When we went: Wednesday 8 July 2015
How we got there: we drove from Melbourne via Warragul to Mount Worth State park; the trip is just under two hours by car.
Activity summary: two loop walks in Mount Worth state forest. The first was three hours, and the second was 90 minutes. Both require sturdy footwear as the tracks were very muddy and wet in places.
What we did (the details): We arrived at the park just after 8am. We stepped out of the car and just stood in awe. The NOISE. The bird calls in all directions, it sounded like there were thousands of them, and so loud!
There is a toilet block near the carpark, so we decided to take a quick visit to the loos before we started. While waiting for my other half to finish up, I stood outside listening to the calls… and it suddenly struck me that a) the calls were very VERY loud and b) some of the calls were… ODD. Like I’m sure that one sounded like someone locking their car? =beep boop=
Quickly conferring we agreed that the calls were 100% lyrebirds and started to get very excited. The place was a cacophony of calls.
We shouldered our packs and headed off on our first walk: the Moonlight creek loop. This starts off by following the wide Moonlight Divide track up over the ridge line, then down a link track to the creek, and following the Moonlight creek foot trail back to the car park.
The Moonlight Divide track was wide and grassy, edged with mosses and small plants, and surrounded by glorious forest. All of the forest was alive with bird noise – but the loudest and craziest calls were the multiple lyrebirds in the undergrowth. It really felt like there was one every 100m. We climbed steadily up the track, and reached a seat that was proudly emblazoned with its donation statement, and mentioned something about this being a lyrebird walk.
It was literally only 100m past the declaration seat when a female lyrebird burst out of the scrub on our right and ran across in front of us on the track. We stopped and gawped as it panic-zig-zagged across the track ahead until disappearing in the distance. We stood still for a while and a nonchalant pair of bassian thrushes strutted out onto the track and started fossicking. We started out again, more slowly and quietly this time, hoping not to disturb any more birds.
It’s hard to describe how noisy the forest was, and maybe we were lucky being there a) in winter and b) early enough in the morning – but it felt like every single lyrebird in the place was letting loose. We realised that contrary to earlier indications, we weren’t hearing cockatoos, whipbirds and kookaburras, it was all just lyrebirds showing off. I stopped near one and recorded the call for a bit, but I sadly didn’t capture a kookaburra imitation: that was my favourite.
Another feature of this part of the walk was the large amount of track digging. Not like wombat/echidna digging, where it’s spots being furiously dug up, rather it was broad areas of the track what had the grass pulled up and turned over in little divots. And there were no cubic poos to indicate wombats. Often the digging was many square metres, from one side of the track to the other, and always uniformly a couple of centimetres deep. We wondered whether this was lyrebirds or some other ground bird scratching up the track.
The whole Moonlight Divide/Link track section of this loop was very enjoyable. The forest was beautiful, birds everywhere and we had the place to ourselves. Once we turned off the Link track and onto Moonlight creek track, the trail became muddy, the birds quietened down and we started to run into other people.
The forest was still pretty along the creek, the trees were majestic and there were tree ferns along the waterway… but because the area was old mill sites, everything felt a lot more messed with: there was a fair amount of blackberry and other introduced plants by the track. And the mud. (Almost) every creek crossing had a little bridge (with a nameplate!) but the tracks down to the bridges and back up were treacherous with mud. We expected it over winter, and we have boots on so we were fine – but later I saw one woman wearing pristine white sneakers heading out on her walk… I’m not sure how that story would have ended. There were also a couple of VERY large trees down over the track, which would have made this difficult to navigate with smaller children.
The final ‘track disturbance’ that we noticed was bore holes. We’ve seen track holes like this before (at Sale Commons): perfectly circular, vertical or nearly so, between 1 and 2cm in diameter, and often clustered. Sometimes there were ‘tailings’ as wide chimneys around the holes, but often there was nothing. The holes were not lined with web, and they were often in VERY boggy areas, so we don’t think it was spiders… was it maybe burrowing crayfish? There was a sign about burrowing crayfish on the Giants track – but as that was gravelled, we didn’s really see the holes there. I couldn’t find any photos of crayfish holes anywhere, so I’m not sure…
The walk back to the carpark was fairly uneventful, aside from me taking too many fungus pictures. We had a quick snack at the car, and decided to leave our packs in the car for the second, shorter walk.
We started off on our second adventure just before noon, crossing the carpark and heading out on the Gardiner mill track. Pretty soon after hitting the track, we hear suspicious noises from the undergrowth beside the track. We stand still in our newly learned ‘lyrebird listening’ poses. The noises *sound* like cockatoos chattering to each other and scratching around a lot: that is it sounds like someone opening and closing a creaky cupboard over and over again. We ween’t convinced, was it cockatoos or lyrebirds? We decided that it must be cockatoos, as these birds aren’t speaking any other languages, and we took a few steps closer. At this point the cockatoos noticed us and flapped up from whatever it was they were fussing over, landed in the trees next to us and started telling us what they thought of us on No Uncertain Terms. We couldn’t help but linger a little to take some photos, but they were VERY upset with us, so we moved on.
The Gardiners Mill track was also a little muddy in spots, but not quite as bad as the creek track had been. The walk wound its way through very ferny rainforesty vegetation, past old mill sites (all subsumed by the forest) and joined the Giants circuit. The track here is wide and gravelled, with interpretive signs… I guess this is the walk you’re ‘supposed’ to do if you visit the park. Scattered through the forest here are a few VERY mighty, beautiful trees, including one that’s 7m wide at the base, all buttresses and ancient lichens all over the bark. Glorious. From there it’s a clean-foot amble (and a few more mushrooms shots) back to the car.
This walk was special. Particularly the Moonlight Divide track part of the walk, the forest there was magical, and… lyrebirds. I could have sat and listened for hours.
Birds we saw: Black cockatoos, an eastern robin, superb fairy wrens, a handful of basin thrushes, a lyrebird! (We also heard – separately from the convincing mimics – a few whipbirds, a kookaburra.)
Books: We walked the tracks as described under ‘Mt Worth’ in Day Walks of Victoria by Chapman, Chapman and Siseman.
Online: Official Parks Victoria page: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/mount-worth-state-park, includes parks note with map and brief walk description