Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mount Kooyoora, Victoria. July 2014.

rain clouds over mt kooyoora
A wintry day atop Mount Kooyoora

Look out, I'm back again. Remember the footnote in my last post? How I was going on a five day wander? Well, I did as stated and believe it or not, I returned with all of my limbs intact. Quite a remarkable turn of events.

Strolling the Wilderness Coast from Mallacoota along the Croajingolong National Park and up through the Nadgee Nature Reserve to Wonbyn, has more than enough large words for one sentence. There were many interesting sights, such as whales, dolphins, pond water, ticks, Alpha males and more. Should I write about that trip or detail this one, which I did with Smuffin on a bleak, freezing couple of days in the Kooyoora State Park?

Okay, you don't win any prizes for what I've selected to do, as there's a slight giveaway by the title. This entry has sat on the back burner for a while and I might as well knock it off now. Mind you, it caused a bit of angst as not a lot happened, the photos were a mixed bag and really, Mount Kooyoora is quite a smallish hill, which we knocked off in a few hours. Mm...

Anyway, I sat down a few days ago to quickly tap out the post, but it seems to be jinxed. It all started the other day when a mattress suddenly arrived at the front door. Don't you hate that? I'd just typed in the title when the light in my lounge room was dimmed by a mattress suddenly blocking the window. Stepping outside, I thought the best thing I could do was drag the springy beast inside. The trouble was, within 0.2 seconds of lifting I felt my spine implode and have been left with a sore lower back. Writing is hard when your back has detonated and I've got some words of advice. Warm up before you lift any marauding mattresses.

After a few days, the back slowly returned to its normal level of creakiness. So, I sat down again to write this infernal post, but as I did so I spotted a sink full of dishes. Out the corner of my eye, they were bothering me, so I downed my keyboard tool and decided to quickly whip those filthy plates into shape. Guess what happened? Within 0.2 seconds of cleaning a glass, it shattered into a million pieces leaving me battling spurting blood, which besides hurting, also stained my soapy bubbles. It really was annoying and as I was sure no one would believe me, I took a photo. Here I am losing blood outside (too dark inside for a photo). Does the blood make my hand look tanned?

cut hand

A few days have now passed and the hand is feeling better, so I'm resuming writing this cursed entry. Hopefully I can finish it now, but you never know, I may drop dead before the end. Who says hiking can be dangerous? As I've clearly shown, I'm under more threat sitting at home.

What about the walk? I'd read about it in a few different books and took track notes from GT's book, 'Daywalks Around Victoria'. Initially I considered an overnighter, until I realised the entire hike is only 10 km and the elevation gain is about six inches. Instead, we decided to set-up the the Smuffin base camp caravan and just do the whole thing as a day walk. How do you think we went?

I guess selecting July was not ideal? Not the warmest of months? Anyway, we headed up and propped at the Melville Caves Camping Area. A word has been invented for what we felt when we arrived. It's called 'freezing'. In fact, for the evening, I don't think we saw each others faces, due enormous clouds of condensation that enveloped our heads every time we spoke.

We spent a few hours checking out the nearby Melville Caves, which really aren't caves at all. I'm considering a separate post on them though, as they're quite interesting and there's also some of the worst font I'd ever seen for a number of years on display.

Returning to the camp ground, a cold, wet night ensued. Smuffin had to endure sleeping in a caravan, whilst I had the better option. A tent being buffeted by wind and rain with a touch of water ingress, combined with escalating profanities was clearly the best choice.

Come morning, the weather was bleak, but at least the rain had stopped. A quick inhalation of food and we were off and racing. In the car. There's no point walking from where we'd set up, so we drove up to the White Swan Carpark and kicked off from there.

It's interesting to see areas, which had been been mined up to 150 years ago, still look shithouse. Who would have guessed, turning the earth upside down would do that? I hopped down into the old mine to examine an interesting looking tree root, clinging to the earth bank...

twisted tree root

...but little did I know I was under surveillance.

taking photo of tree

Once under way, the bush was damp from the recent rain...

water drops on end of twigs

...and Mount Kooyoora was nowhere to be seen. Enveloped in low cloud, it was out there somewhere.

tree in mist
View of Mount Kooyoora. Just behind the tree.

Oh, we actually got lost approximately 15 feet from the car, but enacted the oldest trick in the book to find our way again. Just keep walking uphill.

It wasn't too bad either, as we found a ridge, which led us all the way to the top. It sounds like I've fast tracked a bit, haven't I? Well, I have. I guess this is the result of not having many photos to choose from and not a lot was going on. The clouds did clear on the way up though, as we weaved our way around boulders...

boulders mount kooyoora

...until reaching the top. I must say, it's a mighty impressive looking area to camp, with large areas of grass on flat ground. We decided to come back at some point to do that, but maybe not now, as the warmer months would probably bring out all sorts of lunatics. Actually, I'd like to show you these grassy areas, but I seem to have forgotten to take those pesky things called pictures.

One thing of note is there must have been a long removed structure on top of a boulder. Was it the official summit rock? Mm... An old metal piece was visible from down below...

metal summit rock mount kooyoora I elected to clamber up for a look. Using the little known 'arse ascent via crack attack' method, I began...

climbing rock mount kooyoora

...and stopped. Are you kidding me? One has to know their limitations. Yes, I may have been able to get to the top, as it's only about 10 feet high, but there was every possibility I'd tumble down and spear head first into the ground. When you weigh 120 kg, you've got to take this sort of crap into consideration.

It was a now a matter of strolling west towards West Peak, which is quite an interesting name. Views were to be had...

tree branch clouds

...of the farmland surrounding the mountain.

tree branch fields mount kooyoora

The walking had a mixture of rocks...

fallen tree rocks mount kooyoora

...and more rocks. No, Smuffin isn't praying to the rock gods, but rather, using his own crack attack to move forward.

walking on cracked rock mount kooyoora

It's quite a strange landscape of boulders...

solitary round boulder mount kooyoora

...dotted across the top in intervals.

tree branch boulder mount kooyoora

Some needed to be climbed...

boulder clouds mount kooyoora

...before emerging onto open areas...

water puddles rock slab mount kooyoora

...surrounded by pools of water from the recent rain.

pooled water mount kooyoora

Talk about a photographic nightmare. Staring into the sun with its accompanying washed out white sky was a little tricky. What you're seeing is the best I could come up in the conditions.

Mind you, looking in the other direction, the light was a little more favourable...

rocks on mount kooyoora

...whilst again, I noted we were under surveillance.

wallaby mount kooyoora

I enjoyed the large sections of grass, which made for comfortable walking...

grass rocks mount kooyoora

...not to mention the always intriguing boulders laying around.

balancing boulder mount kooyoora

On our way down off West Peak (is that really its name?) I noticed a spot on my map called 'Mushroom Rock'. I wandered off to have a look and duly found it. I guess it looks mushroom-like? Then again, maybe it's more like a nicely risen soufflé?

mushroom shaped rock mount kooyoora

Post-soufflé, I've got nothing to add, as we hit Mount View Road and honestly, if someone can give you a lift here, you'd take it. Quite a tedious stroll, which rubs in the whole experience by being slightly uphill for its length. The following photo is how it looks and really, this is as good as it's going to look.

mount view road mount kooyoora

Before we knew it we were back at the car and done for the day. Oh, there's Melville 'Crap Font' Caves, which was interesting at sunset, but otherwise our work was done. A quick pack up and we were whizzing back to the big smoke.

Is that it? I think so. I was going to link the GPS track, but I couldn't be stuffed, as the kettle is on. Don't you hate that? Oh, did you notice one thing? I survived at home long enough to finish this off. Anyway, roll on the next saga...


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Daylesford Forest, Victoria. May 2014.

lake daylesford
Lake Daylesford

Oh yeah, sorry about this, but here's another ye olde walk from my inaugural May madness this year. For the punter who's just arrived here, I went slightly mental doing day walks during May and racked up a few million, which I still haven't written about. Should I jot them all down? Probably not, as I've got a five day hike coming up, which will probably be dissected here before these May affairs.

Anyway, as I seem to be revisiting last autumn a fair bit, I thought I'd be clever and start the post with a quote about the month of May. You know, part inspirational, part wankeral. I wanted something where you'd sit back on your Chesterfield, one hand on your chin and the other in your trousers, as you stared out into space, pondering the wise quote about May I'd written.

Guess what? I eagerly Googled, 'quotes about May' and I was instantly whisked to a website, which had over 40 pages of May quotes. There I was, saying to myself, 'Why is the month of May so popular for quotes? This is amazing! So many choices!!'. Oh, until I looked and found out these acres of quotes weren't about the month at all, but rather, the word 'may' was included in them. Ha! Stooged!

Okay, I didn't exactly get what I was after, but I must admit, I've just lost 20 minutes of my life reading these 'may' quotes. Scrolling through, I endured the standard dreamy, mystical stuff, before suddenly coming across one by Jimmy Hoffa. Huh? My favourite missing person has a quote? What could it be?? Fasten your seat belts, as here it comes...

'I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them' - Jimmy Hoffa.

Hang on, was he taking the piss? Never being wrong in his life? Ever? Damn, I'm wrong every day. I mean, last night, I didn't need to eat the entire family block of chocolate in one hit, did I? A couple of squares could have sufficed?

Actually, come to think of it, I'm a little suspicious of his '100% never wrong' lifestyle. To me, the whole aspect of going to a restaurant to meet blokes from the Mafia, who have then knocked him off, sounds like a bit of a wrong decision. Well, that's me anyway. Maybe you think Jimmy had quite a nice day out instead?

Right, this walk. I really don't have to tell you where it's from, do I? As per usual, it's one of GT's and I found it in his 'Victoria's Goldfield Walks'. I think I've given him more free publicity than anyone could ever want? At about 20 km, it was longish, but overall, it didn't sound too hard. As long as I got an early start. Which I didn't. I noticed the first photo I took for the day was at 12.31 pm, so it was another day of being on the go. Oh well...

The beginning of the walk was at Sailors Falls and I'd never been there before. A waterfall is always a nice way to start a stroll and I was quite keen to step out the car and immediately see plummeting water. Except it really couldn't be drier. Mm... The simple job description of a waterfall is water, which is falling and without it, it's just not the same. I stared at the rocky wall and was so unenthused, I snapped a photo without even looking through the viewfinder. It was a picture by the numbers and is possibly one of the dullest I've ever posted. Be careful when perusing, as I don't want you slipping into a coma at this early stage.

sailors falls daylesford
Sailors Falls, Daylesford.

Well, this isn't going too well, is it? Maybe I can wake you up with a bit of a historical 'then and now' perspective. I ventured over to my favourite source of ancient photos, the State Library of Victoria, and found the following. Hang on, it looks as if the picture, which was taken in Easter 1899 was taken from the same spot. That's not all, as I hate to say it, but it appears as woeful as mine in its lack of attempt to engage the viewer.

sailors creek falls easter 1899 mark james daniel state library of victoria
'Sailors Creek Falls, Easter 1899' - Mark James Daniel. 

Maybe my shocker will end up in the State Library of Victoria in a few hundred years time? At least this old picture put my mind at ease about one thing. In mine, I was wondering if my shoulder had been in spasm when I took the photo, as it appeared the horizon is insanely crooked. It's just an optical illusion though, as the same angling appears above.

It was a bit of a fizzer, but what did I expect in May, after months of dry weather? Wandering off, I began following Sailors Creek, which was choked with more blackberries than I reckon I've ever seen in the one spot. Acres of the bastards and I'd show you a photo, but I can't post two dead boring ones in a row. Instead, how about some leaves? There were some impressive sized ones lying on the ground...

water drops on large leaf

...that were perfect to pick up.

holding large leaf

Strolling on, I continued along a wide track, contemplating Jimmy Hoffa's quote. Actually, that's a lie, as I didn't know it existed until I started writing this, so I'll rephrase the sentence. Strolling on, I pondered the Jimmy Hoffa quote, which I didn't know at the time (is that any better?) and I reckon I'd wandered for at least an hour, without seeing anyone.

It was quite peaceful and things were going well until I got my dick out. Hang on, I may have to explain this, otherwise you might get the wrong idea. I'd guzzled a few gallons of water before starting and its after-effect had taken hold. No problem though in a deserted forest, right? Stepping off the track, I unzipped, removed the sock (I buy them in threes) and commenced Operation Relaxation. There I was, imagining I was extinguishing the Great Chicago Fire, when suddenly I heard mayhem coming towards me. Fast.

Oh yes humble reader. I could have done anything during the day slightly differently, such as brushing my teeth for an extra minute, actually looking through the viewfinder for the Sailors Falls photo and I would not have been in that spot, at that moment with my dick in my hand and being caught in the act by a bloke on a horse. Huh? Oh yeah, not just any horse, but the whole trotter shindig.

The trotting jockey (what are they called?) pulled up to say hello. Oh, by the way, if you're wondering, I didn't just continue whilst I was talking to him. He didn't seem too perturbed though, as I can imagine an old bloke who'd spent his lifetime around horses would have seen worse. Following this brief conversation, he continued on and I took a photo as he left. It was hard to take one of him approaching me, as you can well understand.

trotter horse black jack track daylesford

So far, the walk had been a casual affair, but nothing beats some unwanted exposure to liven things up. Continuing on, I made a pact not to mention what happened to anyone ever again, as there would be nothing worse than people online knowing about this.

In the rider photo, do you notice the burnt trees? It seemed the forest had been torched the previous summer, which was understandable, as it seemed the whole state was on fire at times. I hope the fire wasn't started by discarded rubbish lying around, such as fire investigation tape.

fire investigation tape lying in forest

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, with regrowth well and truly in full swing with green leaves sprouting out of blackened trunks.

regrowth on burned eucalypt

It was a perfect day to show off the forest's colour, as tall trees reached into blue sky, lined with cirrus clouds. Oh, and power lines.

cirrus clouds above forest

Mind you, I couldn't gaze skywards for too long, as there was a risk I'd get run over. I'm not sure what was going on, but it seemed the forests around Daylesford were busier than the Indy 500.

trotter horse on black jack track daylesford

It was weird, as pre-penis, I hadn't seen anyone, but since then, it had been a non-stop people-fest. I haven't even mentioned the 4WD's flying by, as I can't write about everything that happens. I guess this is what happens in State Forests rather than National Parks. I think.

Anyway, I was heading out of the forest and arriving in Daylesford with a jaunt around the lake to come. Oh, I must warn you now. Very shortly, coming up, there are gratuitous shots of insanely colourful autumn trees, a freakishly blue sky, which in turn is reflected on glassy, calm water. I suggest you de-tune the saturation on your computer monitor, otherwise the vivid colours may make you queasy.

Firstly though, I wandered under a vast expanse of trees, which had left the ground littered with their yellow leaves.

autumn leaves wombat creek daylesford

Cirrus clouds remained above and they look even better without power lines accompanying them.

bare tree blue sky cirrus clouds

Then I arrived at Daylesford Lake to be confronted with a picture-perfect scene. Left, right and centre, vivid colours were bouncing off my eyeballs...

lake daylesford autumn

...and even passing ducks looked amazing.

duck on lake daylesford

Where was Monet now? He'd have a field day with the vibrancy going on. I reckon I took about 50 photos in the stroll around the lake and I'll be stuffed if I can pick a favourite. The best I can do is overstay my welcome and leave you with way too many to look at. Because I can.

autumn trees next to lake daylesford

Don't worry though, as I like to add a bit of edginess to the colour explosion. It wouldn't be the same without a bit of bleakness thrown in. After reading this sign, I concluded the lake may not be ideal to swim in. Is that what they're saying?

swimming warning sign lake daylesford

Oh, the duck was still getting in some mileage. A bit like this photographic lake overkill.

duck on lake daylesford

I'm not sure if it can get any better. Water, reeds, a jetty and cirrus (yes, cirrus) in the one shot.

reeds on lake daylesford

My god, I could go on, but I had to keep walking. Don't think my retinas had stopped being flamed though. Even trees in the front yards of houses were glowing.

autumn trees daylesford

I was now off to the Cornish Hill lookout, which would give me an expansive view across Daylesford. There was a bit of a climb on suburban streets...

argus street daylesford

...before reaching the lookout. Indeed, there was a lovely, elevated spot overlooking the township. I guess you want to see the view, don't you? Well, I do have photos, but the bright sky and beaming sun had to catch up with me sooner or later. From the viewing platform, I was looking straight into the blazing orb and the handful of pictures I have are so washed out and woeful, I'm afraid you'll just have to imagine the sights instead. Sorry, but you can't win them all.

My next target was Jubilee Lake. Two lakes in one day? It was all getting a bit too much and my shutter finger was getting twitchy at the thought. Mind you, large expanses of water are not needed for a nice image. On my road strolling I came across this puddle and it provided one of my better reflective shots I'd ever taken. It makes you want to jump into this other world, doesn't it?

trees and sky reflected in puddle

I was well and truly into the closing stages of this walk, but rest assured, your eyes are due for another colourful popping, as Jubilee Lake is imminent. Firstly though, I wandered up this road...

patterson street daylesford

...before following an old railway easement, which to be expected, was lined with a canopy of autumnal trees.

trees above disused railway easement daylesford

Then the lake was in view. Can this visual climax just finish and put me out of my misery? Firstly, the parts of the still waters were carpeted with fallen leaves...

fallen leaves in water

...and appearing through the trees, Lake Jubilee itself.

lake jubilee

I've contemplated a post about how a great trip or walk can't be replicated on a revisit. Sometimes it's best to hold onto the memory of the first view or experience and I reckon this applies here. I could go back a hundred times and doubt the stars will align and I'll have such perfect conditions as they were on this late afternoon. Leaves, floating in the reflective water...

fallen leaves floating on water

...could not have looked better.

fallen leaves floating on water

Am I coming to an end? Yeah, sure, as by now the sun was low in the sky, so I moved on. Again, following the old railway easement, although this time it had a few speed humps along the way.

fallen tree on old railway easement daylesford

At times I dawdled, as there was fungi to be examined. Some of it looked decidedly fatal if ingested...

red coloured fungi wombat state forest

...and others appeared less lethal. Well, maybe they'd put you in hospital for a week, but I'm sure modern medicine will help you pull through. Possibly.

yellow fungi wombat state forest

Can the colours of the day finally finish? Almost, but by now the low sun was glowing through the trees...

setting sun through trees

...and to cap it off, I had the moon to accompany me on the final leg.

moon rising above road

By now, I only had a kilometre or so to go and getting caught in the dark didn't bother me so much. Not when the fading light...

silhouette of trees setting sun

...kept looking this good.

silhouette of tree branch setting sun

One of my last shots before darkness was the final glow on the horizon, as the sky blackened above.

sunset light

Shortly after, I reached my car and in the end it was pretty good timing, as I didn't even have to get my headlamp out.

Wow. What a wild day. From indecent exposure to mind blowing light, this walk was quite action packed. At a shade under 20 km, it was long enough, but more than an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

Here's the Strava link if you're so inclined...

Oh, here it is on Garmin Connect as well...

Anyway, that's another one down from the month of May. Tomorrow I'll be vanishing for a hike, which will be the longest I've attempted since my neck imploded. I may or may not survive, but whatever happens, I'm sure it'll make for a few decent posts.