Garden Range Pocket Flora & Fauna Reserve, Euroa

3km loop. Difficult terrain. Take food, water, first aid. Be SunSmart and equipped for self reliant hiking.

Opposite the gate to Waterhouse Reservoir is a small, outcrop seeking dirt track of a few hundred metres. There is plenty of room for parking at its beginning. Walking up is the best way to engage with the site. Despite the early stretch of track being partially littered with dumped rubbish and trees vandalised by illegal firewood cutters, walking is the best mode to discover the promise of this Reserve. Once you get to the rocky crown things change. The promise of natural world beauty and great views is kept.

Beyond the crown the track gives way to rocky open woodland. Follow the fence-line on your right to keep within the boundary of the Reserve. It will return you to the Euroa-Strathbogie Rd at the base of the hill. Take forays to the interior whenever you see something interesting to explore.

Once you get back to the road you have 3 options to return to your beginning point. 1. Return the way you came. 2. Clamber up the rocky slope on the eastern side of the road. 3. Walk up the road itself on the outside of the safety barrier.

Neglected Reserves can be subject to abuse. This little known Reserve is one of those. Infrequently visited by those with good intent, it has fallen victim to abuse by the unobserved. Rubbish dumpers, illegal tree fellers and firewood collectors, more recently those intent on damaging vegetation for dirt biking. On top of this, there is also a Prickly Pear infestation. What can be done?

One answer is to alert environmentally respectful observers and walkers to the natural world beauty of this place. Encourage visitation that promotes conservation, advocacy and discourages the minority who think these places exist only for them to covertly exploit and damage.

Falling birds

 
 All those birds
 falling from the sky
 Some birds live 
 More birds die
 So consider
 Why oh why?
 We poison
 food chains
 and nature deny
 We pave 
 We divert
 We scrape the sky
 We take 
 too much
 don’t comply
 heat the planet
 watch it dry
 Then only
 crocodile tears
 do we cry
 As our legacy
 becomes
 the worlds biggest
 lie
 That we care
 action says
 we deny 

Goulburn Broken Cycling – Winton Wetlands

An enjoyable day of open space riding, described below is a 34km loop around Winton Wetlands. There are various options to explore for longer or shorter rides. If coming by train via Benalla, add approximately15km for the return ride to and from.

Bump & Grind Cycling Route

Winton Wetlands Loop

Start / Finish locations: 
Mokoan Hub & café car park
652 Lake Mokoan Rd, Chesney Vale VIC 3725
https://wintonwetlands.org.au

Mode: 
ebike, hybrid, MTB, gravel

Map:
GPS -36.439730401400716, 146.06316433156667

Difficulty: 
Easy

Distance:
34km. There is scope for various routes and extensions

Elevation:
163 – 189m

Topography:
Flat

Surfaces: 
Largely gravel, except the final sealed leg back to the car park along Lake Mokoan Road.
Note: if the weather is or has been wet, minimise use of Nelson Road. It can be very slippery and muddy. It can be closed to vehicles.

Description and Features:
You can pick up an excellent cycling guide from the café. 

Composed of numerous ephemeral wetlands and grassy woodland, Winton Wetlands is a the largest wetland restoration project in the southern hemisphere. The site is interesting whether wet or dry. It was dry for this visit. It is home to many bird and animal species. When wet, a special attraction is that the site teems with water birds and raptors (see the last photo in the series for when wet from 2017). 
The interpretive displays along the various routes share insightful environmental, historic and cultural information. There are Art in the Landscape installations at a number of locations along the way. This is an outstanding place for photography.

Riding conditions: 
The whole route is very exposed. It can be very cold and very hot. Check the weather beforehand. 

Options:
Ride to and from the Wetlands via the Benalla – Mokoan Discovery Trail.

Anticlockwise Cues:
Take the dirt track east parallel with Lake Mokoan Rd to the old dam wall
Left North Rd
Left Flynns Rd
Right SW Track (or follow Flynns all the way to Nelson Rd if wet)
Left Nelson Rd
Left Winton North Rd
Left Boggy Bridge Rd
Left Lake Mokoan Rd back to car park

Amenities:
Car parking
Café (check opening hours Mob: 0497 939 507)
Playground
Seating
Picnic tables 
Public toilets
Waterways
Walking tracks
Wineries nearby
Historic features
Alternative routes
Accommodation nearby
Fishing (licence required)
Camping (booking required)
Trailhead, map & Interpretive signs
Railway station at Benalla
Flora and fauna habitat

Cautions:
Open water
Soft shoulders
Limbs may fall
Embankments
Uneven ground
No potable water
Remnant fencing
Slippery surfaces
Subject to flooding
Road surfaces vary
Snakes may be active
Tracks may not be clear
Beware of vehicle traffic
Mobile reception may be unreliable
Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart 
Be equipped for self-reliant riding 

Restrictions:
No dogs
No firearms
No hunting
Take rubbish with you
No firewood collection
Do not remove soil or rock
Historic relics are protected
Native flora and fauna are protected
Do not remove timber from standing trees
No fires in the open. There is a communal fire pit at The Nesting Ground camp site, otherwise gas cooking is recommended. 
Closed for camping on days of total fire ban
No 4WD or motor bike access
Drivers/riders must: use formed roads only, be licensed, be registered

The Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler at Polly McQuinns
 
That clamorous reed warbler
With the protracted breeding song
Passages of enamouring power
Designed to bring along
A partner for the season
With whom to court and spark
To share nesting in long reeds
At the edges of the lake
 
I do not know the words
Of this loud and spirited song
Launched from this small bird’s throat
Into the gathered avian throng
In the early morning,
at the end of each long day
Persistent and single minded
Seeking a mate to hold in sway
But the message is clear and proud
I am the one for you
Come to me my darling
Let’s see what two can do

Birdlife

20200811_pho_Miepoll 04

Birds sit in the top of the trees

Planning attacks on insects and bees

They sit on their branches

Scanning insect sky dances

With shelter from leaves as their eaves

 

Birds on the end of a bough

Twitter loudly just to show how

They can talk to each other

Every sister and brother

In a way that says Hey, we know how!

 

Birds that forage on the ground

A set who are basically unsound

They defy law and order

Like lambs to the slaughter

Because predators are always around

 

Birds that drink from a dish

Do so in order to wish

For more handouts of bread

To keep them well fed

As their tails twitch and go swish

 

Birds that peck at a window

Are very much likely to forgo

Food on their plate

Appetite they may sate

Fighting themselves as a foe

 

Birds that fly in the sky

Look down and say my oh my

All the people down there

At whom we can stare

Choose to be grounded why oh why

 

Birds that float on the water

Think it’s the place where they oughta

Because the land is not safe

From trouble and strife

The water is a more secure quarter

 

Birds who love to eat worms

Queue to take it in turns

At freshly tossed compost

Of breaking down humus

Knowing a worm never learns

Birding in Iron Bark country

Joining Murray Goulburn Birdlife has been a treat. Sharing birdwatching with friendly experts in the field guides you to locations of wonder and delights the senses in the process. Visiting the Rushworth / Whroo iron bark country on a perfect autumn day after the big dry might not have secured as many species sightings as some of the more experienced would have liked. However, I just love being out there, exploring a new landscape, appreciating its special features and every bird is a bonus.