Heavy rains and strong winds overnight had not daunted 15 of our members who were keen to explore the newly reopened track to the Currawong Falls on Distillery Creek. The track had been closed since March 2010 after damage from a planned burn had destroyed the bridges and caused the underground peat to burn for a very long period of time.
As we started the walk at the Distillery Creek Picnic ground misty rain was threatening, but the sky soon cleared and stayed that way for the remainder of the walk.
It was just so pleasant ambling along the track with the vegetation looking so fresh after the rain. The fire had certainly stimulated the regeneration of many indigenous plants and carpets of seedlings lined the track including Rough Bush Pea, Rusty Pomaderris, Trailing Goodenia, and Soft Bush Pea. Splashes of colour from Pink Heath, Purple Hovea and White Marianth caught our eyes as we walked along.
Perhaps the highlight of the vegetation was the extensive stand of Myrtle Wattle on both sides of the track in one of the drier areas. It was in full bloom and the creamy yellow contrasting with the burnt blackened trunks of the eucalypts was most picturesque. The sun was out as we walked in the area and the scent from the wattle permeated the air.
Birds were calling and fluttering about. Yellow Robins, Eastern Spinebills, Grey Shrike Thrush and Little Thornbills were just some of the calls we heard. Excitement prevailed when a large koala was spotted in one of the eucalypts.
We gradually made our way up the track to the Falls and were delighted to see large cascades of water flowing – how long is it since this has occurred?
As we walked back to the cars we were all convinced that the work carried out by Parks Vic and contractors in replacing the bridges and realigning the track had been well carried out, once again enabling us to access this special part of the Great Otway National Park.
Of course there is still damage as a result of the fire. The Melaleuca Swamp is just starting to recover with sprouting of vegetation. The Fern Gully is no longer accessed from the track – one wonders just how many years it will take to recover from its ordeal.