Mt St Leonard

LEADERS; Lynn and Neal Smith. Saturday all day

Our group of 21 people left Healesville and drove up through tree fern gullies to the car park at Mt St Leonard where we were greeted by Flame Robins. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were in the trees overhead. The Shining Gum (Eucalyptus nitens)is a tall smooth-barked forest tree found at Mt St Leonard. It has small shiny (nitens means shiny) barrel-shaped fruit. We examined the shiny fruit and stems of this tree before walking along the Mt St Leonard track.

Mt St Leonard walk is 2km walk along gravel road up to the fire watching tower at the summit. There are excellent views towards Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, Healesville, Mt Macedon and Dandenongs at 3370 feet above sea level. The viewing platform is the old 1940 tower cut down in height and fitted with a platform. In 1968 a larger structure was built by Telstra for communication equipment.

Along the way we found the Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata ), Pimelea axiflora, Austral Mulberry (Hedycarya augustifolia) and Pittosporum bicolor in flower. Near the summit the Mountain Hickory Wattle (Acacia obliquinervia) was in flower with attractive bright yellow balls. At the summit we had a well deserved rest and admired the view, although it was a bit hazy and very windy today. Some birds seen were Wattle Birds, Grey Fantails, Yellow Robins, Pardalotes and White-browed Scrubwrens.

Lunch was at Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre which was open today as the Toolangi Festival was this weekend. During lunch, Crimson Rosellas were flying around and everyone was encouraged to visit the Discovery Centre to see the exhibits and watch a film of 1939 bush fires. There are several walks around the Centre and flowering plants seen include Balm Mint-bush (Prostanthera melissifolia), Pultenaea muelleri, Large-leaf Bush-pea (Pultenaea daphoides), Bird Orchid (Chiloglottis valida) and Pink Bells (Tetratheca ciliata). We were lucky to be shown the rare Round-leaf Pomaderris (Pomaderris vacciniifolia).

Next we went to the Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk which is mostly along a board walk following the Sylvia Creek through fern gully and cool temperate rainforest. Rainforest plants seen include Myrtle beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii), Southern Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) and Blackwood Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon). There were many ferns and mosses including Giant Club-moss (Dawsonia superba). We enjoyed the cool walk along the creek on this warm day. A rest at the amphitheatre we listened to bird calls and saw Crimson Rosellas and Pied Currawongs. Ziera arborescens was flowering along Quarry track and an interesting green spider was observed. Moira Mintie found a leech before we left to return to Healesville.<\p>

On the return trip back to Healesville John Gregurke saw a Wedge Tail Eagle on the top of a tree stump.

Thank you to all the people who attended this excursion and enjoyed a great day with fellow naturalists.

Lynn Smith