Not far past Warrnambool is Tower Hill Nature Reserve, nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano.
The reserve was declared Victoria’s first national park in 1892, but was eventually lost to farming and agriculture.
An unprecedented revegetation project began in the 1960s. Over several decades school children and volunteers planted thousands of trees. As the bush returned, so did the wildlife.
It was a spot I wanted to visit before starting the long trip back to my home in Melbourne’s south-east.
I arrived too early to get a look inside the rather nice-looking visitor centre.
I was wandering through the bush, birds were singing, butterflies flitting, when I hear a quite loud, rather ominous rattling of the undergrowth. I stopped, wondering what it could possibly mean, when suddenly, onto the track in front of me, dropped my first ever emu in the wild.
After the initial shock, I was thrilled. It wandered along in front of me for awhile. I kept my distance; they’re awfully big creatures. Suddenly, more rattling, and another dropped out onto the track.
They wandered very much at their own pace, which was slow, and I wandered behind, till eventually I decided I’d have to get past, otherwise I would have been there all day. I got closer, they pulled to the side of the track, and I edged by and continued my walk.
Tower Hill is a lovely spot if you’re on the road and yearning to stop for a bit of nature.