Walking in Blackhill Reserve, near Kyneton, Victoria
A Hidden Delight
Kyneton is situated in the Macedon Ranges, not far from Melbourne and I have enjoyed several holidays there. I've visited many of the interesting sites in the town, including the old Bakery, I've worshipped in some of the lovely old bluestone churches and seen bluestone schools and several other buildings. However, it was only recently that some friends and I discovered Blackhill Reserve.
What a surprise it was! Nestled among farms in the hills, it is not far to reach by car, but it opens up a different world altogether.
We found that there are two entrances: the main one at the front where picnic tables and information hoardings welcome visitors, and one on the eastern side, where there is a small notice-board, as shown in the photo. I was 'navigator,' and on my map it seemed to me as if that was the way to approach it, so we actually entered through the 'back door' after bumping along narrow, dusty, unmade roads. We later discovered that the approach to the main entrance is much easier to find and has more space for parking.
The route we chose was fine for us, as it made the Reserve seem more remote and mysterious. As we parked the car and climbed out it seemed that all was at peace. We stood and looked across to see sheep grazing peacefully in the shadows and in the far distance kangaroos nibbled the ample turf or hopped lazily from one patch of grass to another. Then we heard the eerie laughter of some kookaburras.
The easy dirt track wound between tall gumtrees, giving a varied vista of farms, blue dams and somnolent sheep. Then we noticed huge, moss-covered boulders towering above us. Some were perched very precariously, while others seemed to be emerging from the earth as if they were eggs about to hatch.
The way was quite long and sometimes steep and rocky. It felt mysterious and even a little scary, reminding us of Ned Kelly country. All was silent. One of us trod on a dry twig and in the stillness it sounded as loud as a gunshot. Then in the distance we heard subdued voices gradually growing closer. We wondered who they were. If we tried to take cover, they surely would have heard us blundering over the crackling twigs that littered the ground.
Then we rounded a boulder and there were walkers, just like us, coming from the opposite direction. The spell was broken. Soon they were followed by a jogging enthusiast who, as he passed down the track, hot and sweaty, panted a breathless, "Good day." And we had thought we had the whole world out here to ourselves! We reached a sign that announced 'The Monolith', and decided that must have been the biggest boulder in the Reserve. it was enormous.
Eventually our legs grew tired. As we sat on some smaller, flattish rocks to share our refreshments a flock of brilliant Crimson Rosellas flew past.
Refreshed, we turned back. On the way down the hill we spotted various wildflowers: Billy Buttons and Eggs-and-Bacon and thought that in Spring there might even be Nodding Greenhoods and other tiny ground orchids, perhaps even long-petalled Spider Orchids or Helmet Orchids and there were sure to be some sundews with their white flowers and sticky, predatory leaves.
Back at the car, we followed the map more carefully this time and actually found the main entrance, but we thought that the route we had chosen had been more interesting and full of small, delightful discoveries. If ever you find yourself in Kyneton, do visit the unspoiled bushland of Blackhill Reserve.
The Friends of Blackhill
There is now a volunteer group called The Friends of Blackhill who work hard to keep the place unspoiled. You can find more information about this delightful sanctuary on their website at <www.blackhillreservekyneton.com.au/>
Places to Visit in Victoria
- Nyerimilang Heritage Park, Gippsland, Victoria
A train trip to Bairnsdale and then a bus to Swan Reach lead to a visit to Nyerimilang Heritage Park. This park is beautifully situated beside Lake King, one of the Gippsland Lakes district, in Nungurner and not far from famous Lakes Entrance.
- Swan Lake, Phillip Island
On a visit to Swan Lake, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, there were so many water birds to be seen. It was a delight. it is not so far from Melbourne and could be done on a day trip, but do to stay there, as there are also the penguins at dusk.
- Australian Parrots and "Galilee" in Gippsland
A weekend visit to Galilee Holiday Flats in East Gippsland gave me a great photo opportunity as I was able to be quite close to a number of different birds, including the beautiful King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.
- A Visit to the Grampians, Victoria
The Grampians National Park in the Western Victorian Highlands is a great place for a holiday, especially in spring and autumn. It is noted for the lovely views and great hiking and bush-walking.