Another recent day walk in Victoria, this time, to Mt.s Erica and Talbot, on the Baw Baw plateau.
Megan wanted to take me to a rather unique place, off track, where there are groves of fagus sp. trees, otherwise known as deciduous beech.
From Warragul it was a delightful drive of about an hour to the Mt Erica track head, passing through farming country and then wonderful forest of very tall, straight eucalypts, (perhaps Mountain Ash, one of the world’s tallest trees?) . With the sun slanting through the trees and lighting up their richly coloured trunks these trees looked wonderful. On the ground there was a rich green understory including many vivid green tree ferns.
The last few km.s to the trackhead were up a narrow, winding gravel road through truly beautiful forest, shining with the morning light. What a world! We stepped out of the car into a magical world of nature, worlds away from the torture of city life; a rich green world of light and colour and great peace. Birdsong filled the air, including the wonderful calls of lyrebirds. The track head is at 1091 metres elevation.
The track was generally good and climbed steadily, to the summit of Mt Erica (1513 m) , the forest species changing as we gained height. this track is also part of the Australian Alps Walking Track. After about 3 km the track levelled out for bit, where there is a maze of granite rocks and tors, known as Mushroom Rocks (at 1240 m) although there is only one that resembles a mushroom. Here we found a father camping with his very young son so we stopped for a chat. What a superb spot for a camp. The little boy told us about toasting marshmallows over their trangia methylated spirits stove and how he had scratched himself, needed band aids and then written a report of what had happened “for the ambulance workers” ! what a lovely time Dad and son were having. We had also passed a couple of young women who had been camping at Mt Erica, I think they said. We continued a little distance beyond Mushroom Rocks , found a convenient log and sat down for morning tea. while we were enjoying our tea and snacks another couple of women came by, a bit older than the first couple, but they told us that they were all in the same party. These older two stopped and chatted to us for a while. Rather lovely women, happy and confident, obviously quite at home packwalking and out in the bush. We felt an instant rapport with them. Both were from Perth, but the one was now living in Melbourne while the other was visiting.
We walked on, ever upwards, now in sub alpine country and beautiful snow gums , (Eucalyptus pauciflora) the birds still singing, the air crystal clear and the sky deep blue, the Australian light sharp, white and strong. A perfect day. Over the summit of Mt Erica and not far along the track, we crossed a beautiful stream on a wooden bridge to a track junction. We swing right and a few metres on come to a delightful, level clearing where a chimney is the only remaining evidence of a hut that once stood there. After walking around the chimney, we went back to the track junction and continued on our way. At the junction I was taking some photos of snow gums amongst other things when we were overtaken by a young woman who turned off to view the chimney. We walked on and on and on until, eventually, Megan decided it was time to go off track, and after making sure that she was in the right spot ( she had last been here 5 years ago) she led off into very dense scrub. Not being certain of her navigating ability I noted very carefully where she was going and also took a GPS waypoint and noted on my compass the general direction of travel. Well, we lurched through the bush, somehow avoiding the holes, clambering over rocks, across gullies and forcing a way through the undergrowth. Eventually we eased our way down and she found a grove of beeches . These trees are unique, relics from Gondwana Land, I think, and in amongst them there are ferns and ancient fallen limbs, fungus and lichens: a magical, Lord of the Rings or New Zealand forest environment. However, the vegetation had grown considerably since her last visit, and Megan was unsure that this was the spot, so we moved on, exploring, and found another similar grove where we decided to have lunch since the setting was so magical.
After lunch we had to force our way upwards and then back to the track, which incidentally, up here, was nothing more than a narrow footpad, easily missed. Megan led well through all this dense scrub and we stepped out onto the track less than 5 metres from where we had left it. She turned to me with a grin and look of delight which said it all. I was most impressed. At no time had she used gps or compass.
And so we now had to retrace our steps, go over the summit of Mt Erica and then it was all down to the car. We kept up a good pace, Megan in front and setting the pace, me struggling to keep up. It was a beautiful, golden afternoon . After passing Mushroom Rocks we heard voices and found some Bushwalking Victoria folk, one of whom knew Megan.
All too soon the day in the bush had ended and we had to drive back to town.
Fruits of the Dianella Lily
Snow gums on Mt. Erica. Approaching the chimney
which can be seen through the trees