November 12th, 2023Walks of the Central Highlands…
with Eve Lamb
It’s a sterling Spring day, late October, as we set off to walk the nine kilometre Wombat Trail that sets out from Trentham’s pretty little Quarry Street Reserve.
While this little ripper of walk starts here in the township itself, crossing High Street and entering the Stony Creek Reserve, and then meandering through lifestyle-property-land, it doesn’t take too long before you’re in the forest with plenty of impressive eucalypts for company.
Today, I also have the company of my excellent walking companion, Paddy H, plus a packed lunch which is fairly quickly dealt with before we even leave the Stony Creek Reserve section.
So we’ve only covered about a kilometre by the time we hit the sandwiches and coffee, but we’ve already seen plenty of native birdlife and an unexpected sculptural monument entitled Inter-stelae.
Located at the edge of the Wombat Forest, this top little loop walk is both flat and well signposted and moseying along, we soon reach the historic Trentham Cemetery, alongside which the trail passes.
The cemetery itself is worth a quick stop to visit the grave of one of Trentham’s larger than life yesteryear characters, the former inimitable Dr Gweneth Wisewould. Signage shares a little of the good doctor’s eventful history (there’s her memoir ‘Outpost: A Doctor on the Divide’ to look up if you’re interested) and points out her final resting place here, facing the forest as she’d requested.
Leaving the cemetery behind, there’s a short section of trail ahead before we cross the Trentham-Blackwood Road, after which we enter the forest.
But just before we do, we encounter a couple of surprises: the first being the remnant chimney of a long-crumbled dwelling ensconced in a weedy but pretty swamp of forget-me-nots, and the second a large rusted historic boiler, a relic from the area’s past that features both gold mining and forestry. The latter helped to keep Dr Wisewould plenty busy.
At this point the canopy above us starts to become pretty impressive with some remarkable tall trees.
Crossing the Trentham-Blackwood Road, we enter the forested section of the walk and soon find fresh evidence of the trail’s namesake animal in residence. From here the trail offers a good bushland experience and further on ahead, the historic site of the former 1800s Trentham Racecourse – unused since 1907.
This is like no racecourse site you’ve ever seen before. In fact, were it not for the signage, you’d never pick this as having been a racecourse, let alone a 1.6km course that once boasted a grandstand.
Here, we’re surrounded by forest, an under-story featuring native grasses and a eucalyptus canopy through which the wind rushes in bursts like a restless inland sea. Myriad tiny white and purple native violets, sprinkled like micro fairy lights are abundant along this section of the trail.
We walk on, now navigating the forest-engulfed 1.6km racecourse loop that once hosted pounding hooves – anticlockwise as they would have raced – stopping where the grandstand once stood to imagine long-gone mug punters losing their pennies on punts and pints.
Having completed the racecourse circuit we stop for a well-earnt trail side tea break imagining ghost horses with flaring nostrils and thundering hooves… Perhaps it’s just the canopy zephyr?
From here it’s not far back to the township and the Quarry Street Reserve with its handy amenities, parking and proud new wood duck families enjoying the pond. Reflecting that we only encountered three other people along the entire trail, Paddy H and I celebrate the satisfactory completion of this little gem of a walk with a couple of bags of crisps. At 9kms, Trentham’s Wombat Trail is just the right length to tackle if you want a walk that gets you into the forest, with some unique points of interest in the mix, even if you’re strapped for time.