Emu Expedition…Toolangi

22 Nov

The Emu;s recent expedition commenced on the 16th November, destination was to a part of Victoria that has many memories for me, as it was an area that I lived in for approximately 7 years when a young member of the Australian Army. The main reason for the trip down memory lane was for a reunion of army members who served together at that time in that area. The return to the past was to incorporate the small high country townships of Toolangi, Healesville and Marysville.

I specifically wanted to visit these places, especially Marysville, as these places were the scene of one of Australia,s worst bushfires in the year 2009 when a lot of Victoria was ablaze.

The three townships were all affected by the bushfires with Marysville worst hit. The fire started on the 7th February 2009 and was at first believed to have been caused by arson which was later changed and credited to the high heatwave that engulfed Victoria at that time.

Toolangi was hard hit by the 2009 bushfires with two deaths and 18 homes burnt.Marysville was completely devestated with the final death count being 45 and 90% of the township destroyed.

Driving down through the Yarra Valley Ranges into Toolangi bought back many memories, the Mountain Ash trees were still standing in places but all bore the scars of being burnt, the beautiful ferns had regrown and the mountain was rebirthing, our destination in Toolangi was a beautiful setting called The Singing Gardens, aptly named as one sits amongst the gardens and closes their eyes, you can hear natures orchestra playing amongst the mountain trees, combined with a cacophony of birds that bring the whole of natures wonderland to life. A stroll down to the cool clear mountain stream that wends its way through the gardens is a pure delight, the crystal trout waters bubbling over rocks completes the nature lovers dream.

We relaxed later with Jan Williams , the proprietor of the guest house there and enjoyed a great vegetable mountain soup accompanied by hot bread rolls, after a great friendly talk Jan and I found we had many aquaintances from the past, people we both had met and for me people I had worked with. If anyone ever visits Toolangi Victoria I heartily recommend The Singing Gardens and the lovely Jan Williams

The name Toolangi is an Aboriginal word meaning tall trees. It is believed the area was known as Mt Rose up until the 1890s. Toolangi was first inhabited in the 1860s by paling splitters and then timber cutters, who camped deep in the bush. They were attracted by the huge stands of mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans), a tree that splits easily, and the messmate timber, which proved durable as a building material.Toolangi Post Office opened on 1 August 1900 and closed in 1974.It was not until the early 1960s that electricity came to Toolangi. Together with the opening of the Melba Highway, this created the impetus for industrial expansion in the area. An early development was the Potato Research Station (1945), which was followed by the Strawberry Certification Scheme.Victoria was devastated by the worst bushfires in Australia’s history during the summer of 2009. 7 February, the day now known as ‘Black Saturday’, saw the loss of 173 people and over 2000 homes. About 78 communities were directly impacted by the fires and Toolangi was one of them. Two people lost their lives and 18 homes were burnt. Fire surrounded the town for weeks and the whole area was quarantined for three of them. The township itself and a small segment of forest in the Toolangi State Forest to the east of the town survived. In total about 406,337 hectares of land were burnt.Toolangi was the home of one of Australia’s most beloved poets, the late C. J. Dennis, the author of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, Jim of the Hills, The Glugs of Gosh, Rose of Spadgers, The Singing Gardens and Ginger Mick, to name a few. Dennis joined artist Hal Waugh on an expedition to Toolangi in 1908. Dennis stayed on after the expedition, attracted by the ambience of the area, he was also a business partner in one of the many sawmills of the area – St Leonards Sawmill. His work captured the feel of the bush and the true Australian characters, both of the bush and the pubs. In 1915, he purchased 3.5 acres (14,000 m2) for 22 pounds. This included a mill house. Over a period of 10 years, with the help of a local handyman, they converted the mill house to a two-storey house named “Arden”. His house has long since burned down, but his gardens remain in the care of Jan and Vic Williams, where they operate their tea rooms, The Singing Gardens, and are open to the public.Opposite the gardens is the pottery of David Williams, who creates unique crystalline-glazed ceramics, which have been exhibited in the National Gallery of Victoria.The Toolangi Tavern, situated at the intersection of Myers Creek and Chum Creek Roads (aka Healesville-Kinglake Road), is a common meeting spot for those living in, and travelling through, Toolangi. The tavern was opened in 2006 and serves lunch and dinner.The former Toolangi Hotel burned to the ground in 1975. I recall many an enjoyable Sunday afternoon in this old pub. While the building was totally destroyed, the locals saved the beer. For weeks afterwards, they would gather under the trees at the old pub site and assist in depleting the stocks. The former licensee decided not to rebuild the pub and the town remained publess for decades.

Emu Expedition to be continued.


Aussie Emu


Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


19 responses to “Emu Expedition…Toolangi

  1. wonkywizard

    May 26, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Beautiful greeneries.

    • The Emu

      May 26, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Glad you enjoyed that post my friend.
      It certainly is a beautiful part of Australia.

  2. gpcox

    May 10, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I knew if I kept at it, I’d find one I missed!

    • The Emu

      May 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      A few oldies still in there mate, even I forgot some of the old storys I wrote

  3. michiko

    May 9, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Dear Ian!
    The Yarra valley rose of spedgers the singing Garden and ginger mick,Nanne a few DENNIS joined artist His work captured the feel of the true Australia.
    The yarra Valley De Bortol Wines I love very much to going some time with friends,
    Next Mother day are all boys a take me lovely days.
    Have a nice day Ian!

    • The Emu

      May 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Beautiful country in that part of Victoria, we go there every year in November and stay at Healesville, and travel around.
      Yes CJ Dennis was a great Australian poet from Toolangi Singing Gardens, next time you are there try to visit Marysville and see Bruno Torfs garden sculptures, they are really great, like in a fairyland.
      Wishing you a beautiful weekend Michiko.

  4. suemacarthur

    December 5, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I so want to visit this place Ian, it looks so beautiful
    Hope your staying cool
    take care

    • The Emu

      December 5, 2012 at 9:50 am

      A beautiful mountain retreat Sue, crystal clear mountain streams, the wind singing in the trees and the chorus of birds , all a writers haven, no onder C J Dennis lived there and wrote his great stories.

  5. natswans

    November 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Enjoyed this post and happy to see life has returned to this Lovely place.
    Great to be there on a nice warm summers day. 🙂
    Best Wishes

    • The Emu

      November 29, 2012 at 4:31 am

      Was a sad yet happy place to revisit Sheila but overall the great little mountain has rebirthed and once again full of wildlife.
      The trees still bear the scars but time will cover them with mother natures healing hands.

  6. Sue Dreamwalker

    November 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I remember those horrendous bush fires Emu, as I walked along with you in 2009. just where has time flown to?
    Good to see nature is once again restoring her beauty to these wonderful forests Emu, and so good to catch up with friends from the past… Isnt is amazing how small a world is as you meet people who know the same people as you do… Life is a wonderful circle with its never ending magical moments…
    Thank you for sharing Ian,
    Love and Blessings

    • The Emu

      November 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Hi Sue , it was sad looking at the damage done from 2009 and particularly the loss of lives, was beautiful to see that nature has reemerged and beautified her world again, scars are still there but time will eradicate these, I will write on the township of Marysville soon, it was 90% destroyed with huge loss of life, most of the town has been rebuilt but everywhere you can see construction still going on, used to be my old stomping grounds back in the days I roamed the mountains in search of trout.
      Hot day here Sue with the temps in the forties.
      Keep well girl.

  7. giselzitrone

    November 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Was für tolle Fotos mein lieber Freund unendliche weiten vom Wald ja, den wir für unsere Umwelt dringend brauchen mehr denn je.Wünsche dir ein gutes glückliches Weekend und alles liebe für dich Gruss und Freundschaft Gislinde.

    • The Emu

      November 24, 2012 at 2:57 am

      So glad you enjoyed meine Bilder lieben Gislinde, ist der Regenwald ein schöner ruhiger Ort, um Natur zu erleben. Wenn nur alle Menschen könnte es so sehen und schätzen die Natur.
      Ich wünsche Ihnen ein schönes Wochenende

  8. rosemarymonteith

    November 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Nice pics enjoyed this Emu

    • The Emu

      November 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

      Greetings Rosemary, hope you are in good health and life is being kind to you.
      Pleased you liked my pics, wishing you well.

  9. prenin

    November 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for this one Ian! 🙂

    I have to admit I was surprised that so much has regrown after the fires, but nature certainly does do its stuff in adversity! 🙂

    So sad that there were so many dead in the 2009 fire.

    May they always rest in peace.

    God Bless my friend and thanks for the photos!!! 🙂


    • The Emu

      November 24, 2012 at 2:24 am

      I was quite amazed at how fast the forests had regrown Prenin, the tall trees still bear burn scars but they are even regrowing shoots, the ferns were the first to emerge, all the wildlife is back and it was great to see and hear the birds.
      A hot Summer day here mate with the temperatures peaking in the 40s.

      • prenin

        November 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

        Hi Ian! 🙂

        Sounds good! 🙂

        I remember an article I read that said some of the trees are able to burn violently to clear space for their seeds (the gum tree or eucalyptus?) which then take over the burned area.

        Looks like Nature has all the tools!!! 🙂

        I’m glad life has returned though! 🙂

        It’s bloody cold here!

        3’C this morning after an overnight frost and over 100 flood warnings after some places got a month’s rain in a day! 😦

        If this isn’t global warming I don’t know what is… 😦

        God Bless! 🙂



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