I write again about the delights to be found in Arthurs Seat State Park. This time my boots take me on a 1km loop around Kings Falls. The start point can be accessed from Waterfall Gully Road, Arthurs Seat, or alternatively, you can do the longer walk from Seawinds Gardens. The highlights of the loop walk include a boardwalk through a lush fern gully, views into a heavily forested valley, and the falls themselves.
This loop is part of my regular walk, which I commence at Seawinds Gardens, and I will do a post next week on the track that links the two ends together. But for now, l focus on the Kings Falls loop, starting at Waterfall Gully Road, Arthurs Seat.
I follow the sign-posted track in an anti-clockwise direction. My footsteps fall silently on the thick layer of needle-like foliage, shed from the dense stand of Black Sheoak that line the pathway. The wind whispers eerily through their branches, the silence dense and absorbing, like a pine forest. A few Grass Trees are scattered in the understory, but the vegetation is otherwise quite sparse.
I am glad to emerge out into the sunshine. Leaving the shade behind, I stand at a lookout opposite Kings Falls, and get my first glimpse of them. I am surprised by the length of their drop, and despite having little water coursing down at this time of year, they are still quite impressive. This is the only viewpoint of the falls from a distance, so if you’re lucky enough to have a zoom lens, now’s your chance for a photo.
I follow the track along the ridge-line from the lookout. The vegetation changes considerably, as this side of the valley faces north. It is quite dry here, and the presence of Cherry Ballart indicates the soil is quite impoverished. In order to establish itself, it forms a symbiotic relationship with the plants around it, gaining nutrients from their tree-roots. Apparently the wood was used by Aboriginal tribes to make spear throwers. So if you’re in the market for one, you’ll now know what material to make it with.
The track heads into a grassy woodland. It is dominated by Messmate Stringybark, Blackwood, Silver Banksia, and a lush covering of forest grasses. I catch a glimpse of the valley below through the tree-line. The white trunks of Manna Gum are almost luminous against the background of lush green foliage, glistening in the sun. Ghost-like forms of dead trees are scattered along the ridge-line, creating screeching posts for the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo.
I arrive at the platform that overlooks Kings Falls. Below me I can hear the sound of water tinkling, as it cascades down over a series of rock shelves. There is little flow at this time of year, but in winter the falls are much more impressive. The view out across the thickly treed valley is beautiful in the morning sun, and it’s hard to believe that the towns of Dromana and Rosebud lie directly behind this pocket of wildness. My hiking partner and I have occasionally bought the Trangia stove up here with us when doing hiking training, and we sit here and boil up a cuppa and enjoy the view, and think about the ‘poor’ people at work back in the office. 🙂
I drag myself away from the captivating vista, and head on. My favourite part of the walk is ahead; my ‘sit spot’. This is where I sit still for 20 minutes or so, and tune in to the forest frequency. I round the bend in the track and step on to the boardwalk. It snakes it way through a lush, fern gully heavily shaded with a forest of trees. I find my spot on the little bridge, remove my pack, and sit down on the timber boards.
I sit still and let the silence catch up to me. It glides smoothly in behind me, its fluidity almost tangible, and within seconds I am enclosed inside a precious bubble of stillness. My thoughts evaporate in an effervescent burst and I feel time slipping down between the timber slats of the boardwalk beneath me. As my awareness expands I feel as light as a sponge and my senses awaken to absorb my surroundings.
The long linear lines of Blackwood trunks rise upwards to the sky. They fill the overhead canopy with a burst of lacy green foliage that contrasts sharply with the blue of the sky. A huge old Messmate Stringybark dominates the space to the left of me, its gnarly weathered branches contorting outwards from the trunk as though trying to reach out and steal the forest. Soft layers of Austral Bracken Fern tumble down the gentle slope towards me, filling in the gaps around stands of Prickly-Currant Bush and Sweet Busaria. A tiny nest sits poised in a cascade of branchlets above me, its scale and symmetry as delicate as a miniature china tea-cup.
A small creek cuts a hidden path through the layers of forest greenery. its crystal clear water sneaking out into the open as it trickles over moss-covered rocks. An ancient Tree Fern punctuates the curvaceous edge of the creek, the rigid stems of its long green fronds sticking out of its trunk like pins in a pincushion. Lush ferns tumble over decaying logs thickly carpeted in a layer of moss and decomposing vegetation, creating a collection of forest ephemera seemingly from a pre-historic era. The cool air emanating from this underbelly of the forest is infused with the intricate scent of a thousand tiny mysteries that have percolated down through the ages.
The forest is rife with the passing of gossip among a family of White-Browed Scrub Wrens. Their chatter fills the forest as they flitter noisily through hidden pockets of space among the Bracken understorey. I watch a White-Throated Treecreeper track an upward spiral around the circumference of a Narrow-Leaf Peppermint Gum, its beak tapping into the fissures in the bark with the repetition of a Woodpecker. A Grey Fantail darts past me, a string of fluty notes left trailing in its wake. A flock of Crimson Rosellas make an unexpected stop in the canopy above, their raucous chatter cutting through the forest as loudly as a gaggle of school girls in the back of a bus.
Beneath the layers of social chit-chat a tranquil stillness seeps out from the gaps between the foliage, as potent as the essence of life itself. Sanctuary is offered here, in the protective arms of the forest, its embrace as soft and tender as the tightly-coiled fiddles emerging from the heart of a Tree Fern. The golden morning light filtering through the trees throws a lacy shawl around my shoulders, and I feel myself effortlessly slipping into the timeless void of the forest.
My phone timer rudely awakens me before I am lost to the forest forever. I throw my pack on and walk up, out of the gully and through the grassy woodland. The track drops down to a short boardwalk that leads through a stand of Tea-Tree and Scrambling Coral Fern.
I walk through the stand of Black Sheoak near the start of the walk, and it’s done. Another foray into the wilds is over, and I return once more to civilisation. And to a nice hot latte made at home, with freshly ground coffee beans……mmmmm. I can already smell it.
Where: Kings Falls, Waterfall Gully Road, Arthurs Seat, in Arthurs Seat State Park.
Distance: 1 km
Time: 20 minutes, or longer if you linger!