I'm a writer who lives in Australia. I also run a business as a Virtual Assistant and enjoy nature photography. You can find out more about me KathieThomas.com. If you enjoyed this article please subscribe.
Published June 27th 2013
Make it quiet
I was asked in another article about finding good tracks to walk on in the Dandenong Ranges. As a relative newcomer to the area I can't say I've walked them all yet, but I have walked a good number of tracks.
Some of my favourite places are Lysterfield Lake Park, Birdsland Reserve, Lilydale Lake, Sherbrooke Forest/Grants Picnic Grounds, Rhododendron Gardens, Cloudeview Nursery and Rangeview Gardens, 1,000 Steps, Upper Ferntree Gully, but there are so many others.
I believe the best times to walk, if you want to see birdlife and wildlife are 2-3 hours after sunrise and about 1-1.5 hours before sunset. This is when nature is at its most active, feeding, foraging for food, enjoying the parks and paths before there are too many humans roaming around, or after the humans have begun to disappear.
But there are other things I highly recommend you do:
Wear clothing that is dark coloured or natural coloured, i.e. browns, greens, oranges, etc. You want to blend into the surroundings so you don't stick out like a sore thumb.
Walk quietly. I don't know how many times I've walked on one side of the lake at Lysterfield, only to be able to clearly hear others on the other side of the lake. Seems the whole world must know whatever their business is. If I can hear them, so can all the wildlife and birdlife.
Keep your ears open for sounds of movement and tread carefully. Notice when something is moving that normally wouldn't be - a branch swinging, grass standing back up, leaves falling in one place. A twig cracking. These are all possible signs of life very nearby.
One time I went for a hike with my husband up Hall Track in Kallista (Sherbrooke Forest) and we could hear people talking, with a lady very loudly pronouncing she was bored, they'd not seen anything and when could they go home. When the group of four came into view she had very bright white hair, an even brighter pink top and a very loud voice. No wonder they'd not seen anything! She should have put something on her head that was natural earthen colour and worn different clothing. Oh, and kept her voice down low. We had been walking that same track only minutes before and did see both birdlife and wildlife. It's there, if you're looking for it.
Two young bucks box fighting at Lysterfield Lake Park
I also suggest that you get hold of a Dandenong Ranges Activities Map from a map shop so you can plan your walks. Be aware that many have steep grades and good solid walking boots or shoes will be needed, and possibly something to aide your walking so you don't go for a slide downhill. As I'm a keen nature photographer I often have a monopod for those kind of walks, to give me a third foot and leg, so to speak.
Hi Kathie.. I don't know if you remember me, but we used to talk photo's some time ago. Your article caught my eye because I wrote a similar one about the Bunya Mountains just the other day. I am new here, and seems you are too. I still miss the Dandenong's having grew up close by and still haven't been back to visit yet, but really must get to do that one day.