Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lookout for the Box-Ironbark

Box-Ironbark* woodland exists mainly in central Victoria. Draw a line around the extent of the Victorian goldfields and you're encompassing the the Box-Ironbark. And because of the gold-digging and mining the forest was damaged and fragmented. It's also a fantastic place to find orchids and birds if you're there at the right time.

We were there last weekend, about a month too late for orchids. And late in the afternoon, not the best time to see birds. But we could see what it might be like and it's excellent that the Heathcote - Graytown National Park exists to help preserve what little Box-Ironbark forest is left. This particular area is a stronghold for non-breeding Swift Parrots.

The view from Melvilles Lookout
We drove to Melvilles Lookout near Graytown through the healthy forest, past the very tall grasstrees, past the quarry at the base of Mt Black, up a rough and stony road through an understory of yellow everlastings and prolific Stypandra glauca Nodding Blue Lily that had just finished flowering. At the lookout we found several picnic tables, a view over the surrounding countryside and two butterflies. I don't mean two species, I mean two individuals! (We saw very few butterflies anywhere we went last weekend.)

These grasstrees were at least twice my height. They must be very very old.
Heath Ochre Trapezites phigalia
Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi
We plan to go back another time but a little earlier in the spring to see the flora at its best.

*Box-Ironbark is a term that incorporates a number of eucalypts, mainly White Box and Red Box, Red Ironbark and Mugga Ironbark, Yellow Gum and Red Stringybark. The best book on the subject is Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country by Chris Tzaros.

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