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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yankee Creek, Blackwood. Victoria.

foot bridge
'Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.' 
How do you like the quote above? A pretty dramatic opening? I hope you like it, as it took me five pages of scrolling through a site containing 'darkness' quotes to find it. Mind you, there were 15 pages in total, so there's every possibility something better was beyond my five page attention span. Oh, on that. I saw a quote which had 48 (you bet I counted them) words in it. What's the word count cut-off, to be a quote? It seemed more like a verbose paragraph, rather than a succinct, memorable quote.

Anyway, the photo summed up this rather unusual walk. Cross the bridge at Blackwood Spring into the darkness of Yankee Creek and you've entered a world of thrills, spills and small hills. Okay, I wanted something better than 'small hills', but I couldn't think of anything else which rhymed.

At under 10 km, this is quite a short walk, but somehow I made it a bit more annoying than it should, as somehow it took two attempts to finish it. Is this possible? Well, with me, yes it is, but I have a valid reason for abandoning on my first foray. Oh, you can find the walk notes within GT's book, Melbourne's Western Gorges.

My first visit was in winter last year and the successful tilt was last December. Yet again, you'll get a combo of pictures from both trips and believe it or not, but there was a vast difference in vegetation between a six month period.

The starting point is at the sleepy hamlet of Blackwood. Well, it's sleepy on any day, other than weekends. On the days of rest, the hotel can draw a crowd and on previous weekend trips I was confronted with a wall of leather. No, it's not a BDSM crowd or Village People impersonators, but generally dozens of ruddy faced gents on motorcycles. After observing the leather scene, I made an observation. It seemed the size of a motorcycle was in proportion to gut-size. 'Larger the gut, bigger the bike'. Mm... If that's the case, then if I owned a motorcycle, I might need an engine from the Concorde to power it. EPA compliant of course.

Setting off, I wandered down the main street and immediately something caught my eye. Remember this bloke from the Byers Back Track post? All his leaves are gone!

car with empty tray

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It doesn't take much to excite me.

It wasn't the only thing I noticed as a comparison from my Byers Back Track trip. In that same post, there's a picture of this sign. What's the go with these things? It'd been six months between the two walks, yet it's still closed. Then again, judging by the sign, I think it's given up and laid down for a well earned rest.

closed walking track sign

Actually, I still don't know why it's closed, as the track is a little overgrown, but fine. Anyway, I soon powered down to Blackwood Springs and crossed foot bridge at the start of the post. My next port of call was Shaws Lake. A short distance away, up a steady climb.

An old sign clung to a tree...

overgrown sign on tree

...before arriving at the lake. In water terms, it's not real big, but it does make for some nice, reflective photography. I'm not sure what looks better? The winter visit...

reflections on water

...or the summer trip?

reflections of clouds on water

Then again, they almost look like they were taken on the same day! Rest assured, they're not. The first was in June and the other in December.

Leaving the lake behind, I now had to find an old water race, which hugged the hillsides and on the first trip, this is where my problems began.

Most of my previous walks on water races had been straight-forward. Umm... Not on this occasion. Generally, I was greeted with this sort of stuff...

Wovergrown water race

...which wasn't too bad. It just took a bit of ploughing through, but what really slowed me down was sights like this.

fallen trees

Clambering over fallen trees made for slow going. This happened a number of times, but now and again, the way ahead would clear. I still couldn't really speed up though, as the slope was steep and in winter, the fallen leaves and ground were slippery. Hard to move freely on hillsides like this...

steep hillside wombat state forest

I was getting there though and even had time to pause to catch the inevitable winter fungi on display.

fungi on log

Check out this cluster on a fallen tree.

fungi on fallen tree

The short winter day was a bit of a concern, but I needn't have worried, as one realisation caused me to abandon instantly.

Reaching into my pocket, I was mortified to find it was empty. Normally, I'd keep my glasses in this spot and they're constantly in use. I'm okay at seeing things in the distance, but can't read a thing any more without a portable Hubble telescope strapped to my eyeballs. Without them, I couldn't read the notes, check the map or GPS, so although I could have winged it, I didn't feel comfortable without them. Where had they gone? I'd no idea, although I could remember having them a kilometre earlier. They'd probably slipped out of my pocket whilst clambering over fallen trees or even been plucked out, whilst pushing through the bush.

I didn't ponder the predicament for too long, as I turned around. I had some time up my sleeve, so I opted to walk slowly and scan the ground, fantasising I'd find them on the way back. It's a good theory, but no matter how carefully I moved and scanned around trees I'd clambered over earlier, I couldn't find them. Mind you, in swathes of leaf litter and timber detritus, they could have been anywhere. They were gone. What a prick!

There you have it. That was my June trip done and even after I'd got home, I thought I could return a few days later and find them on a second tilt. You know how it is though. Life got in the way and I didn't come back until six months later, parked in the same spot in the same street and headed off again.

I'd also come equipped. No longer would I only carry the one pair of reading glasses. A spare set now sits in the pack on any walk, plus I bought the cheapest pair I could from the chemist. Scanning the rack at the shop, I felt that although I was only spending $12, I wanted an individual touch. Something which is masculine, part-brutish, but stylish at the same time.

Once I'd seen them, I realised they had everything I'd ever wanted in a pair of glasses. A pair of Dame Edna's, complete with some hot diamantés. Here they are here. Oh, just in case you're wondering. They're not perched on my face. It's a branch.

pair of reading glasses

Actually, when I bought these, the girl at the chemist looked at me quizzically.

She said, "Are these for you?"
I said, "Sure are!"

She said, "Well, you're going to look very nice! HAHAHAHA...!!!"
I said, "I know".

So there you go. Your masculinity gets questioned by the glasses you wear. I guess I was lucky it was only glasses being purchased. Imagine how much she stick she would have given me if I was buying an Anal Intruder as well.

anal intruder movie top secret 1984

Starting the second tilt was like being in a time-warp. Leaving leather clad men at the hotel behind, I passed the leaf-less car and powered past the still closed walking track. Zipped across the Blackwood Springs bridge and was soon closing in on Shaws Lake.

It was past here though, when I was full of determination, that I noticed the world had changed in six months. Guess what it was? Here's the view in June...

fallen tree wombat state forest

...and the same spot in December.

fallen tree burnt wombat state forest

The entire area had been burnt.

burnt bush wombat state forest

I guess a burn-off had been conducted in spring? Whatever happened, it meant two things. Firstly, any hope of finding my glasses were gone, as no doubt they'd been vaporized in flames, but secondly, the walking was easier. The majority of the water races were now scrub free, which meant simple strolling.

water race wombat state forest

The walking was pretty easy and the 'track' easy to follow. Unlike the first trip, logjams of fallen trees were a breeze to negotiate. Actually, I could be wrong, but I think the next picture is taken from the same position as the one earlier in the post (8th image).

burnt fallen trees

The only minor angst was caused by the blackened vegetation, as it guaranteed I'd have to wash my pants, as they were soon darkened by the bunt trees I had to climb over. Don't you hate it when you have to wash your pants?

Fire hadn't deterred the animals, as this echidna was busy burrowing into the ground near the water race. Either he'd found food or was petrified of the world's largest man heading his way.


I gave him a wide berth and in no time I'd covered all the ground I'd struggled with six months earlier. Successfully finding an old track, I descended to Yankee Creek. Why's it called Yankee Creek? Good question. I've no idea.

Anyway, it was only a fleeting visit, as I now had to climb a short hill, before joining another water race and heading back to the start. I would now be on the opposite of the creek and all new ground for me, considering previously I'd long abandoned by this stage.

Oh, the short hill was a bit of a shock to the system. It's one of those comedy hills, which gains height insanely quick and it felt more like I was walking up a wall...

steep track wombat state forest

...hoping it would soon end.

steep track wombat state forest

Luckily for my lungs, I found the required water race and was now on flattish ground, as it cut a reasonable path across the side of the hill. Again, it was open due to the fire and easy to follow.

burnt trees next to water race

A number of burnt trees clung to the side of the hill and for the life of me, I couldn't get the photo I wanted. Even the arty close-up was a bit iffy. I need some more burnt tree photographic training.

burnt tree detail

This section was a nice part of the stroll, so it was unfortunate it ended so quickly. Finding a track, I was soon descending the steep hill into Yankee Creek, which I now had to follow to the end of the walk.

I reached the creek and immediately got a wet foot, but falling for the oldest trick in the book. The 'ol' step on the solid looking rock, which actually moves causing the shoe to be submerged'. I fall for this at least once a month.

wet shoe yankee creek

Now, what to make of Yankee Creek? Well, generally it was dry, but the odd pool of water made for a nice photographic opportunity.

rock in water reflections

The trouble is, other things were causing a rise in blood pressure. Firstly, it was terrain, which looked like this...

fallen trees yankee creek

...and was a little tiresome to negotiate, but what was really annoying was coming across a couple of large sections of this stuff. Blackberries. Easily one of the most aggravating plants for a walker to negotiate and there was plenty along the creek.

blackberries next to yankee creek

Oh, not to mention other plants, which look strangely non-native. Here's one. By the way, I'm talking about the plant. Not the shoe.

holly leaves yankee creek

Considering the large carpet of prickly crap, I gingerly threaded my way through, by heading up the creek banks on the opposite sides. It made me wonder how they ended up in Blackwood, but I do remember being told Baron Von Mueller, the Victorian botanist in 1853, might have something to do with it. I thought I'd Google this for confirmation and really, I'm clearly not the first to do so.

google search baron von mueller

There's even a Victorian Blackberry Taskforce, which says he was instrumental in introducing blackberries to Victoria and actually recommended they be planted on creek beds. Mm... Maybe he should have changed his name to Baron Von Blackberry? That'd be logical? Then again, for releasing such a scourge, maybe something a little harsher? Baron Von Ballbag?

Anyway, I managed to slowly pick my way along the creek, but it was quite time consuming. Some ducking was also required and with blackberries hugging some banks, I elected to forget about keeping my feet (foot) dry and just headed straight up the middle of the creek...

yankee creek blackwood

...picking up some passengers along the way.

seeds stuck to shoes

The old water race walls were off-limits, due to being overgrown with the prickly stuff.

water race wall blackberries yankee creek

It's a pity the burn-off hadn't consumed some blackberries, but then again, a lot more work is needed to get rid of them than a casual inferno.

I was feeling a bit out of it, as I inched along and I must admit, I wasn't really enjoying myself. In the end, I thought once finding an escape route, I'd head up out of the creek. Seeing a piece of open ground, I immediately went straight for it and stumbled across this. I've no idea what it is, other than some sort of ye' olde thing.

remains concrete yankee creek

I followed this inland section, before suddenly popping out onto a dirt road and all was easy with the world again, as it led back into Blackwood. One minute I was clambering over blackened trees and inching around blackberries, and the next I was back onto bitumen. Quite a rapid turn of events. The slow climb back into 'town' wasn't without interest. I passed this place and it has to be one of the original miners cottages from the 1800's. Surely??

old miners cottage blackwood

After some old building examining, I continued and suddenly I was back at the car. Sitting down on a grass nature-strip for about 20 minutes, whilst I de-seeded my shoes. I didn't get them all, as months later I'm still being speared by their non-native sharpness.

So there you have it. All that action in less than 9 km.

The end result? I didn't find my lost glasses and there's not much love in this walk for me to ever do it again.

What's coming up next? I've no idea, as I'm going away for a while. Blogging has the usual pointlessness to it, so I've opted to park the online world and do some walking over the next couple of months instead. I might be back here in a week or it might be longer. I'll wait and see what happens. I know I'll have to be back in a couple of weeks, as my trusted camera has crapped itself and is in the repair shop, so the upcoming walks will be recorded on an old clunker. Grrr...

Oh, I'm probably going to have the comments section set up for moderation and I'll tackle them when I get back.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Castlemaine to Vaughan Mineral Springs, Victoria. January 2015.

trees in paddock blue sky

I've been attempting to write this post a few times, but every time I sit down to do it, I end up giving up, as it's a bit too complex for a standard entry. I'm ready to face it now, so here goes.

This chunk of the Goldfields Track from Castlemaine to Vaughan Mineral Springs is pretty straightforward. Okay, at 18 km of distance, it's longish, but not very hard. There are no big hills, the track is wide and simple to follow, plus there's enough on offer to look at over its distance. I suppose this is no problem for most people, but in my case I suffered like a complete bastard. What else is new...?

In planning, the eternal problem of the solo walker popped up straight away. It's a one way walk, so how do I get back to the start? Oh, don't worry, I did some thinking. I always aimed to end up at Vaughan Mineral Springs, so my common one way theme is to have the car at the finish. My initial idea was to park the car at the end, hop on a bicycle (just in case you're wondering, I'd bring the bike, not steal one), ride to the start and lock it up in the bush somewhere. The sticking point with this though, is I'm a bicycle wanker. None of my bikes are crapola, $10 specials. I felt a little perturbed leaving a $1000 bike, 'secured' to a tree, which one could probably push over. Not to mention the bush around Castlemaine is open and generally, hard-to-hide-a-bike-worthy. Mm...

My secondary plan was to get a taxi. Maybe I could get a taxi at the end, or maybe at the start? That's a possibility, but what are the cab services like in Castlemaine? Do cabs exist? Are they thin on the ground and I'd have to wait a decade for one? See how I really over-thought the whole thing, so guess what I did?

Yeah, you better believe it. I decided to do nothing at all. I'd walk from Castlemaine to Vaughan and then turn around and walk back to the car. Okay, I'm not completely insane, as I didn't plan on retracing my steps for a lazy 18 km return. No, I'd find some other road and attempt a shorter route. Somehow.

I don't often walk 30 km in a day, but it's doable. What I didn't count on was the heat factor. There I was in Melbourne, looking at the following days temperature and like a tool, noted the maximum would only be 25 °C. Easy! Except it's always hotter inland, isn't it? Fairly obvious I would have thought, but at no time did I consider it. Oh, I found out when I reached Castlemaine, hopped out the car with the gusto of a lubed-up Yowie on Viagra and then suddenly realised it was 30 °C.

Immediately, rays from the big, bright thing above penetrated my toupée and began burning the thin skin across my skull. I remember thinking to myself. 'Sweet pants. Today is going to hurt'. Concerned about possible dehydration, I enacted Plan B. The best thing about having a secondary plan is it overrode Plan A, which didn't actually exist to start off with. Hopefully I'm not being too existential.

Anyway, to supplement 3 litres of water in a hydration bladder, I bought a litre bottle of Gatorade. As you may have noticed, there's stuff-all in Plan B. Mind you, I could have skipped it and gone straight to Plan C, which is pulling out a snub-nosed ·38 revolver (shorter barrel is preferable to the ultralight hiker, as it's far less weight) and blowing my brains out. Sure, it's hard to come back from Plan C, but as options go, it's very effective.

My main exercise problem is a low, operating temperature. Preferably, my body prefers 15 °C and below, so I'm assuming you can see how a walk at double my range mightn't be ideal. Before I get into this wander, can I offer some advice? Some people like to hike for the physical challenge, but if you want to spend a long day under the January sun for the purposes of confronting pain, may I suggest an alternative? Consider just taking 50 strikes of the cane and be done with it. Oh, you might also get a happy ending thrown in if you're lucky. You'll be done in an hour and you'd have saved some money on buying Gatorade, not to mention petrol costs for the drive to Castlemaine.

With the extra fluid on board, I arrived at the start, which I must admit, is not the most appetising. A dry, dusty edge of suburbia, leading into bush. It's not exactly nirvana.

goldfields track castlemaine

Before I describe what happened next, can I give you some background information? Believe it or not, but before my knees packed up, I ran a lot. It used to be all about the running, until some pain began, deep within the joints. Really, I should have just stopped, but instead, looked for a way around the problem. At work, I asked an ex-footballer how he managed his sore knees and he said, "Huh? Just take a fistful of anti-inflammatories and keep running." So that's what I did and on reflection, it may be the stupidest health advice I've ever heard.

Even though I was a dedicated runner, there were still occasions where it didn't got to plan, no matter how fit I was. I'd have good and bad days, which I'd know within the first few hundred metres of starting. On a good day, I'd glide across the ground and the breathing would be perfect. On a bad day, my breathing would immediately be laboured and there'd be no gliding of the feet. Instead I'd feel like an elephant, hitting the ground hard. The resultant effect of these heavy foot strikes are known by the Latin phrase, 'mancan nutchin'. Essentially, it's when each out of kilter elephant step, causes the man-cans to alternate between striking the nuts and then the chin. Just picture this for a moment.

My running days are past, but some things remain on every hike I ever do. Literally, within the first few hundred metres I'll know if there'll be any suffering. If I'm dying at the start, it doesn't get any better. It seems my pulse goes into thrash-metal mode and no matter how much I ease back in order to reach a Michael Bublé level, it never gets there. Guess what? This was one of those days. I reckon I was about 400 metres into the walk, when I felt compelled to bend over and put my hands to my knees, as I was knackered. It wasn't a promising sign.

I followed a water-race, which climbed steadily. I guess I could give you photos of this, but they're insanely dull due to the summer surroundings. The parched theme was in full swing. Oh, I've walked parts of this three times before, but haven't written about them previously, so the photos will be a mish-mash of multiple trips.

After a bit of uphill wandering, a dam is reached, which interestingly is called, Poverty Gully Basin. With a name like that, I guess it wasn't all riches during the gold rush? I've seen this dam a few times now and it's never had a drop of water in it. Is there ever any water in Castlemaine? I've done winter walks up there and it seems the landscape doesn't look any different. No wonder the gold miners in the ye' olde days had to build races and divert water, as it seems to be a rare commodity.

poverty gully basin goldfields track

Leaving the dry hole in the ground, I continued on and soon came to the turn off for the Monk, which is the highest point in the area. I know what you're thinking, why's it called the Monk? I've no idea. I could Google it, but I'm too busy. I've taped both the cricket and cycling last night, which overrides any Googling.

Actually, I didn't need to wander to the top of the Monk, as I'd been there before and really, the views are restricted, plus I was feeling exhausted after 2 km of walking. I considered saving some energy for the rest of the day, but in the end it was one of those things. Is a walk complete unless all parts are done? I'm not sure, but after hesitating, I slowly strolled up before collapsing on a soft rock at the top. Taking in the view, there was one thing in my favour. The sky was suitable for polariser abuse.

view from the monk castlemaine

Heading back down, I followed an easy track and slipped into soporific-mode. Essentially this involves staring at the ground whilst day dreaming. If done effectively, I will cover a fair bit of ground and not even notice I'd done so. The only drama with this method is I might miss something of interest, plus have no recollection of what happened.

Now and again though, an item on the ground will stand out, causing me to put the brakes on. I've said it before, but without fail, on any walk in the Goldfield areas, I'll find a piece of willow pattern crockery. Usually they're clearly seen on the tracks, as their blue pattern stands out on the dusty surface. Here's one...

broken willow pattern crockery

...and another, which was a short distance away.

piece of willow pattern crockery

I find them intriguing, as they add a human element of people long passed into history. Such thoughts were fleeting though, as I had to keep moving, with my next point of interest, being Spring Gully Mine.

A few crumbling ruins remain...

ruins spring gully mines

...plus the occasional wall.

stone wall spring gully mine

That's not all though, as the ground it littered with bits of refuse and interestingly enough, a number of bricks. Look, this one came from Northcote.

northcote brick spring gully mine

I pottered around here for a while, as the mine area is quite large. I think one could spend a few hours there, having a proper look away from the tracks. I didn't have the time though, as I needed the entire day for this elongated extravaganza.

It's hard to come up with some tasty landscape photos with the sun beating down and surrounded by dry bush. Instead, I kept my eye out for something more detailed and this spider was a perfect sighting, as I homed in with a zoom lens. Ah, the wonders of photography. He probably wasn't even the size of a 10 cent coin, but here he looks man-size.

spider in web

 A few other objects were of interest. The writing on this sign had long faded...

old blank sign

...and a weathered bolt, clung to a fence post.

rusted bolt on fence post

Private land is everywhere along this walk and fences are all over the place. Some are in better nick than others. This one was powerless to withstand a tree fall like this. It's hard to illustrate size in a photo, but this tree was huge.

fallen tree

My next target was a sleepy area called Fryerstown. A handful of houses are all that remain and it's hard to believe 25,000 people lived there in the gold rush days. The track exits onto a road, which heads downhill to the town.

track to fryerstown victoria

A short wander amongst the houses, I passed by the Burke and Wills Mechanics Institute. Upon sighting it, I began to scratch my head. Burke and Wills didn't pass through here. Did they? It wasn't until later I had a look online and found out it was built in 1863 as a memorial.

fryerstown hall burke and wills mechanice institute

Actually, it's a pity I wasn't on that trip as it would have been the ultimate fiasco hike. Imagine how much material I could have got for the blog? Not to mention the amount of times I could have taken the piss out of Burke? I guess they had an iconic set of names though. If I did it with my usual outdoor sidekick it wouldn't be quite the same. Who would read about the travels of 'Smuffin and Greg' in the future? It sounds more like a couple of circus performers than explorers. Not unless we used a name mash-up? The adventures of 'Smurke and Grills'? Mm...

Anyway, onwards I continued and I must admit, it was bloody hot. Months later I know this, just by viewing the photos. Once I start wilting the camera is parked and I barely take a picture. If I do, something like this happens. I've absolutely no regard concerning lens flare intruding into the image.

sun lens flare walking track

As the photo above shows, a lot of the time there's no relief from the heat. No wandering under shady trees, so most of the time my brain was cooking. In the middle of nowhere, an object like this caused some surprise. How do golf balls end up in the bush?

holding broken golf ball

Earlier, I mentioned how hard it was to show the size of some trees in a photograph. My previous ponderings were about a fallen one. Well, here's another still standing. This was a beast.

large tree next to goldfields track

Honestly, there were quite a few more kilometres to Vaughan Mineral Springs, but I've no idea what happened, as the camera was no longer in use. About the only item I remember is a couple of Melbourne trams up on a hill in the distance. Sure, you might be thinking the heat had got to me, but I took a photo just to prove I wasn't seeing things.

abandoned trams on hill

Plodding along, following dry, dusty tracks, I eventually arriving at the springs, feeling absolutely rooted.

The Plan B Gatorade was long gone and although I had some water left from the hydration bag, there wasn't a lot. I sat down at a table and generally contemplated Plan C, before deciding I was done for the day and maybe it was best to call for a taxi. Getting the phone out though, there was a slight problem. Powering it up, I was presented with one bar of service. I don't know about you, but one bar on my phone essentially means I can do bugger all, other than sending a text. Well, there went that grand plan.

Sitting on the bench, I pondered a few things, knowing full well at some point, I'd have to actually stand and continue on. I didn't really have an exact route to return to the start, but following a road to Midland Highway, which I knew led back into Castlemaine would be a good start. I guess I sat there for about 30 minutes? Seeking motivation I considered moments in history and the Roman Empire seemed a good place for inspiration.

Prior to the Battle of Zama, Scipio, the leader of the Roman army, sat down next to the general, Fabius Maximus and voiced his concern about facing the intimidating force of Hannibal's elephants. Maximus scornfully declared to the rattled Scipio, 'Just get up and stop being a soft cockitus'. It seemed to help, as suddenly I felt like Scipio and with the words of Maximus ringing in my ears, got up to continue on.

Wandering through the park, I spied the Jim Paull mineral spring.

jim paull mineral spring vaughan mineral springs

Firstly, I felt intrigued by the title. What's with the two 'L' method? Was it to try and jazz up a dull name? If so, I can understand, as my name sends me to sleep. I suppose I could try and add some street-cred by adding another 'G'. You know, 'Gregg'. Don't you love people with additional letters in their name for no apparent reason? 'Glenn', plus the best of all, 'Garry'. Spare me. Face up to it fellas, it's dull and your additions are not helping. Mind you, I reckon they've got it all wrong, as my method would be flip the whole thing. No 'Gregg' for me. I'd go 'Ggreg' just to rock the boat a little.

Anyway, back to dying. Sighting the lonely hand pump, a thought came to me. What about a bottle of natural mineral water for the rest of the journey? It was a long shot, as I've never really been a fan of these waters. Generally, I find they're like ingesting what tastes similar to rust flavoured water, with a hint of rotten egg. Not very appetising or nice to the stomach.

I was low on options though, so I gave it a go. Filling the empty Gatorade bottle...

filling bottle from mineral spring

...I then had a swig. Pondering what was in my mouth, I was suddenly struck by the taste. This was no rusted, metal tasting filth. It was cool water with a mild flavour of minerals and slightly bubbly. At that moment, I had only one thought and it was like a lightning bolt had struck me.


I stood there like an aroused Neanderthal, with my back arched rearwards and head tilted until it was level with my hips and gulped down a litre of fluid, straight from the ground. Literally, I felt its liquid-ness add energy to my corpse-like, heat affected body. You know what? I've always been a little suspicious of the life giving properties of this sort of stuff. I always felt it was a bit like alternative medicine and what's that joke? If alternative medicine actually worked, they'd call it medicine?

Mind you, once upon a time, if something was out there, I'd believe it. As a kid, I once couldn't sleep, as I swore there was a UFO above the house. Not to mention one summer evening where I tossed and turned, thinking Bigfoot was outside the bedroom window. Sure, it seems a bit weird, having a Bigfoot in the suburbs of Melbourne, not to mention he's meant to be in another country, but that's not important right now. Essentially, I believed everything weird, from ghosts, aliens, Yeti's, blokes on the grassy knoll and white men having large dingalings. The lot. Not to mention all sorts of weird, herbal concoctions.

Something happened one night though, as I woke up one morning, sat bolt upright and pronounced, 'Hang on. It's all crap!' After that, things were no longer as wondrous, but at least I was getting a full nights sleep.

You know what? I'm swayed back to weird world again, as literally the mineral water added juice to my step. Who needs a taxi? I was back in town and I'm now a firm convert and believer of the following.


tap flowing water mineral spring

With some late afternoon mojo, I exited the Vaughan Mineral Springs and headed out onto the road. Nearby there's an old Chinese cemetery, which dates back to the Goldfields days. A handful of graves remain and unfortunately most are now a pile of collapsed stones, with no discerning features. From memory, there's only one headstone in the cemetery, but it's not Chinese. In Australian settler terms, it's pretty old though.

headstone chinese cemetery vaughan
I was now walking a road with my destination being the Midland Highway. I took a few photos, but generally it was pretty average photographically. Regularly swigging the Jim Paull elixir, I was moving well. One notable interest was the Vaughan Cemetery. I didn't even know it existed, but bookmarked it for a return visit. Set back from the road and surrounded by bush, it has a lonely feel...

vaughan cemetery victoria

...with a mix of old and new graves. These ornaments caught my eye...

blue grave ornaments vaughan cemetery victoria

...not to mention some flowers on a granite slab.

flowers on old grave vaughan cemetery victoria

Leaving the departed behind, I trudged up a couple of hills, but after that it was pretty easy going. A quick GPS check allowed me to find a shortcut and head on gravel roads for a while, before finally reaching Midland Highway. It was now full steam ahead back to Castlemaine.

The minerals were continuing to work and I was beyond delirious in energy. So much so, I was wandering alongside the highway when a car pulled up. A bloke hung out the window and said, "Hey, I saw you about two hours ago. Do you want a lift...?"

Normally, I'd have said yes, but I was under the influence of Paull's potion and declined his offer. Roadside walking wasn't the greatest, but there was possibly an alternative. A few hundred metres inland, I could see a railway line, straight as an arrow and heading in my direction. I considered following it, but then thought of the whole, getting run over by a train aspect and elected to hug the road instead. You know what? I really shouldn't have worried about trains too much, as after about five kilometres, I found a turn off. Crossing the railway line, I saw this.

disused train line castlemaine

Umm... Okay, now I know. Take the railway line next time, as the possibility of being run over is slim, plus it would be a lot nicer than following the road.

On this side street, I was firmly back in the Castlemaine suburban outskirts. I had one moment of angst when wandering along, I took the camera off my shoulder, but it's strap caught my hat and pulled it off, before becoming entangled in the GPS near my pocket. Sure, the minerals had increased my energy, but it was getting late in the day, so a bit of the wilt-factor was returning. I wasn't really impressed by this tangling and exclaimed at high decibels, 'You fucking muthafucking prick of a thing!'

As I finished, I looked up and saw a bloke watering his front lawn, approximately five feet away and for the life of me, hadn't seen him before yelling. He had a blank look on his face as he stared at me. Maybe he was pondering who this sweat-soaked, cursing interloper was, but he played a straight bat by saying, 'Nice day for a walk?' I had nothing to give back to him, other than an excitable 'yeah'.

A few more side-streets and suddenly I was back with the car in sight. Wow. What a day. In hindsight, I think it went okay, but really, it was way too hot. I checked the weather for the day and it didn't really alter out of the 30 °C range for the day. Oh, I'd also be dead without the mineral magic. Believe it or not, but I've returned to that spring, just for the water. I've tasted a few over the years and by far, it's my favourite.

How about an overview from Strava...? Just over 30 km and considering I weigh as much as a standard Volkswagen, I'm happy with the effort. Oh, one point about the Strava map below. It acts like a spud if you just click on it. I'm not sure if it's a Chrome thing or not, but it works a lot better if you open the map in a new tab (right click on map, open link in new tab). All the details should then be correctly displayed. I'm not sure if it's something in the settings, but I haven't had time to check them.

In hindsight, this walk has given me the following:

Plan A: There is no plan A.
Plan B: Gatorade.
Plan C: ·38 revolver.
Plan D: Buy a cheap bicycle.
Plan E: Jim Paull.

It's also been a long post and I'm sure there was more to say, but I've forgotten what it was. It might come to me tomorrow. Maybe.


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