Living in Ferntree Gully means the Australian bush is ever present on our skyline and within our reach. This spring, locals are invited to head into the forest and explore a walking trail in the Ferntree Gully area.
Despite damage from the severe weather events of 9 June, most of the Dandenong Ranges National Park in the Ferntree Gully area is still open to the public.
On The Boulevard and Ramu tracks, the storm toppled dozens of mature trees and flattened some areas of the forest. These tracks have since been cleared and are open to walkers, who are noticing new panoramic views to the south and east. On a clear day, Cardinia Reservoir, Lysterfield Lake and Westernport Bay are now visible from Ramu track.
A bench seat has been installed on The Boulevard to give walkers an opportunity to stop and take in the views of both Westernport and Port Phillip Bays.
Matthew Hoogland, Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger, said the Kokoda Memorial Track, also known as the 1000 steps, was badly damaged in the storm and is still closed.
‘It may take some months to clear the trees and repair the damage so the track can safely be reopened,’ he said. He encouraged people to take note of the track closures, as hazardous trees can fall without warning. ‘Please observe all site closures, signage and fenced-off areas as trees, rocks and soil may continue to move – especially during or after rain,’ he said. ‘We are working hard to remove the dangers and reopen the track as soon as possible. In the meantime, we encourage people to consider alternatives.’
He said the park provided valuable opportunities to connect with nature for locals living within the current restrictions. ‘It’s breeding season for most of the 191 fauna species that call the Dandenong Ranges National Park home, so if you can visit, keep your eyes and ears open for a chance to see echidnas, wallabies and a multitude of birds.’
Visitors must keep within current Covid safe guidelines when visiting the park.
First time visitors will find good signage in the park to guide them and there are toilets at the picnic ground at One Tree Hill. For those seeking views, Chandler Hill summit is another worthy option after a steep climb. Alternatively, start at Ferntree Gully’s Quarry Reserve and follow the trails above the rock wall which provide good views of the city and lead to the start of The Boulevard for a longer nature walk.
As summer approaches, so too does bushfire season. Parks Victoria is working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as part of Forest Fire Management Victoria to ensure the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges are prepared. This includes the annual slashing program of over 160 kilometres of fuel breaks.
Staff are prioritising clearing vehicle and fire access tracks, fuel breaks and management of green waste debris ahead of summer. Several fuel reduction burns are also planned for the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges.