Dicksonia antarctica Soft tree-fern

Tree Ferns at Tarra Bulga

There are four main species of tree ferns found in Tarra Bulga National Park, (along with many other fern species) The two most common you will see are Cyathea australis (Rough tree-fern) and Dicksonia antarctica (Soft tree-fern). The Soft Tree-fern is more common in the moister areas including the rainforest gullies while the Rough tree-fern is more dominant on the slopes. Once you get you eye in it is fairly simple to tell the difference between these two, the most obvious being by comparing the trunks. The Rough tree-fern has much of its trunk covered by the remains of broken off stems (Stipes) Which are rough to the touch, while the Smooth tree-fern is soft to the touch and is covered by masses of soft hairs which are actually roots.  On this soft trunk other species of plants will often grow including tree and shrub seedlings, epiphytes and other ferns.

Cyathea australis - Rough tree-fern
Cyathea australis – Rough tree-fern, the broken of scaly frond bases (Stipes) on the upper part of the trunk of these ferns are a quick aid to their identification.

Diaper Track – Guided Walk

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It was the first time we had done one for a while, but it went very well so we are certainly going to do some more (Guided walks that is). On a damp Saturday October 29th a group of close to 30 walkers fronted up for the first Friends of Tarra Bulga walking activity for many years. The Boondarra walking group coincidentally had a posse of walkers planning to do the same walk that day so they were invited to join us which was one contributor to the healthy numbers.

It was apparent early on that the moist conditions were very suitable for small hitchhikers so regular stops were made as seen it the picture below, to stop and search and turf off any castaways.

Diaper Track Walk
First of many checks for passengers

We organised a car shuffle and the walk started from the Tarra Bulga Visitors Centre. One of the first sections you encounter is through a pine plantation which is a bit dull, but that soon gives way to some impressive forest.

Burrowing Crayfish
Rare Burrowing Crayfish – One of several spotted on the walk

One early feature of the walk was the occurrence of several rare Burrowing Crayfish. As we got further into the walk towards the Tarra Valley section the large tree ferns became a feature with many epiphytic plants on their trunks as well as a range of impressive fungi species and the massive trees that are a feature of the park. The recent rainfall meant that gullies were flowing with water and it was a great opportunity to see some waterfalls cascading next to the track.