On a pleasant Sunday earlier in November, Strathbogie Ranges Conservation organized a walk through the 100 ha Tenneriffe Nature Conservation Reserve, right to the top! Mt Tenneriffe is a prominent granitic outcrop on the western escarpment of the Strathbogie Ranges, just a stone’s throw from the Hume Fwy, between the townships of Locksley and Longwood. It rises to an altitude of 440 m asl (a little more than 200 m above the adjacent plains).

Although the outcrop is largely on public land, private property encircles it, so that public access is only possible from the north – the Hume Fwy side. And though this entails a steep climb, the northern escarpment of Tenneriffe is populated by spectacular granite monoliths and boulder stacks – the climb might be slippery in places, especially after rain, but is worth it. See the end of this post for an elevation profile of our ramble, as well as a 3D Google Earth tour of the Tenneriffe Nature Conservation Reserve.

A Google Earth view of the Tenneriffe NCR (purple polygon) and our rambling path from bottom to top (yellow).

Our walk began at the end of Jeffries Rd and disconcertingly close to the Hume Fwy – the steady noise of traffic was hard to ignore. Only after walking along a public land easement adjacent to the freeway, then into the reserve proper did the presence of the freeway recede. The lower slopes of the reserve, on the western flank of the creek (shall we call it Mt Tenneriffe Creek?), were cleared historically. The stream is deeply incised with steep, collapsing banks at a number of spots, so we walked through the cleared area until we found a safe crossing point – that’s where the walk began to get interesting.

It’s not 2001, but these monoliths have the size and presence to be mysterious and humbling. Why are they here at the very bottom of the escarpment? Perhaps they haven’t always been here. During the steeper part of the climb, have regular stops to explore the rock outcrops and look back and out for great views of the landscape – the Longwood Plains and Goulburn Valley beyond. At this time of year, it’s also rewarding to look down to be greeted by the many different types of wildflowers.

On top, Tenneriffe supports few trees, the vegetation being predominantly low-growing; clinging to the cracks, moss beds and accumulation of soil in the narrow spaces between large areas of monolithic granite. Nonetheless, wildflower diversity is high, Milkmaids, Clustered Everlastings, Vanilla Lillies, Bluebells – I’ve never seen so many sun orchids and most were in flower. There may have been several species, but the one pictured is likely the Forest Sun Orchid (see this iNaturalist observation).

All species photographed during the visit can be found at SNAP on iNaturalist.

After lunch and a bit more exploring we descended along the same general route, slipping and sliding a bit on the loose, sandy soil. Again, stopping regularly to take in the views, including a hazy Mt Macedon, about 90 km distant on the south-west horizon.

We arrived back at our cars in Jeffries Rd, just 2.5 hrs after departure, just as the afternoon heat, as it was, was nearing its peak. Did I mention the mosquitoes? Here’s a 3D Google Earth view of Mt Tenneriffe and the surrounding landscape (video size 44MB). Vertical exaggeration is x2, so slopes appear twice as steep as reality.

And here is the elevation profile of the ramble, from the start near the Hume Fwy, at 215 m asl, to the summit at about 440 m asl.

P.S. Why ‘Tenneriffe’? If anyone knows the naming history of this spectacular rock outcrop, please get in touch. Did it remind someone of that island in the Atlantic? I’d love to know and share the story.

This walk is part of the Strathbogie Ranges Conservation ‘Nature Walks’ program. This program is supported by the Victorian Government.