ON A CLEAR DAY

Un­for­get­table views are just the start at Power’s Look­out.

North East Living Magazine - - Contents - words Shane Douthie pho­tos Mel Guy

Un­for­get­table views are just the start at Pow­ers Look­out.

HIGH up in the tree line above Tolmie, a gran­ite out­crop known as Power’s Look­out pro­vides one of the most spec­tac­u­lar views in the Alpine re­gion. Power’s Look­out Scenic Re­serve is a per­fect des­ti­na­tion to take a break from tour­ing the winer­ies and gas­tro­nomic de­lights of the nearby King Val­ley, or if en-route to the pop­u­lar tourist town of Mans­field.

A walk­ing track with a se­ries of steep lad­ders pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to climb to a view­ing point at the most north­ern point of this rocky out­crop. The re­serve is mostly mixed eu­ca­lypt for­est with nar­row-leaf pep­per­mint and broad-leaf pep­per­mint the pre­dom­i­nant species. They can be iden­ti­fied by their slightly rough, grey bark and as their names sug­gest, by the width of their leaves. When crushed, the leaves smell of eu­ca­lyp­tus mixed with pep­per­mint.

An­other com­mon eu­ca­lypt is Red Stringy­bark. This species has rough grey stringy bark. The un­der­storey species in­clude Sil­ver Wat­tle, Black­wood Wat­tle, Hazel Po­mader­ris, Dog­wood, Tus­sock Grass and var­i­ous herbs. The rocky out­crops sup­port species such as Com­mon Fringe Myr­tle and Bur­geon. The re­serve is ac­cessed off the Mans­field-whit­field Road be­tween Whit­field and Tolmie and it’s just over a one hour drive from Wan­garatta. For Chris Clarke, Parks Vic­to­ria ranger team leader, there is some­thing for ev­ery­one at Power’s Look­out.

“At this time of year you can see in­cred­i­ble wild­flow­ers, birdlife - you can even catch a glimpse of wedge-tailed ea­gles in flight,” he said.

“There are two view­ing plat­forms to pro­vide a safe view, in­clud­ing one near the carpark, which also has wheel­chair ac­cess, and an­other one around 150m along a stone walk­way where you go up and down a bit to a stone rock pedestal. You can also find ex­ten­sive in­for­ma­tion about the area on pan­els at the site.”

Parks Vic­to­ria ac­knowl­edges the Abo­rig­i­nal Tra­di­tional Own­ers of Vic­to­ria - in­clud­ing its parks and re­serves, and through their cul­tural tra­di­tions, the Taun­gu­rung iden­tify the Power’s Look­out re­serve as their Tra­di­tional Coun­try.

But Power’s Look­out could also be called a bushranger’s last­ing le­gacy. It’s named after Henry ‘Harry’ Power, the most no­to­ri­ous bushranger in the colony be­fore Ned Kelly. In fact it has long been ru­moured that Ned Kelly was first in­spired by Power’s bushrang­ing life when he was ap­pren­ticed to the older man as an im­pres­sion­able teenager. The Ir­ish­man was sent to the colonies for steal­ing a pair of shoes but didn’t seem to learn his les­son and after be­ing par­doned he con­tin­ued to spend time in and out of jail - ap­par­ently try­ing to ‘toe the line of the law’ but of­ten find­ing him­self in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As a mid­dle aged man, he earnt him­self the nick­name of the Gen­tle­man Bushranger claim­ing to have robbed 600 coaches on the road from Mans­field in one year. He was a house­hold name at the ripe old age of 50 and met a num­ber of Ned Kelly’s un­cles in jail, and through them met Ellen Kelly - nee Quinn.

The Quinns owned a large prop­erty in the King Val­ley, and agreed to let Power build his base camp on the es­carp­ment high up in the hills, let­ting him over­look the val­ley be­low. It is said the only ac­cess to the look­out was across a small bridge on the Quinns’ prop­erty, a pea­cock al­ways on guard to alert those nearby that strangers were near. The look­out would be both Power’s strength, and ul­ti­mately his down­fall.

The hid­den lo­ca­tion, with its ex­pan­sive views, meant he was able to dis­ap­pear at will, safe from sur­prises. How­ever, a 500 pound bounty on Power’s head saw him be­trayed by the very fam­ily who had of­fered him sanc­tu­ary. James Quinn, Ned Kelly’s grand­fa­ther, claimed the re­ward and led po­lice to his hide­out.

Power was once again in prison, sen­tenced to 15 years, but still charm­ing de­spite the weath­er­ing of years and out­door life. With his health fail­ing, he was cham­pi­oned by a group of Mel­bourne women who pe­ti­tioned, and suc­cess­fully achieved, his re­lease. Power was re­leased from jail in 1885 and worked as a pri­vate gar­dener, lead­ing an hon­est life for six years un­til he drowned in the Mur­ray River at Swan Hill in 1891.

To­day, Power’s Look­out is all that re­mains of the man that was as quick to steal your heart as he was your valu­ables.

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