It’s nearly the end of school holidays and I’m running out of easy options to entertain the kidlets, but after a few rainy days, I can tell they’re in desperate need of some nature.
As we set off in the car for Kew, I tell them we’re going to a place where there’ll be hundreds (or even thousands) of flying foxes hanging from the trees.
“So like, is it a zoo?” the Fairy Princess asks.
“No, it’s not a zoo,” I chuckle.
“A sanctuary then?” she offers.
I glance at the rear-view mirror and she looks absolutely flabbergasted, so I tell her that flying foxes live in colonies and that this one has taken up residence in a particular group of trees (I leave out the part about them being moved on from the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2003, because they were destroying the place. That might be a little TMI.).
“They tend to choose a place and stick to it,” I explain.
We arrive and set off from the car park, and we’ve walked no more than 50 metres when we see them, all along the river. Tree after tree is full of them, hanging upside down in rows. Most of them seem to be asleep, but some are fighting, others grooming themselves, eating or having a stretch.
As the track takes us closer to the riverbank, their screeching gets louder, and the smell of their leavings gets more pungent.
“Phwoar it smells like a public toilet here,” the Chop exclaims.
We continue on for the next few hundred metres of track, stopping periodically to read the information signs, and for better views of the awesome creatures above. Unfortunately, it’s only 450 metres from the first lookout to the end of the Flying Fox Walk, so we turn and retrace our steps.
Without telling the kids (who are “not that into geocaching anymore” at the moment) I check my Geocaching app and, sure enough, there’s one about 200 metres away. We stop when we get close to Ground Zero and I tell them what I’m about to do. I’m expecting to hear their groans but they’re both distracted, staring upwards.
“Incredible,” the Fairy Princess whispers.
When I look up, there are flying foxes swooping back and forth between the trees above us, one after the other, in what seems like an endless close-up display.
They all eventually settle themselves back into their trees, so we find the geocache and then it’s time to walk the last few hundred metres back to the car. The Chop and I start to walk, but The Fairy Princess is still staring up, mouth wide open.
“Thank you, bats, for the bat show!” she yells, and we carry on.
Need to Know
Last Visited: 23/01/2016
Length (km): 1 km
Time (hrs/min): 1 hour (could easily be walked in less, but children.)
Grade: Grade 1 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Return / Circuit / One-Way / Partial Circuit: Return
Park: Yarra Bend Park
Closest Town: Kew
Car Access: The trail starts from the north end of Bellbird Picnic Area, which is accessed via Yarra Boulevard in Kew (just south of the Eastern Freeway overpass).
Further information: The Grey-headed flying foxes on the walk are listed as a vulnerable species. There are harsh penalties in place for anyone harming a vulnerable species or its habitat. The geocache that sits just off the trail is Flying Fox 2.
Have you visited Flying Fox Wetland Walk? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.