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

Posts tagged ‘Walks in Gippsland’

An Emblem in Abundance!

Just 15 minutes walk up the road from my home is a patch of bushland we often go walking in. It isn’t pristine native forest by any stretch, but you can still see quite a lot of native species and some indigenous to this area.

Last weekend we saw the best display of our State’s Floral Emblem, Epacris impressa, the Common Heath that I think I have ever seen.

Maybe it was just that it was such a bright display of colour on a dreary sort of a day, but my daughter and I were as delighted as if we had come across a forest carpeted with bluebells.

Sorry about the splotch, it was starting to rain!

The Common Heath has a scrubby and narrow kind of habit with short spiky leaves. It can grow to over a metre, but to be honest I’ve rarely seen a tall specimen. Common Heath flowers are fluted bells and range from almost pure white through a soft pink to a very vivid, deep pink.

A mid pink example.

It is a very hardy native, particularly if our local bushland is anything to go by. It is growing in rocky clay with little by way of topsoil and only a thin mulch of eucalypt leaves, from the trees that suck most moisture from the surrounding soil.

I now have it on my list for when we finally finish clearing out the old plum trees and my garden of native plants can start going in. Yet I have to stop seeing plants I want as it means I yet again have to resist the urge to get one. I’m gathering quite a collection of plants sitting in pots while I figure out what to do about the old plum tree stumps!

If you are interested in reading more about the Common Heath quite a detailed page can be found here.

cheers,

Heidi

Regrowth.

The weekend before last we went for a walk in the bush at ‘Lyrebird Walk’ near Mirboo North, which is about half an hour drive to the South of where we live.  I wanted to see how the bush was recovering from fires about 18 months ago.

Since the fires I have driven through the area quite a few times on the way to different places for my work, but haven’t had the heart to stop until now.

Many of you would have heard of the devastating Black Saturday fires that burnt on February 7th 2009. The fires that caused the damage to this  forest did not happen on the same day, but only a week or so prior to Black Saturday, during a lead up week of very hot and dry weather. If you are interested in reading more you can find some information here.

I was surprised to see that many tree ferns with burnt black trunks were already recovering very well.

I will not dwell too much more here on the devastation and sadness that came from the fires, but rather show you some pictures of how the bushland is recovering.

These eucalypt saplings are already waist-high and busily trying to outcompete each other.

Tiny fungi on burnt bark. The tip of my daughter's finger gives perspective!

We were happy to see plenty of signs of plant life recovering almost everywhere we looked. Not only that, but there lots of bird life to be seen, including Flame Robins, Kookaburras, Cockatoos, Rosellas, Blue Wrens, Yellow Robins and ‘Treecreepers’.  Big wombat sized holes and lots of scrapes in the mud showed that the local wombats were resident and in the mood for pre-spring renovations.

A yellow tailed black cockatoo surveying its surroundings.

Not a great picture, but here are some Australian icons for you - Kookaburras!

A little green shoot taking off. it's hard to tell from here, but it is a seedling nestled in the older tree.

Undergrowth re-establishing itself.

Farmland adjoining the forest.

Killer Snails and Lying Birds

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!

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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