The welcome arrival of Lesley, Marie and Michele usually leads to a walk. Today was no exception. Since they were on the way back to Melbourne this afternoon, the time between lunch and departure was fairly tight. We needed a route, preferably a circuit, of around 5km. At 5.05km, this loop fitted the bill.
Starting at the corner of Nicholls Lane and Jukes Rd we headed toward the Strathbogie Merton Rd on a gentle downward gradient. The dirt had been recently graded smooth to the driveway of the only farm house. This was a just few hundred metres down the 900m lane. Beyond was a pretty, little used, leaf-littered, dusty grey track. This track cut between dry woodland above. Below is a rustic dell including a rush bordered pond within romantic farmland, submerged in forest.
Turning left into the Strathbogie-Merton Rd began a modest incline on narrow winding white gravel. This road is closely skirted by forest across steep slopes and within deep gullies. All are dotted with beautiful, lichen draped granite boulders and formations. The grey green of eucalyptus leaves is set against the walls of white trunked manna gums. The salmon patches exposed by long strips of ribbon bark falling to the ground create a glorious summer palette.
Cresting the top of the rise, we made the transition to the rolling hills of wood bound farmland. The cultivated top of the Tableland. From there it was downhill to the Jukes Rd intersection. There is a short stretch of bitumen to the sharp “V” where the roads meet. Jukes Rd takes off up the hill in a climb that has to recover the previous loss of elevation. It is enough to get the heart rate going if you push it.
The usual wildlife presented. However, unusually, we saw a wallaby chasing a hare as they both bounded down the slope and over the road in front of us! Something I can’t explain. A white throated tree creeper was spotted working the tree trunks. Currawongs chimed and kookaburras laughed at our passage with gusto. We startled a pair of common bronze wing pigeons into a panicked flight. They looked very guilty. A large echidna was foraging in the bush, but dug in deeply before Marie could get a good look. Very sensible with Marie around! Three swamp wallabies suspiciously watched our progress from behind a fallen log. They looked like they were waiting to ambush someone, but fortunately it wasn’t us.
This was a very pleasant walk. A fairly steep rise through the manna, narrow leafed peppermint and stringy-bark forest to the peak would make an interesting side expedition. However, the tree clad crown might not lend itself to a view.