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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lyrebird Forest Walk. Mirboo North, Gippsland

The Lyrebird Forest Walk was officially opened by the Victorian Government in September 2007, and is an easy 3 km 1.5 hr bushwalk through native forests typical of the South Gippsland region.

I travelled through the town of Trafalgar, on the Prince's Highway, then through the village of Thorpdale, stopping at the Mt. Speed Lookout, with superb views across the Latrobe Valley.

The circuit walk starts from the car park and picnic ground, 5 km north of the town of Mirboo North, on the Strezlecki Highway, 150 km east of Melbourne.

Initially the track follows the Little Morwell River for 1 km through characteristic gully vegetation of tall eucalypts with a thick understorey of scrub and ferns.

Reaching open farmland which is private property, the path follows the edge of the forest, passing vegetation typical of the drier slopes and ridges. The trees are smaller and different species to those in the gullies and the forest is generally more open on the upper slopes.

The Superb Lyrebird is often seen in patches of dense scrub along the track. Fully grown it is about the size of a large chicken. The male has a set of ornate tail feathers which it spreads in display when performing on its mound in the forest. Early settlers likened the shape of these feathers to that of the lyre, an ancient stringed instrument.

The Lyrebird is noted for its ability to imitate the calls of other birds, and can also reproduce the sound of car horns, chain saws and other man-made noises. A female Lyrebird produces one egg per year and she is the only one to care for the chick. Lyrebird numbers have been reduced by land clearing and predators but still thrive in the scattered areas of native forest around Mirboo North.

Other birds commonly sighted include: White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Thornbill, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Laughing Kookaburra and the Crimson Rosella.

Trees and conspicuous plants along the Lyrebird Forest Walk include: Mountain Grey Gum, Brown Stringybark, Messmate Stringybark, Silvertop, Yertchuk, Blackwood, Saw Banksia, Common Heath, Soft Tree-fern and Austral King-fern.

Some of the native animals to be seen are the Wombat, Koala, Black Wallaby, Short Nosed and Long Nosed Bandicoots, Swamp Rat, Greater Glider, Feathertail and Ringtail Possums, Echidna, Platypus and little Brown Rat. Most of these are nocturnal in habit.

I hiked this excellent trail on October 2, 2007, but disappointly, no lyrebirds were to be seen, only a very shy echidna!

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