This past summer while the Victorian bush fires were raging I took a drive up to Mansfield to see the fires first hand. Well over the past Labor Day holiday here in Australia, I used the extra time off to take another drive up to the high country to see what the impact of the bush fires has had on the high country’s environment. I always enjoy going to Mansfield and once again it was nice to visit the city. It was very busy in Mansfield that weekend due to lots of people from Melbourne heading up to Mansfield for the long weekend.
After checking out Mansfield I headed towards Mt. Buller which is about 30 minutes east of town. Judging by this below picture, you would never know Mt. Buller was the sight of a massive bushfire just three months ago:
My original destination on this trip was to complete The Bluff Trail which is a 13km hike up a steep alpine bluff to the south of Mt. Buller. To reach the hike I had to take the Howqua Track dirt road from the small village of Merrijig along the road to Mt. Buller. The Howqua Track travels for 16.5km to a large camping area called Sheepyard Flat. Once I entered the tree line, the damage from the bushfires became quite evident:
Nearly all the trees were scorched black, however there was also plenty of signs of life returning to the forest:
Much of the forest’s floor was covered in thick green vegetation. The amount of plant life that has already taken hold on the forest floor is really amazing when you consider the bush fires were only put out about two months ago.
While driving down the road I had a wallaby jump out of the brush and hop along my Jeep while I was driving. As soon as I stopped to take a picture the wallaby looked at me, than hopped across the road and then hopped into the bush:
The wallabies are rare to see compared to kangaroos because many of the different species of wallabies have been greatly reduced in population due to being hunted by foxes that were introduced into Australia by the early colonists. So it always good to see wallabies when you can.
Driving along the dirt road there was some areas that some how escaped the fires:
Yet other areas that were scorched were still quite beautiful:
Eventually the road crossed over the Howqua Creek that was also some how able to escape the bush fires:
Across the Howqua Creek, the road runs through the large campground of Sheepyard Flat:
This is actually quite a nice campground that was slowly filling up with Melbournians camping here for the weekend. Unfortunately as I drove through the campground the road was eventually blocked preventing me from reaching the Bluff hiking trail. The road was closed because the park service hasn’t been able to clear it of fallen trees from the bushfire. So I had to unfortunately cancel my hiking plans.
With my plans canceled I decided to turn to Plan B and go explore the four wheel drive roads on the north side of Mt. Buller instead.
Next Posting: Mt. Stirling and the Bindaree Track