walking

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

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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.

Breakneck Gorge

This is a great half-day walk for locals or visitors to the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area, giving you a good taste of the surrounding bushland in a peaceful gully.

The walk begins in Bryces Flat Reserve, which is easily accessed from Bald Hill Road in Hepburn. You will come to a bridge; cross it, and the turning to Bryces Flat is on the left, where parking is available. 

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

Set out following the signs to the Blowhole, taking the footbridge over Sailors Creek and following the track up. You will cross back over Bald Hill Road before reconnecting with the path on the other side, which will lead you up into the trees and over the hill to the gully on the far side. Forming part of the 210km Goldfields Track, the path is always clear and well signposted. 

Following it for half an hour will bring you to the Blowhole, a good place to stop to refuel. The Blowhole is a remnant of the gold rush, created to expose gold in the water, and after heavy rainfall it appears to shoot water. Unfortunately, the viewing area is currently closed due to a recent rock fall. 

From the Blowhole, follow the signs towards Breakneck Gorge. The Dry Diggings Track temporarily joins with an unsealed road before turning off to meet the riverbed, currently dry. If in doubt, just follow the yellow signposts. 

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

The trail becomes trickier here, negotiating a few more hills and with some rocky spots to navigate. The slope becomes quite steep to your left in some places and it’s best to walk carefully. Small lizards are common along the path on a warm day and the odd swamp wallaby can be spotted down in the leafy gully. 

It takes around an hour from the Blowhole to reach Breakneck Gorge: a deep, tree-filled gorge that appears suddenly around a bend. It’s a great place to watch some birds in the treetops below. And if you’re not feeling too worn out, the walk can easily be turned into a return trip, back along the same path.

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

SUMMARY

  • A 4km route from Bryces Flat in Hepburn to Breakneck Gorge.
  • Opportunity to continue along the Dry Diggings Track which leads into Daylesford.
  • Spectacular scenery and seclusion not far off the beaten track.
  • See the Daylesford area from a different perspective.

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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.

Banner image courtesy of Alex Mullarky.

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. 

Maroondah Reservoir

Known for its monumental landscapes, Maroondah Reservoir Park promises spectacular views overlooking a most impressive 22, 000 megalitre reservoir that flows over the dam spillway into the gorgeous Watts River. Teeming with native wildlife, the surrounding eucalypt forests sport ideal walking tracks for the keen wildlife enthusiast.

Located in the heart of Healesville, just over an hour’s drive from the northern suburbs of Victoria, lies a local favourite: Maroondah Reservoir Park. Heavily based on and around Watts River, the park boasts a diverse range of native flora and fauna, as well as spectacular views of the dam itself.

You will be given the choice of four walking tracks at the information shelter, located north of the main car park area. We chose to walk the Lookout Track and completed our stay with the Maroondah Forest Track. 

Lookout Track ~ 30 minutes

From the information shelter, I suggest you first explore the exquisitely landscaped gardens lined with both native and exotic trees. Native birds thrive in these historical gardens, so keep a keen eye out and listen carefully. Before heading towards the top of the dam wall, visit the spillway viewing platform to appreciate the beauty of Watts River and the force of water exiting the dam. From here you can climb the famous Rose Stairway consisting of 84 steps, leading you to the very top of the dam wall. If you are unable to climb the stairs, there is a bitumen walking track at the eastern end of the car park, leading you to the same destination.

Once you reach the top of the 41-metre high dam wall, you are presented with breathtaking views of the 22, 000 megalitre Maroondah Reservoir with densely forested mountains in the background. Constructed in 1920 and completed in 1927, the reservoir has since been an important source of potable water for Greater Metropolitan Melbourne. The dam wall walk eventually ends at a clearing where there is a lookout that boasts stunning views of the entire dam, the dam wall and the surrounding forests

Maroonda Forest Track ~ 15-30 minutes

From the lookout clearing, the Maroondah Forest Track leads you through a pleasant native forest walk back down to Henderson's Picnic Area (located near the car park). Time spent on this track can really vary depending on an individual's interests. This densely forested walk is lined with native pines, wattles, eucalypts and tree ferns. Home to many Australian mammals and bird life, this walk is best taken slowly and quietly. Once you are tuned in to the distinct sounds of the forest, you will be delighted with what you hear. On our walk, we spotted a swamp wallaby who had lost its footing and gone tumbling into the scrub below. We saw sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, Australian white ibis and bronzewings. Plenty of kookaburra calls could be heard, although the birds themselves were not seen.

This moderate walk is a gem for those who are fond of native plants, which are heavily distributed the deeper you get into the walk and reminiscent of a tropical rainforest. Just before the end of the track is a small bridge that leads you over a quiet section of Watts River. This is an absolutely stunning spot to take in the sights and sounds of the river and surrounding forest - a perfect treat before you set off in your car to discover more of what Healesville has to offer! 

Summary:

  1. Spectacular views
  2. Dense native vegetation
  3. Array of native fauna
  4. Historical landmark 

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All photos taken by Tanya Rajapaske.


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.