Thursday, September 11, 2014

Branching out: a walk along the Leigh

Over the past fortnight, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to walk along a section of the Yarrowee/Leigh River above the Junction Bridge near Mt Mercer, accompanied by the land owner. I am intending to look at the Junction Bridge in a separate post so for now I will focus on the section of river which we walked along.
The first walk (and the topic of this post) saw us start near the bridge and walk along the western bank for about 2.5km.
The land along this part of the river, despite having been altered by white settlement, retains a wide variety of natural diversity which was eagerly pointed out to us. In addition to the flora and fauna, there are also a number of manmade changes to the surrounding landscape.

Mullock heap
One notable human remnant is a large mullock heap, the tailings from a mining venture along the banks of the river. Scattered through the area are many shallow diggings which mark places where miners have tested the ground in their search for gold.

A natural beach on the opposite bank
The river itself, is narrow and in many places quite shallow, however this can vary depending on the season with river levels rising dramatically and quickly during times of flood. One feature which was pointed out to us was a distinctive ledge which marked the edge of a basalt flow, a visible reminder of the volcanic plains through which the Barwon and its tributaries flow towards the sea.
Basalt flow running down to the river
The Leigh carves a path through the basalt
Reflections
Further upstream is a striking stand of Candlebarks (aka Eucalyptus rubida) with their pale trunks and piles of bark shed by the tree which cluster at the bottom, giving the impression (according to Wikipedia) of a candle stub. It was pointed out to us how clear of undergrowth the ground beneath the Candlebarks was, in contrast to other parts of the surrounding bushland which were carpeted by grasses and bracken.
The Candlebarks


Although much of the native flora is evident, also to be seen are a number of pervasive weeds such as blackberry, gorse, periwinkle and wattle trees. Whilst ongoing attempts have been made over the years to clear the land of these pervasive pests, nearby crown land has not been likewise maintained, meaning that reinfestation is a continuous battle.
Looking towards the conjunction of Upper Williamsons Creek and the
Leigh (notice the gorse bushes with their yellow flowers)
The above picture was taken roughly near the confluence of Williamsons Creek and the river which above the confluence is known as the Yarrowee River and below it as the Leigh. This was roughly then end point of our first walk.
Our second walk will be the subject of a future post.