Foster, once a bustling gold mining town known as Stockyard Creek, is one of a few Victorian country towns that have substantial areas of public land within their boundaries. Walking is one of the best ways to explore the walking tracks that link together to lead you through numerous flora reserves. You can do individual walks separately, or link them to form a longer walk.
The walks begin very close to the centre of town, from the carpark behind the main shopping area, or from McDonald Street. The area features a rich diversity of plants and animals, and pays homage to our gold mining history.
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Plants and Wildlife
The flora reserves support lowland forest and swamp scrub. As extensive clearing has occurred, the vegetation regrowth is quite young. Lowland forest is dominated by Messmate, Narrow Leaf Peppermint and Mountain Grey Gums, with an understorey of shrubs including Narrow-leaf Wattle, Prickly Mosses, Prickly Teak-tree and Common Heath, and aground cover of Wire Grass and Bracken. Swamp Scrub consists of dense thickets of Swamp Paperbark, with an understorey of Mat Rush, Bidgee-Widgee, mosses, lichen and Geranium species.
These reserves are home to Echidnas, Koalas, Wombats and Ringtail Possums, Wallabies, Pygmy Possums, and the Antechinus (native mouse) also live here. Bird life to watch for are Grey Fantails, Crimson Rosellas, Pardalotes, Wrens, Grey Thrushes and Golden Whistlers.
Bratuaulong Walking Track
Incorporates Cody Gully Walk and Ophir Hill Walk, is accessed from McDonald Street – see below.
900 metres, 15 minutes return. This walk begins very close to the centre of town, from the car park behind the main shopping centre. This walk will take you over Kaffir Hill and past the site of Victory Mine, Foster’s largest gold mine. By crossing McDonald Street, you ca continue onto the Cody Gully Walk, which forms part of the Bratualong Walking Track.
New Zealand Hill
Situated north of the South Gippsland Highway, NZ Hill can be accessed opposite the Comfort Inn Motel or off Ameys Track. Several tracks meander through the reserve, which are ideal for a gentle stroll cycling or horse riding, with many tracks taking you past historic gold mining features. One of these is Horse Works, which is a horse-drawn wheel that was used to crush quartz. New Zealand Hill was named after five New Zealand miners who worked on the gold claims on the hill.
Cody Gully Walk
1 km, 20 minutes return (part of the Bratualong walking track).
Entering from McDonald Street, this walk has only a gentle slope and is suitable for walkers of any fitness level. It will take you through Peppermint, Banksias, Tea Tree, Paperbarks and Ferns. Cody Gully was named after Michael Cody, who worked one of the first claims here in 1871 with Francis Doran.
Ophir Hill Walk
0.9 km, 20 minutes return (part of the Bratualong walking track).
Continuing on from half way around Cody Gully Walk, Ophir Hill Walk will take you past remnants from the days of gold mining, such as hand-dug trenches and forests of Eucalypts species including Stringybarks, Mountain Grey Gum, and Peppermints.
There are toilets, a picnic area and barbecue at Pearl Park in Main Street (opposite the Visitor Information Centre). Walking tracks, parking and park information is also available.
In 1869 James Northey, in company with James Palmer, found a small patch of gold near the mouth of Stockyard Creek. News of the discovery spread quickly with favourable reports in the press sparking a rush of minders. A settlement of tents and makeshift huts quickly sprung up along the banks of Stockyard Creek. Four years after the opening of the diggings there were over twenty hotels within the township. Supplies were brought in by the little steamer Tarra, to the landing at the mouth of Stockyard Creek. The surrounding hills were soon cleared to provide mines with timbers and fuel.
Many of these gold mines were situated within what are now Foster’s Flora Reserves.
These notes were provided courtesy of Parks Victoria.
See the Victoria Walks website for interactive maps.