Black Spur

The Black Spur Drive is a thirty kilometre stretch of road between Healesville and Marysville in the Yarra Ranges. The meandering course, with sharp bends and gentle gradients, promises spectacular scenery along the way. Towering mountain ash trees rise above a lush forest of tree ferns.

1.Black Spur

Unfortunately, our scenic drive didn’t go quite as planned thanks to the weather gods, although the rain and mist didn’t dampen the beauty of nature.

2.Black Spur3.Black Spur

Originally known as ‘The Blacks’ Spur’, the road follows the route taken by displaced indigenous people to Coranderrk Aboriginal Station in the late 1800s.

4.Black Spur

Horse drawn coaches also carried miners and settlers to the goldfields along this section of the old Yarra Track. It became popular for tourists and photographers and a bus service, operating two twelve-seater Buick charabancs, was introduced in 1916.

5.charabanc courtesy of australianmountains.com

Photo courtesy of australianmountains.com

We resisted the suggestion in the tourism brochure to, “roll down the windows and experience fresh crisp air any time of the year”, and had to settle for photographs through the car window.

6.Black Spur

Our destination of Marysville is home to one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls, nestled in native forest in the surrounding mountains.

7.Steavenson Falls

Steavenson Falls are named after John Steavenson, the Assistant Commissioner of Roads and Bridges who first visited the site that is now Marysville, in 1862. Opinion on the actual height of the falls seems to be divided, some claim 122 metres while others suggest 84 metres. Either way, there are five cascades, the last one descending 21 metres into a small rock pool.

8.Steavenson Falls9.Steavenson Falls

Residents first cut a track to the falls in 1866, it is now an easy walk from the car park to see natures wondrous display. The weather wasn’t conducive to walking to the viewing platforms below or above the falls, I’m sure it would have been spectacular. The falls are floodlit until 11pm each night, a turbine driven by water at the base of the falls generates the power. What a lovely place to spend a summer evening.

10.Steavenson Falls

dewdrop diamonds

Walking in the forest on a crisp, cold morning after a heavy frost is like strolling through nature’s jewellery store. The sun, low in the sky, turns simple dew drops into glittering diamonds.

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Even those stems bereft of foliage held onto the occasional glistening droplet.

7.dewdrop8.dewdrops9.dewdrops10.Prickly Moses

I was like a child in a sweet shop, I couldn’t get enough of this amazing beauty.

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The gems would disappear as the sun climbed, but for now I was content to experience another of nature’s treats.

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Acacia abounds

Through the cold, damp haze of August, the first promise of spring starts to appear across the landscape. The expanse of green in the forest turns a lovely shade of yellow as the wattle trees flower. With over 1,000 species of Acacia worldwide, around 950 are native to Australia. We mainly have two species on our property, both are endemic to eastern Australia. Acacia melanoxylon grows to 40 metres in Tasmania, twice the height if its mainland siblings, and can live over 100 years. The Tasmanian blackwood is a beautiful tree and we are surrounded by them.

1.Tasmanian blackwood

The timber, with its variable colours and grains, is sought after for furniture making. The Aborigines used a hot infusion of roasted bark to bathe rheumatic joints. The same potion was used to stun fish to make them easier to catch. The creamy yellow flowers have a fluffy appearance and grow in clusters.

2.Tasmanian blackwood flowers

Our morning walks with Poppy look quite different when the wattles are flowering.

3.forest walk

Acacia verticillata is my favourite. Prickly Moses doesn’t actually have thorns but the small, flattened leaf stalks are prickly.

4.Prickly Moses

The flowers are quite different to the blackwood, a brighter yellow and cylindrical in shape.

5.Prickly Moses

The dense, prickly foliage offers a safe home for little critters like bandicoots and birds.

6.Prickly Moses

I have seen Acacia mucronata, or Narrow-leaved wattle, in the conservation area adjoining our property. It has creamy yellow cylindrical flowers and, not surprisingly, narrow leaves.

7.Narrow-leaved Wattle

I’ve often wondered why Acacias are called wattles. Apparently, it comes from the term, “wattle & daub”, a technique used by the early British settlers for building their huts. The branches were used to make the framework which were then daubed with mud (and perhaps a few cow pats). The Acacias were used mostly and so, they became known as wattles.

Boranup Forest

After a day of indulging in the digestible delights of the Margaret River region, it was time to walk off some of the damage. Boranup Karri Forest was the perfect destination. It is possible to drive through the forest but calories are not burned that way. We parked the car

1.Boranup Karri forest

and choosing a walking track,

2.Boranup Karri forest

we were soon surrounded by towering Karri trees.

3.Karri forest4.Karri trees

The Karri is a eucalypt, native to south western Australia, with a light coloured trunk that turns brown before it is shed.

5.Karri tree

The leaves are dark green on top and lighter underneath, hence the botanical name Eucalyptus diversicolor. The third tallest tree species in the world, mature trees branch only from the top third of the trunk.

6.Karri trees

At ground level, there were cosy homes for the wildlife

7.Karri tree

and a few early wildflowers added colour to the forest.

It’s hard to believe these magnificent trees are little more than 100 years old. The area was extensively logged between 1884 and 1913, the long, straight timber widely used in the building industry.

12.Karri forest

Hopefully, these trees will be left in the forest for future generations to enjoy.

13.Karri forest

wistful walks

Poppy is usually accompanied on her walks by Michael but he has fallen victim to a nasty virus and so, Poppy has been taking me instead. We have been exploring the different paths and finding all sorts of interesting things. The morning mist as we start the River Walk is breathtaking

1-river-walk

and the forest is serene.

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Despite the lingering cold and wet, the spring flowers are trying their best.

I haven’t been along Spooky Path for a while. Soon after we moved here, I was walking this path with Poppy and was unnerved by the thumping sounds around me. Memories of the movie, ‘Predator’, whipped my nerves into a frenzy along with my imagination. Hence, Spooky Path was named. Where the path becomes swallowed by scrub, the valley drops out of sight to the Blythe River below and the ridge opposite seems so close.

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Poppy found some special newcomers in the forest.

14a-baby-birds

They grew very quickly and soon flew the nest.

14b-baby-birds

Down in the rainforest, the water is tumbling along in the stream

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and the manferns are lush with new growth.

On a damp morning

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we walked Pat’s Path, named for my sister who first discovered the path when she came for a holiday soon after we moved here.

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The views of the rainforest are stunning from this higher ground.

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After a while, the path disappears into the trees and we have to retrace our steps.

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You never know who you might meet on the way back home.

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Of course, Poppy is always ready to do one more path.

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