northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina
Warby-Ovens National Park
including Killawarra Forest
The Warbys is a steep-scarped range which extends for about 25 km north from Glenrowan in north-east Victoria.
Warby-Ovens National Park is about two hours drive north from Melbourne along the Hume
Freeway, an hour east of Shepparton and two hours east of Echuca via
Devenish or St. James. Officially opened late in June 2010, park includes much of the Warby Range and forest alongside the lower Ovens River.
From the highest points, excellent views can be obtained of the surrounding plains.
This new 14,655 hectare national park includes the former Warby Range State Park, Killawarra State Forest, Lower Ovens
State Forest, Lower Ovens Regional Park and Peechelba Flora Reserve.
For many years, parts of the Warby Range were in a State Park.
The vegetation of the Warby Range is characterised by a mosaic of open forests dominated, in places, by Blakely's Redgum, Red Stringybark and a range of Box species. Small communities of White Cypress Pine occur on the western side, e.g. near Pine Gully camp ground.
To the north, Killawarra and Boweya Forest are dominated by Mugga Ironbarks with their black, furrowed trunks Killawarra and Boweya forests are strikingly different from the granitic hills woodland of the Warby Range and from the Red gum forest, billabongs and wetlands of the Lower Ovens River.
Other plant species in the park include the Austral Grass-tree, with its long "skirt" and black trunk, and the hardy Spurwinged Wattle.
To gain an impression of the varying nature of the landscape, motorists might take a short round trip starting at Ryan's Lookout and drive along Gerrett Road before linking up with Adam's Track and the Thoona Road. To help gain a picture of Killawarra Forest, it is also worth driving north onto Boweya Road and taking Camp Road to Forestry Camp.
The Killawarra Forest, an
ironbark forest to the north of the original State Park, was added to the State Park late in 2002. Until it became part of the park, Killawarra Forest was heavily logged for its Ironbark. After its inclusion into the park was announced, there was a transition period before logging ceased.
The best time to visit is in Spring when the wildflower display is at
its best. Another good time to walk in the Warbys is late Autumn but
the creeks and falls are usually dry.
Late in 2009, public land along the Ovens River was added to the park system and the park upgraded to National Park status. The Ovens is still a relatively wild river insofar as it has no major dam. The fact that it still floods at times is of critically importance to the health of the Barmah-Millewa Forest which relies on occasional flooding for its continued existence. The Ovens River is lined by River Red Gum Forest with an understorey of Silver Wattle, Dwarf Native Cherry (Exocarpus stricta) and other shrubs. Slightly higher land which floods less often is dominated by Black Box whereas Grey Box dominates areas which do not flood.
The Park comprises sections which are not contiguous and there is little likelihood o consolidation because most of the surrounding land is privately owned and cleared of the bulk of its original vegetation. Much of the private land has been cropped or used for orchards or vineyards.
a Click here to download a copy of Parks Victoria Warby-Ovens National Park Visitor Guide
One of the
most interesting parts of the park is Pine Valley. There are toilet facilities in the Pine Valley picnic ground.
A nature circuit
can be walked from Pine Gully Picnic Area, off Wangaratta-Thoona Road, 4.5km west of Ryans Lookout. The one kilometre Pine Gully Nature Walk provides a good introduction to the plants and animals of the Warbys. The walk takes an hour to complete and is suitable for those with a reasonable level of fitness or better: it is steep in places. The walk is best done in Spring when there may still be some water in the creek and when there may be a good wildflower display. White Cypress Pine is the dominant tree seen from much of the walking track. It prefers sandy soil.
Between Pine Valley and Wenhams is a locality known as Black Spring. Koalas are often sighted near the waterhole. During dry weather, many birds come in to the waterhole to drink.
A large but
lightly-used free camping area, Wenhams, is located near Mt. Warby.
Birding is particularly good near Wenhams Camp. This is an excellent
area to search for the endangered, attractive Turquoise Parrot. At dawn
and dusk, it is an excellent spot to see kangaroos.
Friends of the Park have constructed a walking track to highlight some of the plants and views. Allow a full half day for this walk.
Friends Track is a 4.6km walking circuit that commences at Wenhams,
south of the camping ground.
Post 1: Eucalyptus macrorhynchia (Red Stringybark) and Xanthorrhoea
australis (Grass Tree).
There are 11 species of Eucalypts in the Warbys. Eucalyptus goniocalyx (Long-leaf Box) is the one growing here.
Post 3: Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red Box) is one of five box species
in the Warbys. It grows here alongside Acacia rubida (Red-stem Wattle).
In Spring up to 40 species of orchids can be seen. Some grow near
On this granitic outcrop grows Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's
Red Gum) and Acacia triptera (Spurwing Wattle).
This thick scrub layer includes Acacia buxifolia (Box-leaf
Wattle), Calytrix tetragona (Common Fringe Myrtle) and Grevillea alpina.
The top of Mt Warby. In summer, look for the pretty blue flowers of Rock isotome (Isotome axillaris) and the orange flowers of Flat-leaf Bus Pea (Pultenaea platyphylla).
This old Red Box (E. polyanthemosis) is home of sugar gliders.
In the gully is a creek which flows after heavy rain. Note the grass
trees (Xanthorrhoea australia) on the opposite slope.
At Gilbert's Gully, the creek plunges into the valley below. The side
track to Kwat Kwat Lookout is worth taking.
This is a copse of Drooping She-oaks (Allocasuarina verticillata). Male
and female flowers are on different trees.
track back to the campsite. A colony of Babblers lives near where the
track crosses a creek (in the large clearing).
the Warby Range, you can stay in a delightful privately-owned cottage,
Kurringai Cottage (03 5725 3270), which is set in two acres of native
gardens. This is also a good staging post for visiting Beechworth Historic
Park and Chiltern Box-ironbark National Park.
or worse, the Park is fragmented by private properties, most of which have been cleared for farming, vineyards or orchards. The Killawarra ironbark forest
lies to the north of the largest section of the former State Park. It was added to the State Park in 2002. Because of heavy logging, it will take many decades for the forest to fully recover.
in 2002, relatively little of this type of forest was protected in national
parks and reserves. It was claimed by some that only five hectares of old-growth ironbark forest remained
~ in a flora reserve near St. Arnaud ~ so it is understandable that this forest
was added to the parks system so that ironbarks can grow to maturity
and provide nectar and nesting holes for honey eaters, parrots, the
Tuan, sugar gliders, possums and other animals.
In the 1990's, the box-ironbark ecosystem
was seen to be under threat and so there were calls for its conservation.
The rare Tuan (Phascogale)
is believed to exist in the Killawarra Forest and this is just one reason
why this forest is to be protected. There are many unsightly stumps
in the Killawarra and in places clear felling has occurred. Hopefully,
time will repair much of the damage.
A focal spot for visitors has been an old forestry camp, now converted into a picnic ground, and called Forest Camp.
Created by the Wangaratta Garden Club, a wildflower circuit walk commences at Forest Camp and can be completed in about an hour.
4km circuit commences at Forest Camp in the heart of the Killawarra Forest.
This forest is one of the largest remaining stands of ironbark in Victoria.
The track is through box and ironbark forest. Trees include Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus triptera),
Grey Box (E. microcarpa), Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha),
and Blakely's Red Gum (E. blakelyi), each of which is clearly
sign posted. The track heads south to an old sawmill site and its concrete
wells before turning back to the north.
to November, Australia's floral emblem, Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha and A. verniciflua are in
bloom. Grevillea alpina (see photo),
Shrubs include Spider Flower (Grevillea alpina), Grey Guinea Flower (Hibbertia
obtusifolia) (yellow), Daphne Heath Brachyloma daphnioides (cream), Brunonia australis (blue ~ herb) and Podolepis jaceoides (yellow ~ herb) add colour.
There are many species of native orchids.
There are also many animals
and birds to look out for, including the endangered Regent Honeyeater. Listen
for the rustle of an Echidna (Spiny Ant Eater) on the ground and the
grunts of the Koala. Kangaroos and wallabies are quite common.
map: Warby Range 8125-3-1 1:25,000 (VicMap).
Warby State Park Page
Ovens River Section
The new expanded park includes River Red Gum wetlands alongside the Ovens Rive which provides a wildlife corridor from the Warbys to the Murray River.
Red Gum forests on public land alongside the Murray River in Victoria have also been included in a new Red Gum park called Murray River Park.
A popular spot on the Ovens River is Parolas Bend, which is located where the Murray Valley Highway crosses the Ovens River at Boorhaman North.
The dominant tree in the Lower Ovens section of the enlarged park is River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Under storey plants include Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata), River Bottlebrush (Callistemon sieberi), Chinese Scrub (Cassinia arcuata), Grey Parrot-pea (Dillwynia cinerascens) and native grasses.
On sand rises, White Cypress Pine (Callitris glaucophylla) tends to be the dominant tree.
Plants of higher ground include Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), Yellow Box (E. melliodora), Buloke, Sweet Bursaria, Gold-dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea) and Black-anther Flax-lily (Dianella revoluta).
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The notes above outline possible bushwalks. Walking tracks include the Friends Walking Circuit from Wenhams picnic ground (see Warby Range section), the Wildflower Walking Circuit from Forest Camp (see Killawarra Forest Section) and a Nature Circuit from the Pine Valley picnic ground.
one-way 17km day walk can be taken from Pine Valley along an old track to Adams
Road and then along Skeet Track and via Black Springs to Wenhams Camp:
a detailed map is essential. Unfortunately, a longish stretch of the walk needs to be on a road from the end of Skeet Track to Black Spring. From Black Spring, a road needs to be followed for a short distance. It is then possible to walk through some bush to join up with the Friends Track which leads to Wenhams. A car shuttle is necessary. Walkers might stay at Wenhams overnight.
It is relatively easy to design a circuit day walk in Killawarra Forest. The Wildflower Walk could be incorporated and the walk might start and end at Forest Camp. Alternatively, Forest Camp could be used as the lunch spot.
Cinnamon Fungus is a problem in parts of this park, so access to some areas is discourage or not permitted. Bushwalkers are urged to take precautions to help prevent the spread of this fungus, e.g. thoroughly cleaning boots before and after walking in this area.
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Potential threats facing the park
- climate change, resulting in increased temperatures, reduced rainfall and increased incidence of storms
timber management (e.g. failure to remove thickets of saplings, failure to control firewood collection)
- lack of policing and enforcement of park rules, resulting in tree removal, fires, rubbish deposition, vandalism
- weed encroachment
animals (e.g. rabbits, brumbies, pigs)
- Cinnamon Fungus: several areas of the park are infected and many plants have died as a result.
Warby Range Ovens River National Park
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