Back to Australia, after exploring the Badyuk caves and the tumulis we had one more volcanic adventure on the list before driving down to the south coast in Victoria. The Budj Bim NP was highlighted in our guide book as being a hot spot for koalas. Also, the history of the landscape and its importance to the original owners, the Gunditjmara people, is very interesting. As with the last spots we visited on the road trip, the volcanic eruptions of Mt Eccles had a large impact on the area. Rivers and streams were blocked and turned the area into a swamp that provided a great environment for agriculture and raising eels. The communities thrived until the European settlers arrived and after the long-lasting Eumerella Wars most Gunditjmara were eventually displaced. The struggle for the recognition of the native title rights of this area lasted until the 21st century.
For the park as of today, it comprises Lake Surprise, a stretch of eucalypt forest with lava blisters and small caves, and great campsite with hot showers! We arrived in the afternoon when the heat was slowly going down a bit and started the loop trail around Lake Surprise. Here is a picture of the walk.
For most of the hike we were carefully scanning the eucalypt trees for koalas but it took us quite a while to find one. Here is the only one we saw on the hike but he was pretty cute and sleepy.
On the next morning, we visited the small lava cave and the Natural Bridge via the Lava Tunnel Walk. We also surprised a hungry wallaby, so it was a wonderful start into the day. Here is a picture from inside the cave.
The park is definitely worthwhile to check out even we expected to see many more koalas. The walks are not that hard and offer great views over the lake and the campsite is very spacious and quiet.