, it progresses through multiple vegetation types, from wetland, through banksia-dominated open coastal forest, shady melaleuca stands and finally to an exposed coastal hilltop. The descent to Squeaky Beach traverses rocky scree consisting of gnarled coastal bushes, and tenacious succulents and lichens.

When walked in the morning or late afternoon, visitors can be assured of encountering a wide variety of bird life, as well as the local (and very charismatic) wombats. On our walk, we were lucky enough to discover a beautiful white-lipped snake, resting by the path.

One of the most exciting features of this environment is the colossal granite boulders seemingly littered throughout the forest and bursting from the side of Pillar Point. The origins of these boulders date back to the Devonian Period, which stretched from around 419.2 to 358.9 million years ago. Boulders the size of houses give the forest an otherworldly air of enchantment, while great sheets of granite dip into the surrounding waters, joining a granite bedrock which reaches all the way to northern Tasmania.

This walk is 2.1 kilometres in each direction, and is essentially one long incline followed by a long decline. There are therefore steep sections. Due to this, it is an inadvisable choice for the mobility-limited. That said, less energetic walkers and families will definitely enjoy this walk, provided time is allowed for rest-breaks at the many stunning viewpoints.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY 

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

Summary:
1. Spectacular views
2. Multiple vegetation classes

3. Wombats!
4. Striking geology