We had stopped at the Visitor Information Centre in Foster to get some information on hiking in Wilson’s Promontory (click here to see the post). We began chatting with the husband and wife volunteer team managing the information center and received a wealth of information about other areas to visit as well. After leaving the Prom heading east, they said, we should drive to Tarra-Bulga National Park. The park is so unknown as to be in neither our guide book nor Trip Advisor. But the Parks Victoria Visitor Guide the couple gave us described such an inviting place that we decided to take their advice and go. The signage was a bit lacking but we eventually found our way, 30 kms up a narrow, winding road through farmland, eucalypt trees and massive tree ferns, then into lush vegetation.
Tarra-Bulga protects a remnant of the forests that once covered the ranges about 200 km southeast of Melbourne and combines tall Mountain Ash and Blackwoods on the hills with a typical rainforest of Myrtle Beech, Southern Sassafras, Austral Mulberry and Banyallas. The cool and moist conditions of the rainforest foster 41 different species of ferns in the gullies. The area is alive with birdlife during the day and animal life at night. In addition to the well marked trails within the park, you can hike along all 85 kilometers of the Grand Strzelecki Track from here.
The first park entrance along the drive brought us to the rainforest where we parked and wandered around, discovering a few picnic tables hidden in a gully by a peaceful stream. We ate our lunch here listening to the water flow, leaves blowing in the breeze and birds calling. We had become so accustomed to rainforest while in New Zealand that we had begun to take them for granted. Here, we realized, once again, just how beautiful and relaxing they are. From this area a short track leads over the stream to a waterfall and a longer one through the forest about 5 miles to the tall tree forest entrance. Oh, that we would have time for this track, but we would have to do a return to get back to our car.
Instead, we opted to drive to the second entrance and walk from there. The drive continued through the rainforest and ended at the outer boundary of the park, thickly forested within the park but open grasslands on the other side of the road.
We wandered the forest trails for a couple of hours, admiring the tall trees and crossing a surprisingly large suspension bridge. Along the way, we saw our first lyrebird, our only one so far. Somewhat plain, it was either a female or a young one as it did not have the beautiful harp-like tail that the mature males twist and shake over their heads during mating.
We also spotted the dazzling eastern yellow robin, whose bright lemon yellow belly inspires one to stop and admire. And the reds, greens and blues of the rosellas startled our eyes.
We saw only one other couple along the trails and were the only people using the rainforest picnic area. That made Tarra-Bulga a special treasure for us, but it is a shame that not more Victorians know what a gem they have in their own backyard.
(Also, for more pictures from Australia, CLICK HERE to view the slideshow at the end of the Australia itinerary page.)