Porcupine Ridge

Winter is a great time for bushwalking, snakes are all asleep. My friend David who is an intrepid walker and walking guide found some mines he had never come across before. The mine is called Tubal Cain Mine and it’s near Porcupine Ridge. A fantastic reason never to leave the path! To go for a guided forest stroll, contact David on 0428 112 378  or email asic45(at)gmail.com.

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Hello koala

The koala is one of the rarest animal sightings here, not because of lack of numbers, but because of being still and high up in a tree during the day. And who wants to be on a bush track in the middle of the night? My walking companion David from Daylesford Forest Strolls sent me this picture from yesterday’s walk.  Though he can’t promise sightings, at least he knows where the best chances are.

Call David on 0428 112 378 or email asic45(at)gmail.com if you want to find out more.

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Guided forest strolls

For the last couple of years I have been walking occasionally in the forest with a friend of mine, David. He really knows the area, and it is a great thing to do. Recently he has decided to do it in a professional way, and is offering guided forest walks (or strolls, if that is more your thing). The rate is a flat $50 regardless of if it is just the one of you, or more. Walking in the forest is another world. You are extremely likely to see kangaroos and wallabies, and likely to see wombats too. And if the wombat is not at home, he can most certainly show you their lair. On occasion the odd echidna or koala will be around as well. One fell off his tree right in front of David once. A koala, not an echidna. They don’t favour trees. Well, it was a very windy day. All the pictures in my bushwalking section and wildlife section on this blog are taken from walks with David. If you want to see old gold mines, he can take you there as well.

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Below is his brochure, it’s a little hard to read so I have typed it out for clarity. I really recommend this as an activity whilst visiting Daylesford! David is the one with the snow covered hat, taken this winter.

Daylesford Forest Strolls

The Wombat Forest is one of the jewels in Victoria’s crown. With surrounding parks, it provides over 900 square kilometres of native vegetation, rivers, hills and animal habitats. Having explored the forest over the past 16 years, I have selected a series of walks which best display the forest and the history of the region.

A walk typically consists of a half hour drive from Daylesford in my vehicle, in to the bush, a guided walk of between 1,5-2 hours, and then the return drive. You will have the opportunity to learn about the events which have shaped the region, to enjoy our beautiful plant communities, and with luck, observe some of the wonderful native animals which abound in the forest. All walks contain some gentle slopes, and forest tracks can be a little muddy, but no special level of fitness is required, only a pair of good walking shoes. Walks are $50 total regardless of numbers, single walkers welcome. Cash payment only.

Call David on 0428 112 378 or email asic45(at)gmail.com.

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Garden of St Erth

Just left to the entrance of Garden of St Erth, a Digger’s Club garden and cafe/restaurant, is a fantastic looped bushwalk. It will take you a couple of hours and will be rewarded by something delicious at the cafe maybe. I walked it recently and learnt a New Thing. Part of the paths are actually old water races, created to lead water to wherever it was needed in the goldmining boom. They were back in the day extended to cross gullies with timber extensions, but today only the carved paths remain.

A Frenchwoman, Madame Pauline Bonfond, was chiefly responsible for these. A marvellous thought, in the mining days when women were scarce up here. A woman, making a living from water races! I would like to know more about her. All I can find out is that she was known to be quick with hitting miners with her shovel so that no one got the better of her. Something must have done though, as she only lived to 47. She is buried in nearby Blackwood.  Around Blackwood are over 80 miles of these races. If I didn’t know better, I would just think of them as nicely levelled paths. Here is one, see what I mean?
st erth3You can tell when you are walking on a water race or just a path. A path moves up and down a bit, but a water race would lose water if it did. Hence, it just gently inclines. Nice bit of engineering, Madame Bonfond!
st erthThe walk around St Erth is great because it changes so much. Part of it winds around permanent wet areas which means a rare sighting for this area of giant tree ferns.
st erth2There is also plenty of Victoria’s State flower, Pink Heath.
st erth5If Pink Heath is not suffuciently exciting to lure you out on a bushwalk, there is plenty of thrilling exploration possible in mining remains. You see this kind of thing frequently here. There is also a good creek following the walk, in my amateur opinion very likely still able to yield gold.
lerderdergPack your walking boots and get out there!

A little wombat

Here is a well nourished little wombat to encourage you to take a bushwalk. You never know who you will come across! Did you know that wombats mostly communicate with each other through smell, but also have a little coughing noise when they pass each other? Very polite.

”Cough, cough. Ahem. I am just passing through, don’t mind me!”

”Cough, cough. That’s alright, just keep moving now! Cough, cough.”

Gold! Gold! Gold!

Just a quick note to say I have bought a gold pan and a map of good local panning spots, also a little shovel. In case you feel like trying your luck, there is plenty of gold around still. You will need to get a prospecting license, it costs $17.90 and is valid for 10 years, children under 18 free as long as they are with an adult who has a licence. Get it online from here: http://www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources/recreational-prospecting-and-fossicking. You don’t have to share of your findings but let me know how you went! A flake, a nugget, or just some soggy gravelly gumleaves? Panning is simple.Gold is heavier than anything else in your pan, so dig up some possibly gold bearing gravel and sand in the pan, swirl it around so the gold gets a chance to go to the bottom, and wash away everything which has risen to the top. Gold will not rise. What is left in the base of the pan will hopefully be gold. Hooray. This is why the pan is black, in order for you to see the gold easily. Well, it is a great reason to go bush anyway. Bring a picnic. I just realised I have to buy a second pan, as it is more likely to be two panners and not one. Will do so on my next trip to Ballarat. I know one of my regular guests is keen to have a go, so this is for you! Good luck.

By the way, the gold you find might only be a tiny fleck, not to miss. Also there are gemstones such as zircons and sapphires. Before your trip, look around the web and read the prospecting forums, to see what people are saying. I think most will be pretty quiet about their best spots, but you can get some help from reading.

Small space gardening

I went for a short walk this morning as I have been impressed for a while with some tiny gardens around the corner. Share! Not having any land to garden on has not stopped these gardeners. Wombat Park, a local magnificent, huge, massive, impressive in every way, garden is having an Open Day, which is great. But don’t neglect to admire the gardening on a shoestring displayed in small pockets.

Here is my morning walk. First up is the new hairdresser on the post office corner, Class A Styling. I like how they have not been content to put pots on the sills, but also halfway up. The windows have a string arrangement for the climbers to attach to. Let’s hope the imminent frosts don’t hinder their progress.

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small garden8The succulents below cascade out in a green luxurious pour, in full sun which is gruelling for any plant. This one blooms bright red, spectacular. I bet it never gets watered either, it is in an awkward spot. Brilliant. I am growing some of this myself, when it gets bigger I will be happy to give cuttings. It strikes as easily as you could wish, put a piece in the ground and la! There it is.

small garden11small garden9Opening hours included in case you need a lock of hair snipped off on your visit.

small garden13The entry is a jungle. Very hard to photograph (with my phone) but it is a vertical garden, where every wall is covered head to toe.

This dark pic shows the length of the terracotta pipes seen above which they are using as planters. Interesting.

small garden14Here is an example of extremely hardy agapanthus growing around a tree in the road. Do not dismiss this gem.

small garden10For comparison, I present to you my convincing argument. A neighboring tree, without plants. Lush.

small gardenA couple of steps down:

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Or it could look like this, ten steps further:

small garden3Lower maintenance, better for birds and bees. Rosemary to harvest. Zero water yet green year round. Annual weeding and pruning, that’s about it once it is established. Plant up your nature strips!

Sometimes a small garden can be as simple as letting it continue past your fence.

small garden 5Or baskets at a cafe, here Bocconcini on Vincent Street. Yes, a little more effort in carrying everything in and out every day but patrons will be able to season their own food with the herbs…

small garden 16On Vincent Street is Frangos and Frangos, where rampant climbers grow from the tiniest opening in the tar. I honestly don’t know how plants do that. There is no SPACE, no nothing. Yet they grow. There is a lesson there, I’m sure.

small garden 17I have shown my own flowerbike before, but it can be included again. I used to grow parsley in it but now it has ivy and succulents, a little daisy. Let the strongest win!

small garden4But the prize goes to local caterers Spade to Blade, hands down. They grow things in large wooden potatoboxes at the back, but have recently squeezed in plantings in sacks, pots, whatever, along the wall. My personal favourite is the triangular pot set in a niche, working to avoid the downpipe. Go up the laneway between Harry and Me and Cellarbrations to fully appreciate this.

small garden15small garden 19Soon to come, peas.

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small garden 20It is an inspiration and I feel I need to upgrade my own plantings, somehow. Thank you Gary and staff.