Day 34 – Wednesday, 27 October 2021

It was already 20 degrees when we headed out this morning around 10:30am. I had done a load of washing and put it on the line before we left, and it was all dry by the time we returned home to the van. 

We also closed the blinds on the east side of the van and left all the others wide open as they were shaded by the awnings. As we had hoped, it was relatively cool when we got back, but the air conditioner was still required to remove the humidity from the air. 

We headed towards St Arnaud, stopped at the wayside rest where we have previously found orchids, but it is too late in the year for that spot as it is fairly dry. 

We continued on towards St Arnaud and turned off to the left before we got to the main street. We continued on to the St Arnaud Ranges National Park and stopped for a walk among the Wax Garden. The sun was hot, and the mozzies were very annoying, even with Aerogard on. Russ and I have agreed that mosquitoes are bigger pests than the flies, which says something. 

The Wax Garden is a fenced off area within the St Arnaud Regional Park and has easy walks among the plants and signage on many of them. The St Arnaud Field Naturalist Club has been working with Parks Victoria and other agencies since the 1990s to showcase the 90 plus flora species in the three short walks available. 

However, we were extremely fortunate to find the Waxlip Orchid during our wandering after we left the Wax Garden. Of course, once you find one you then find a whole heap of them. The Waxlip Orchid is quite big in comparison to some of the others. 

After our sojourn through the Wax Garden, and many photos later, we started down the Centre Road Nature Drive which traverses the park from north to south. It passes through the St Arnaud Regional Park, St Arnaud State Forest, Stoney Creek Nature Conservation Reserve, the Kara Kara National Park and the St Arnaud Range National Park. 

The drive is approximately 50 kilometres long and 4WD vehicles are recommended, especially from Stuart Mill Gap Road to Redbank, which we are still to do as the area is huge. There are several picnic spots along the way. We stopped at the West of England Fire Tower Lookout, but I have been unable to find any information about its unusual name. However, the views were awesome. 

Aboriginal people lived in the area before European settlement. Significant sites within then park which are evidence of this include scarred trees, mounds and some artefact scatters. 

In the 1840s squatters took land i9n the area. Strathfillan Creek is named after one squatter’s run. Stock grazing continued in some areas until 1995 – sheep yards built from bush timbers are among the few structures remaining from this activity. 

Alluvial and shallow reef mining for gold began in the 1860s and a number of sites can still be found around the park today. The Park was also an important source of timber, supplying logs to the local timber mills. Some of the main species harvested were Yellow Gum, Grey Box and Red Ironbark. 

Kara Kara National Park is one of the largest intact areas of Box-Ironbark vegetation and landscapes in Victoria, and holds many relics from the past, offering an insight into early European uses of the land. Many of the drains and weirs, constructed from 1898, are evidence of the area’s role in supplying water to the Stuart Mill and St Arnaud communities for 50 years. 

Kara Kara means ‘gold quartz’, but I am still trying to find some of it.