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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kalorama Park in spring

The Kalorama Nature Trail is a 3 km circuit in the Kalorama Park, 35 km east of Melbourne.

The Trail has recently (2008) been upgraded and extended, and passes through native forest, historical fruit orchards and exotic plantings.

Boasting spectacular views over the Silvan Reservoir and the south-eastern face of the Dandenong Ranges, Kalorama Park is perfect for picnics, barbecues or simply relaxing whilst enjoying the magnificent surrounds. Kalorama Park is bordered by lush temperate forest on the eastern side and the Dandenong Ranges National Park to the north and south.

The first Europeans to settle in the Kalorama valley area were Isaac Jeeves, Mathew Child and Jabez Richardson, with their families. The three families built their homes along what was then called 'Running Creek', now known as Olinda Creek. In 1870, Jeeves sold part of his allotment to Thomas Hand, who was a surveyor with the Upper Yarra Road Board. This allowed Jeeves to purchase land in the 'Gap' which was named Jeeves Saddle, and is now known as 'Five Ways'.

The Jeeves family, through son Ellis and grandsons Hubert and Walter, retained ownership of part of the original title of land for nearly 100 years. During this time the entire open section of the park was cleared of its natural vegetation, for logging and grazing purposes. In 1963, the State Government purchased 13 hectares from the Jeeves family, followed by another nine hectares of adjoining land later on.

The 'Save the Dandenong's League' was instrumental in the purchase of this land to conserve it from further development and raised half the cost through subscriptions and a public appeal.

Relics that still remain are the old farm shed, thought to be built by the Jeeves family in the 1940s, and the barbecue pavilion built by the Forest Commission to commemorate the site where Ellis Jeeves built a house.

The forest supports a diversity of wildlife. Mistletoe Birds, Yellow Robins, Eastern Whipbirds, Crimson Rosellas and Golden and Rufous Whistlers are just some of the more commonly seen birds in the park.

Nocturnal animals include Common Ringtail and Brushtail Possums, Sugar Gliders, Black Wallabies, wombats and echidnas.

Remnant Mountain Ash forest covers the eastern section of the park. This type of forest was prominent throughout the Dandenong Ranges before European settlement and the resulting widespread clearing.

Mountain Ash trees can reach heights of up to 150 metres and may live for 400 years - due to a number of fires the oldest are around 150 years in age.

There are three distinct layers of vegetation below the canopy of Mountain Ash trees. Ferns and grass species make up the ground cover, with the mid-storey comprising Hazel Pomaderris, Blanket Leaf, Soft and Rough Tree Ferns, Musk Daisy Bush and Blackwood Wattles.

Kalorama Park features around 80 orchard trees planted by the Jeeves family over 100 years ago. The orchard area consists of plum, apple, peach and walnut trees that are scattered through open cleared grasslands.

Other historically significant trees of Kalorama Park include two Elm trees above the five ways carpark, which were planted by the Jeeves family to mark the gateway to the original property.

Remnants of the original formal garden beds still remain today and have been restored with recent plantings of azaleas, rhododendrons, native ferns and grasses.

I visited this beautiful Park on October 15, 2008, including the hike along the Nature Trail circuit.

A marker just off the track, designated "11", is at the site of the original homestead, now hidden in thick regrowth.

The spring wildflowers and blooms were magnificent.

See the full set of Photos

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