The first day of our Queens birthday expedition through some of the Victorian Highlands took us to Kinglake National Park, only around an hours drive (65km) North East of Melbourne. We had planned out around 15km of walking and were interested to observe how the forest had regenerated since the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, which burned 96% of the park.
We parked at the Mount Sugarloaf Carpark and made our way down the 7.8km ‘Running Creek Track’, which basically involved descending into a fern gully landscape before ascending to reach Mason’s falls. Despite our best efforts to be quiet and observant in order to catch a glimpse of a Lyrebird, we had no such luck, and overall this stage of the walk was fairly uninspiring (although some of the glades and creeks were pleasant to walk).
What instead helped us push along was a spontaneous funghi spotting challenge! Autumn conditions are of course ideal for the extensive underground mycelium to produce the mushrooms above ground that disperse spores. The variety was pretty spectacular, and ranged from some cute little mushies to some coral and snow funghi (the latter gave me a shock when I reached to touch it thinking it was ice left over from the cool night prior). This page from the national herbarium gives some good taxonomic info, or you can check out the pictures below.
We had a good view of Masons Falls to reward our efforts (along with those who had taken the short walk from the picnic ground nearby), its geological structure interesting to read about. It is formed by a steeply dipping joint pattern (you can make out from the picture below what looks like steps). This is due to the low permeability of the siltstone sediments meaning weathering occurs by chemical action, which leads to landform development controlled by joints and fissures.
From here we followed a short (700m) walkway to the picnic area, where we continued on to the Goodenia Track (750m), then the Boundary Track (2.4km), which true to its name followed the boundary of the park, hugged by some pretty adjacent farmland. The final stage was the 3km Sugarloaf Ridge Track, which to our surprise was only a gently undulating ascent back to the peak where we had parked. Here we came across a wombat who was quite determined not to let us photograph him. Back at the top, the skies had cleared enough that we caught some good views of the city skyline in the distance.
True to form, we finished our walking with some sweet treats and desperately needed coffee at the Flying Tarts Bakery, before setting off to Mansfield for the evening. Day two post to come, including some climbing and history lessons in the Howqua Hills!