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Monday, July 21, 2008

Winter hiking in the Sherbrooke Forest

On Sunday July 20, 2008, I did an interesting 4 km return hike starting at Selby Hill,in the northern part of the Sherbrooke Section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, 40 km from the Melbourne CBD.

The walk commenced at the small car park on Grantulla Rd, descending on Foden Track into the forest, reaching gated Neumann's Track.

I then continued on Neumann's Track westerly, past Neumann's Paddock, into Hall Track, to the turnaround point at Cooke's Corner.

The Sherbrooke area was heavily logged from the 1850s until 1968, when tree felling ceased. Between 1855 and 1880, timber camps were set up at Sassafras, Olinda and Kallista, with the logs hauled by bullock teams to the railhead at Ferntree Gully.

In the period from the 1900s to the 1930s, innumerable weekend shacks were built in the region, with access along rough roads in what was unprotected forest.

Sections of the clear felled forest became farms, and regulated residential development commenced in the late 1940s.
Many of the original privately constructed access roads were ultimately taken over by the government for fire protection purposes, and became the shared walking/cycling/equestrian tracks we now enjoy.

The cleared Neumann's Paddock and adjoining Wallaby Paddock were originally farms dating back to the 1900s. Furrows may still be seen in Wallaby Paddock, now the home of a family of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, one of which I encountered on Foden Track!

Lyrebirds also inhabit this part of the forest! At night, gliders, owls, posssums and other nocturnal creatures appear from their nests.

Destruction of much of the Park, and the Sherbrooke Forest, occcurred in major bushfires of 1913, 1919, 1923, 1926, 1939, 1962, 1968, 1983, and 1997. The Forest is now largely regrowth, but there are many tall Mountain Ash specimens remaining which survived the fires.

In 1882, 168 ha of the forest near Ferntree Gully were set aside for recreational use. In 1927, 227 ha were added and it became known as the Ferntree Gully National Park. In 1987, the Sherbrooke and Doongalla forests were added, and it became the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

The Olinda and Mt Evelyn State Forests were added in 1997.

The Park is now 3125 ha, with over 300 km of walking tracks for our enjoyment!

See the full set of Photos

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