O’Keefe – Heathcote to Knowsley

Start point: Trail starts in McIvor Street Heathcote  Directions

Distance: 16km (32km return)

Track: Good quality gravel

Birds:  Varied Sitella, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Rufous Whistler, Crimson and Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrots, Scarlet and Flame Robins, Jacky Winter. Lorikeets are common when the eucalypts are flowering. Swift Parrots can be seen rarely.

Notes: Initial stages are through the One Eye Forest. Track runs along raised embankments in parts which gives elevated views into the trees which helps to see the smaller birds. Track continues into the Knowsley Forest, which is covered in the O’Keefe notes. It can be done as one long ride but is about 68km return. The track has several cattle grids that are a little rough to cross, so take it slow. As well, you might have to navigate mobs of sheep or cattle near the lake. And of course there can be lots of cow manure on the track at times!

The One Eye Forest is very good for birds. When trees are flowering there will be lots of lorikeets including Musk and Purple-crowned as well as Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters. Swift parrots have occasionally been seen here in Autumn. A ride in winter will likely see Scarlet and Flame Robins and at any time of the year groups of Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Grey Fantails are common along with Rufous Whistlers and Grey Shrike Thrushes.

When the trail reaches the shores of Lake Eppalock you have a good chance of a variety of water birds. But be aware that the water levels vary and things can change. The trail is raised around the edge of the water and provides a good vantage point. Nice tables to sit and relax along the way. The track has a few floodways where it dips down and may be wet or slippery. You do not want to hit them at speed. Very occasionally the track may be closed here due to high water levels.

After Eppalock the trail is rather exposed with the highway on one side and open paddocks on the other. Apart from a few raptors and flocks of Red-rumped Parrots, not many birds are likely until you reach the Knowsley Forest. If you are mainly interested in the birds then it is best to turn around at the lake and spend time on some of the the many side tracks in the forest where birding is much better. There are a few dams worth checking in the forest such as Evan Dam which is accessible from Evan Dam Track – Directions – which turns off One Eye Road, which you will cross on the main trail. If heading from Heathcote turn left onto One Eye Track and then after about 1.2km take Evan Dam Track on your right.

Track through the One Eye Forest