Koalas and wildflowers are key features of the 7,700-hectare Brisbane Ranges National Park . Located west of Geelong , the park is Victoria's richest wildflower habitat and has the state's greatest density of koalas.

The park covers low mountain ranges dissected by rocky gullies. Bushwalking is the best way to get close to the nature of the park and a number of established walking tracks make it easy. For the more adventurous, a three-day walk has been developed. Notes and a map on this walk can be obtained from Parks Victoria 13 1963 (in Australia ).

There are picnic grounds at Stony Creek and Anakie Gorge, with wood barbecues (you have to bring your own wood), tables, seats and toilets. Anakie Gorge has a gas barbecue.

Park vegetation includes some rare plants among the 619 species identified. Peregrine falcons, powerful owls and rainbow birds are just some of the 180 species you may see in the park.

Koalas, always a favourite with visitors, are abundant around Anakie Gorge. You also may see kangaroos, wallabies and possums.

Historically, the Brisbane Ranges were formed about a million years ago when a line of weakness, or fault, developed in the earth's crust, uplifting the land lying to its west. Squatters arrived in the 1830s, concentrating their farming activities on the fertile land to the east and south along the Moorabool River. The goldrush began in 1851; gold was discovered in the Anakie hills and the town of Steiglitz was born. Goldmining flourished periodically until the early 1900s.

Steiglitz today is virtually a ghost town and is within the Steiglitz Historic Park. The old courthouse is now a visitor centre containing fascinating memorabilia of the town's heady days. It is open on weekends.

The park is 80km west of Melbourne via the Princes Freeway. Turn onto the Ballan Road from Geelong or take the Western Freeway to Bacchus Marsh and follow the Geelong Road, turning off to Boar Gully.

Parks Victoria manages the national park.
Phone in Australia: 13 19 63