Mount Buffalo National Park

Page 7 - The Gorge

Hanglider Ramp Crystal Brook Falls The ANOS group did some things I already had done so I didn't meet up with them again until lunchtime. They did however tell me that the previous morning, when I wasn't on the mountain yet, someone did see a leek orchid or two. They were seen near Reeds Lookout so along the way I stopped off at all the other lookout, which are at the top end of The Big Walk.

The photo on the left shows some crazy person standing on the hanglider ramp near Echo Point (a short distance from the Chalet). The clear skies today were in stark contrast to the fog on my arrival on the first day and allowed for good viewing of the lookouts. The photo on the right is of Crystal Brook plumeting down a few hundred metres from the Falls Lookout.

Yellow Flower The Gorge Along the track there were a few of these yellow flowers (left). These ones were growing on the side of Pulpit Rock. Because of the fires there weren't many flowers away from the track in this area. The photo on the right shows the sheer cliffs of The Gorge (north wall).

I made it to Reeds Lookout and searched the area but was unable to find any of the orchids I had come down for. I saw two piles of rocks and thought maybe the people from the previous day had marked where they were. This turned out not to be the case and I wasted quite a bit of time searching in the wrong area.

Busy Beetles Wattlebird On my return to the car park I encountered these beetles. I am no entomologist but I think I know what they are up to and they have no sense of dignity.

I was back in the car park and the other members of the group were already well into their lunch. I sat by a picnic table by myself, as I was going to be a messy eater, and almost immediately a Crimson Rosella landed on my table and started inspecting my lunch. This meant I had to go back and get my camera from the car (a few metres away) and as I returned to my seat a wattlebird swooped over the rosella, chasing it away. The wattlebird landed in a nearby young eucalypt tree and allowed me to take this photo of it.

The others had now finished lunch and had vacated their table and the wattlebird quickly settled there for a few scattered crumbs.

A local introduced himself to the group and it turned out he knew where some of those leek orchids were likely to be found. It was at Reeds Lookout, where I had just been, but with the promise of finding some of these orchids I finally decided to go along again.

The others of the group were car pooling and driving around the corner to The Oval car park apparently. This was only 100 metres away so I decided to walk down but when I got to the oval the last of their cars just drove past. I thought I must have misnderstood them and they were driving further down so I thought I'd just go home now.

As I drove down the road however I suddenly saw their cars parked around the next corner, so Iwasn't all that far away before. Quickly deciding to go after them I briskly walked off down the track. Because of the fires I could see quite far and thought I saw them go up to the Manfields Junction and not directly to the lookout. I thought that's why I must have missed the orchids and they were on the other side of the lookout.

Prasophyllum brevilabre Just past the junction I unexpectedly came across a group of about 25 of these Prasophyllum brevilabre orchids. As the others were nowhere to be seen I knew they did actually go the direct route so I don't know who or what I saw earlier. I took a few photos and then decided to go down to the lookout and inform the rest.

On my way down I found some more of the rock piles, which I now realised were actually cairns marking the track over the boulders. The didn't help me that much as I missed a bend and ended up going the wrong way around but eventually I found the others. They were dotted around, crouched down photographing individuals of these orchids. This was in a burnt out area, unlike the ones I found.

I did mention the orchids I found to a few of the others but they didn't seem too interested, after all, they did find what they had been looking for and were kept busy. A little time passed and, without realising, most of them had gone before I was able to invite them properly up to the other location. However I did show someone (Andrew Dilley, the Conservation Officer of ANOS Victoria) and he had a GPS with him and recorded the exact location.

Mint Bush Having gone on a small but significant detour we eventually caught up to the others, who were waiting very patiently near a junction. On the way back someone identified the plant on the right (I think they called it a mint bush). I had walked past them a few times without even noticing them, their flowers blend in well.

Driving further down the hill we stopped off at another spot but didn't find the elbow orchids they were looking for and at that point we separated and I made my own way home.

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