More than sixteen and a half thousand hectares in size and covering a large portion of Cardinia Shire, the Bunyip State Park is home to many treasures, some hidden, some not so much so. Bunyip State Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape, and A Guide to Cardinia respects the deep and continuing connection that Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.
There have been several major bushfires affecting the park in the last 10-11 years, and large parts are still closed from the 2019 fires. Fortunately, Mortimer Picnic Ground is not included in that area, and nor are the nearby walking trails.
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Operating from 1898 to 1903, one of the earliest sawmills in the area has become the foundation for the picnic ground. Established by David, George and John Mortimer at the confluence of the Diamond and William Wallace creeks, sawn timber was then transported 13 kilometres south to Nar Nar Goon and then on to Melbourne on the main Gippsland railway line. When first established, this was all done by horse and carriage, until the railway arrived, and remnants of the mill’s operations and tramways can still be found.While there are many trails that lead from (and to) the picnic ground, the Mortimer Nature Walk itself – an easy 1.2 kilometres, suitable for beginners – also provides an excellent introduction to the native flora of the region, from Sclerophyll Forest through Swampy Riparian Forest, to Healthy Woodland communities. (This should not be mistaken for the Mortimer Circuit – a much longer 9+ kilometre trail).
Only 7-odd kilometres south east of Gembrook, neither getting there nor the walk should not take too much out of your day, and with the picnic ground also being a camping area, you should have plenty of time to relax and explore the surrounding area, including the towns of Gembrook, Cockatoo and Emerald.From the multitude of cafes and restaurants, through the Emerald Lake Model Railway to the real thing in Puffing Billy or the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre, the Mortimer Picnic and Camping ground makes an ideal base for exploration.
Mortimer Camping Area is suitable for tents only. Neither pets nor firearms are allowed here.