A Morning Ramble with Leader Leigh
Once again, Leigh Privett made an inspired decision when he sent around a general invitation for an 8am walk one day last week.
We set off in three cars and drove up to Murmungee Gap, which was simply magical bathed in early morning light, and then walked a short distance down to one of Leigh’s secret markers (fluoro tape tied to a bush), and so off the road and into the bush.
The track has been gradually cleared by a very keen local mountain biker for his forays into the bush. It provided a very pleasant walking track, but you would have to be very keen (code for mad) in my seriously non-biking opinion to attempt to ride along it.
We walked along the side of the slope and so through varying country – some burnt (in 2003 we assumed/discussed), and so regenerated, which meant a dominance of Native Dogwood (Cassinia aculeata) but quite a lot was relatively clean of blackberry and other weeds, had intact and complex under storey, and allowed glimpses out from the hillside across the landscape below.
As a few of us discussed, the vegetation varied widely depending on the aspect of the slope, so we walked through some good stands of Peppermint, Red Stringybark and, of course, good old Blue Gum. We also came upon a less common plant, the Tree Lomatia (Lomatia fraseri), which, though cleared for the track, was clearly growing back vigorously. This plant can have a very varied leaf – divided or entire – and tends to be found in moist, sheltered gullies and slopes. Leaf shape and size vary depending on shading, and as much of our walk was in more sheltered and shaded areas, the leaf shape tended to be larger and entire, with some teeth along leaf edges.
What was intriguing was that this track was along the route of an old water race – we were all able to visualise the amount of work to dig and move so much earth using just pick and shovel. Remnants of old metal flumes were evident, and some rough cuttings made in and around rock outcrops that obviously upset the water levels and the run. It was fascinating to imagine the number of men, the hard work and the bustle of this site, only for it all to be reabsorbed by the bush once the mining was completed. The 2003 fires exposed some larger, early mining equipment in the bush around Stanley but on this occasion we didn’t see anything larger than the flume remnants.