At about 1000 m altitude, this is the highest part of the Strathbogie Ranges, often snow-covered in Winter, but on this day it was warm and sunny; the blue sky a perfect backdrop for the canopy foliage high above our heads.
About 20 people joined the walk, a ramble really, with plenty of stops to look and listen and learn more about this magical forest. It was like walking through a cathedral of old-growth Blue Gums, Mountain Gums and Narrow-leaf Peppermint (although these were only on the lower slopes). The age and grandeur of the forest was humbling.
At the midpoint of the walk we stopped under an old, gnarled giant – a Mountain Gum as old as any in these forests. So old, it had grown and lost dozens of upper branches that were now spouts – hollow, tube-like stumps of dead and living wood – structures characteristic of many of the gum-barked eucalypts.
This tree was a high-rise apartment block for bats and possums, gliders and night-jars and any number of clambering, climbing insect and spider. It would even have been big and old enough to be home to a Powerful Owl, Australia’s largest owl, that still lives and hunts in these forests.
We were keen to explore this area, as it’s within the boundary of a 3000 ha planned burn to be conducted in March – next month! Fire is a necessary management tool in these forests, but we argue that burning 3000 ha, about a third of the forest in this part of the Ranges, is uncalled for and not without risk. Last year, a so-called ‘successful’ planned burn in another part of the Strathbogie Forest, killed hundreds of old-growth Blue Gums, Manna Gums and Peppermints, some of those trees were 2 m in diameter. The disastrous impact of that ‘low-intensity’ burn has left us very concerned about this year’s burns, particularly in the spectacular old-growth forest around Mt Strathbogie.
Finally, Sim, our rambling leader, led us to a spectacular granite outcrop surrounded by handsome gums, right on the southern escarpment of the Range. From our vantage point we could see to the Blue Range South, just out of Mansfield, The Paps a little further west and the rugged Central Highlands in the distance.
Towards the end of the walk we emerged onto a rock escarpment, still among tall trees, but with views to the Mansfield Plain, the Paps and the Central Highlands beyond.
Thanks to all those that came along and we encourage you to return to Mt Strathbogie with friends of your own and keep spreading the message of how special these ranges are. For more pics of this delightful walk, including the location of the walk, click an image below to view the slideshow.