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Fairy Dell Reserve, Victoria

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Deep in East Gippsland, near Bruthen, Fairy Dell is a conservation reserve off Deep Creek Road. It's connected to the Princes Highway by roughly 5km of dirt roads. After the roads have been graded it's fine for 2WD but outside of that it can get a little hairy in places so it's best to take a 4WD.

I've been here a couple of times prior to the 2019/20 bushfires which sadly decimated this little pocket of forest. It had gorgeous red and white button mushrooms and a huge variety of succulents, mosses, and cacti to enjoy. Back then it was quite an open spread of forest with plenty of space between the trees and ferns - you could see quite a way into the distance through the trees.

On arrival in May 2023, it could not be more different. It is now decidedly overgrown! It's extremely dense forest. No bush-bashing required though - as you can see from the pictures the paths are very well-defined. The major difference of course is the trees. There are plenty remaining that are blackened and burnt.

My biggest question when I learned the fire had run through there was if the famous hollow tree in the car park had survived. It's a gorgeous whopper with a lovely cobwebby interior that's great for testing your fears... I was thrilled to discover that while blackened and missing a few layers of bark the big hollow tree remains to to this day. For those wondering, yes, the spiders appear to have moved back in.

Post-fires the reserve is a lot more visitor friendly and features a modern toilet block, picnic benches, camp fire, hand rails... you name it. It's a great spot for a quiet picnic with the family - although there aren't really any grand views. The appeal of this place is in the small details. I'm talking fungi. It's not in your face - in fact, it's entirely possible to walk through and not notice a single one. This is the kind of place that rewards the people who pause to investigate.

For some people hiking is all about the destination. It's about calculating the distance, knowing how much weight you're carrying and then giving it your all to complete it in a certain time. Personally, I'd rather enjoy the scenery. A lot of my walks outside of big hikes or training walks are like this one. I meander. I stop to listen to the birds and I enjoy the small details along the way. A particular highlight of Fairy Dell is the huge flock of King Parrots that call it home. They fossick amongst the treetops and little berries and leaves pepper the forest floor as they feast. It's quiet and peaceful and most of the time, it's just you and them - with the odd wallaby or wombat.

For a slow nature ramble I can't go past Fairy Dell as a great option. Definitely keen to find more isolated little spots like this one. It can be tricky as most of the appeal lies in the lack of popularity but I'll keep you posted if I find any good contenders.


Want to hear more? Hiking adventures continue on my blog:

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