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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Emerald to Cockatoo Trail - Eastern Section

The Emerald to Cockatoo Trail passes through the Wright Forest, 60 km east of Melbourne.

The photos show the Eastern Section of the Trail on August 17, 2007, which follows the Boundary and Haleybury Tracks, near Cockatoo township.

I did a sidetrip along Red Track, which ends at the Puffing Billy railway line.

Miners and prospectors were the first Europeans to visit the district in the 1850s, but they soon moved on to more promising goldfields. Timber workers logged this area during the late 1800’s. From the early to mid 1900’s local land was surveyed for sub-division.

A narrow-gauge rail line between Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook took out timber and agricultural produce and brought in supplies from 1900. Operators of the Avonsleigh Guest House, John and Anna Wright, requested a nearby stopping place be established for their guests in 1904.

The name ‘Wright Forest’ emerged for this section of public land. Today, Puffing Billy Tourist Railway travels the narrow-gauge line taking visitors between Belgrave and Gembrook, although it does not stop at Wright Station anymore.

Wright Forest’s diversity of plant life attracts a range of animals including wombats, Swamp and Black Wallabies, Short-beaked echidnas, Brown Antechinus, Ring Tail and Mountain Brush-Tailed Possums, Sugar Gliders and Feather-Tail Gliders. Possums and gliders are mostly noticed during night, along with bats searching for appetising insects while flying throughout the forest.

Birds which also inhabit Wright forest include Wrens, Honeyeaters, Parrots, Kookaburras, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Butcherbirds.

The park has several vegetation species including Mountain Grey Gums, wattles, Hazel Pomaderris, Christmas Bush, Snowy Daisy Bush and Kangaroo Apple. Many fern species are present in the moist gullies beneath the taller Tree Ferns which are amongst some of the older plant species on earth today.

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