Mt Difficult Drive and Walk (14 Oct 2017)

Geoff Stratford

As members gathered at the Boroka Lookout mid-morning in mid-October the lookout was shrouded in cloud giving very limited possibility of catching a glimpse of a view. No matter to FOGG’s, a dozen of us pooled vehicles to tackle the gravel road which had claimed a Parks vehicle, bogged, earlier in the week.

With some hastily arranged road repairs by Parks Vic our group encountered no hint of a problem. In fact the amount of interesting plants and interactions between those present meant we travelled only a small distance compared to that which had potentially been planned. Rodney and Margo had mapped out perhaps five to seven locations which we might stop and observe the flora and environment.

Our first stop seemed less than two kilometres along the Mt Difficult track and it became obvious that we were blessed to have the company of Neil Marriot for this day. While many in the group have great knowledge of the plants of the Grampians, Neil was just so spontaneous in his identification of species and forth coming with extra information he could share with us. ‘this specimen differs from the described species and is pending reclassification and naming as a new variety/species’ he explained to us on a couple of occasions. The range of plants observed and flowering at the time was so extensive and discussion so keen it became obvious that the number of stops was going to have to be limited. The sun was also breaking through making it a classic day to be in the Gramps!

Finally back into vehicles and a kilometre or so further on and it was coffee time before another look through vegetation at the side of the track. Large dense patches of Boronia in flower caught the attention of all of us.

Rodney and his flock

Again the detail of observations and discussions led by Neil captured us all. We also ventured onto some rocky ledges which hosted some different plants but also exposed us to the resting places of a range of animals. Speculation, via scats, was that wallabies and possums frequented these ledges but disappointingly goats probably camped here as well.

Acacia aculeatissima hybridising

This confirmed some observations we had made of preferential grazing of some species by most likely the goats and possibly deer. Along with us humans these ferals pose a threat to our special place.
With time passing rapidly we resolved to head for the start of the Wartook Lookout track and have lunch. The view to the east from the roadside was spectacular to observe while we ate and the plants no less diverse than our previous stops. To our benefit the day had turned into a classic bright sunny one with a cooling southerly breeze to maximise our experience.

Mabel and Neil

Before we set off up the lookout track it was explained that it was being upgraded with rock from the immediate surrounds so that it would not suffer damage or start washaways with the expected increase of foot traffic when the peaks trail passes close by. While not completed, the path was of a very high standard and the walk was well defined and quite easy. More new plants observed along the way as well, which slowed our progress.

Two forms of Epacris impressa

Nearing the top it became obvious why this is such a special location. Lakes Bellfield, Fyans, Lonsdale and Wartook are all in the vista, in fact a unique view of Wartook. Because you are higher than Boroka the scope of the Pyrenees to the east and the plains to the north are more striking. We could also see past Mt Difficult in places to the plains of the west. And of course the ranges to the south basked in the sunshine. To me it was a location that gave me the best impression of the extent of the Grampians that I have observed. Maybe only an aeroplane flight could be more complete.

Check the view

By the time we returned to our vehicles it was agreed we had packed so much into a couple of stops and we were well satisfied to turn for home. A quick count of the species recording list showed more than seventy species had been observed without including the trees and larger shrubs and perhaps some of the smaller ones that were not in flower.

Sharing a laugh

It was most appropriate as we departed that a wedge tailed eagle did some circles overhead to just check we had left his/her place as we found it.

Here is Wendy’s list of plants seen:

  • Acacia acinacea
  • Acacia aculeatissima
  • Acacia obliquinerva
  • Acacia oxycedrus
  • Acacia verniciflua
  • Amperea xiphoclada
  • Banksia saxicola
  • Boronia nana
  • Boronia pilosa
  • Caladenia fuscata
  • Calytrix sullivanii
  • Chrysocephalum baxteri
  • Conospermum mitchellii
  • Coronidium scorpioides
  • Correa aemula
  • Correa reflexa
  • Crassula decumbens
  • Crassula sieberiana
  • Dillwynia sericea
  • Dodonaea viscosa
  • Drosera aberrans
  • Epacris grandiflora
  • Epacris impressa
  • Eucalyptus
  • Gahnia radula
  • Glossodia major
  • Gonocarpus sp
  • Goodenia geniculata
  • Grevillea aquifolium
  • Hibbertia cistiflora
  • Hibbertia fasciculata
  • Hibbertia humifusa
  • Hydrocotyle laxiflora
  • Hydrocotyle sp
  • Hypochaeris radicata*
  • Leptospermum scoparium
  • Leptospermum turbinatum
  • Leucopogon ericoides
  • Leucopogon glacialis
  • Leucopogon rufus
  • Leucopogon thymifolius
  • Lindsaea linearis
  • Lomandra filiformis
  • Luzula meridionalis
  • Melaleuca decussate
  • Olearia myrsinoides
  • Ozothamnus obcordatus
  • Pelargonium rodneyanum
  • Phebalium sp aff bilobum
  • Philotheca verrucosa
  • Phyllanthus hirtellus
  • Pimelea flava
  • Pimelea linifolia
  • Platysace lanceolata
  • Pultenaea mollis
  • Pultenaea scabra
  • Rhytidosporum procumbens
  • Senecio hispidulus
  • Spyridium parvifolium
  • Stellaria pungens
  • Stypandra glauca
  • Styphelia adscendens
  • Tetratheca ciliata
  • Thelionema caespitosum
  • Thryptomene calycina
  • Viola cleistogamoides
  • Xanthosia