The You Yangs is a large mountain range of granite ridges just outside my hometown, and it’s the setting for the first book in the Kanga Roopert and the Clubhouse Coders Series – Mrs Mully’s Missing Moggy.
The distinctive granite peaks rise up from the flat volcanic Werribee plains between Melbourne and Geelong. Although only 319 meters high at their tallest, they dominate the landscape and are clearly distinguishable from Melbourne (55 km away) and Geelong (22km away).
The name You Yang comes from the Aboriginal words Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang which could have any number of meanings; ‘large hill’, ‘big hill’, ‘large hill’, ‘big mountain in the middle of a plain’. It’s also thought that the Yawangi people may have enlarged natural hollows in the rocks throughout the You Yangs in order to form wells that would hold water even through dry spells, therefore the Yawangi word Woiwurrung (pronounced yow wong) could be where the name derived from.
On May 1st 1802, Captain Matthew Flinders – a famous English explorer of the time – climbed to the very top of the ranges. He called it ‘Station Peak’, but the name was later changed to ‘Flinders Peak’ in 1912 in honor of Captain Flinders. Today, there’s a walking path up to Flinders Peak – although there are steps cut into the pathway, it’s still tough going!
Another of the attractions at the park is Big Rock which is…well…a big rock! See a couple of the pictures above – the rock is almost smooth in places and rises up from the bush around it. From the top, you can see almost all across the ranges, spotting Geelong in the distance.
The park is a great place for walking and mountain biking with 50 kilometers of exciting bike trails to cater for all ages and abilities. The views, birdlife (more than 200 species!), rock-climbing, abseiling and bushwalks make it a great spot for all you outdoorsy types, and there’s even picnic areas for a spot of lunch.
This area is in the driest part of Victoria – largely due to the rain shadow that’s created by the Otway Ranges to the south-west, and annual rainfall can be as little as 450ml. The result is that, rather than forest, the vegetation is mainly grassland and low woodland.
River red gum, yellow gum, and blue gum are the most dominant trees in the area. Native, low vegetation is sparse and consists mostly of saltbushes, grasses and some scrubby areas of drooping Cassini and snowy mintbush.
The You Yangs is home to lots of native mammals such as echidnas, wallabies, swamp gliders, brushtails, eastern grey kangaroos, ringtail possums, and koalas. The koalas in the park are monitored and there’s an estimated 161 living there, preferring to roost up in the red gums – if you look really carefully, you might even see one, fast asleep in the crook of a branch.