Although there was a sense of disappointment that Parks Vic policy did not enable us to include the planned visit to the bat cave in our day’s activity, the group of 12 that assembled at Aireys Inlet was nevertheless keen to enjoy the Easter Saturday outing.
Once we reached our destination at Kennet River, we realized that we were in a very special part of the Otways.
The private land we visited, part owned by Alison and Phil Watson, is completely surrounded by the Great Otway National Park. The land came into private ownership as part of the soldier settlement scheme after World War 2 and as a result of this, the land was exempt from the forestry logging that took place in the Otways for over 150 years until logging was stopped in the National Park in 2008.
We did see some signs of early logging in the area in the National Park outside the private property.
The wet sclerophyll forest behind the settlement of Kennet River is dominated by Mountain Ash, Southern Blue Gum, Messmate, Mountain Grey Gum and Manna Gum.
The ideal conditions provided by rich soil and high rainfall enable all these species to grow tall and straight trunked in contrast to the trees in our coastal areas that are often stunted and gnarled. Tall Blackwoods were also a feature.
As we walked around the boundary of the private land and through the private land itself we were just so impressed with the vegetation.
Tree-ferns arched skywards – four different species are recorded, but we had difficulty distinguishing them, although we had no difficulty in admiring their beauty.
The many species of fungi as a result of the warm, damp weather were most spectacular.
Admittedly there were weeds as a result of human settlement, but nevertheless it is not often that one gets to walk in this type of environment.
As you can imagine it is ideal habitat for our indigenous fauna. We only saw one koala, though we did see evidence of others along the walk. Birds included Yellow Robin, Goldfinch, Pied Currawong, Superb Blue-wren, Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey shrike-thrush and we possibly heard Bowerbirds calling, but didn’t find any bowers. Frogs were calling but unable to identify. We did think one call might have been from the Growling Grass Frog, a nationally endangered species.
We felt very privileged indeed to share in its splendor and we thank Alison and Phil for making the opportunity available.