In the northeast of Victoria is a relatively little known national park – Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park. When I say ‘relatively little known’ I exclude the many locals who are passionate about the park, its flora and its fauna.
Landscapes are multi-layered things. We connect with them through our past, our present and also, hopefully, our future. They are places of stories, experiences, connections with friends and families, and because of this they often become markers in our lives. We are connected to landscapes through our culture, our histories and our activities. Landscapes are profoundly human in both the ways they are sculptured and influenced by us, and also the ways we value them. Slow travel allows us to experience, engage with and understand these landscapes.
All this is by way of introduction to this post – spending time at Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park. I’ve known this landscape for many years – it is a place I go to when I want to touch base with the part of my history that it represents, and it is the place I go to when I want to reconnect with these specific natural landscapes, if only for a short time.
In spring the orchids emerge, the wattles are out, the grevilleas are blooming and the woodland birds have gained their song. There is a real sense of colour and movement at this time of year – colour and movement that speaks of a living landscape both in the national park and in the agricultural landscapes that surround it.
This time of year it’s a nice to be out and about – walking the paths, listening to the living landscape, feeling the subtle changes in temperature and smelling the trees, grasses and flowers. The kangaroos are always plentiful as are the wildflowers.
The park is one of those which have lots of tracks which criss-cross it. Great for walking and also great for mountain-biking, an activity I have done many times here.
I’m reminded, once again, of the importance of national parks, not only for slow travel, but also for regeneration of ecosystems, ourselves and our places in them.