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Monday, December 08, 2008

Morley's Walking Track - Fernshaw Sector

The well-known "Morley's Track", starts at the Fernshaw picnic ground, on the Maroondah Highway, 80 km east of Melbourne, past the town of Healesville.

It is a walking route 9 km up to the Dom Dom Saddle, and then onwards to Mt. Donna Buang.

In the 1850s, Fernshaw, was the main stopping point for stage coaches travelling from Melbourne to the gold mining and timber cutting areas in the mountains further to the east.

The town was abandoned in the late 1890s, after the collapse of the gold mining and timber cutting boom.

All that remains are very tall non-native trees, planted by the first settlers, after the Aboriginal tribes were forced out of the area.

The picnic ground was actually the site of the main street in the 1860s, which boasted several hotels, a school, houses, and shops.

Fernshaw is now a stopping point on the Maroondah Highway which runs over the Black's Spur, to Alexandria, and linking with the main road to Marysville.

The highway was formerly known as the Fernshawe Rd.

I walked about 2.5 km (5 km return) of Morley's Track on December 7 2008, reaching a turnaround point about 1 km after the bridge over the Morley Creek.

The picnic ground and car park have been extensively upgraded, with gravel paths and new picnic tables, seats and barbecues. Interpretative signs and repoductions of old photos have been placed as near as possible to the sites of the historical buildings and other features they describe.

This section of Morley's Track follows the Watt's River gully, passing over Morley's Creek and through Morley's Flat. At one time, there was a hut on the Flat, long gone. This area was once extensively loogged - old stumps of sawmilling operations are in evidence.

The Track is becoming overgrown in places, due to encroachment of ferns, fallen trees, branches, bracken, bark and other vegetation.

I have included some old images, thanks to Picture Australia, which show Fernshaw town and Morley's Track in the late 1800s.

The area is part of the restricted-access Melbourne Water catchment area, within the Yarra Ranges National Park

See the full set of Photos of my trip, which include some archival images of the 1880s.

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