The Toolangi State Forest is located near the small and beautiful township of Toolangi. It is one of those not-so-secret-but-perfect-for-getting-away-from-the city type of place. From Melbourne, it is just an hour and a half drive away. So, it is perfect for those who want to have a quick trip or those who don’t want to drive for hours on end.
Aside from exploring the wilderness, there are a lot of things that you can do in Toolangi. The park can accommodate camping, bushwalking, picnicking, bird watching, fishing, swimming, and 4WD driving. That’s a lot of things that you can do in just one park! Not to mention, one near enough to the city.
Are you planning to visit Toolangi State Forest this weekend? Here are all the things you need to know about it…
Why Should I Go to Toolangi?
As I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of things to do in Toolangi. If those things don’t float your boat, then the majestic views of Mountain Ash forest and the iconic pair of Mount Tanglefoot and Mount St. Leonard (especially on the lookouts found on bushwalking and 4WD tracks).
Aside from the view, there are also a number of waterfalls that dot the park. These are: Emily Falls, Sylvia Creek Falls, Cascade Falls, and Murrindindi Falls. You can either take a dip or take out your fishing rod to catch fish in these bodies of water.
However, the attractions that most people associate with the park are the Wirra Will Rainforest Walk and the Kalatha Giant Walk (we will discuss these trails later). If you’re done exploring the park, you can visit the pub and cafés or spend the night at the camp or inns in the area.
How Can I Get There?
Those coming from Melbourne can use Melba Highway to reach Toolangi State Forest. From there, the forest itself can be accessed through a number of roads heading east or via Sylvia Creek Road in Toolangi. If you are coming from Maroondah Highway, head into Andersons Lane in Narbethong.
What Facilities Are Provided in The Park?
There are toilets and picnic tables that are found at Wirrawilla carpark. This is where most of the walking tracks like the Wirrawilla Walk, Tanglefoot Loop, and Myrtle Gully Circuit begins. At Tanglefoot Picnic Area, there are also toilets, picnic tables, and barbeque spots for visitors.
Which Walking Trail Should I Explore?
There are four walking trails in Toolangi State Forest, these are:
This is a quick one to complete as it will only take 30 minutes. It is very easy to complete because it is well-formed but it will offer you a scenic tour of the cool temperate forest. Most of the time, you will be walking on a boardwalk that can also be accessed by a wheelchair. While walking, you will pass by Myrtle Beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii), Southern Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), and Blackwood Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon) trees. These trees along with the ferns will make your walk cool, moist, and shady.
Kalatha Giant Tree Walk
This trail is another easy option for those who want to explore Toolangi. It will only take 30 minutes of your time and, like Wirrawilla, it is well-formed. The main attraction in this trail is the Kalatha Giant, a 300 – 400 years old Mountain Ash that was declared as the seventh largest tree in Victoria.
Myrtle Gully Circuit
If you want to have a bit more challenge, you should take this track. It will take 3 hours before you complete it or you can just spend the whole day if you want to take your time.
The Tanglefoot Loop is the longest track in the park. It can take up to 4 hours to complete but it is worth it. The trail winds through thick forests of Mountain Ash. You can also find trees that are more than 200 years old. However, this walk is very challenging especially after rain as the track descends into rainforest gullies.
If you want to take shorter walks, then visit the Yea River Walk and Toolangi Sculpture Trail. The sculpture trail hosts art made by international and Australian artists. The trail showcases environmental site-specific art that blends naturally with the forest. However, some visitors complain that the sculptures have not aged well and they succumbed to the elements. Meanwhile, some found it interesting and was worth the effort.
Where Can I Eat in Toolangi?
You can always bring your own food with you while exploring the park. However, there are some people that just want to have a quick look at the park then have a food trip on the nearby cafes and restaurants. These are the best restaurants, pubs, and cafes we found near Toolangi:
Ecology Café at The Discovery Centre
This one is your best choice to satisfy your hunger after exploring the park. It is conveniently located right at the park’s entrance (and the carpark) which would save you a whole lot of effort especially when you’re very hungry. They offer great tasting coffee and a variety of equally tasteful cakes. They also serve hearty meals that will surely end the trip (or start) on a positive note. If you decide to dine here, try their wattle seed scones as it is heavenly! Add that to the fact that the scones are served with a generous amount of cream and jam which seals the deal.
The rustic pub is perfectly situated among the tall trees of the park’s forest. It offers great food and scenic views of the surrounding park and Yarra Valley. The tavern also prides itself with its effort to source local ingredients such as Yara Valley’s famous wines, beers, and ciders.
Dixon’s Creek Café Bar & Grill
This restaurant is located along Melba Highway and north of Yarra Glen. The establishment offers a comprehensive selection of local wine to perfectly complement its steaks, seafood, pizza, pastas, and salads among others. For those who want to drink something else, they also offer coffee, beer and cider.
De Bortoli Winery & Restaurant
Like the restaurants before it, your stomach will not be the only one that’ll be full when you dine in this restaurant. Your eyes will also feast on the food and the views of the the Yarra Valley and its rolling hills. The place is also perfect for families, couples, and groups of friends. They also offer their in-house wine from the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate as well as other local wines from the valley.
Are There 4WD Tracks in Toolangi?
There are a lot of tracks to choose from in the park. After all, it is a popular destination for 4Wd enthusiasts during the summer months because of the thrill and the breathtaking views, However, you should check the weather forecast before heading into the park. After heavy or light rains, the track can get muddy and slippery so it is not suitable for beginners.
If you still want to go when tracks are wet, then bring recovery equipment like winches, shovels, and wooden planks. This might cause more load on your vehicle but it pays to be prepared. You’ll never want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
We have selected some of the best tracks that you should try:
This is one of the most famous and challenging tracks in the park. It may be short, at 2.4 km, but as the name suggests it is very rocky and has steep ascents and descents. This track is also connected to Marginal Track which is also a worthwhile 4WD track that you should try.
This is THE MOST DIFFICULT track in Toolangi hands down! It measures 5.3 km and you can finish it in 3 hours if the track is dry or more when it’s muddy. The track’s terrain is composed mainly of mud and clay, so some parts of it are impassable after heavy rain. It will also get slippery so you should be careful in the ascents and descents. It is also recommended that you travel in a convoy as the track has very deep ruts which can cause your vehicle to get stuck. Vehicles with high clearance are the only ones that we recommend to take this track. The muddiness of the track is reduced during the summer or dry weather but there are still a lot of ruts that can swallow your vehicle. It is also better if you bring a winch with you as recovery is inevitable.
Marginal Track is great because of the number of bog holes found along the way. Getting past these holes add a lot more to the challenge of completing this track.
Red West/Lyndalls Track
This track is also quite difficult because it is made of shale and it has very long and steep climbs. There are also rock ledges not far from the starting point so you should be careful while driving through it.
This track has varying terrain. Some sections are very wet and you will even cross a river crossing. Meanwhile, there are also other parts that are made of clay. So, avoid this track during heavy downpours as it can get muddy and you will get bogged down. Not to mention the rivers and creeks that you have to cross to complete this track which can overflow.
This track is very rocky at some parts but it is mostly a dirt road. The track can also be quite muddy even in dry weather. However, you should be very careful to prevent damage on your 4WD vehicles panel.
What Things Should I Remember Before Heading to Toolangi State Forest?
Since this is a natural reserve, there are a number of things that you should remember while staying there. First of all is to respect the place as your actions can damage the fragile ecosystem of the area. Aside from that, these are the do’s and don’ts at Toolangi State Forest:
- Camping is only limited to existing campsites. Do not attempt to create a new one and camp at least 20 metres away from bodies of water like streams, lakes, or reservoirs.
- Digging trenches around tents are prohibited.
- Only used the assigned toilets in the campsites.
- Do not leave your rubbish and take it home. Don’t bury it in the forest or attempt to burn it.
- You can set up campfires provided that:
- The fire is in a fireplace or trench that is at least 30 cm deep.
- It is lit on an existing fireplace. Creating new ones are not recommended
- The fire should only measure around 1 square metre and 3 metres when the area around it is cleared.
- The fire is not left for itself and extinguished before you leave the campsite.
- Cutting down trees or damaging vegetation is not permitted. Collect only fallen wood to create a fire.
- During a total fire ban, portable gas and liquid fuel stoves are strictly prohibited from the park.
- You should check first if a total fire ban is declared.
- Dogs are allowed inside the park. However, it is recommended that you have a leash on them at all times.
- Be aware of your vehicle’s capacity and limitations. The park’s forest roads are mostly dirt roads and many of them can be accessed through 4WD only. They are also narrower than normal city roads. So, always keep to the left.
- For more up to date news about Fire Bans, refer to: www.emergency.vic.gov.au
Is Swimming Allowed in Lysterfield Lake?
Lysterfield Lake safe to swim in. Lysterfield Lake’s water quality has improved and is currently inside safe levels for swimming, in the nick of time for the long end of the week. However, Parks Victoria has affirmed today that the lake is perfectly safe for those wanting to take a dip.
How Many National Parks Does Australia Have?
Australia’s six Commonwealth National Parks, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and 58 Commonwealth Marine Parks ensure a portion of the nation’s most dazzling, unique regions and Aboriginal legacy. They are overseen by Parks Australia.
Why Are Australian National Parks Important?
National parks ensure the best of our common legacy: spectacular scenes, uncommon wildlife and magnificent forests. Together with other protected territories, they form the premise of our financial and social prosperity, pull in a great many guests yearly, and help to secure Australia’s one-of-a-kind wildlife by going about as a refuge for them.
Can 4WD Vehicles Handle Snow?
4WD vehicles fundamentally keep running in 2WD mode, similar to a rear wheel drive vehicle. They endure a similar traction issue, as well. The 4WD capacity must be withdrawn when driving on dry, cleared streets as it might harm the components of the 4WD vehicle as they include a substantial added weight, which damages fuel efficiency.
When Should I Enable 4×4 While Driving in Snow?
If you’re in 4-Low and feel the urge to drive over 10mph, chances are your vehicle can handle the road conditions in 4-High without any issue. Use 4-Low on extremely slippery surfaces, very steep inclines, heavy snow, climbing or descending boulders, powering through thick mud or sand or driving through deep water.
Is Beach Driving Legal In NSW?
The park gives 4WD access to more or less 22 km of Stockton shoreline and more than 350 hectares of hill driving in the Recreational Vehicle Area at the southern part of the arrangement. This is one of the biggest waterfront hills driving territories in NSW. Vehicle access is accessible for 4WDs.
Why Are Dogs Not Allowed in National Parks Australia?
Dogs and other pets are not allowed into national parks and many reserves for a number of reasons: our wildlife is vulnerable to the predation, disturbance and disease that dogs may cause. Escaped pets can become feral and pose a major threat to many native species.
Is Free Camping Legal in Australia?
Free or paid? Illegal camping in Australia. Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when travelling. But when you are going on a road trip those expenses can be cut down to a minimum by sleeping in free camping areas (Free/wild camping) around country.
Can You Camp Anywhere in Australian National Parks?
The short answer is no, you can’t simply stop where you feel like it to camp for the night. But you will discover many assigned zones all throughout Australia that do permit free or minimal effort outdoors. Normally you will see explicit signs expressing that medium-term outdoors isn’t permitted
How Much Is the Fine for Illegal Camping?
The fines for illegal camping range from an on-the-spot fine of $110 to a maximum of $2200. “For significant breaches, or for repeat offenders, Council will not hesitate to issue Court Attendance Notices which have a maximum penalty of $110,000,” Ms Burt said.
Can I Fly Drones in National Parks?
As per National Parks South Australia, “it is an offense to fly drones (remotely piloted flying machines) in South Australia’s national parks, reserves, and marine park limited access zones without proper permits.” Exceptions have been made for scientific research and for commercial ventures like filming or photography.