A leisurely walk through magnificent stands of Stringybark, with a healthy understorey that creates the ideal environment for orchids and lots of wildlife.
Situated 16km south of Morwell and reached via Churchill or Yinnar, head along the Monash Way then take the Yinnar South turn-off onto Jumbuk Rd. Travel 5km and look for the (easy to miss) Morwell National Park sign on your right at the Kerry Rd turn off. Picnic tables, a gas barbeque, Parks Victoria signage, toilets and information are provided at the picnic area. Take the time to learn about the flowers and animals you might spot along the way. The walk will take between 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how often you stop to marvel at an unexpected sighting of a goanna and the range of flowering shrubs and orchids.
A steady uphill incline at the start quickly levels out to take you through a beautiful forest dominated by Stringybarks. Along the way, bench seats provide a wonderful resting point from which to listen and look. At certain points, you can glimpse the Strzelecki Ranges in the distance. As you continue your walk, keep your eye out for signed arrows because there are several firebreaks cutting through this section of the Morwell National Park and you want to stay on the sign-posted track.
The understorey consists of Dogwood (Cornus capitata), with Blanket-Leaf (Bedfordia arborescens), Pittosporums and great masses of Varnish Wattle (Acacia verniciflua). The slopes are well timbered, although they show the scars of the early years of settlement and the 1939 fire. This area is renowned for its many species of orchids, from the tiny Bird Orchids (Chiloglottis valida) in autumn to the summer-flowering largest ground orchid in Victoria, the Hyacinth Orchid (Dipodium punctatum) to the rare Butterfly Orchid (Sarcochilus australis).
For birdwatchers, over 100 species of native birds have been identified. Koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, possums and many smaller mammals are common. Reptiles seen in the park include Black, Copperhead and Tiger snakes and several lizard species.
This walk is just one component of the Morwell National Park, and is a great example of people power. In 1950, Ellen Lyndon and her husband Don moved to a share-farm near the Park, with Eulie and Os Brewster living nearby. Ellen learnt from Eulie about the abundance of orchids and led numerous scientists and other people through the Park to gain support, writing letters to influential people in the hope of protecting the site from development. In 1960, the Latrobe Valley Field Naturalist Club was formed and ramped up the lobbying of government until the area was declared a Reserve in the mid 60s, eventually resulting in National Park status with an area of almost 500 acres.
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.
You’ll wake up your walking muscles as you head into the forest, but it’s a moderate climb so is suitable for all ages.
A stairway and bridge takes you across the Stringybark Creek and onto the main track.
Along the track, you’ll find signage (starting at the beginning of the walk) and seats every now and again for you to take in the scenery.
Whether you’re a keen birdwatcher or just enjoy the surprise of a fresh sighting of our feathered friends, you’ll love the number of birds you can see on this walk.
As you walk along the trail, you will see wonderful old trees with detailed bark that tells its own story.
A rustle in the forest floor can easily turn into the appearance of one of the many reptiles who make this their home.
There are numerous hollows beside the walking trails, and although it’s hard to guess who is at home in them, you can bet someone is.
A rustle in the leaf litter might just mean there’s an echidna fossicking for food. If you see one, stand still because they’re very shy creatures and will try to hide from you.
Throughout the year, over 43 orchid species including sun orchids (Thelymitra sp.) produce the most exquisite flowers at specific times of year.
Whether you choose to start or finish with a bite to eat, a meal beneath the forest canopy makes for a fabulous picnic venue.