Leader: Julie Parker; Facilitators: Bruce & Estelle Adams
Initially, a shower of rain sent us scurrying for the shelter of the trees until it stopped. Then, before we left the car park, Julie showed us the carpet of Running Postman spread across a burnt area of ground at the other end of the loop track.
Another carpet covered a large burnt area along the trail, the golden moss that appears after burning was enhanced by its bronze fruiting bodies. The vegetation along the walk was vastly changed following the 2009 fires. The top storey was totally burnt, what was left being an ashen grey, though there were a few small areas where the shrubbery was untouched by the fires.
Amongst the regrowth the eucalypts were up to a metre in height. A Saw Banksia was about 25 cm tall. Gary Wallis said that during their plant surveys they discovered that some of the banksia regrowth consisted of shoots from the roots of burnt plants. Common Heath ranged in colour from pale pink through to a peach colour and red. A tiny Coast Beard-heath was in flower as were some tall drosera plants. Other small plants included White Marianth. with its star-shaped flowers, Hibbertias, Wattle Mat-rush with its creamy yellow flowers, Stackhousias and Pimeleas. Among the creepers were shrouds of white clematis hiding the plants beneath, the pretty blue Love Creeper and a swathe of the crimson-throated Wonga Vine.
Other plants that had seemingly benefited from the fire were the Common Correa with masses of red trumpets at intervals along the path, the white-flowering Butterfly Flag, Milkmaids, the ferns Mother Shield and Fishbone and the Hop Goodenia which formed a wall for some distance.
A gap in the trees allowed us to look down the slope to Tidal River and up to the heights of Mt Oberon, towering over the landscape. In the foreground, the Grass Trees were recovering well but beyond them down into the valley was a mass of the grey shades of the burnt vegetation.
We found young regrowth of Sweet Bursaria and Prickly Currant-bush, both of which had been heavily browsed by wallabies. As both have prickly spines it shows how determined the animals are to eat plants they like. Along the track we found spider-orchids, then in the shade of large trees a scattering of Alpine Greenhoods amongst the lush clumps of Bulbine Lily.
There was less evidence of the fires as we moved further down the path though an old eucalypt had been burnt out. About two metres across the inside at the base, it had lost its top but was still almost as tall as the surrounding trees and new growth was sprouting all the way up it.
The Lilly Pillies which give the track its name are large trees. This is the most southern Warm Temperate Rainforest in Australia. From the boardwalk we saw fungi – Schizophylum commune and an unusual, large cup-shaped fungi.
We had seen few birds during our walk but were entertained by some skittish Grey Fantails on the way back to the car park.
Latrobe Valley FNC