One of the walks the Field Naturalists undertook on our March excursion was from the carpark at the Gong Reservoir to Ditchfield Road. It was the first time some of us had under taken this walk and it is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. In one section Central Highlands Water have erected some beautiful, colourful signs that explain about some of the birds and animals that use the forest through which the path meanders.
There are a couple of new picnic tables to encourage one to stop and have a break. Heading in the direction back towards Ballarat meant the most of the walk was downhill and on a hot day we made the most of the shady parts under the towering eucalypts. Well-constructed bridges cross the Yarrowee River in several places. At another wetter time of the year there would be interesting views of the river but now there are only a few pools left with water.
There was plenty to interest field naturalists. Located on trees near some of the larger signs were nest boxes that related to the species mentioned on the sign, for instance an owl box with a special entrance as Southern Boobook Owls require a hollow with a spout as an entrance.
The path goes through Rickey’s Quarry Flora Reserve and the signage there is a reminder of the LINCS Project which began years ago as partnership with local authorities and community groups to rehabilitate the streamside reserve. I was interested to learn recently that the City of Ballarat has again received funding to do some follow up works along the reserve. The original project was a massive undertaking and appears to have dropped from the priority list until recently.
The Rickey Brothers quarry site operated from 1970 to 1983 supplying aggregate for concrete and road surfacing use around Ballarat and surrounding areas. (according to a plaque on a lump of basalt on site)
There were signs of money starting to be spent with the pathway closer to Ditchfield Road being recently resurfaced to make it a better surface for the many walkers and cyclists that use the area. There is still a lot of weed control work to be undertaken if the blackberry, willows, elderberry and hawthorns are any indication but there was evidence that weeds are still being sprayed.
Lots of trees have been planted over the years. It was interesting to see how enduring the weed mat has been. Someone did suggest recently that we should take an implement to cut some of the matting away from the tree trunks and now I understand why. There was also another reminder of past planting practices when trees were planted very close together in anticipation of not all surviving. In many cases the survival rate has been too good. It also showed that the number of trees planted outweighed the number of understory plants.
While the revegetation efforts were interesting one of the best sights was an enormous eucalypt with a hollow in the base that could take about 3 people. If you take a step inside and look up you may see the sky. There was lots of things to see along the walk from large granite boulders, cuttings through basalt, tall Manna Gums, Crimson Rosellas, noisy New Holland Honeyeaters and even a new housing estate.