Monday, February 2, 2015

Tree Ferns, Mountain Ash, Lyre Birds

Two more sleeps in a house (we are house-sitting two dogs, a ferret and an acre of property near Emerald, Victoria) until we are back on the road again. It has been a nice five week break living in houses instead of in our four metre caravan. Hot showers every night (not a bucket of cold water over the head), a good sized kitchen and fridge (vegetables galore and left over slow-cooker roasts), an indoor toilet (not that there's anything wrong with a giant PB jar), it's all been very decadent. About this time when we are staying in houses I start to realise we need to get moving again, or we'll get so comfortable we may never move. 

Stately eucalpyt

Today I drove east towards Belgrave and did a walk in Dandenong Ranges National Park. This is a funny little (or big, depending on how you look at it) National Park spread out over a large area and consisting of many scattered areas of parkland surrounded by urban development. I've been walking around Wrights Forest State Park for the 10 days we've been at Emerald (an 8 minute stroll from our house-sit) and had got used to seeing one, maybe three people on my long rambles through the forest so I was quite surprised to find two cars parked at Nation Road, and even more surprised by the number of people I met on my walk. 

I started out walking west on Welch Track. Immediately, the track plunges into beautiful forest with huge eucalpyts and an under-storey of luxuriant tree ferns. The junction with Coles Track feels a bit like a slap in the face as you have to walk alongside an area of spaced trees as a subdivision backs onto the park here. The track climbs up to about 350 metres and heads away from surburbia and into wonderful forest again. Grants Picnic Ground comes upon you far too soon where I was surprised to find many buses, walkers, tourists and not surprised to find the obligatory cafe selling Metabolic Syndrome. 

 Tree ferns

Skedaddling out of this congested area as fast as possible I wandered down Hardy Gully Nature Walk past more thickets of tree ferns and towering mountain ash trees a few centuries old. Neuman Track climbs up to a ridge again passing a delightful little opening in the forest where a grassy meadow was catching shafts of sun. I heard the thrilling sound of at least a half dozen lyre birds along this stretch mimicking everything from bell birds to whip birds to kookaburras. Absolutely wonderful. The end of the walk was a downhill stroll along Paddy Road and the end of a walk that was about six hours too short. If you've never heard a lyre bird, click here to listen to this wondrous bird mimicking many other birds. 

Single tree fern thinking outside the box

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