Author: Dean Herman
The first weekend of Autumn provided the perfect weather for hiking and after exploring the Murrindindi Scenic Reserve last month, I returned to the Toolangi State Forest to traverse the trails along the western slopes of Mt Tanglefoot.
With time at my disposal, I completed the combined Myrtle Gully Circuit and Tanglefoot Loop with side trips along the Wirrawilla Walk and to Mt St Leonard.
I started at the northern most point along this group of trails, at the Tanglefoot Picnic area. Heading west out of the Picnic area before turning south, I took the higher of the two north-south legs of the circuit (the eastern side). The combination of an early start and elevated ridge line meant the early morning sun had not yet crested the hills and I was treated to the first rays of sun breaking through the fronds of thousands of giant tree ferns. As the path approaches the more exposed sections, be sure to look out for the remaining endangered Mountain Ash Trees.
The journey south took a little over 2 hours ended at the Monda Car Park. As an aside, there are no meaningful facilities at Monda Car Park, but its a useful place to know as it’s a of way point along a number of walks heading south and east towards Donnelly’s Weir, Dom Dom Saddle and others.
At the Monda Car Park, I turned west along Monda Road to the Mt St Leonard Car Park, which forms part of the adjoining Yarra Ranges National Park. From the car park it’s a short but steep walk to the summit of Mt St Leonard where a fire observation tower provides excellent views across the Yarra Valley taking in Kinglake National Park, Mt Macedon, Melbourne and Mt Dandenong.
On the return leg, I followed the westerly leg of the Tanglefoot circuit. From Monda Road the track gradually drops into the valley of Sylvia Creek. As the track descends, it drops in and out of gullies of temperate rainforest and tree ferns. At the bottom of the valley, the Wirrawilla Walk takes a cool, sheltered diversion under the canopy of the rainforest. The facilities here provide the best spot to unpack and rest. Being a constructed boardwalk, this is also the best area for small kids and people with limited mobility in the park.
From Wirrawilla Walk, the track ascends Mt Tanglefoot before meeting the east leg of the circuit and returning to the Tanglefoot Picnic area. On this last leg, be sure to look out for glimpses of Sylvia Creek and the stairs to a small, shaded waterfall.
As with most trails in the Park, the paths I traversed were wide and generally in good condition. There were some obstacles that required reasonable mobility including fallen trees, slippery rocks, and occasional muddy and waterlogged sections however, I found none of these to be significantly challenging. The park has a wide variety of bird and animal species, message boards providing an opportunity to identify many of the species protected by the park. Navigation is straight forward as the park is well sign posted, corresponding well with the Park’s walking trails information sheet. Adverse weather would make conditions more challenging, so do refer to the Park’s information sheets before setting out.
The combined walks totaled approximately 22km’s and took approximately 6 hours to complete and was a very satisfying day.