After early voting we gathered at Anakie Gorge and were greeted by three yellow robins. The Friends group swelled to seventeen including Colin and Wendy Cook and their two children Kristen and Owen who were our hosts for the day.
Colin gave a brief history of the Brisbane Ranges National Park and the Friends group. The Brisbane Ranges was declared a National Park in 1973 encompassing 1132ha. Additional land was added to the Park in 1995 and again in 2010 and 2013 with the Brisbane Ranges National Park now covering a total of approx. 8906ha. Timber had been used to provide mine props during the gold years and also for fencing and firewood over many years, with the surrounding area taken up as farmland. In 2006 there was an intense wildfire throughout the park and due to many years of drought following, it took a long time to recover. As a result the Friends group started a fauna monitoring program after realizing there was a lack of data available and has been developing a nest box program monitoring the Brush-tailed Phascogale population. For more information see the Friends website http://www.fobr.org.au/friends/projects/phascogale-project or the SWIFFT website https://www.swifft.net.au/cb_pages/team_brushtailed_phascogale_project.php
Colin gives brief history of the Park and the Friends Group
We then set off on a guided walk from the Anakie Gorge picnic ground to Stony Creek picnic ground. We had thought perhaps we could include the Ted Errey Nature Circuit but as time was limited this did not occur. We were pleased to have Katie Rau, a young student from Anglesea who is carrying out the Duke of Edinburgh award, join us on the field visit.
Katie at left with Owen and Kristen and some of our Friends’ members the sign indicating the walk.
There were many birds to identify in this part of the Park as we made our way along the Anakie Gorge track, including lots of beautiful Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters.
Katie helped by Kaye to identify some of the birds
The vegetation was very young as the trees and understory had been badly affected by the 2006 bushfire.
Kristen, Margaret, Colin and Wendy amongst the regrowth vegetation
We saw the hand constructed stone weir, pipeline and brick tunnels which were constructed in the 1880s to supply water to Geelong from the Stony Creek reservoir. Colin had photos showing the original work, and reconstruction after extensive flood damage in 2011.
Colin describes the original work and reconstruction of the stone weir
Katie emerges from one of the tunnels that can be explored during the walk
After an enjoyable lunch at Stony Creek Picnic Ground we headed back at a faster pace enjoying the company of the group.
Some of the group relaxing at lunchtime in the sunshine.
The younger Cooks marvelled at the water left from the recent downpours - an extremely unusual sight in this dry environment. Many tiny fungi were observed once we started looking carefully and tiny plants and mosses were emerging after the rain.
Using ANGAIR fungi chart to identify some of the tiny fungi
Although we only saw one section of this great National Park it was a most enjoyable experience, and we thank the Cook family for sharing it with us. It is always interesting to hear about other National Parks and the Friends groups who volunteer to help look after them.