Red Gum Walk Working Bee – May 12

A moist but not quite drizzly day saw a group of us doing our annual maintenance work on this track down in the Victoria Valley. The weather meant we could do weeding and pruning quite easily, but replacing worn out signs proved difficult and we had to give up on this planned task. Once we reached the remains of what used to be the huge drive- through tree we decided to see whether we could find where the track used to continue before the 2006 fire. with not too much difficulty we could, and made our way back to our picnic table to discuss what we saw as the future of the walk.
It was extremely useful to have both longterm members and more recent folk there. For longterm members like myself, there is so much sentiment attached to the walk that we see it quite differently to those who don’t know the history. For us oldies, it was one of the earliest of our projects. Sue McInnes loved the Victoria valley and its red gum forests. She saw that all the walking tracks were on the ranges, and so involved climbing and that we could build an interesting flat walk for the disabled which would also highlight this special environment. So we set to work clearing the barbed wire fences remaining from the pastoral leases, we built a track through the huge tree for my husband Kees to ride through in his wheelchair, we designed and erected explanatory signage, Bill Neve constructed¬† a huge red gum wheelchair accessible picnic table. It was a truly beautiful much loved place.
But then came the fire on the 23 January 2006. It swept through killing almost every tree, most of them fell. Our table survived, only to be stolen soon after. Fire recovery money enabled us to re-open the track as far as the tree, and to put in some fire related interpretive signage, and Bill built us a new picnic table but with the charm gone we have done very little work since then, and it will be many years before the seedlings are fully mature. It is of concern that so far there is little sign of the hakeas and banksias regrowing, probably due to deer, but no shortage of titree.  
We were interested in what the newer members thought. The consensus was that we should continue to maintain the track as far as the tree, but not to ask that the longer track be re-opened. There was some thought that it would not be too difficult to make it a bike track for children to explore and learn, as there are still quite a few signs that could interest them. Rain brought an abrupt end to our discussions. When the forest dries out later in the year, a couple of us plan to return to finish the repairs to the signage.