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.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Southern Gorge Walk, Lerderderg Gorge. Victoria. September, 2014.

water reflections on lerderderg river
Lerderderg River in the late afternoon.

Remember in the last post how it was May in September? I was writing up my May walks four months after the event? Well, that was then and this is now, as I've decided to change my mind and tackle something I only strolled a few weeks back.

Why the change? No idea really, other than this has become one of my favourite walks for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was my first tilt at putting one foot in front of the other since a bit of a hiatus and secondly, it's wonderfully bonkers in only the way a walk into Lerderderg Gorge can be. How so? Have a look at the walk profile off my GPS and you can see what I mean.

gps profile of southern gorge walk lerderderg gorge

What the hell is going on with the bit in the middle? I'll get to that later, but really for a short walk, which only took four hours, one couldn't ask for more. River wading, snakes, a lung bursting incline, knee popping decline and rogue rubbish was all enough to make a man emotional. Even more so than when Wayne Gardner won the inaugural 500 cc race at Phillip Island in 1989. Oh, and the birth of my son. I better include that in the emotional list.

How did this come about? Well, the walk had sat on my Lerderderg Gorge 'to do' list for a while. Other than making up my own, I think I'm done with the place. The notes I followed were from the discontinued GT book, 'Daywalks Around Melbourne'. That publication is a bit long in the tooth, but it's still a handy book, so it's a pity it's not around any more. Anyway, as the walk was less than 10 km I'd forgotten about it, until I noticed Anna had written about the same stroll in her blog post titled, 'Lerderderg - Southern Gorge Walk'.

I knew what I was in for, as last year, during the conclusion of the Scenic Rim, I'd descended Link Track No.1 last year . Oh yeah, by the way, is there a duller named track in the history of mankind? I guess the track naming committee thought they were on a good thing, as to get to Link Track No.1 I'd have to ascend, yes, you guessed it, Link Track No.2. I think the committee was taking the piss or maybe they were just plain old pissed off their heads?

I hadn't been to Lerderderg Gorge since May (how did you guess?) and on that occasion the river was dry as a chip, so it was nice to see it damp enough, post-Winter, as I arrived at Mackenzies Flat. I noticed in Anna's post, she got a little waylaid along the river, so elected to do the walk in reverse order to the notes and ascend Link Track No.1. I knew how stiff the climb would be, as descending it was bad enough on my knees, so I elected to follow the track notes and leave No.1 for last. How do you think I went?

Setting off, the wander up to Grahams Dam is pretty standard fare, which I'd done quite a few times before. I did meet a couple coming the other way and had a brief chat to the LOUDEST TALKER IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE. Honestly, he could get a job as a fog horn. With ringing ears, I continued on, criss-crossing the river a few times. I even took some pictures.

rock pool lerderderg river

The rock pools were looking rather reflective on the clear, sunny day...

rock pool lerderderg river

...and I included the photo above to show you why the protruding stick seemed to be surrounded by golden water in the next picture. I can't help it if the orange coloured rocks reflect the way they do.

water reflections lerderderg river

Things were going quite well and I was maintaining my traditional Lerderderg River concentration. Without fail, I'll be strolling along and find my way blocked by a rock wall, necessitating a river crossing. Most times it was no more than knee deep and I'd long given up looking for some rocks to use to hop over. Straight through, boots and all is my only approach these days. Surely other walkers do the same? Does anyone actually stop and take their boots off or any of that palaver?

wading across lerderderg river

Okay, so crossing the river is standard fare, but what about another gorge tradition? Yep, it seems in the warmer months the place can be a bit of a snake pit. There I was stumbling over rocks, pushing through prickly bush and generally just trying to stay upright, when I spotted a snake, slumbering on the rocks and only about two steps away from having a size 48 to his guts. I'm not sure who crapped themselves more. I stopped mid-stride, cursing I wasn't wearing a nappy and the snake went stage-right. Straight into the river.

It was a red bellied black and I must say, with some consternation seeing how I had done a few water crossings, they're very fluent swimmers. Oh, none of this straight in and out business either. He went down under some rocks and snaked around them (because he's a snake, he finds this easy) and then potted downstream for a while. I took the following picture during his casual swim.

red bellied snake swimming in water

No matter how many times I see a snake when walking, they always scare the crap out of me, partly because I never spot them from a distance. It's always only a step away type of caper.

Recovering finally, I had the joy of another river crossing coming up and do you think I had a real ball, strolling through the water after that sighting? Actually, it was a real ball literally, as one of the river dawdles involved water lapping at my knackers. Really, if you're having trouble waking up, then some snakes and shrinkage will get you jumping in no time.

Plodding on, I found a lovely rock pool where I took a quick breather...

...and spotted an object in the water. It's glowing colour had me thinking I'd come across a long missed, alluvial gold nugget, which just happened to be the size of my head. As I waded closer, my eyeballs were rotating dollar signs, until I realised it was something worth a lot less.

coke can in rock pool of lerderderg river

If you carry your stinkin' can of coke in, then surely it's not a problem to carry it out, as it will be light and can be crushed to miniature size? Really, there should be daily whippings of litterers. I'd even open a food stall to satiate the attending punters, which would offer 'caning coffee' or for a snack a few 'flagellation flans'. Mm... I'm thinking on my feet about this and it's not too bad an idea. Let me put some more thought into it.

Anyway, continuing on, a deceptively nice piece of casual walking...

trees riverbed lerderderg river

...led me to my trickiest piece of rock work for the day. A jumbled mass of rocks were in my way and a quick cross of the river to avoid it was discarded, as the water was deep and black. Even I'm not dumb enough to hop into water where I can't see the bottom, so I commenced a creaky kneed assault on the boulders. I can tell you this. I wasn't going to win any climbing style awards, as I clung onto little ledges like a bastard, really, really hoping my Vibram soles were adequate to the job. Actually, the following wide-angle photo is a little deceptive, as it looks like I'm a couple of inches off the ground, whereas everything to the left of the shot was quite some metres below...

clambering rocks lerderderg gorge

My dubious technique was successful, as I cleared the rocks and found a narrow gap in the water to stroll across and look back at the boulders I'd edged my way over.

crossing lerderderg river

It was plain sailing now, as a large section of dry riverbed made for some easy walking...

dry river bed lerderderg river

Okay, hang on. Things were looking great, but within seconds I was scratching my head. Have a look at the photo above. See the two trees on the left? There's a track marker at the bottom and I almost missed it. Strolling up, I had a perusal. Yes, this is marking the start of Link Track No.2.

emergency marker ler504 lerderderg gorge

Why should I almost pass this by and suddenly be a little confused? That's because it's in the wrong place. Well, according to the map I was carrying, what my topographic map on my GPS indicated, GT's notes and goddamn it, the official Parks Vic map of the area, Link Track No.2 does not start at Emergency Marker LER504. It's meant to begin about 400 metres further up stream, around a distinct, broad bend in the river.

Was I on Candid Camera? Was Allen Funt about to hop out from behind a tree? Was my mother right all along? Are we really being controlled by the Royal Family for a lifetime of misery (damn that needs its own post)? Don't worry people, I thoroughly analysed the marker and it says it's Link Track No.2.

Oh well, I'm glad I brought all those maps and notes along, as they were a great help. I can only assume the track has been re-routed? Stuffed if I know, as I'm just the chump who does the walking. I considered wandering up to where my map says the track was meant to start, but I couldn't see the point of doing an 800 metre round trip if it wasn't the case. No.2 track here? I decided it'll do and began climbing.

I must say, the gorge doesn't muck around. It gains its height quickly, due to the, 'one steep mofo' principle.

steep climb link track no 2 lerderderg gorge

Wandering skywards, eventually I broke out of tree cover and spotted this.

sticks and rocks across closed track lerderderg gorge

Yes, it appears to be where the old track went and a few token rocks and branches have been placed to indicate where the path has been blocked. Does this make sense? I hope so, as it's the best I can come up with at this stage.

Anyway, once out of the trees, the entire gorge opens up and with the sun low in the sky, it can be quite a spectacular sight.

lerderderg gorge from link track no 2

Near here, I sat down for about 20 minutes to soak in the views and some oxygen. Both were well received. Oh, there's another common saying in this blog. It's permanently 'late afternoon' and this post is no different. Being a night owl is always problematic for the morning person and without fail, I begin walking way too late in the day.

The views were great, but I still had some climbing to do. Turning to face the richly coloured rocks ahead, I continued on...

climbing link track number 2 lerderderg gorge

...pausing now and again to look back at where I'd come.

descent link track number 2 lerderderg gorge

As you can see by the GPS profile I provided earlier, the climb is relentless, before finally popping out at a road along the top of the gorge.

I must say, some level walking is always appreciated, but it was only for a kilometre, before I'd head straight down to river level again on Link Track No.1. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Is this walk officially insane? River level, ascend to the heavens, stroll for about 10 minutes and then plummet back down to the river again. I think you're correct. It's nuts.

My legs had only just stopped wobbling from the climb when I now faced the rapidly descending Link Track No.1. It has its own nice views, but these aren't appreciated by my knees.

link track number 1 lerderderg gorge
The start of Link Track No.1. Down we go.

Descending in the late afternoon, I was making reasonable time, utilising gravity as my friend. I paused briefly to capture the outstretched branches on this stark, white trunk which looked incongruous to the surrounding vegetation.

trees descent link track no 1 lerderderg gorge

Before I knew it, the rollercoaster was over and I was back alongside the river, which was now in deep shadow. I now retraced my route back to Mackenzies Flat with a couple of casual water crossings along the way. Mind you, there was no rush, as late in the day, the light was lovely.

I think one of the most common Lerderderg River shots I've seen is taken from the following location. Just near Grahams Dam, a casual hop across the water on large rocks is undertaken and it's hard not to stop mid-crossing to snap a picture. The light was in my favour and I'm afraid to say, this may be the best photo taken at this spot in the history of the universe. Well, until the next one is taken.

lerderderg river

You know what? A quick scurry along the river...

lerderderg river

...and I was back at my car. What to make of it all? Not a lot, but if you want to spend a few manic hours then I can thoroughly recommend this one. Oh, the traditional also applied to the time, as the walk notes say three hours and I did it in four. Blast.

Believe it or not, but at one stage I was considering going back and doing the whole thing in reverse, so I could follow the old Link Track No.2 down to the river. Then I thought, 'what's the point?'

Here's the GPS track on Strava...


Then again, maybe you've got a real GPS fetish? If so, here it is on Garmin...


So, there you go. A day out in Lerderderg didn't disappoint. Now, what's the next post? Don't ask me, I'm only the one doing the writing.