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 

What I said to the other animal on my journey to the end of the world

 
I think you might eat me
I‘m scared that you will
If I run you beat me
No light on the hill
In the hope of appeasement
Still desperate to run
I appeal for lenience
For my trashing your home
So I’ll say I’m sorry
That we humans are dumb
I’ll say we forgot
Where we’ve been and come from
You don’t need to eat me
Because we’ll eat ourselves
Let me go quietly
From the home where you dwell
Humans all will be leaving
It’s our destiny
There will be no grieving
And your world will be free

The Trees

River red gum under rainbow, north of Yarck on the Great Victorian Rail Trail.
 
The trees, the trees are prophesy
Their collective memory grand
equips the trees to well foresee
beyond the reign of man
 
 In forests or in parks 
 or standing on their own
 if trees of the world
 could speak as one
 I know what they’d say 
 before they are gone

 For happiness, health and wealth
 For worthwhile survival
 Save the trees to save yourself
 re-wilding equates with revival

strathbogie poetry
strathbogie photography
strathbogie cycling

The Last Butterfly

A Common Brown photographed at Jubilee Swamp
 
 When the last butterfly flutters by
 your seat on the grass
 When the sun moves overhead
 in one more timeless pass
 When the creek’s empty water
 flows by and on
 When the creatures of the bush
 all around you have gone
  
 Will you sit and reflect
 on what could have been
 When you knew it was coming
 it had been foreseen
 Will you ask why you didn’t 
 when there was time and you could
 While you sat on the grass
 thinking I must then I should 

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

Natural world spaces

Natural world spaces beckon. A track, a trail, a waterway, a forest, a desert, a garden, a valley, a mountain, a park. They call on us to linger in place, to appreciate and contemplate. They feed our souls and refresh our minds. They represent and deliver the simplest pleasures of life, observing and feeling part of the interconnectivity of everything.

Rewilding: an urban beginning?

I recently read David Attenborough’s 2020 book, “A life on our planet: My witness statement and a vision for the future”. Ever since, I have been contemplating how on earth it will be possible to action the plans he outlines for preserving functional global climate systems, biodiversity, and saving ourselves from ourselves.

Rewilding is one solution Attenborough envisages. A small example may be when many urban neighbourhoods develop their own small forests and foster biolinks. The cumulative effect could be significant. Just as each relatively small piece of new built environment and mono cultural agribusiness diminishes our capacity to recover, each relatively small piece of new ecosytem and forest enhances it. See www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-56003562

Walking

As I head

toward the door

Questions

head my way

Where are you going?

Walking.

Where to?

It doesn’t matter, I say

Walking

a destination in its own right

Walking

the easiest way

we can fully engage

With the natural world

In walking

we place ourselves

at a new destination every minute

we escape ourselves

And we expose ourselves

to genuine experiences

of our surroundings

and the elements

on the human scale

What will you look for?

I smile

knowing whatever I look for

I will also find many things different

I don’t need to look

for anything in particular

because I will find

small parts of everything

Walking always takes me there

Whroo Historic Trail

Map

GPS coordinates -36.646502 145.026763

20200427_map_Whroo Historic Trail

Distance
7km
Difficulty
Grade 3
Duration
3-4 hours (bushwalking)
Alternative Recreational Uses
Birdwatching, mountain biking, photographing, picnicking, orienteering and driving (on formed roads only). Prospecting and fossicking require a Miner’s Right.

Motor bikes / 4WDs must be registered, riders / drivers licensed & stay on formed roads.

Seasonal Information
Wildflowers in spring and autumn. Muddy tracks in winter. Very hot and dry in summer.
Cautions
The Information Centre is permanently closed.

Signs and trail markers may be damaged Unauthorised and poorly defined tracks and trails exist. Take care not to get lost! No potable water is available.

No pets. Take your rubbish with you.

Grass trees are vulnerable to cinnamon fungus transfer: keep to formed roads and tracks.

Amenities
Car parking, public toilets, picnic tables, fire grates, interpretive signs, trail markers and camping
Management and Support Groups
Parks Vic

Location

To access the Whroo Historic Area, drive through the Rushworth State Forest via the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd. 7km south of Rushworth Township, turn left into Reedy Creek Rd. The central car park with public toilets is 0.5km from this intersection on the right.

Track Notes

This is often a quiet, empty place of bushland, native flora and fauna. Exploration of the Whroo Historic Trail unearths evidence of a different, busy, crowded and culturally significant past. The open cut of the impressive Balaclava Mine marks one end of the journey. Remnants of Victoria’s gold rush era can be discovered all along the way. Underground storage tanks, mining shafts and tunnels, building rubble and foundations, century old rubbish dumps and gold mining infrastructure comprise an historic treasure trove. Once spring fed Aboriginal rock wells close these historic trail loops.

You can enter the trail loops at any point. However, the sizable central car park with picnic and toilet facilities is probably the most convenient place to start and finish.

Head uphill to the right of the public toilets to join the Balaclava Mine section of the trail. The trail is well-defined, being constructed of a crushed quartz and gravel surface. Be wary, the gravel can slip. There are 2 viewing points into the open cut. Watch out for locked gated tunnels through the hill. The larger was for a tramline. Access into the open cut is now prohibited due to the high risk of rock falls.

After you pass the second viewing point, cross nearby Rushworth – Nagambie Rd to see the original battery dam. If you are lucky, you may see tortoise on the bank. Fish live in this water.

There is great mountain biking below the dam wall. Procced downhill parallel to the road while looking across the road to your left. Cross the road to the first trail on your left to rejoin the Balaclava Mine loop. You will return to the central car park via mullock heaps  and the site of the Lewis homestead.

Once back at the central car park, this time head downhill, towards Whroo Cemetery. Keep to the left of the open grassy space you initially traverse. Imagine it humming with the sounds of a 10,000 strong population. Take care, like this space, some walking trails may not be well defined due to variable local conditions. You will arrive at a dirt road. Head along the road to your right to resume the trail on the opposite side, beside Poor Man’s Gully. Observe the mullock heaps of gold mining detritus as you pass by.

You will come to Cemetery Road. Cross here to follow the cemetery driveway into the cemetery itself. There are 400 graves here, many unmarked. Take time to reflect on the timing and causes of death in gold rush Whroo.

The next stop will be the Aboriginal waterholes. Follow the trail behind the cemetery around the base of the nearby low hill to the left of the cemetery. Passing through stands of grass trees, you will come to an intersection. Follow the trail marker on your left pointing up the hill. Cross the next dirt road to the ramp that leads to the waterholes.

Return back down the same trail section to the intersection and turn left to resume the trail. This will now run parallel with Reedy Lake Rd until it reaches Cemetery Rd. Cross to the picnic tables on the corner. To return to the central car park, continue uphill parallel to Reedy Lake Rd. You have completed your trail loops.

Options

  • Visit the puddling machine and cyanide vats 300m south of the Balaclava Battery Dam along the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd.
  • Follow the track opposite the Balaclava Mine on Reedy Creek Rd up and behind Malakoff Hill. Then travel downhill along Surface Hill Gully for 300m. Turn right to head back towards the central car park.
  • Free camping is available at Green’s Camping Ground on Green’s Rd.

Topography and Geology

Of the undulating rises to low hills, Balaclava Hill is the highest point in the Whroo district. It was a very rich mine. During the Silurian period, an intensely heated earth’s crust beneath the gold fields pushed volcanic rocks into extremely-hot salty water. As the water moved closer to the surface and cooled, gold crystallised out with quartz. 600 million years later, this resulted in a 19th century fortune of more than £1,000,000 from quartz bearing gold veins of up to 15cm across. Whroo goldfields are estimated to have produced 40,000 ounces of gold.

Flora

Whroo Historic Area comprises 490 hectares within the world’s largest ironbark forest of 24,300 hectares. The forest itself harbours a canopy of red and mugga ironbark, grey box, yellow box, white box and red stringy bark. The mid story contains grass trees, blackwood, golden wattle, spreading wattle, casuarina, melaleuca and dogwood. There are occasional patches of mallee. The understory consists of grevillia, drooping cassinia and bush pea. A ground layer of native grasses, woodland flowers including orchids and bulbous plants completes a unique native bush landscape.

Fauna

Kangaroos, wallabies, yellow footed antechinus, brush tailed phascogale, squirrel glider, common dunnart, legless lizards, tree goannas and tortoise may be spotted. Particularly, if you choose to camp overnight.

Birdlife

Rushworth State Forest is listed as an eBird Australia hotspot with records of 150 species, including the powerful owl and threatened swift parrot.

Local History

The Nguraililam-wurrung aboriginal people used ironbark forest timber to fashion canoes, hunting implements and construct shelters. Ironbark blossom made a sweet beverage. The name “Whroo” is said to come for the word meaning lips. This was a reference to the aboriginal watering holes in the area.

Gold was discovered in Rushworth in 1853. In 1854, a gold nugget was discovered in grass at Balaclava Hill by John Lewis and James Nickinson.  The consequent goldrush lasted much of the decade, recurrently bringing thousands to try their luck. Gold mining began with alluvial diggings, proceeding to open cut methods as alluvial returns diminished. By 1860, a population of just 450 remained. The Balaclava Hill Mine continued to be productive until it was shut down in the 1870s due to water management problems. However, shafts have been mined since. The last active shaft was filled by the Mines Department in the 1960s.

In its time, the Whroo township accommodated a Mechanic’s Institute, a state school, a post office, a savings bank, a free library, 2 churches, 3 ore crushing mills, 3 hotels and a cordial factory. 139 buildings were still present in 1871.

Rumour has it Ned Kelly and his gang visited the area. Prior to anticipated trouble with the local constabulary, it is said a cache of Kelly gold was stashed in the area and never found again …..

Whroo cemetery reflects the undiscriminating difficulties of life in a harsh environment, where neither age, nationality, culture nor religion provided protection. Chinese miners make up 15% of those buried. They were a significant part of the community as miners, for operating puddling machines and growing market gardens.

However, by the 1920s ironbark timber cutting was the principal remaining industry. By 1933 the population had fallen to just 52. By 1955, Whroo was a ghost town.

In case of emergency

Call 000