The Lake Mountain area, near Marysville, was terribly burnt in the fires of early 2009.
Almost every tree on the plateau was killed or burnt back to ground level (snow gums have the capacity to reshoot from the base after the above ground section of the tree is killed). At Lake Mountain, the fire was particularly severe and killed off many parent trees that had survived the 1939 fires.
The landscape was completely transformed from what it had been. Anyone that knew the ‘old’ Lake Mountain couldn’t help but be devastated on their first post fire visit.
The good rainfalls over the summers of 2010 and 2011 greatly assisted the regrowth across the mountain. Whilst the area will not return to anything near to its former state for many years, the regrowth is going well, and the spring/ summer wildflower display is fantastic.
If you haven’t been to Lake Mountain since the fires, Christmas is a great time to go.
The snow gum woodlands and lower alpine ash forests were absolutely devastated in the fires. Regeneration in the snow gum country is now substantial, with regrowth over 3 m high and in most places at least one third the height of the remnant dead trunks. In addition large numbers of Snow Gum seedlings are also thriving.
The open heath and bog areas have been slower to recover, but ground cover is now almost complete.
If you knew the pre-fire landscape, then coming back can be emotionally devastating. The two known stands of Mountain Plum Pine on Echo Flat did not survive the fires. These trees had previously been dated as being between 700 and 800 years old. The remaining colony of Leadbeaters Possums have been removed to Healesville Sanctuary because it wasn’t deemed biologically viable. Most of us won’t see the likes of the original forest, and the landscape itself can seem forlorn.
But life is coming back. There is great walking on the plateau, and the local economies need your support.