The forest reserve is an ideal place to walk and learn orientation
The relatively small Bungal State Forest, located about 15 km south of Ballan, is a pleasantly undulating and lightly wooded tract of land, roughly triangular in shape and bounded on two sides by Bungal Creek and the eastern branch of the Moorabool River.
The trails in the first part of the hike are well marked; but most of the last part of the hike is outside of them, so a sense of direction and preparation before hiking is essential.
In terms of difficulty this trail is certainly not very steep or steep. Walking is easy in forested areas, but around the waterways the terrain is a bit more rugged as there are multiple ravines that streams have undermined over the years.
The forest is mostly made up of eucalyptus trees of the variety Bull Mallee (Eucalyptus behriana). Many of them are hundreds of years old; at least those that have survived the fires.
The hike begins at the southern end of the State Forest and initially heads north, before turning east and descending to the Moorabool River. We will then follow the Moorabool River south to its junction with Bungal Creek, which returns to what was our starting point.
After a couple of kilometers on the official path, there are official trails to walk in the park, the rest are off trails, mainly following the river.
The open forest here is dotted with alluvial excavations and is colorful in the warmer months when it comes alive with ferns, orchids and other wildflowers. Although I must admit, some although they may be beautiful, they are not pleasant to the touch.
And that is why on these walks I always prefer to wear long pants to avoid unpleasant bites, scrapes and allergies caused by plants like this Cirsium with its pointed leaves.
Not many people know about this small area of remnant scrub, so it is unlikely that you will meet anyone else. However, you can find a good number of birds, kangaroos, foxes and echidnas.
Now a reserve, it was a mining area in previous decades.
This was a mining area many years ago, in what would be the Australian gold rush. So you can find not only some remnants of abandoned metal pieces in the middle of the forest, but some holes in the earth, traces of excavations in search of the precious mineral.
In this sense, it is necessary to be a little careful, because the barks of the Eucalyptus trees that are stripped in this season, as well as the leaves; they can be a perfect trap for the walker and cause an ankle bend or a sudden fall.
With the passage of time, this now protected reserve is home to animals. And the only intervention of man that you can see in the area, are the wind turbines in the distance they rise above hills trying to catch up with the strong winds in the area.
It is impossible to look up, stop thinking about Don Quixote and his fight with windmills; for the size of these towers is certainly intimidating.
A winding route with well marked climbs.
As I told you before, the course of the streams has marked the area. Multiple ravines are the challenge of this walk. The lean is noticeable and the legs suffer as they thrust forward.
In contrast, the zone before the rise is extremely steep; so on more than one occasion you have to put pride aside, and lower your buttocks by pushing down.
In one of the breaks, our guide chose what was certainly the best decision, to make a well-deserved lunch.
The summit between two ravines is caressed by winds from both sides. A view of the river from above and some trees with a pleasant shade to sit down to eat my delicious homemade bagel that tastes better than normal thanks to hunger and fatigue.
Hydrating on the road in high temperatures is a must.
Today the weather has been magnificent, but throughout the morning the temperature rises to just over 30 degrees Celsius, with a very dry climate.
Water consumption is increasing, but we have a pristine source of water in the streams.
It is important to replace the water lost through sweat and avoid dehydration; as well as the weakness, muscle cramps and headaches that it causes. But also a little sugar in the form of pieces of mango dehydrated that I prepared for this ride.
Cold and crystal clear, this water tastes different, loaded with mineral flavor but healthy. This reminds us a bit of the essence of hiking: Back to nature and admiration for it.
The 15 km road. Today has been interesting, we have been able to do it in 5 hours avoiding the rugged geography of the place.
Sweat has already settled on the skin, and the heat makes breathing this dry air heavy. The view far away from the cars is a relief. This time, as a foresight, I left not only a change of dry clothes and comfortable shoes to change into, but a couple of sports drinks that I left freezing the night before.
The 2-hour drive back to Melbourne becomes tolerable when you're comfortable, hydrated, and a bit of 80's music to sing out of tune without anyone listening.