Aidan Kempster is stoked on the Wirrawilla Rainforest; it seeps like sap from his every word. But he’s worried that the unprotected region’s days could be numbered. Check out this zenned out sanctuary and get behind the proposed Great Forest National Park.
- Gentle walk through scenic rainforest
- 90 minutes from Melbourne CBD
- Ancient species, including remnants from Gondwanaland
- Boardwalk is extremely accessible
This microadventure took place on the land of the Taungerung people, part of the Kulin Nation. I would like to pay my respects to elders past and present by acknowledging that their sovereignty has never been ceded.
We started our walk at the Tanglefoot carpark. For a little over an hour we meandered through lush ferns along the Myrtle Gully walking track, passing beneath ancient and massive Myrtle Beech and Mountain Ash trees.
We spent a good chunk of time dodging spiderwebs and trying to figure out which direction had the best view. It was a hot day in Melbourne, with temperatures reaching 33 degrees in the city, but under the forest canopy of Toolangi we were shaded and cool.
I’ve done a lot of bike riding in the area, but it was refreshing to see the forest close-up, slowed down and without that crazy voice in the back of my mind telling me to pedal harder. It might not seem like the thing for a hot summer’s day, but unless the weather is diabolical and fire is only a whisper away, a gentle walk in the forest can be an ideal way to escape the heat.
We encountered a hewn-rock creek crossing, without rhyme or reason explaining its presence and nothing outstanding on the other side of the creek. Perhaps an older walking trail became overgrown or maybe there was an historic hut or dwelling hiding beyond our gaze.
It’s possible track builders put it in to prevent trail erosion, but that’s a bit less romantic. Whatever its history, both of us forgot to take a picture, so you’ll have to go there yourself to figure it out.
At the end of our short and essentially flat walk we came upon the Wirrawilla Rainforest Boardwalk. Yes! Wow! A year exploring Toolangi and I hadn’t checked out the boardwalk, because boardwalks are for bored walkers, right? Wrong. From now on it’s the first stop when I take people out there. I had never seen a Sassafras that old!
We were both smiling from ear to ear, it felt like we were walking on air. I could sit in that gallery all day, all week and still see something new and amazing on my way out! Every sight I laid my eyes upon brought fresh waves of appreciation. I’m going back soon!
To be sure there are other beautiful patches of rainforest all throughout the proposed Great Forest National Park, but few are as accessible as Wirrawilla. You could take a wheelchair there. There is a short slope of gravel connecting the carpark to the boardwalk, but the boardwalk itself is virtually flat. And it will knock your socks off.
Wirrawilla Rainforest is only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, though you will have to be mindful of log trucks on Sylvia Creek Road until the Great Forest National Park is declared.
Go check it out, then make a call to your local member about the new national park. Be a voice for the forest by sharing your first-hand experience of how much of an under-appreciated tourist attraction Melbourne has at its front door. Happy days!
- Sturdy footwear
- Sun protection
How To Get There
Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk and Carpark is located on Sylvia Creek Road in Toolangi State Forest. Tanglefoot Carpark is another 3-4km further along Sylvia Creek Road.
- Trail running
- Nature photography
- Meditation, dreaming and relaxation
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain
At most a 5km stroll, with very little elevation gain.