Port Albert to Tarra- Bulga National Park and on to Wilsons Promontory. Victoria 27 to 28 August 2007.
4 Sep 2007
Leaving our campsite this morning I spotted an echidna and we stopped the van and went back to look at it hoping we had not frightened it away. It must have heard us coming as it curled into a ball and stayed put. Unfortunately the 'mozzies' did not stay put and it wasn't long before they began to bite. So it was back into the van and on to our next destination.
We travelled up the C452 to the small township of Alberton and then on to the South Gippsland Highway to Yarram. From here we branched off on the C452 to Tarra-Bulga National Park. Once we had left the town area behind we drove along side the Tarra River on a narrow winding road, the views were lovely as we passed through wooded areas, stone outcrops and small country gardens with daffodils dancing sprightly in the breeze. The wattle trees are beginning to come into flower and here and there we were treated to a display of bright lemon flowers. With the trees being at different heights on the hills, it was quite a stunning display.
The caravan park is just outside the National Park and we stopped to book a site but the owner was in no hurry to take our money. He gave us a leaflet about the park and pointed out all the best stopping places on the way to the visitors centre. This would not be opened as it is staffed by volunteers and it is not really in the tourist season. He had been working there himself yesterday, and in the six hours he was there no one came in.
So armed with our information sheet we set off, up another narrow twisty road.
Tarra-Bulga is hidden up in the Strzelecki Ranges and covers 1,625 hectares. The hill range was named after the Polish explorer 'Count' Strezelecki who first discovered them in 1840. With his Aboriginal guide, Charlie Tarra, they cut through the thick scrub and tall timbe,r eventually arriving at Western Port tired and hungry. The eastern Strzelecki Ranges were opened up in the 1890's and soon settler's cottages were dotted about on the ridges. The area became a thriving logging and saw milling community. In 1903 the local council asked the State Government to set aside an area of forest with fern gullies, near the small town of Balook, as a public park. Twenty hectares were reserved in 1904 and given the Aboriginal name of Bulga; meaning 'mountain', five years later 303 hectares of forest in the Tarra Valley was set aside and named after the Aboriginal guide Charlie Tarra. In 1986 the two parks were joined together and enlarged to their present size.
The national park protects a remnant of forest that once covered all of the Strzelecki Ranges. Today the tall open forest of Mountain Ash and Blackwood grow on the slopes, whilst the cool temperate rain forest of Myrtle Beech, Australian Mulberry and a diverse range of ferns grow in the shaded gullies. Our first stop was at the Tarra Falls and with all the recent rains we were treated to a picturesque sight. Further up the road we stopped to take the short walk through the rainforest to the Cyathea Falls, another pretty waterfall.
Carrying on up the road we met another motorhome on the way down and were able to manoeuvre past without too much trouble.
From the visitors centre there are a number of walking trails around the forest and we decided to do the one to the Corrigan Suspension Bridge before lunch. The bridge is named after the local engineer who organised the construction of the first bridge in the early 1900's. It was built to give the early visitors a chance of a unique view of a deep fern gully and the surrounding tree foliage. The replica bridge was constructed in 1982, and today's visitors can view the same fern gully and tree foliage that people in the early 1990's viewed. Once over the bridge we spotted a couple of lyre birds scratching around at the tree roots for food. I would love to see them with their tails open and in the shape of the lyre harp, but it seems this is only done to attract a female and not one of them seemed to fancy me enough to stop looking for grubs. We walked through the fern gully and passed a couple of large trees that had fallen over and stretched forever down the walking trail.
Once back at the van we had lunch and when looking at the leaflet to choose another walk realised we had done them all on our way to and from the bridge. We must be much fitter than when we left UK as we did not feel we had walked all that far. So with nothing left to do we returned down the hill, without meeting anything coming up, and picked a site at the caravan park. The one we chose was right down by the River Tarra on a nice patch of grass under some tall trees, with the sunlight streaming through. There was only one other motorhome on the site, our neighbours, and this was the one we had met earlier in the day on the road. After a chat with them we went to the camp office and treated ourselves to a Devonshire cream tea on the banks of the Tarra.
(Jeff. On the site in one of the cabins were a young Australian couple and their 10 month old son and lovely 4.10 year old daughter. The young man named Adam had been brought up at Dimboola, a town we had visited on 13 November 2006. He and his family now live at Dandenong, the home of Jayco, and he had been a worker at the factory; he was an interesting man to talk to. His daughter was much taken with my monkey Squeaker. Straight away she asked the telling question "Is it real". I told her 'no', it was only a puppet but she was still enamoured and did not seem to realise my arm was up the middle; well I thought I would put it politely. My arm was nearly broken when I made it possible for her to cuddle Squeaker. Adam will probably read this entry and it is good to be able to state it was a pleasure to meet such a nice young family).
Tonight we went to sleep with the sound of the river running over the stones as it passed our home, a really idyllic setting.
Next morning we were on our way again retracing our journey back to Yarram where we stopped to do some shopping. We went into the tourist office which is situated in the old historic court house. It also doubles as an art gallery and craft centre. It was staffed by two young men (who had learning difficulties) and they were among the most helpful people we had met. One of them made a great salesman and was keen to tell us that he knew the lady personally who had made the home made preserves. Well, with a selling pitch like that we just had to buy some. We had wanted to use the internet but this was not available here, but I noticed on the computer screen a great map of Australia. When I commented on this the other young man asked me if I would like a copy as he would download it for me. I produced my memory stick and between the two of us we managed it. They talked enthusiastically about their town and told us what a great place it was to live in. We could have chatted to them all day and I'm sure the salesman would have found something else for us to buy, but we had to move on. So we shook hands with them and said goodbye and left.
Back on the Gippsland Highway we headed for Foster and then branched off on to the C44 and headed for Wilsons Promontory National Park. Wilsons Promontory, or The Prom as the locals call it, protects over 50,500 hectares. This includes some of Victoria's best beaches, cool shaded rainforest gullies, cloud soaked mountains peaks, rugged offshore islands and a remote lighthouse illuminating seas surrounding the southern most tip of Australia. The national park does not stop at the shoreline as the Corner Inlet Marine National Park protects the rocky reefs, sponge gardens, sea grass beds and seal colonies.
At the park entrance we stopped to pay our entry money and camp site fees and then we had to travel another 22 miles to reach Tidal River, the main tourist area. On the way we passed a wombat out taking the late afternoon air so we stopped the van to get a photo, of only our third wombat, and he ran away giving us a great shot of a retreating backside. Another car pulled in and asked if we had seen emus, when I explained why we had stopped the lady said "if you're going to Tidal River you will see lots of wombats. Cheered by this we set off again and passed 3 emus in the next field.
We arrived at Tidal River shortly after and picked a camp site for the next 2 nights. A bit of a difficult task, there are 480 camp sites and 3 had already been taken, but we managed. As there was not a lot to set up we were soon out of the van and exploring the area, walking along the banks of Tidal River to Norman's Beach, then along the beach to the furthest track back into the camp site. Walking through the bush tracks back to the visitor's centre we came across a wombat. I sat down on a nearby stone and he turned and walked up very close to me before turning away and heading into the bush. It is at times like this I feel very privileged to see them so close up.
Returning to our van we kept a lookout for more but were not successful, however we passed a large eastern grey kangaroo who just sat there showing an utter disdain for any tourist that walked by. Back at the van we prepared tea and planned our next days walking.