As part of Biodiversity Month 2010, Strathbogie Tableland Landcare organised a full-day hike through some spectacular country on the western escarpment of the Strathbogies, near Euroa. Local naturalist Ray Thomas led the way, from the upper slopes of Mt Wombat, down to Kelvin View,  then up to the peaks of the Garden Range, before a long descent down to the bottom of the hill.


 The weather was perfect and although we found plenty to keep us interested, we were a few weeks too early for peak flowering time.

We started in the wet, Messmate (Euc. obliqua) forests of Mt Wombat …….

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..like this sleek, fat Red-bellied Black Snake. Though we were’nt looking for reptiles, we did also see lots of Garden Skinks and one baby Marbled Gecko.


 
 


At right is the BluntGreenhood (Pterostylis curta); it was quite common in the drier forests of the northern slopes.

We also found Nodding Greenhoods (Pterostylis nutans) and the uncommon Tall Greenhood (Pterostylis melagramma).

 

 The Garden Range proved true to its name, with many more plants flowering, than on the more elevated Mt Wombat.

Alpine Grevillea, Silver wattle, Hedge Wattle, Austral Bugle, Cranberry Heath, Prickly Parrot Pea, Sundews galore, Rice flowers, and Nodding Blue Lillies were just some of the many plants we encountered.


We had lunch overlooking the plains and contemplating the unimaginable earth movements that gave rise to the Strathbogie Ranges, almost 400 million years ago.

Several plants of the rare Velvet Hovea (Hovea purpurea) were a fantastic find, as was the Rock Lilly (Bulbine glauca). which most of us had never seen.

 The magic for the day was provided by by the mass-flowering of the Fringe Heath Myrtle (Micromyrtus ciliata). This prostrate, fragrant shrub clothed the entire hillside in several places and had all the local insects, and humans, in a frenzy.

 Here’s a beautiful close-up.

As we descended toward the plain, Tiger orchids began to appear; first one, then another, until in one spot, we realized we were surrounded by them.


Common Early Nancy may be pretty common, but they’re a delightful little lily providing a sparkle on the forest floor.

Though we spent most of our time looking at our feet we did manage to scrape together 30 bird species, including: White-throated Gerygone, Horsefield’s Bronze-cuckoo, Rufous Whistler, Scarlet Robin and Wedge-tail Eagle.

The day started at 10am and we made it to the bottom at 5pm – a long, but most enjoyable day. Next time we might break the walk in  two, allowing a little more time to dally.

Our very great thanks and appreciation go to Ray Thomas who shared his extensive knowledge of the area and got us safely from top to bottom.

And thanks to the various photographers that contributed to this piece: Belina Maclaughlin & Peter Kelly.

Summary lists of the plants and animals we found are available here (under SNAP! Activities).