O’Keefe – Axedale to Knowsley

Start point: Axedale at the Platypus Compass park – Directions

Distance: 8.5km (17km return) to end of forest. Continues to Heathcote.

Track: Good – smooth compacted gravel, uphill out

Birds: Red-browed Firetails, Grey Shrike-thrush, Spotted Quail-thrush, Lorikeets, Yellow-tufted, White-naked, Fuscous Honeyeaters, water birds

Notes: Starts at the interesting Platypus Compass sculpture on the banks of the Campaspe River. There is an initial steepish climb up out of the river valley. You pass through open paddocks and pass a junkyard and a quarry along the first 3km but then you reach the tranquility of the Knowsley Forest- a large area of Box-Ironbark habitat that extends out towards Lake Eppalock.

Near the quarry you can take 1km diversion up Smart Track to a pleasant picnic area beside a dam with good facilities – Directions. Quite a few birds such as honeyeaters and lorikeets come into the dam on hot days if you are patient.

After about 10 km you reach edge of forest where there is a picnic table which is a good place to take a break. After that are houses and the trail follows the edge of the main highway. Birders best to turn back for the forest birds. After that it is open paddocks – not fun on windy days without an ebike but always the chance of Kestrel or Brown Falcon as well as flocks of Red-rumped Parrots. Beware the cattle grids – rather bumpy! If you continue you will join the Heathcote-Knowsley section.

Dry open forest along the trail