rainforest

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.

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. 

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.

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!

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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