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On Walkabout At: Kinglake National Park, Australia

Kinglake National Park is one of Australia’s many National Parks, but what makes this park unique is how close to the metropolis of Melbourne that it is located:

The area outside of the national park is dotted with many small communities where people either farm or commute to the Melbourne area for work.  It was these small communities that in 2009 was the epicenter of the deadly bushfires that killed 173 people.  The following pictures were taken a few months before the bushfire and shows how lush this landscape once was before the bushfire.  The popular hike I took while visiting Kinglake was to hike from the 550 meter summit of Mt. Sugarloaf to Masons Falls and back:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

There is road that takes visitors to the summit of Mt. Sugarloaf, which is where I parked my Jeep and began my round-trip hike to Masons Falls from.  Before setting off on my hike I made sure to take in view of Melbourne from the summit of the peak.  If it wasn’t for the fact that the trees were cleared for this power line there wouldn’t have been any view at all to see:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

The clearing provided by this power line, however provides a clear view right into downtown Melbourne:

2007_1210Australia10099

From the clearing I then began my hike into the dense foliage of Kinglake National Park:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Looking at these pictures now, it is easy to understand how this park burned so quickly with such deadly results for the surrounding communities:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

The trees that surround the trail are mostly Australia’s ubiquitous gum trees:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Many of the gum trees in Kinglake National Park are of the mountain ash variety that can grow to tremendous heights:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

As the trail descended into watershed gullies than a number of ferns, large and small began to surround the trail as well:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Some of these fern trees grew to become very tall:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

At the bottom of one gully there was flowing water visible in this little creek:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

In the gully I was able to see a number of colorful birds probably drawn to the area due to the water:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Here is a couple of kookaburras I saw that are well known in Australia for their distinctive “laugh”:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

From the gully the trail then begins to ascend back up another hill towards the falls:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

A short while later I came to the look out that offered a nice view of the 45 meter tall Masons Falls:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

However, there wasn’t much water to look at flowing down these falls since it was the summer dry season when I visited the park:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

At the look out I ate my lunch and then proceeded to complete the remaining 8 kilometers of the hike back to Mt. Sugarloaf:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

Most of the way was uphill through dense foliage since I descended from Sugarloaf Peak to hike to the smaller hill where the falls was located:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

It was a nice pleasant walk all the way back to the parking lot:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

On my way back to Mt. Sugarloaf this was the only view I was able to see through the dense foliage the whole way:

Picture from Kinglake, Victoria

All in all I spent about 5 hours hiking around Kinglake National Park before heading back home.  The park doesn’t have much of what I call an “Awe Factor” to it compared to other national parks in the area considering it is just rolling heavily forested hills, but like I said before it is close to Melbourne which makes it a quick and easy to way to spend some time outdoors.  Unfortunately since this area was heavily scorched during the 2009 bushfires I’m not sure how much of the forest has recovered yet.  My experience with prior bushfires leads me to believe that much of the forest has probably already regenerating though it will be years before it fully recovers.

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