Summary: Exploring some of the cave art in Popran National Park, and a short walk down to the picturesque Ironbark Creek Falls.

After the enjoyable bushwalk to Emerald Pool in the Popran National Park a week ago, we’re back to explore a few shorter walks. We’re starting in the Calga section of Popran NP, for what I am thinking will be an easy walk to visit a few Aboriginal engraving sites…

Popran Art 1

It starts easily enough as we stroll down the Rocla Trail, encountering a common scalyfoot lizard (which at the time I thought was a snake) and lots of spiders.

Alas, my promise of an easy walk is soon broken, as we veer off the track and into the bush. It’s not too hard going at first, as we find a number of caves and overhangs on the slopes of a small hill.

In one of these caves we spot some charcoal drawings, although it’s hard to determine what they represent. I discover later (thanks Collette!) that this is the Popran 1 Art shelter.

Rather than returning the same way, we continue towards a firetrail through increasingly thick bush. An Aboriginal Heritage Assessment of the area a decade earlier describes the vegetation as “generally unaltered, with bushfire prevention strategies in recent years resulting in unchecked growth, which has made the bush impenetrable in many places.” We somehow manage to battle through a wall of shrubs, taking about 45min to cover 500m, before finally emerging onto the firetrail.

Ironbark Creek Falls

Emerging a little battered and scratched, we head onto the Mt Olive section of the park. Spotting the Ironbark Creek Falls Reserve next to the road, we make another stop. This time the walk is short – and relatively easy. A wide path leads down to a large but slightly neglected noticeboard – the reserve is managed by the local council, and while it seems a lot of effort went into the walk, it has a slightly dilapidated feel. The map on the noticeboard suggests you can do a loop, so we continue down thr wide trail, before reaching a weir. It’s fairly easy to cross the creek, but after seeing a “private property” sign we decide to return to the noticeboard.

A narrow bushwalking track passes an old picnic table, before descending quite steeply through dense forest.

The whole walk has a bit of an “Alice in Wonderland” feeling: there are faded signs that (probably) explained some of the flora, and near the bottom a folding chair sits on a timber platform, next to the track.

The track suddenly opens up to a small clearing, with a sandy area in front of the Ironbark Creek Falls. The falls are quite picturesque, and with a fair bit of rain over the last few weeks there’s a decent flow of water.

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We have another attempt at doing the loop walk, which continues downstream along the Ironbark Creek. But after a few hundred metres the track just disappears, so we return the same way.

Upside Down Man Cave

Our last destination for today is the “Upside Down Man Cave”, a long shelter with impressive art along its walls and ceiling.

Researched and documented by Jo McDonald in 1991, the Upside Down Man Cave has over 274 motifs representing three engraving types.

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Although we had one more walk planned, it’s getting pretty hot and the first off-track walk was fairly tough, so we call it a day… but we’ll be back to uncover a few more secrets of Popran National Park!

More information on Popran National Park

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