Ovens River Flats, Killawarra : May 11

On a cloudy Saturday, nine walkers (including myself) undertook a Killawarra walk, incorporating the Ovens River in the Warby Ovens National Park. The destination was a short drive from Wangaratta towards Peechelba accessed by Frosts Crossing Track.
As advertised, this walk is one of the flattest that the club undertakes. The loop involved walking around nearby billabongs, small creeks, and following the Ovens River for one section.

This area of the Park has some mighty old trees. Cheryl was particularly taken with some of the grandiose ones. How old they are is anyone’s guess, and their twisted trunks and branches, abnormal knots and hollows made them look particularly interesting. Not unlike some of our club members, none of whom were in attendance today.

Each body of water we passed was showing signs of little rain, and looking less than healthy for this time of year. Barbara Kingsolver once said, “It seems very safe to me to be surrounded by green growing things and water”. Well I don’t think she would want to be surrounded by the combination of green things growing in the water that I witnessed.

I noted on this walk that we didn’t have one Sandy, Sandi or Sandie walking with us; this is very rare indeed. Today however, we had two Peter’s joining us. And there’s plenty more Peter’s in our club too. And just plain old Peter. No fancy Peta, Petr or Pieter.

Our first turns after Frosts Crossing Track involved Yellow Creek Track, and then Nicklaus Track, and after about an hour of walking, we reached the Ovens River, and the appropriately named Ovens Track.

Morning tea was taken about one kilometre further along, on a pleasant bend on the river. Wildlife is abundant along this walk. A small Kingfisher darted about a huge tree, whose roots were overhanging the river’s edge on the opposite bank. Closer to us we were entertained by a White Throated Tree Creeper. The cockatoos, which were notoriously loud and obtrusive last time, were a little less so on this occasion, perhaps due to the smaller number of them being nearby.

After our break, we continued along the Ovens Track, which hugged the river for the next four kilometres of our walk. It was along this section that Sara noticed some animal droppings. Looking up, the first (yes, I repeat, the first) of today’s koalas was observed. This one was rather close to the ground, sitting comfortably on an exposed main branch, and within great photographing distance. In my years of bushwalking, I have seen more echidnas than koalas, which shows how rare a sight they have been. This one had us mesmerised for a good five minutes. Another three were to be seen later during the afternoon.

One of the less desirable aspects of the walk was the rubbish left behind by inconsiderate users of the Park. Anne took out a garbage bag from her pack and dutifully began collecting rubbish thoughtlessly left behind by others. The most ridiculous thing about this problem is that the litter was no doubt left by people who arrived in cars, and had an easy means of taking their rubbish home with them. By the end of the walk her garbage bag was almost bursting at the seams.

I remember noting last time how the river is quite impressive in its width, and with its large river gum trees. Unlike last time though, today’s cloud cover prevented any picturesque reflections off the water, which was also distinctively lower this time. However, it didn’t prevent two optimistic fishermen in their little dingy from trying their luck. I do believe fish ended up on the menu for dinner that night. From the local takeaway shop.

After a most leisurely 4.5 hours, and about 13km, we reached the starting point, and location of our cars, at Frosts Crossing Track where walkers were rewarded with snakes of the yummy kind, and Pat’s fabulous afternoon tea, complete with urns full of hot water. Your secret is safe with us Pat.

Once again, for some of the walkers this was their first time in this part of the Warby Ovens NP, and it was great to have everyone involved today.

Michael Braendler

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