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Sunday, 30 October 2011

THE ABORIGINAL WORLD AND THE CALL OF THE WILD LIFE

 I drove a few kilometres from the campground to the Brambuk Cultural Centre – an Aboriginal complex of Info Centre, CafĂ©, gift shop, cultural display of photos and text depicting the two indigenous groups that lived here before European settlers came. There was a separate building also with photos, text and videos showing the history of the indigenous people since the coming of European settlers.
I left the Centre and drove along Mount Zero Road again further than the first time when I drove to the quarry. The corrugations were so bad, every nut and bolt in the Subaru must have been put to the test, not to mention my teeth. I drove slowly and tried to keep one set of wheels off the road which was the only place there were no corrugations.
At one stage I straddled a stumpy tail lizard crossing the road at the mind blowing speed of a snail on a bad day.
At another time, I stopped the car just in time to avoid running over a snake. It was about one and a half metres long and beautiful.  I backed up and sat and watched it glide across the road like a ribbon of brown silk in the sunshine.
Further on, an emu crossed the road, trotting confidently across in front of me, fully confident that this was its territory.  Not long after, I rounded a curve to see a kangaroo sitting in the middle of the road watching me approach. Finally, it turned and hopped along the road with me following and eventually it veered off into the bush.
Some kilometres further on, I turned off the road to a car park, left the Subaru and took a gently sloping path up the mountain to see the rock art of Gurgan Manja. The path got steeper and the ground underfoot turned from sand to rock. 




The climb was not difficult and I reached the rocky overhang which was securely protected from vandals by a solid mesh fence. Incongruous in the ancient bush setting but sadly necessary. The rock art consisted mainly of small red hand prints and, while not in any way spectacular to look at, was an electrifying glimpse into a very distant past.


There are several rock art sites in the Grampians, five of them being open to the public.
From Guran Manja, I found a six-kilometre short cut to the Western Highway and drove a much longer route back to camp to avoid the bone-shaking experience of returning along Mount Zero Road.
The next day, I drove along the edge of the now full Lake Bellfield Reservoir, turned into a bush road, parked and headed along the track to see Silverband Falls. The sign at the beginning of the track said it was an easy walk with some “rock hopping” and much flood damage.
And so it was. The rock hopping turned out to be some thoughtfully-placed flat boulders across the creek so no feet got wet in the process. The flood damage consisted of the debris of enormous uprooted trees and boulders washed along the creek bed. A walking track had been constructed through the rubble so it was still possible to reach the falls. They were aptly named as they are a delicate single silver band of falling water.

Before the flood of January 2011


After the flood


After the flood

Silverband Falls, Grampians

The Grampians and the people who live there have made a remarkable recovery from the floods of January. There are still several roads that are closed due to rock slides, but the clean up has been amazing. While the flooding of parts of Victoria was overshadowed by the enormity of the simultaneous floods in Queensland, the damage is equally devastating to the individuals involved. The recovery is inspiring.
The Grampians are still teaming with wildlife. Check out the Halls Gap Floor Show on a previous post. The Tardis was often surrounded by Kangaroos and visited by parrots and cockatoos and other birds.

Just dropped in



Mother with joey in her pouch

Just brilliant

Saturday, 22 October 2011

HALLS GAP FLOOR SHOW

Halls Gap Floor Show
The entire A Van gathering descended on the Halls Gap Pub for dinner one night. It was worth it for the floor show.
We sat in the pub’s main dining area looking through an entire wall of glass at a billabong, green paddocks, gum trees, towering rocks of the Grampians and a herd of grazing grey kangaroos. It was not quite dusk when the floor show began. A herd of black cattle emerged from the trees – enter stage left –  slowly grazing but steadily advancing.
One or two kangaroos lifted their heads, stood up and one by one began to retreat round the billabong to our right. One braver than the others, stood its ground and lunged at the approaching cattle. There was a scuffle and the kangaroo hopped defiantly through the entire herd followed by two or three others. They stopped at the tail of the herd and went back to eating.
The cattle continued to graze, moving steadily round the billabong with the main body of the kangaroos moving backwards ahead of them, also still grazing. It was like a carefully choreographed performance, slow and deliberate. Round the billabong in a ritualistic sort of dance until the cattle reached the place where they had entered the scene. Here they headed for home – exit stage left – and the kangaroos went back to grazing where we had first seen them. It was as though it had never happened.
We too went back to eating and the meal was excellent.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

NOT FERAL BUT DEFINITELY WILD

After our coffee at the mini golf course, I drove Maureen and Nancy along Mt Zero Road to Heatherlie Quarry. Since the 1880s, the beautiful Grampians sandstone had been quarried. Equipment was hauled in and rock hauled out by teams of bullocks straining through sandy terrain in the dry weather and bogging down in the wet.
The site for a village to house the workers was surveyed but never built. A school house was brought in for the workers’ children but never use and was removed to another site a year later. Walking through the bush along a sandy track, you come upon "road signs" indicating which roads had been intended for that section.
At the quarry’s edge there are still the remains of the machinery used to power the drills, and bits of the railway line that replaced the bullocks. The rock from the quarry was still being used to repair historic buildings including the Melbourne Town Hall, up to the 1980s.

From the internet I learned that: "The high quality building stone was used in more than twenty well known buildings in Melbourne, including Parliament House and the Town Hall. During the 1880s the quarry was in full production A tramway was built from Stawell to carry the stone to the main railway line and up to one hundred men were employed. When the demand for stone eventually declined and it closed in 1938." Nowadays stone can only be taken from the quarry to repair historic.

Jeez! You can tell I didn't write that!
Walking from the road into the quarry was a delight. The wildflowers were everywhere –white ti tree blossoms, red grevillea, purple flowers like tiny stars, miniature pink orchids, single and perfect, pea flowers of many colours, golden daisy-like blossoms, banksias of several sorts and brilliant orange fungus on the stark black trunks of burnt out trees. I Have tried to identify them from a brochure but if you know thenames or I've got it wrong, please let me know. 8)
 



Tinsel Lily


Orange fungus on burnt out tree


Pink Sun Lily



This area has been devastated by bush fire many times, the most recent being  the 2009 Black Saturday fires. Throughout the regenerated forest, are the tall black silhouettes of the trees that didn’t make it back. Surrounding them are the thick green of those that did and the wildflowers seemed even brighter with the dark contrast. A tribute to Nature’s determination. And throughout the forest, tall and stately, covered in white blossom are the re-named grass trees.


Desert Baekea


Monday, 17 October 2011

GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK (GARIWERD)

14 October 2011 THE GRAMPIANS
When I arrived in the Grampians, I immediately fell in love – with the mountains, the trees, the birds, the wildflowers and the tranquillity.
The drive from Melton to Halls Gap was beautiful and the first glimpse of the Grampians was breathtaking. Driving through the brilliant green countryside that would make the Emerald Isle – well – greener with envy – contrasted with the buttery golden fields of canola, what more could I want? And then the Grampians emerged on the horizon to my left. Great folds of rock tilted up from the plain millions of years ago. Spectacular.

I drove through the town of Halls Gap with a silent promise to myself to return to explore, into the hills, the road curving between them, till I reached Takaru Bush Resort. Just perfect. Tall gums contrasting with graceful willows, green grassy camp sites, colourful parrots, masses of kangaroos and a rocky creek bed at the base of the mountain towering above the camp. Almost too much. I joined up with my fellow A Vanners who had arrived a day  or so earlier, set up the Tardis, and settled in.

I visited the mini-golf course but didn’t play. I was too busy enjoying the gardens. Totally beautiful.  A garden of delights with the mini-golf course winding unobtrusively through it like a natural stream. There were trees and shrubs with a variety of leaf colours and textures, and flowers and boulders and waterfalls.  I was running out of ooohs and aaahs!

Halls Gap Mini Golf course/garden

More Mini Golf course


There was also an art gallery on the premises with beautiful paintings ranging from traditional landscapes to highly imaginative cheerful wildlife renditions that made you feel happy just looking at them.
By the time, my friends, Maureen and Nancy, and I sat down for coffee  I felt I had already absorbed a feast.


Mini Golf Rules
The Grampians were originally named by Major Mitchell after a range of mountains in his native Scotland. In recent times, there has been a move to respect the earlier names given to places by the indigenous population so,  after some twenty years of to-ing and fro-ing and name-changing, they have settled on the name Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) though I notice some references still call it Grampians Gariwerd National Park.
There seems to be a very good relationship between Parks Victoria and the five Aboriginal Communities here. They run the park environmentally and financially as a partnership whereas previously it had been a dual system with a lot of duplication.

There's lots more but that's all for now. Do please post a comment if you are enjoying the blog. I'd love to hear from you.