On one of the year’s wettest weekends in Melbourne and Anglesea (25th and 26th November), an intrepid group from ANGAIR prepared for the worst and bravely set out for Moyston on Friday.
All wet weather gear and precautions taken – we arrived in dribs and drabs during the afternoon at Janet’s beautiful 90 acre property just below Mt. William.
We selected our sites, (in a sea of New Holland Daisy Vittadinia cuneata), erected our tents/trailers, and began to prepare dinner – still no sign of rain!!! We sat around after dinner enjoying the distant flashes of lightning and using ANGAIR’s new spotting scope to look at the moons of Jupiter in the clear sky!
We closed tent windows and double checked our tent flys and went to bed. Still no rain fell!
Virtually no rain fell all weekend, we carried our coats but they stayed stowed!! It was quite miraculous. Families and friends left behind were sure we were being drenched as we cheerfully enjoyed the fine and mild weather!!!
On Saturday morning we left the campsite at 9 am to meet our colleagues who (wisely?) were staying in Pomonal in various forms of accommodation. Before we left, there was more discussion about the weather – we had the rainfall radar on an iPad – it seemed we were NOT going to get wet – but could this be possible? Eastern Australia was being swamped.
24 walkers left the starting point – the outlet of the flume tunnel – the 1870s Pomonal Water Tunnel built to supply the then mining town of Stawell from Lake Bellfield We followed an old bridle trail up the side of the ridge getting spectacular view across the Wimmera plains to our north. The plants people were immediately content, we were seeing a great range of plants – many familiar, but many not found on our coastal area. Some we saw on the first ascent were Cat Claw Grevillea Grevillea alpina, Variable Prickly Grevillea Grevillea acuifolium, Holly Grevillea Grevillea ilicifolia and Wedge Hop-bush Dodonaea cuneata.
Crossing the ridge of the Mt. William Range we began a wonderful descent towards Lake Bellfield.
Wonderful because it was downhill!! but also because of the abundance of plants - including Native Flax Linum marginale and Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca, the Yellow Pea Gompholobium huegleii, Purple Eyebright Euphrasia collina only found in the Grampians, Orange Bell Climber Marianthus bignoniacea and the yellow flower of the showy Podolepsis jaceoides.
The lake glimpses were lovely too when we could look up from the flowers!!
At this point we began to think that the walk was quite easy and we must be getting close to lunch – and home.
But no. From morning tea to lunch we walked, climbed and puffed up a long series of very steep ascents interspersed with short flat parts. The track was wide and delightful, moving up again into forest - so there was plenty of reason to stop to “enjoy the view”!! A beautiful black wallaby crossed the track in front of us and grazed quietly in the grass below the track, some lucky people saw an echidna. We lunched in the shadow of The Terraces, high weathered sandstone walls towering above the track and the sheltered forest.
Out the front were the birders – but even further back in the group we sighted the Sacred Kingfisher, Grey Fantails, Yellow Robins, Golden Whistler, Red Browed Finches and Striated Thornbills in this section of the walk.
We witnessed a wonderful moment towards the end of the walk – a cuckoo (unidentified as we only saw the back silhouette) was being mobbed by a dozen or so striated thornbills and a couple of grey fantails, all making a terrible racket. They were watched quietly from the side by a pair of yellow robins, sitting quite close to us. After several minutes of frantic dive bombing and loud shouting etc. it seemed the thornbills were out of tactics. Suddenly, from the right, flew in one, then the other robin – and the cuckoo took off and disappeared - fast! Quiet was restored but no doubt the egg had been laid by the cuckoo’s mate, and we plodded on along the boardwalk towards the Brambuck Cultural Centre and the Information centre – and the promised “coffee on the deck”. Welcome indeed. At that point a few drops of rain fell! For about a minute.
A complex car pooling/shuffling got us all, including the Pomonal party, back to camp for a huge barbeque and the usual contented talk and reflection on the great day we’d had.
Sunday morning dawned – we were still dry! Then, with our variously stiff legs and weary bodies, it was time to thank our hostess with a traditional ANGAIR Weeding Session.
About 20 willing weeders wielding loppers, saws and poison bottles, made quite an impression on the post 2006 fire infestation of Black Wattles Acacia Mearnsii to reinstate one of the several clearings in the beautiful bushland beyond the creek.
Janet is trying to forestall the growth of an Acacia forest – and to keep clearings in the bush to increase the plant diversity.
Satisfied – yet wanting to do more – the weary weeders set off back to cold drinks and a final pack up.
Another part of our thankyou to our hosts involved moving the bath and moving the tank!!!
Huge thanks to Janet and Patrick for their hospitality and organization, for finding the route for our walk, getting cars to the right places at the right time, and sharing with us their so beautiful home. They already know we’d love to return!!