history

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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WILDLIFE

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SCENERY

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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.

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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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.

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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WILDLIFE

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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.