The Cool Temperate Rainforest of the Otway Ranges

Between the south coast of Australia and Antarctica there is nothing but increasingly cold and wild ocean. The Otway Ranges on the west coast of Victoria are home to areas of untouched and unspoilt cool temperate rainforest. Moist winds from the oceans to the south create high rainfall on the southern fall of these ranges, which is where this unique and ancient plant community flourishes.

On a wet and cold Sunday morning recently Liz and I walked deep into the cool temperate rainforest, located about a 40 minute drive from Apollo Bay, where I took some photos.

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The profusion of plant life and plant material comprising the forest ground storey is rich in fungi of all sizes, shapes colours and toxicity.  The above is one of the many ways nature says, ‘Do not touch.’
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They look like colourful button mushrooms. They’re not. Do not look at these and think of them sizzling in a frying pan with hot buttered toast awaiting.
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Symbiosis abounds in this forest.

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Many parts of the under-storey live without sunlight in the dark and damp shadows.
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While the myrtle beech is the primary canopy tree, magnificent mountain ash grow straight and tall into the sunlight above it all.

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The photo above was taken with a fast enough shutter speed (1/1600 of a second) to arrest some of the motion of the falling water. Individual drops and streams of water can be seen.

The photo below was taken using a 10 stop neutral density filter. The filter is basically dark glass which fits over the camera lens, requiring  a lot longer exposure time to capture the image.  The camera must be on a tripod, and ideally the shutter should be released by a cable release to avoid moving the camera and blurring the image. I didn’t have my cable release with on this day, and some minor loss of sharpness resulted. The long exposure made possible by the filter smooths out the moving water creating an altogether different impression of that component of the image.

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We descended deep into a steep valley to the waterfall. This was the view looking back upslope. Being early morning, there was still some mist and cloud hanging motionless in the upper storeys of the forest.  There can’t be purer sweeter smelling air anywhere on the planet. Taking long slow breaths was a privilege. I found this pristine and beautiful place uplifting. 



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