This 76000ha National park houses some of Australia’s tallest forests including the famous ‘Big Tree’ a towering 83 metres. Around 75 km North East of Melbourne, Yarra Ranges National Park was established in December 1995. This park also acts as a water catchment area for Melbourne’s domestic water supply, and has been protected since the late 1880’s.
The park stretches east from Healesville past Warburton to the headwaters of the Yarra River and north beyond Marysville. Popular Reservoir parks of Maroondah and Upper Yarra are located near to Yarra Ranges National Park.
Flora and fauna
The parks fauna include the endangered Leadbeater’s possum and 120 species of birds and 40 different mammal species.
Major Attractions at Yarra Ranges National Park
Mount Donna Buang
At an elevation of 1245 metres, Mt Donna Buang offers panoramic views over Melbourne, the Yarra Valley, Dandenong and Cathedral Ranges, Mount Baw Baw and the Alps. While on the mountain you can take in a rainforest experience and even walk through the tree tops at the spectacular Rainforest Gallery. In winter, the mountain offers the closest and most accessible snow to Melbourne for family snow-play and tobogganing.
Walk among the treetops on the 40 metre long observation platform (one of only three of its type in Australia). The 350 metre long elevated walkway takes you through the Rainforest Gallery where you will see magnificent 65 metre tall old growth Mountain Ash trees, ancient Myrtle Beech trees (many of which are 300 to 400 years old), ferns, mosses and other plants that make up this damp and diverse rainforest environment. There are several viewing spots along the walkway where you can pause and enjoy the sounds of Cement Creek flowing past on its journey to the Yarra River. A staircase descends from the carpark to the Rainforest Walkway and Myrtle Beech forest. Some of the beech trees here could be up to 400 years old. Part of the walkway runs alongside the cascading waters of Cement Creek.
Mount Donna Buang summit
The summit features a 21 metre lookout tower with panoramic views across the park and way beyond. It is also a popular picnic area and starting point for walks on the mountain. In winter, the summit area turns to snow play and three toboggan runs are opened. Toboggan hire and hot food are available at the summit gate when there snow. At these times car parking is available at the gate and the summit can be accessed by a 300 metre walk along the road.
How to get there
From Melbourne follow the Maroondah Highway through Lilydale turning right onto the Warburton
Highway. After the Warburton township follow the signs left up Mount Donna Buang to the Rainforest Gallery, 10 Mile Picnic Area and Mt Donna Buang summit.
The area around Healesville has something for everyone. Enjoy a peaceful walk through Mountain Ash and fern gullies, take in sweeping mountain views, have a family picnic or large gathering in a park or go for a mountain bike or horse ride along The Bicentennial National Trail. Gates at Maroondah Reservoir, Badger Weir and Donnellys Weir open at 8am. Closing times vary so check signs at park entry.
Old-style shingle roof rotundas, landscaped grounds and barbecues, all bounded by spectacular forest, make a picnic with family and friends a memorable experience.
See the 41 metre high dam wall, historic valve houses, the ‘Rose Stairway,’ exotic trees, native eucalypts, scenic lookout and the reservoir spillway (overflowing during spring, depending on seasonal conditions). Construction of the Maroondah Reservoir wall began in 1920 and was completed in 1927. Donnellys Creek was diverted in 1893 to augment the water supply to the Maroondah Aqueduct. Today, the weir acts as a reserve supply during dry periods.
Fernshaw Picnic Area is located at the foot of the Black Spur amid Mountain Ash and Fir trees. There are walking tracks, a parking area, picnic and barbecue facilities and toilets. The picnic area is located 11 km north-east of Healesville on the eastern side of the Maroondah Highway and is open daily. The picnic area at Fernshaw was once the main street of the township of Fernshaw. In the 1860s the town was a vital rest and stabling point for those journeying to the Woods Point goldfields and beyond and boasted several hotels, a school, houses and shops. The well-known 5.5km “Morley’s Track” starts at the picnic area takes you to the Dom Dom Saddle, and then on to Mt Donna Buang.
Lake Mountain has more than 40 kilometres of sub- alpine tracks and ski trails open to walkers through the summer months. Several lookout points on the mountain offer panoramic views of the Victorian Alps to the east, and Melbourne and the surrounding foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the west.
From November to March, wildflowers bloom in a succession of bright colours and fill the air with perfume.
Picnicking on Lake Mountain is a popular way to escape the summer heat with the temperature averaging 10 degrees cooler than Melbourne.
Facilities include an information centre, toilets and picnic tables.
When snow falls Lake Mountain is transformed into a cross-country (or Nordic) ski resort, offering 37km of groomed ski trails to explore.
The resort has ski, toboggan and snow shoe hire, a ski school, first aid centre, as well as the information centre and bistro. Lake Mountain is 120km from Melbourne. Follow the Maroondah Highway through the Black Spur taking the turn at Narbethong to Marysville. From Marysville follow Woods Point Road for 11km to Lake Mountain Road. A further 11km and you arrive at Lake Mountain.
Address: Maroondah Hwy, Healesville, Victoria 3777
Call Parks Victoria on 13 1963 or visit www.parks.vic.gov.au
Visitor Information Centre
The Old Courthouse, Harker Street, Healesville 3777
Tel: (03) 5962 2600
Victoria’s National Parks – Printed by Toppan Hong Kong
Web Reference: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/yarra-ranges-national-park
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