Having grown up in the Diamond Valley, visits to Kinglake were a regular
feature of our childhood. I remember picnics at Jehosephat Falls, playing in
the snow at Kinglake near the general store and walks through various parts of
the National Park. There were also visits to see the aftermath of fires, but
none of these compare to the sights still visible nine months the Black
Last Saturday I visited the area with Alan Crawford for a spot of
birdwatching. It was his first visit - mine the first for several years.
Despite assurances at the local restaurant that the Jehosephat Gully
section was open again after the fires the access was still closed to the
public, so we headed down the Heidelberg-Kinglake Road and found a couple of
tracks which were obviously open to the public (no signs prohibiting access due
to fire damage) near the big concrete water tank at the junction (now closed)
with the Old Kinglake Road, which used to lead down to Steele's Creek. We
tossed a coin and headed up the track which led south.
The ground was still quite bare except for a few wild flowers and orchids
on the first section up the hill. This steep slope faced north-west and bore
the worst of the flames from Strathewen and Whittlesea on the 10th of Feb. You
could see clear down to the sealed road and there were many signs of works to
prevent erosion in the bare gullies. Most trees had some epicormic growth, but
not much, and the many grass trees had survived and had huge flower spikes -
quite dramatic among the black trunks.
This area was silent. The only birds see was a scattered flock of
White-browed Woodswallows hawking high above the dead upper branches of the
trees. We began to feel quite depressed.
The track circled the top of Mt Beggary, then down to the saddle between Mt
Beggary and Mt Everard. Almost as soon as it changed direction to the
southeast there was a significant change. The fire must have been a bit cooler
in this section. There was more bracken and even some grass covering the
ground and epicormic growth further up the trees.
There were birds too! Our first delight was a Spotted Pardalote which flew
out of a nest burrow almost at my feet at the side of the track. We could hear
Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Bellbirds (Bell Miners), Red Watllebirds,
White-throated Tree-creepers, and a Kookaburra. As we were lured further down
the track than we intended more treasures were revealed; Scarlet Robin (male)
Crimson Rosella, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Buff-rumped Thornbill.
What had started out as a depressing drag up the hill became a magical
experience. While we had not seen a great list of species we had seen some
great gems and hope for the future in this area.
It was also interesting to see the structure of the mountains. The lack of
vegetation meant that the ridges and gullies were more visible. There were
also good views of the Diamond Valley and the Yarra Valley from the track.
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)