walk

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.

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.

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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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.

Wombat Trail

Approximately an hour and a half’s travel north-east of Melbourne CBD, Trentham is a small town on the edge of the Wombat State Forest. There are a number of small reserves and walking trails around town, and the Wombat Trail, a loop of approximately 8km, takes the walker right around the edge of the houses into the surrounding bushland. 

Parking is available at the Quarry St Reserve, where the trail begins. A large pond in the reserve is home to a variety of waterfowl, and the path leads south along its banks. 
Cross the High St and you’ll enter the community-managed Stoney Creek Reserve. There has been some flood damage to the path here but it has been well marked out by the reserve’s managers and is easily avoided. 

After leaving Stoney Creek, follow Park St until you reach Trentham Cemetery, where a grassy track follows the fence-line of the graveyard before veering into the trees. 

Cross over the Trentham-Blackwood Road to enter the forest, where kangaroos can usually be spotted in the morning and evening grazing in the neighbouring paddock. The path will lead you down to the Trentham Racecourse Reserve, where the last race was run 110 years ago. All that remains of the racetrack is a wide path through gum trees which have reclaimed the reserve over the past century. 

Approximately halfway around the track is the site of the grandstand and finishing post, now unrecognisable, save for the bench and interpretive sign that mark the spot. As you complete your circuit of the track, crimson rosellas, corellas and kookaburras are a common sight in the treetops.

Retrace your steps with the aid of the Wombat Trail signage, then follow the path right; here, you may find yourself surrounded by common brown butterflies. Gleeson St will lead you around the back of the town, then simply pass along Trent Creek and turn down Albert St to return to your parking spot. 

Signage is regular and reliable all the way along the route, making it very difficult to lose your way, and the going is easy underfoot. It’s a steady, flat trail that’s best enjoyed early in the morning while the town is quiet.

SUMMARY

•    A loop around the town of Trentham through the Wombat Forest
•    Sites of historic interest including the old Trentham Racecourse
•    Listen out for corellas and kookaburras along the forest trails
•    Easy terrain for young children or older walkers

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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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


Originally published on Walking Maps.

All images courtesy of Alex Mullarky.

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.

 

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

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OVERALL


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. 

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

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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.

Roy Henderson Walking Trail

The trail runs through rugged coastal heathlands from the small township of Sandy Point to nearby Shallow inlet, which opens up to a swamp full of wildlife, including water birds and crabs. 

Review

This easy walk starts in the coastal town of Sandy Point, leaving from the corner of Manuka Street and Woodlands Avenue. It curves its way through dense coastal heathland until it reaches Shallow Inlet.

I suggest walking a dusk or (if you’re an early riser) dawn – this is when the bush’s inhabitants come to life. There are birds aplenty, including superb fairy wrens and yellow-tailed black cockatoos. If you’re lucky you may even spot a hairy nose wombat or echidna. We even cam across a baby tiger snake crossing the path!

Once you reach the inlet, you have the option of walking further along to where it meets the sea, or curving back around to explore the marshland.

Unfortunately, the beach is very compacted, as patrons are allowed to drive cars onto the sand to launch boats, which may disrupt your viewing of the waterbirds that live in the inlet.

The marsh is home to an enormous army of crabs, so you can have fun watching them scuttle back a forth along the mudflats.

If you’re up for a bit more of a hike, it’s about 4km up to the entrance of the inlet – although the walk is quite long, the scenery is impressive when you get there. 

Level of Difficulty

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Summary:         

  1.  Easy Walk     

  2.  Diverse Habitats      

  3.  Lots of Wildlife         

  4. Optional Walk to Inlet Entrance 

Bald Hills Creek Wildlife Reserve

In this small, isolated reserve, make your way along a meandering trail through paperbark woodlands until you reach the thriving wetlands. There’s a chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including swamp wallabies, spoonbills and tree frogs. 

Review

When driving along Walkerville Road, just outside Tarwin Lower, take a right onto Bald Hills Road, which will lead you to this small, isolated reserve.

The reserve is the remaining remnants of the Tullaree swamp, which once ran alongside Tarwin River: an area that has now been taken over by farming.

Take an easy stroll through woodlands and paperbark thickets until you come upon large open wetlands, full of birdlife.

Bring your binoculars to spot spoonbills, herons and cormorants from the bank (there was once a bird hide here but apparently it was destroyed by a deliberately lit fire).

You can also explore a number of smaller trails that lead to different views of the water – though watch where you step, I almost squashed a Southern Brown tree frog hiding in the undergrowth!

The reserve is also home to a number of swamp wallabies, so walk quietly and you may spot them hiding amongst the thicket. They’re generally shy things, but I spotted one just off the trail that seemed quite unfazed by my presence.

The walk will take you half an hour to an hour, depending on how much you stop to admire the view and wildlife.


Level of Difficulty 

Ease of Accessibility 

Wildlife

Scenery

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Overall Rating

Summary

 
  1. Easy Walk

  2. Several different habitats

  3. Numerous chances to spot wildlife

  4. Nice views of the wetlands