Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

I’ve been meaning to share with you a walk we went on recently. It was up to a place called ‘Mushroom Rocks’ about an hour or so north of where we live.

The walk will give you a little peek at some of the indigenous plants on the mountains and hills that border the valley where I live. The valley itself has few stands of bushland left, let alone ones containing indigenous plant life.

We’ll also get to see some of the local wildlife…best to look but not touch!

The Mushroom Rocks walk forms part of the Australian Alps Walking Track in Baw Baw National Park that can take you 650 kms and nearly to Canberra if you are really keen. We walked the 1.5 km Mushroom Rocks section.

My daughter was a little worried when I said we could walk all the way to Canberra if we hurried.

Fair go. I hadn’t packed lunch.

The lower section of the walk winds through damp ferny gullies dominated by giant tree ferns.

We hadn’t gone far along the ferny gully beneath the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) canopy when we found this lurking by the side of the path, possibly waiting for unsuspecting hikers to sit down beside him for a rest…

Sure he looks harmless enough, but this is Victaphanta atramentaria, a carnivorous snail.

I think he is actually quite attractive and textural. But it is true, he is carnivorous. But you can relax a little, as he is not going to bite your hand off.  According to Museum Victoria his prefered diet is worms, other molluscs and insect larvae. Just don’t wiggle your finger like a worm.

Look at all the different plants clinging to this granite...I wish I'd taken the time for some individual photos.

As we moved into the more open Snow Gum (eucalyptus pauciflora) forest there were new things to see.

Bright purple seems such a weird colour amongst the subtle hues of the Australian bush. I think this is the fruit of Dianella caerulea, the blue flax lily.

See anything interesting in this photo..?

look a little closer…it’s a…

Tiger snake!

Tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus) can inflict a bite that can kill, but they generally don’t like to hang around for an argument. If disturbed they will tend to do what this one is doing and slither away to find a quieter place to sun themselves.

A variant of Correa Reflexa - Mountain Correa I think (Correas are sometimes referred to as Native Fuchsia)

On the return journey we were stopped in our tracks by the sound of a male Lyrebird in the scrub just off to one side.

Lyrebirds are great imitators and this one was merrily running through his range of calls. We heard him accurately imitate a Kookaburra, a Black Cockatoo an Australian Magpie, a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and a Crimson Rosella, all in quick succession. He also make another weird electronic sound that my daughter thought sounded like a submarine, but was probably the ring tone of a park ranger’s mobile phone.

These guys are incredible mimics and can easily reproduce the ‘brrring-brrring’ of an old-fashioned telephone or the buzz of a chainsaw, which can be quite disconcerting.

Lyrebirds are usually shy and I have only been fortunate enough to get a good look at a lyrebird in the wild once – and of course I was without my camera! If you are interested in finding out more about  Lyrebirds, who are named for their lyre shaped tail feathers, not their mimicking habits – you can find out more here.

All I was able to manage by way of a photo this time is below. You will have to look hard to see the ‘tall chicken’ like shape roughly in the middle of the photo…

Do you see him?

Most often, you will find a Lyrebird with your ears not your eyes!

It was one of those days where we came home feeling exhilarated because we saw and heard so much more than we expected to. Can’t wait to visit again!

****

On a slightly different note, I have been considering the layout of my blog and have a few questions to ask over the coming few entries. First up is about photos. Do you find a post like this one, where I have used larger (but still compressed) photos takes a long time to download or is it quite manageable?

cheers,

Heidi

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Comments on: "Killer Snails and Lying Birds" (44)

  1. Bernieh said:

    Lucky, lucky girl having this wonderful area so close! Looks like a fabulous spot for a stroll … oh to be able to see a lyrebird up close! Really loved those Correas too … I’ve always wanted to have some in my garden, but I’m not at all sure there’s a variety that would suit my spot.

  2. Elephant's Eye said:

    (having just been promoted to a higher speed, loads just fine tx) Your Correa looks a lot like our tree fuchsia Halleria, but ours has red flowers.

    • Hi Diana, we have red correa too, have you every seen one? I’ll have to post a photo one day and look up your tree fuchsia!
      Thanks for the feedback on the photos too 🙂

  3. Oh, that was a fun walkabout! You live in an amazing place…love the fern gully! And I can’t imagine seeing such birds in the wild. I have to say, though, that your carnivorous snail has intensified my long-suffered molluscophobia. Creepy!

  4. So Heidi is your name? I will try to remember that now. I prefer the names so much more, just a personal thing. No problem viewing the post. I loved it too! The snake and snail and lyrebird and especially the tree ferns were great. What a fun walk! Very exhilarating for me too and I didn’t even walk it. I think because the indigenous creatures there are so different from what I’m used to. Very cool bit of Australia though.

    • Hi Tina, I will have to remember to ‘sign off’ with my name…I always mean to, but then I forget!
      I’m glad you enjoyed my little corner of Australia, it is not on the ‘tourist track’ but we do have some beautiful places!

  5. What a great walk! Those berries are so pretty! Are they edible I wonder.
    How on earth did you spot that snake? I had to look really hard even after you told me to look out for something.

    • Hello Sunita,
      It turns out that the purple berries are meant to be edible and are described as sweet and nutty in flavour! Although I’m still not sure I’d be game to try one as I’ve never seen anyone eat them!

      The snake is well disguised there isn’t he? We spotted him because he was on the track at first, but he did also make a bit of rustling noise as he slithered away 🙂

  6. What a wonderful hike and so many beautiful things your photographed, well maybe not the snake, LOL! Snakes and I do not get along or play well together. The snail is such a beautiful photo.

    • Hi Lona! I thought that this snail was surprisingly pretty, maybe because he was low on the slime factor 😀
      I was pretty happy that the snake was slithering away from me too!

  7. I am just fascinated about the different types of plants and animals that grow in Australia. A carnivorous snail? Very interesting.

    • Hi Noelle, I knew that we had carnivorous snails here in Victoria, but didn’t know we had them in our region – I’d think about introducing them to deal with the garden snails, except I’d hate them to eat my worms!

  8. What a wonderful walk!

    I must say, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a carnivorous snail before! The purple of the Snow Gum is quite dazzling, and the Tiger snake? Eeeek! Most of our snakes, thankfully, are quite harmless…well, except for the rattlesnakes.

    As for the Lyrebird, I’ve never seen one in person, but I do remember David Attenborough doing a piece on them when I was a kid. I just remember thinking their tails were completely impractical for living in a forest. Beautiful birds though, even if they are a bit of a show off 😛

    • Hi CV, yes, those lyrebirds are show offs alright…but they are very entertaining! It would have been weird for someone who had never heard of them to walk past and see us and the other walkers nearby all tilting our heads to listen and grinning stupidly as we listened to his call!

  9. It looks like a lovely walk, GG. I’ve never seen a lyrebird in the wild so you are pretty lucky. I usually just get to see lots of bush turkeys and they’re not the most exciting of birds.

    Now that I’ve spent a few minutes dreaming about bush walking I’d better get ready to face the office – I know where I’d much rather be.

    • Hi Flo – I’ve never seen a bush turkey anywhere other than on TV and I would like to see one of those one day too! I must admit that listening to a lyrebird in the wild is pretty amazing 🙂
      I hope your day at the office was bearable!

  10. Hi, Heidi! How are you? By these photos, you look as though all is very well in your part of the world! What a fantastic place to enjoy. That granite wall is amazing..no need for close ups. The way the light dances on the live wall really captures my soul! I’ve never seen a tiger snake..its colors are quite lovely. The lyrebird is neat…if he mimics a cockatoo, he’s definitely easy to hear! 🙂

    • Hi Kimberly – yes all is well with me (apart from recovering from a horrible cold 😦 again! ) I hope all is well with you too!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the living granite wall – I don’t think my photo has really captured the beautiful textures – it was the sort of thing that looks so soft and inviting that it was hard not to touch!

  11. Heidi, Thanks for taking us on the hike. I didn’t have any trouble loading this post. Because the photos have been compressed, their file sizes are actually quite small — generally under 50 KB. It’s the uncompressed images of +/- 1 MB that my computer usually chokes on.

    • Hi Jean and thanks very much for explaining that 🙂 I’ve never been good at understanding the different file sizes for photos, but now I can rest easy knowing my compressed photos won’t crash anyone’s computer!

  12. My hosta and ligularia wouldn’t stand a chance against those giant man eating snails. jim

  13. I would love to hear a lyrebird! I think it is even more fascinating than our mocking bird. A wonderful walk. Thanks.

  14. I had no idea there was such a thing as Australian Alps. I mean, everyone talks about hiking in New Zealand, and I did go on the Routburn, but Australia? It’s so interesting what one can learn from blogs.

  15. Hello Town Mouse, I still find it kind of funny that they are refered to sometimes as ‘Alps’ as I too think that alps are found in places like Switzerland and New Zealand. Certainly we have mountains high enough to get snow…but ‘alps’ is probably stretching it!

  16. aloha heidi,

    the pics actually pop up quickly for me, but i have dsl and i do love bigger pics…i love your hike, its was fun and i didn’t burn calories unfortuantely…i’m intrigued that you can eat the berries off dianela, interesting, they always looks so tasty and purple and that snail is very cool looking, but not the snake!

    thanks for the hike, i enjoyed it!

    • aloha Noel! I’m glad you enjoyed the walk! I still can’t bring myself to try dianela – it just seems such a bright colour that it screams ‘poison’ to me.

  17. If you ever decide to do that walk to Canberra, swing by and say hello! 😉
    I’m impressed you got close enough to that Tiger Snake to take a photo – I’d have high-tailed it in the opposite direction, no matter how retiring they are!

    • Fair go! The 1.5kms up that hill was enough of an effort, never mind the other 648.5 to the A.C.T.!
      I don’t mind snakes just as long as I’m sure that the are heading away from me. It’s the spiders that I can’t take!

  18. I enjoyed this walk! Nice!

  19. This is an interesting jungle trekking adventure. I enjoyed the walk and learnt something new today, like tiger snakes, carnivorous snails and ‘lier’ birds! Now, I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

    • Hi autumbelle! I’m happy to hear that you found it an interesting walk – so did we! Even though this area is quite local to us, most of these creatures are still a real treat to hear and see as they don’t tend to hang around where we live – as it is just to built up and altered from the natural environment.

  20. Heidi, loved this walk through your park. The snail I thought quite beautiful, it seems to be almost bluish in color. Is it? Not a big fan of snakes especially poisonous ones though. Although I would like to have a little garter snake in ours sometime. As for the Lyre bird, I had no idea they were so good at mimicry. Imagine a bird sounding like a mobile phone! We used to have a Budgie that could imitate quite well. He used to call our dog, saying “Here Scooter”, over and over which really confused the dog, never could figure out where the person was, who was calling him.

    • Hello Helen! I agree that the snail is really quite beautiful…I also see the bluish tint in the photo, but to the eye the snail’s shell is quite a solid black…I think his shell has just enough of a sheen to be reflecting the blue sky now that I look closely 🙂
      Oh, your poor confused dog – I could see a budgie quite enjoying that sort of a joke 😀

  21. Having always wanted to visit Australia, I loved this walk! I would like to have a snail that eats insects instead of plants! A bird that can imitate a chainsaw? Actually, I think that is extremely cool! You can keep the snake.

    I like the larger photos and had no trouble downloading your post.

    • Ah, well if you ever make it to Australia, you will have to come to Victoria to see these creatures Deborah (I should just skip over the point that it’s actually quite wet and cold right now ;D )
      Sure you don’t want just one little snake? We have lots to spare!

  22. roundrockgarden said:

    Thank you for taking us on such a fascinating walk. The texture of the snail makes him almost look reptilian, with scales.

    • Hello RRG, thanks for joining me for the walk! Now that you mention it, the snail does almost have a reptilian quality to look at. He certainly seemed much more soild that your average garden snail!

  23. Oh, wow, Heidi! I just showed F. that fantastic snail, had to share. Walking amongst giant tree ferns must be a magical sensation, almost like peeping into an earlier era (weren’t they the earliest “trees” on earth?)

    I couldn’t believe it when I read about your encounter with the lyrebird. A few days ago, we watched an old nature program that featured one of these which had learned to accurately copy the sound of a camera click, followed by the winding of film. Our new digital cameras don’t make too much noise for them to copy, I thought sadly — but now you’ve just reminded me they’ll always have cell phones and chainsaws. (Actually, that takes my mind back to that environmentalist’s prediction that the very last trace of humans on earth — hopefully many many many millenia from now — will be the birds who’ve copied our sounds and words and pass them on to their offspring for generations.)

    Thanks again for the exotic hike!

    • Hello Meredith 🙂 I think I am going to have to go and find this snail and tell him all about his new found fame, he has been quite a hit!
      Yes, the tree ferns are certainly prehistoric, and you feel that when you are walking amongst them. I love our temperate rainforests – you walk beneath the filtered green canopy of huge tree ferns alongside clear cold streams with fairly like fungus amongst the undergrowth. It’s a magical environment!
      It’s a very strange and sad idea that there may be the sounds of chainsaws in the forest long after we’ve gone…but terribly fitting too 😦

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