Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what

Organ Pipes NP – April 2013

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We’ve been talking about checking out the Organ Pipes National Park ever since I started visiting Melbourne somewhat regularly back in 2009.

I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve driven by it, but in our defence, there’s not much to see from the road because it’s mostly below the level of the surrounding Keilor plains. I have probably taken off over it from Melbourne airport just as many times for that matter, and looking down, marvelled at how the land just seems to fall away into these gullies and chasms.

P948 - Old sign from road

Organ Pipes NP from the Calder Freeway – easy to overlook

The catalyst for this (our first) expedition to the Organ Pipes NP was a post on Parks Victoria’s Facebook page saying “Ranger Joe” had – at considerable personal effort – made two new tracks with hand-held tools. Due to various factors using machinery wasn’t possible.

It’s a small National Park of just over 120 hectares (~300 acres) although the walking tracks that we found seemed to be concentrated to an even smaller section of this area. The geological feature, the basalt ‘organ pipes’, that gives that park its name was formed by very slowly cooling lava a few years back (about a million years, give or take) that spilt into vertical columns as it cooled. The other park features have also formed in the same way. Parks Victoria have put together a very interesting history of the park here.

P944 - Park Entrance

Organ Pipes Nation Park (I didn’t get a photo on the way in)

We found we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the lovely autumn day. There were quite a few cars in the car park. And it wasn’t long before we realised just how close the park is to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport!

P902 - Watching planes take off from car park

At the car park, watching a plane taking off

It’s when you’re heading towards the city that you really appreciate how close the two places are…

P949 - New sign from road & airport

The end of Tullamarine’s east west runway is only a couple of kilometres from the NP

So if peace and tranquility is what you’re after while communing with nature, you’d be best to chose another spot.

P904 - Park infomation buildings

Park information display & visitor centre

P906 - Top of the hill

Heading down the management track

Not sure if this is the proper way to go down, but it’s the way everyone else was going down & coming up, so…

P907 - type of rock in area

I guess this is volcanic rock and soil. Looks tough to grow on.

P910 - Wedge-tailed eagle

A wedge-tailed eagle

We were quite pleased to see three Wedge-tailed eagles today. That’s always something special for us city-folk.

P911 - path

Walking track

We’d reached the bottom of the hill. This is what the track is like – pretty cruisey. There are a lot of dead trees in some parts – I’m not sure if that’s Parks Victoria killing off non-native species or something else. The eucalypts looked healthy enough.

P913 - Rosetta stone

Stephen in front of Rosette Stone

First landmark ticked off within about 1min of getting to the bottom of the hill – the Rosette Stone.

P915 - Rosetta stone close up

Close up of Rosette Stone

Instead of forming vertical columns, here the basalt has somehow formed a structure that looks like the spokes on a wheel.

P916 - RG10

Is it a bird box? A possum box?

We saw lots of these boxes. I don’t know what RG stands for. River Red Gum? Sugar Gliders have been reintroduced to the area, so maybe some of the boxes are for them. Not all the boxes are the same size – nor have the same sized holes, nor are all the holes located at the front of the box.

P923 - RG12

RG12 – obviously for a different species than for RG10

P929 - Bird box with logo

This one had a logo of a wedge-tailed eagle with words that I couldn’t make out on the front.

There are (or at least used to be) bat roosting boxes in the park. We didn’t spot any today, but I hope there is still good populations of bats in the area. There were 7 species of micro bats recorded by R Irvine & R Bender in 1995 – see ‘Initial results from bat roosting boxes at Organ Pipes National Park‘.

Next attraction on the bill (about 100m or so away) was the Tesselated Pavement. (Pavement – how exciting does that sound?)

P918 - Tesselated pavement w Stephen

Stephen carefully approaching the Tesselated Pavement

P920 - Stephen on Tesselated Pavement w creek

Pavement conquered!

These stones were formed in the same way that the formation known as the Organ Pipes were (that we’ll get to next), but have been worn down from the top by the action of the creek flowing over them.

P922 - stones further along creek

More of these basalt rocks up around the bend that are exposed but aren’t so eroded

P926 - Creek

It’s quite nice along the creek

P930 - creek & bird box

There are 6 amphibian species reported in the park’s management report (from 1998)

P934 - Stephen pointing at Organ Pipes

Stephen’s found the Organ Pipes!

P936 - Organ Pipes w reflection

Each ‘pipe’ would probably be up to about 50cm across

We’d now ticked off each of the ‘must see’ features of the park. Still no sign of the new tracks. There is another path that follows the creek around further, but it appears to be a dead-end, so we headed back up to the car park.

P937 - maintenance track back uphill

Heading back uphill

It’s not too steep walking back up, and not too far. Our whole walk had taken almost right on 45min. Here’s a map of our route.

P945 - field next to park entrance

View to the left exiting the park

Although it was only a short outing, we left feeling like we’ve now ticked that park off the list, and slightly disappointed that there weren’t any signs indicating “new tracks this way”.

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Author: Dayna

I'm interested in nature, hiking and photography - but these have been somewhat overwhelmed by a new passion... my Brompton folding bikes! You can follow me on Twitter: @daynaa2000 or @Brompton_MEL Or find me hanging out most Saturdays at Velo Electric & Folding (http://velocycles.com.au/folding-bikes/) or on a Melbourne Brompton Club ride! (https://melbournebromptonclub.wordpress.com)

2 thoughts on “Organ Pipes NP – April 2013

  1. We too headed down the road at first but I guess we got lucky in that we went to the pipes first, then rosette, then finally tesselated pavement. If you continue through the pavement and round past the overhanging rocks, there is a rough path back up to the car park. There is a sign at the top and bottom but unless you’re already on the track you’d never see it.

    The other track is harder to find. On a second visit (the kids loved it) if you head down towards the pipes then follow the path that goes past the toilet block, with the river still on your left, you walk along by the river and eventually to another steep ascent. This track is unsigned from the bottom but does have a sign at the top – again in a place you would never see it. It provides some spectacular views overlooking the creek and probably isn’t for anyone who doesn’t like heights! Finally emerges up near the back of the visitor centre.

    A few find the first path I mentioned but we saw no-one on the second.

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