I love places that challenge the popular stereotypes that many people hold about Australia – the beach, the desert, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and Uluru.
Weeaproinah is one of the wettest places in the state of Victoria. Although it’s very close to the coast, this locality at the end of the Otway Ranges boasts magnificent mountain ash rainforest that contrasts lush green foliage with tall, straight tree trunks. Birds and wildlife abound.
The Otway Fly is a treetop walk and/or zipline adventure through the forest, taking advantage of different levels and heights, and allowing visitors to experience different aspects of the Australian bush.
The Stony Rises are found between Camperdown, Pirron Yallock and Cobden in Victoria’s Western District.
The fields are full of volcanic rock, a testament to the fact that the dormant volcanoes in the area were once far more active than they are now. Ever since settlement, local farmers have used these rocks to create stone walls that divide their farms into paddocks. While some have fallen into disrepair, others are still maintained and used today.
Lofty mountain ash and other gum trees in the old-growth forest with tree ferns lining the edge of the road.
Younger trees pushing the boundaries of the car park at Melba Gully.
A view through a forestry/logging area deeper into the Otway Ranges.
Kangaroos enjoying a feed on fresh green grass in a clearing on the road into a logging area.
Driving through the Otway Ranges from Princetown to Cape Otway, the road snakes through lofty forests of mountain ash, often lined with tree ferns and vines. In more than one place there is old growth forest on one side of the road and views of the Southern Ocean on the other. Pine plantations dot the landscape, sometimes prim and green, sometimes cut and messy.
We took an “unscheduled detour” down a dirt road that led to one of the plantation logging sites. The bush hugs the side of the road even more closely, enormous trees towering overhead. I have no idea how those enormous log trucks negotiate those tight bends on a narrow road, but the signs that warn one to “proceed with caution” should not be taken lightly.
As we took advantage of a clearing to turn around and head back to the main road, we saw a mob of kangaroos in their natural environment. There was a big male in the group who would have easily stood six feet tall. I think he is the biggest kangaroo I remember ever having seen.
We headed further east to our destination for the evening: Melba Gully.
Melba Gully is tucked into the Otway bushscape not far from Lavers Hill. It offers beautiful scenery and some well-maintained tracks for walking. During the day it is magnificent, but as the sun drops behind the forest the gums and ferns take on an other-worldly quality and one’s other senses become more alert. The chatter of the birds and the gurgle of the Johanna River at the bottom of the gully become more prominent. The smell of the eucalypts and the damp forest floor is refreshing and clean.
At the end of the track is a section of boardwalk which keeps visitors on the track and out of the surrounding forest. All along this section of the walkway, glow worms twinkle like fairy lights. It’s a bit like looking at the stars in the night sky except that these tiny creatures are embedded in the bank about a meter away from where you stand.
It’s a beautiful, serene place to enjoy a little of nature’s magic.
If you ever have the chance to visit, wear good shoes for walking and take a torch so you can find your way back up the track in the dark.
Halls Gap is a picturesque small town nestled in the Grampians National Park, which features a breathtaking mountain range that rises sharply out of the flat land surrounding them in northern Victoria, Australia. Kangaroos, kookaburras and possums are frequent visitors to campsites and eating areas. Emus, kangaroos and other wildlife roam freely through the natural Australian bush.
Lake Bullen Merri is a crater lake just south of Camperdown, Victoria.
You can drive all the way around the lake on local roads, but it is only the southern shore of the lake that is accessible to visitors. It’s popular for picnics, water skiing and boating.
As the sun sets, the hills that surround the lake take on a golden glow, most distinctive in summer and autumn when the grass is dry.
The area is renowned for lakes that have formed in the craters of dormant volcanoes. From the northern ridge of Lake Bullen Merri, you can also see Lake Gnotuk just a little further north, nestled in farmland just south of the township of Camperdown.