walks

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.

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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.

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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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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

 

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. 


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

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL

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

EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY

WILDLIFE

SCENERY

OVERALL RATING

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

3. Fungi and mosses
4. Forest birds


Madsen’s Track Nature Walk

One of the wettest forests in Victoria, Melba Gully is a great place to experience the majesty of Victoria’s temperate rainforests. Oh, and it has glow worms. 

Glow Worms!

Glow Worms!

Review

I know this Bush Beat isn’t strictly within the city boundaries, but it’s too good not to share. This tranquil walk is great for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the beauty of the rainforest, and is great for wildlife enthusiasts.

Many shy nocturnal mammals, such as swamp wallabies and spot-tailed quolls are found in Melba Gully, but most people come to see the glow worms. These bioluminescent invertebrates are not actually worms, but are the larvae of fungus gnats (Arachnocampa species), which are endemic to Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, endemic to this region is the Otway Black Snail, a carnivorous species that can be found at the base of trees and tree ferns, or within deep leaf litter.

The Madsen’s Track Nature Walk takes around half an hour to complete, and requires a relatively low level of fitness. However, the track can be very slippery, so sturdy shoes are recommended. The track meanders amongst Myrtle Beech and Mountain Ash trees and crosses the Johanna River twice. Two points on the track that are worth stopping at are Anne’s Cascade and Big Tree, an ancient fallen Messmate, measuring 27 meters around the base.

In my opinion, the best time of day to visit Melba Gully is just before sunset. This means that you have a chance to see the rainforest in all its glory, but you are also able to find some glow worms, and maybe a wallaby or two. 


Level of Difficulty

Ease of Accessibility

Wildlife

Scenery 

Overall Rating


 

Summary:         

  1.  Easy Walk     

  2.  Can be Slippery Underfoot      

  3.  Lots of Wildlife         

  4. Great Scenery