Green and lushly dripping, the tall forests of the wet gullies and sheltered slopes of the ranges form a cool contrast to the harsher and more open dry forests of the lower slopes and hills. Here moisture is rarely a problem so foliage is soft and often large. In the sheltered forest understorey leaves are also a noticeably deeper green, packed full of chlorophyll to assist in photosynthesis, making the most of the dim light.

The flowery bonanza of the open forests is largely absent here, so birds are more likely to be hunting small animals in the rich dark humus soil. Lyrebirds fire silver bolts of sound through the drifting mists. These forests of towering Alpine Ash and bark-trailing Brown Barrel and Ribbon Gum support a rich fauna of arboreal mammals – especially possums and gliders – and a silent hunt takes place every night as huge owls pursue them.

Below the trees flourish ferns, including great tree ferns, which have changed little since they dominated the world long before the dinosaurs arose. Soft mosses carpet the ground and in autumn a wonderful array of fungi sprout colourful fruiting bodies on every surface.

In the natural fire cycle they burn ferociously every few hundred years. Unlike most eucalypts the Alpine Ash is killed by these fires, and regrows from seed which rains down after the ground has cooled, overwhelming the efforts of ants to carry it away. It sounds counter-intuitive, but these forests need occasional intense fire for long-term survival.

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