Heading east on the Princes Hwy, turn right the Grand Ridge Rd/Tarra Bulga onto Breed St, then veer right at the roundabout before taking an immediate left at Hickox Street. After one kilometre, you’ll arrive at the Reserve’s main carpark at 116 Hickox Street. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find and it’s hard to believe you’re so close to the town centre!
Before you set off on your walk, it’ well worth exploring the excellent information pavillion that provides a series of panels with a great historical overview of the Gunaikurnai culture and subsequent European settlement through to the present day. There are also professionally presented photos and descriptors to inform you about the flora and fauna you’re likely to come across.
The 30-hectare Reserve is a composite of woodland, grassland and wetlands, with approximately 3 kilometres of walking tracks available for you to explore this conservation reserve. There are tables and a shelter for those who’d like to enjoy a picnic. A lake in the centre of the Reserve forms part of the catchment of the Traralgon Creek. This waterway was originally a dam, established in 1883, to provide water that raised steam for the ‘new’ trains.
Of the many walking options, the main track takes you around the lake that is full of water lilies and a number of other aquatic plants. Boardwalks over the wetlands, home to a variety of birdlife. A birdhide provides viewing holes for both children and adults but note that the best time for viewing is at sunrise or sunset. A canyon at the western end of the track is also fun for the kids (both big and little!) to explore. If you’re a photographer, this is a great place to practice your art. Please note there are no toilet facilities at the park and disabled access is limited.
The woodlands are dominated by a tree canopy of Narrow-leaf Peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata), with Gippsland Red Gum (Eucalyptus teriticornis ssp mediana) scattered across the more open grassland. The dominant understorey is comprised of Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) and Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon). The grasslands are rich in Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), and in Spring and Summer, there is an explosion of wildflowers that include the Chocolate Lily (Antrhopodium strictum), Golden Moth Orchid (Diuris lanceolata) and Milkmaids (Burchardia unbellata). Ecological databases maintained by the Friends Group and regular visitors helps to inform sound planning and management practices.
The Park Tracks project is an initiative of the Latrobe City Council, which acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Gunaikurnai nation. Through their cultural traditions, the Gunaikurnai identifies this area as part of their Traditional Country.
At the start of the walk next to the Hickox St carpark, you’ll find some excellent interpretative signage that gives you a great overview of the Reserve (including a very useful map).
Dog-friendly tracks make the daily ritual of walking your pooch a delightful way to step out into the wonderful world of nature.
Boardwalks have been built to not only keep your feet dry but also provide the opportunity to ponder for a while as you watch the wetland’s birdlife and other aquatic species.
One of the treats of the walk is seeing the next generation, this time being a group of newborn signets with their Swan parents in their wetland home.
So many birds and animals call this Reserve home, including this curious turtle.
This reserve provides a range of walking trails, such as the Rupe Whelan Track. All tracks are well-maintained and signposted.
A brilliant bird hide sits above the lake, and is an excellent place to watch for and photograph the diverse range of bird life.
Ducks are a common sight in the lake!
There are superb views all around the Reserve, including the picnic area where you can sit for a rest as you look over the water lilies to the wetlands.
As Australian as the folk song, the sound of Kookaburras fills the air.