waterfalls

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.

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