Toolangi State Forest

Escaping into the hills to explore the quiet stillness of the Toolangi State Forest.

We are, unfortunately, reaching the end of Summer, and so Cindy and I are doing our best to enjoy the last of the good weather by getting out and about in the sunshine.

Both of us are currently trying to save money so we have been looking for things to do that won’t cost much, and getting out into nature is one of the cheapest ways to have a good time without having to spend a dime.

During the week I had done a bit of research to see if I could find some new areas for us to explore, and that’s when Toolangi State Forest popped up. There are heaps of different walking tracks throughout the forest, with the most popular being the Sculpture Trail, Wirrawilla, Yea River, Tanglefoot Track and Myrtle Gully.

We started off with the Wirrawilla walk which is one of the shorter walks at only about 1km long, but was easily the most beautiful and therefore the most popular too. It’s a boardwalk that takes you through the incredible rainforest that takes up a small portion of the overall state forest. We were extremely lucky that it actually wasn’t that busy at all, which I think is because it’s a bit of a well-kept secret.

Now keep in mind that it’s quite a bit cooler up in the mountains so make sure you dress for the weather. It was only 11C when we arrived at about midday, and this was in late February! There are some public toilets available, however be warned that they are VERY basic (i.e. non-flushing) as Cindy found out. And after that horrifying discovery, we were off…

The Wirrawilla walk was definitely the highlight, as it was absolutely gorgeous. The path is a big loop on a boardwalk, although Cindy and I did some sneaky sneakies and jumped off the path here and there to go exploring (we were very careful not to damage anything though).

There are some massive old trees that are breathtaking because they are so tall and wide. We had some fun trying to see which was the biggest we could find, and the below tree ended up the winner.

On the drive to the forest we had stopped off in Yarra Glen to pick up some lunch to take with us. The bakery on the main street was really busy which is always a good sign, so we popped in there to get some fresh sandwiches and rolls made up, and they were REALLY good! We found a lovely bench to sit down and have our lunch about halfway through the boardwalk.

Continuing on a bit further and we came across what looked to be a miniature amphitheater in the middle of the forest. If we had known about it we might have stopped here for lunch instead, but either way it was a great spot to sit for a moment and take in the peace and silence of the forest around us.

Along the way on any of these walks you will come across information boards that have been put up by the DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industries) about the various walking tracks and the sights along the way.

Not far from the end of the loop, we reached a fork in the path that would have taken us back to the beginning, or else lead us onto the Myrtle Gully Circuit. A round trip on this track was about 8km from where we were so we decided to explore for a bit.

We had a great time on this track. It was a gentle uphill climb for some parts and then flat for others which meant that when we decided to turn back, the return trip was an easy downhill walk. Cindy and I each found ourselves a walking stick to carry along the way which proved to be quite handy when it came to spider webs, blackberry bushes and the occasional muddy section.

The highlight of this part of the walk was our discovery of some stone steps down into a small waterfall. This was really fortunate as neither Cindy nor I had brought our water bottles with us (having only planned on doing the Wirrawilla short walk at this stop). If you’re going to drink from a natural water source out in the bush it is imperative that you only drink from fresh running water, never stagnate water as it is most likely contaminated and you’ll end up getting sick.

UPDATE: I went back and did this walk again a few weeks later with my best friend, Lauren. At about the halfway mark there's a picnic table that is the perfect spot for lunch if you haven't already eaten.

Eventually we turned around and headed back to the car park as it was time for us to drive over to the Sculpture Trail that was back down the road a bit. The Sculpture Trail was created in late 2016 with a number of local and international artists creating installations along a 1.5km walking track where the Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre is located.

We had a fun time finding all the various installations and reading up about them on the information boards. They are quite interactive so you can get up close and personal to take your photo with them, as you can see below. There was this Ned Kelly looking structure called Hide…

… or this one called Syzygy (Cindy got chased around by a very determined wasp at this one)…

… and there was this Mongolian Horse sculpture that brought out the rider in me!

We had a truly great day exploring Toolangi State Forest and we are already planning our next trip up there to do the full Wirrawilla, Myrtle Gully and Tanglefoot Tracks hike. If you want to read a bit more about it, this website is a great one to check out: Trail Hiking.

Until next time,

Nat x