Wild Cherry and Macks Creek Warm Temperate Rainforest Walk

Last Saturday the Friends of Tarra Bulga National Park held another walking activity aimed a giving interested people the opportunity to explore some of the more out of the way areas. This walk aimed to take in the Wild Cherry Track and then head down along a new section of the Grand Strzelecki Track and down through the Warm Temperate Rainforest along Macks Creek is the focus of an impressive restoration project. we were fortunate to be joined on the walk by Richard Appleton, who was a driving force behind the creation of the Grand Strzelecki Track as well as the rainforest restoration.

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The weather conditions were kind and although the walk was mainly down hill it was still a challenge at times to negotiate some of the steep sections of track. We started off down the forest track so we could go through a section of Cool Temperate Rainforest as a contrast to what we would encounter further on. There were many highlights during the walk, they included taking in some of the array of flowering plants happening at this time of year at Tarra Bulga especially the mint bushes, Prostanthera melissifolia and Prostanthera lasianthos. The topography along the wild cherry track is impressive, as you walk down you can look down into the deep valley that contains the headwaters of Macks Creek and spot the rainforest down below. The vegetation is unusual in terms of the park, the ridge which you walk down has thinner soil and instead of wet scleropyhll forest it changes to damp forest. The dominant canopy species are Stringybarks and the weeping Cherry Ballart trees make for an attractive change of scenery.

After a steep descent you hit Macks Creek and negotiate a series of creek crossings, We stopped for lunch at one of these, enjoying sitting back and watching the water cascade past. Once you get down into the Macks Ck Valley (and out of Tarra Bulga National Park) you get into the Warm Temperate Rainforest zone, which is a very rare vegetation type in this district. Richard explained that the dominant canopy trees are Pittosporum undulatam (Sweet Pittosporum) and although it is uncommon Myrsine howittiana (Muttonwood), the shade these species provide means that the understorey is very open.  The dominant ferns here are also different to what you will find in the Cool Temperate Tarra Bulga rainforest they include Pellaea falcata (Sickle Fern), Asplenium flabellifolium (Necklace Fern), Doodia aspera (Rasp Fern), Adianthum aethiopicum (Common Maidenhair) and Pteris tremula (Tender Brake).

Richard told us about the restoration process which has involved large scale removal of Blackberry and Willows. Clearing the Blackberries has had a major positive impact and stimulated the regrowth of wattles species including Acacia howittii (Sticky Wattle) and importantly Muttonwood seedlings have been appearing. Thousands of seedlings have also been planted by hand and they have been progressing well. One threat to the site are shade weeds, Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major) is proving difficult to eradicate and if it is not controlled it will relish the shady conditions the new canopy will provide. It was certainly a very enjoyable and informative walk, thank you to everyone involved.

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