The sea is an extrovert. She crashes on the fretted rocks along the Great Ocean Road and in her vastness, she's a show off, big blue skirts billowing and tourists ooh-aahing at her. We love the sea, but today was an inland day, and we fancied some forest magic.
The Great Otway National Park is the hinterland behind the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, and covers over 100 square kilometres. There's alot of roads inaccessible to 2WD and hence, most tourists barely touch the edges of it, entering in the hope of seeing koalas and turning back when the road gets too bumpy.
It's very important to wear forest leggings in the forest.
There's lots of evidence of old logging around
If the ocean is an extrovert, the forest is an introvert. She's happy to have you around most days, but alot of what she does happens in the quiet moments when she's alone. No one sees the petals of tiny wildflowers stretch open, but they do. No one sees the tree falls, but collapse in winds they do. No one sees the fern fronds unfurling, but unfurl they do.
How magnificent are the roots of this fallen gum tree?
I know you're all thinking all we eat is soup, and you're probably right at the moment as both of us have colds. I reckon we crack out the thermos about three times a year and this was definitely one of those times. It's a hearty vegetable soup with lots of garlic and it was a blessing to eat as the wind rustled in the trees and the call of birds reminded us of our wild natures as we were still, for a time, and listened.
Jamie asking me to hurry up whilst Buttercup looks pretty. Or is it the other way around?
We found a great 4WD track with some scary hills for me (why on earth won't Jamie re-assure me that we won't fall off the end of the world? Does he get some strange delight from me squealing?)
As we started approaching Wye River, we started seeing some evidence of the fires that passed through here on Christmas Eve, 2015, where over 98 homes were lost. I remember smelling all the smoke coming across toward our place and we'd worked out our evacuation plan should the whole Otways catch alight.
Wye River alight, 2015
There was an incredible amount of devastation to wildlife and the landscape itself, and you could see the burnt trees from the Great Ocean Road, but we were approaching it from above. The interesting thing about these trees is that the leaves are growing from the trunk, which isn't usual, except after fires. I think gum trees are the only trees that do this.
Trees with rough bark, such as Red Stringy Bark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) and Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) have epicormic buds (dormant growth buds) deep beneath the bark which are protected from fire. When the tree is burnt and the foliage removed, the epicormic buds are triggered into life and they start to grow.
The wind brings
Fallen leaves enough
To make a fire.
The Way of the Zen - Alan Watts
Of course, having a beer at the end at the Wye River pub was pretty nice too, before we turned around and went back to continue forest dreaming again. We spotted some mushrooms from the car - reckon we'll come back after some more rain for funghi season.