When the Bureau Of Meteorology (BOM) reported that Winter 2017 was the hottest on record, it immediately gave me the theme for Part 2 of ‘A Year at Mossvale Park’. The hottest Winter on record indeed. I don’t think there was one person in Mirboo North this year, or the region for that matter (I’ve spoken to a lot of people), that would have thought that the Winter just past was the hottest on record , as everyone was thoroughly sick and tired of the endless cold. Mind you, what may have been a record was the demand for firewood, which became something of a scarcity as this ‘hottest on record’ Winter came to a close. But not to be outdone, Spring came on with a vengeance and produced even more cold and then unrelenting rain for weeks on end. If firewood was in short supply towards the end of Winter, it became a luxury item in Spring. I’m just waiting for the BOM to claim that the beginning of Spring was also the hottest on record (of course it was).
While Winter was still some time away, Summer was delightful and Mossvale Park was showing off all manner of colours, shapes and sizes of plants. It’s sometimes surprising to see some plants looking as if they are ready to burst open as they do in Spring, though others are always coming and going. At times I actually find Summer at Mossvale Park a bit disappointing, as everything is a solid green, with the trees blending in with the grass covering the open fields. So this is often a time when I look more closely at the smaller things, trying to find something interesting amongst all the trees, as sometimes you can miss the small things because the trees dominate everything. But you have to enjoy the Summer months while you can, as Autumn comes along faster than you think.
Visiting Mossvale Park over Autumn, Winter and Spring clearly revealed that we were not revelling in tropical weather; we would have relished even temperate-climate warmth, or just an occasional glimpse of the sun that lasted more than a few minutes. The few times the that the sun did manage to gaze down on Terra Firma, it was quickly obscured by clouds, clearly leaving it guessing as to what was going on in this frigid landscape of ours. And certainly Mossvale Park was going through cold phases like everyone else, as well as enough rain and its aftereffects. While it was a fairly dry Autumn and less so Winter, I honestly can’t remember a day that I was prepared to go to Mossvale Park without my gum boots and plenty of warm clothing. On some mornings when I took our hounds for a run, the park was shrouded in fog and bitterly cold, especially if there was just a hint of a breeze blowing.
And as Autumn got well underway, with Winter hot on its heels, the trees started to rapidly change colour and leaves were soon carpeting the ground. Mossvale Park is always very interesting when it’s shrouded in fog and many a year I’ve gone down there expecting it to be blanketed as, leaving Mirboo North, the town is almost invisible because of the fog. But then when I arrive at Mossvale Park, I find the area clear. I’m not sure why this is, as Mirboo North is at a much higher elevation that Mossvale Park and doesn’t have the Tarwin River West Branch wending its way around the park. But maybe the trees keep the fog at bay, except when the weather comes from a different direction. Whatever the reason, when the fog is present and dense, the park develops a very mystical persona, even the cows were clearly wondering what was going on, or maybe just curious about the odd looking, small, black, calves running around with me.
But it wasn’t long before Winter stepped in and put its foot down, with Jack Frost running around each morning peppering icicles all over the landscape. These were actually pleasant times at the park, as everything was still and there was the occasional early morning sun shining in a clear sky before the clouds rolled in once again. We didn’t get snowfalls, though a few times the reports were saying it was going to snow down to 300m, which is where Mirboo North sits on the Victorian mountain-scale (it snowed at Lorne in the Otways in Spring). Sometimes I think it would be kind of nice to see some snow in the trees and yards in Mirboo North, but I wonder if that would count against any warming happening in the northern regions of Australia. Though if this trend continues, we may well find out.
Each morning it was slightly different at Mossvale Park, as Winter ever so slowly rolled along. There were some mornings where it even looked like it had snowed overnight, with the open areas all white with frost and the sound stage almost blending in with the ground. All the trees were now pretty much bare, with a few stubborn leaves remaining on a branch here and there where they weren’t fully exposed to any wind. This is probably the most bleak time at the park and one where I really have to look a lot harder to find something interesting to photograph, to overcome the overall dullness that seems to pervade the park in the middle of Winter. This is probably when a drone could be handy, as I think elevated views would provide a different perspective and maybe something a little more interesting than ground level views. Maybe I need to see if I can get a very long selfie-stick.
Winter finally wearied of its work and conceded the days to an impatient Spring; however, there’s no doubt whatsoever that Winter was having the last laugh at those who were bemoaning the endless cold. As Spring gleefully took over the landscape, every hollow and low lying area suddenly began to fill with water as relentless rains started to fall and Mossvale Park became almost unrecognisable in a few days. With the river rising each day, it quickly broke its banks and flooded the entire park. It wasn’t the worst I’d seen, but that may be because I missed a few days and perhaps didn’t get to be there when the river was at it’s highest. While the water can rise quickly, it also subsides just as fast once the rains settle down.
And boy did the river rise. I went there over several days and, as I said, I may have missed the peak, but what I did get to record was impressive regardless. While the Tarwin River West Branch isn’t that big a river, it gets fed like all rivers from creeks and hills, and can develop in size pretty quickly. The valley further down, once again, was much like when I wrote about The Lakes District. In fact, it may well have been even more so, but I didn’t pursue things a second time around.
Mossvale Park is back to normal now, more or less, with only a few pools lingering on. The trees are coming back into leaf and birdlife etc is returning. Daylight savings has started and I have to say that I really am looking forward to Summer once again. It might get hot, but I really do prefer that to the cold that we’ve had over Winter and, thankfully, it’s pretty rare that we get hot and humid, which is something that I hate with a passion. Northern Australia, you can have that sort of climate all to yourselves.