What really appealed to me at Tower Hill National Park
was the indigenous presence. Relics found in ash layers indicate that Aboriginal people occupied this area since the volcano eruption 30,000 years ago.
You can see why the descendants of the Gunditjmara people have a close connection to this traditional land. This was a rich source of food, fibre and materials. It is now a tranquil location for a walk, picnic or immersion into indigenous culture. The beauty of this place was appreciated by all of us.
Unfortunately we were too late to do the Aboriginal guided tours. We were keen to discover bush tucker and learn a bit more about Aboriginal history.
Considered fortunate by the children was news by another tourist that a snake had been spotted on a walking track and that was the start of our adventure seeking snakes. The staff member of the history centre had identified it as one of the resident Copperheads- the 12th most venomous in the world. We were told, with a great deal of affection, that they were sluggish, not aggressive but potent.
Also common to the reserve are carpet snakes – the 4th most venomous in the world. Likely spots to find these snakes were marked on our map. It did occur to me that some people might not choose our same path.
We were warned by the staff not to leave the track because snakes slept under the foliage. We didn't mean to but we got lost. We were heading for the boardwalk where snakes frequent. The tree ferns were high and the stick sounded ridiculously loud when I stood on it. This was definitely not a track.
There are several self guided walks taking from 30mins -2 hours. They are fairly well sign posted but somehow we still took the wrong one. It meant we walked for almost 2 hours, which is about 1 hour 50 minutes too long for me!
Some of the tracks are steep but the volcanic landscape the scenery and abundant wildlife is notable and worth the hike. Even to the untrained ear it's easy to recognise and appreciate several different bird noises.
We did manage to locate a long snake sunning itself on a rock about 2 metres from the track. There were quite a few lizards also enjoying the sunshine but the highlight was the echidna foraging for a meal. It's so much better to see these in the wild than in a zoo.
Look carefully for the snake
The historic centre was worth visiting. The staff answered our many questions and I was pleased to see that the shop stocked authentic Aboriginal artwork by Worn gundidj
people. Items included wooden souvenirs, clothing, kitchenware, bags and cushions. Aboriginal wares, such as didgeridoos and boomerangs, produced by other tribes were also sold there. Indigenous artists do daily demonstrations.
The children loved handling the items in the touch cabinet. We spent quite some time pawing over possum fur, axe heads, grinding stones, a woven basket and some items we were unsure of their name and purpose.
Friends of the Tower Hill support management of the flora and fauna with Parks Victoria. They are actively engaged with educating community and school groups. Since 1961 they have planted 300,000 scrubs, trees, herbs and grasses. We all enjoyed the natural beauty and features of Tower Hill National Park even more than we expected to.