Tarra-Bulga National Park
Mountain ash reach for the sky, myrtle beech prevail in pockets of remnant rainforest, feathery fronds of tree ferns drip in cool gullies, and streams and waterfalls gurgle down the hillsides in this small park in the Strzelecki Ranges.
Tarra-Bulga National Park, in South Gippsland, is especially important for the remnants of wet eucalypt forest and cool temperate rainforest that once cloaked the Strzelecki Ranges. The park’s name derives from the Indigenous word ‘bulga’, for mountain, and ‘tarra’, from Charlie Tarra, the name of the Aboriginal guide who trekked with explorer Count Strzelecki through Gippsland in 1840.
From Melbourne via Princes Hwy to Traralgon then Traralgon Creek Rd to Balook; from Melbourne via South Gippsland Hwy to Yarram then Tarra Valley Rd to Balook
200 km east of Melbourne; 30 km south of Traralgon; 30 km north of Yarram
- PV 13 1963
- PV Traralgon (03) 5172 2111
- Tarra–Bulga Rainforest Information Centre, open weekends, school and public holidays
Traralgon/Yarram (03) 5174 3199
Featured Activities in the National Park
Gaze into the rainforest from the suspension bridge on Wills Track
Watch for the ground-dwelling superb lyrebird
Visit the easily accessible, tumbling Tarra Falls
- Tarra-Bulga National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
From the 1870s, huge tracts of the western Strzelecki Ranges were cleared of their dense forest and became successful dairy-farming country. The eastern ranges, however, proved more difﬁcult to tame, and the cold, wet winters and rugged slopes defeated most settlers. Although much forest was destroyed, two separate parks were reserved, one in 1904 and another in 1909. They were joined in 1986, safeguarding some magniﬁcent old-growth forest as well as preserving an environment for regeneration.
Before the arrival of Europeans in the 1800s, the Bratauolung people roamed through this country on their way to the food-rich coastal regions of the Ninety Mile Beach and Wilsons Promontory (Yiruk). European settlement proved disastrous for these people, yet their descendants maintain their people’s cultural heritage.
Within the low folds of the Strzelecki Ranges (they are 300 metres at their highest), this small park protects cool temperate rainforest, its well-watered, often misty valleys a hidden world of silvery waterfalls, rock pools and mountain streams.
Eucalypt forests of soaring mountain ash, messmate and pale-ﬂowering blackwood spread across the drier hills and slopes, with moss-covered myrtle beech and southern sassafras thriving in the more sheltered gullies. In spring the new shoots of the evergreen beech are tinged with brilliant red, pink and orange hues. In the lush, cool gullies the fronds of around 40 fern species create a feathery canopy over the forest ﬂoor. The compost-rich and damp environment provides ideal conditions for as many as 200 species of fungi to grow.
The dense vegetation is home to swamp wallabies, wombats, platypus and native rats as well as many hollow-tree-dwelling animals such as brushtail possums and owls, which emerge at night. A number of bat species also inhabit the park.
Birds are plentiful but can be difﬁcult to spot. During the day watch for the small brown, ground-dwelling pilotbird, the colourful ﬂash of the crimson rosella and the tiny eastern yellow robin hanging sideways from the trunks of rainforest trees. Quiet walkers may encounter the superb lyrebird with its ornate curved tail feathers, foraging for bugs and insects in the leaf litter. You are also bound to hear the explosive whipcrack of the eastern whipbird – the call of the male bird to the female of the species.
Stop in at the visitor information centre at Balook to learn about the history of the ranges. There are some lovely walks (see feature) and picnic spots. Tarra Valley and Bulga picnic areas and the park visitor centre have tables and ﬁreplaces. Although the park can look especially beautiful in winter with the waterfalls at their best and water dripping from the trees, it can be extremely cold, wet and slippery underfoot, so be well prepared.
One of the best-kept secrets in Victoria is the beautiful drive along the Grand Ridge Road, a winding unsealed track that runs for approximately 140 kilometres along the spine of the Strzelecki Ranges. Starting near Korumburra it passes through the small township of Mirboo North before entering Tarra Bulga National Park – it crosses the park’s north-west corner then follows its northern boundary. Tarra Valley Road offers access to Tarra Falls (around 1 kilometre south of Tarra Valley picnic area), and to beautiful Cyathea Falls (reached by a short walk from Tarra Valley picnic area, see feature on Rainforest walks).
The roads winding through the park offer great views from a number of vantage points, including Mount Tassie, off the Traralgon–Balook Road; Blackwarry Fire Tower, outside the park, off the Yarram–Blackwarry Road; and spots along the Grand Ridge Road.