Thursday, July 10, 2014

Five Mile Beach, Northern Circuit, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria. April 2014.

rain during sunset near yanakie

If you're an attentive reader within these infernal walls and have plenty of time up your hands (maybe you're in a maximum security prison?), then you're probably wondering why I'm doing another 'Five Mile Beach' post, seeing how I wrote about it back in March. Oh, just to let you know. You may be thinking something written four months ago is quite a long time, but in my blogging world, it's like yesterday, as my output is generally glacial.

So why am I writing about it again? Well that's easy. Let it be known, a successful tilt on the northern circuit of Wilsons Promontory was completed in April and this will be the first entry detailing the 'fun', which Smuffin and I had. The history of my previous attempts to do this walk is a mixture of pathetic or inept. Sometimes both at once. How many times have I attempted this hike? One? Two? Three? One hundred? Even I've lost count, but rest assured the gorilla is now out of the bag.

I must say, there were a couple of interesting moments, so in order to do them justice, the whole thing will have to be given the full lowbrow/overblown fiasco treatment. I'm sorry, as there's no other way. You're going to get four posts for the four days and as an index they will run along these lines.

Day One: Long/Easy/Sedate/Why am I wearing shorts?

Day Two: One of the worst days of my life. Since the last time I had the worst day of my life. Also, why am I wearing shorts?

Day Three: Visually spectacular for bits, but also potentially the worst day of my life since the worst day, which had only occurred the previous day, but not the worst day after all. Almost though.

Day Four: Is there any chance the bloody thing will finish? Did the Swiss Army Knife really get thrown out with a hamburger wrapper?

So there you go. Scanning the list, I bet you want me to start with the second day, but this would be cheating. Unfortunately, you'll find this first post a little short on highlights, as Smuffin and I performed the interminably long, boring road bash from Five Mile carpark to Five Mile Beach. Really, there's nothing of note regarding this day, but luckily I can pad it out a bit, with a blurb about caravan base camp where we stayed pre-hike. Knowing this, do you feel a little more excited? Don't be, as it's not.

Firstly, I must mention a couple of things. There's barely anything about this walk online. I wanted a bit of info, as in Wilsons Promontory terms, the northern circuit is classified as 'wild and woolly' compared to its tamer sibling, the southern circuit. No real drama I reckon, as I had some notes from, guess who? Yep, you can't keep the bloke under control, as Glenn 'Baron of Balltearing' Tempest has it written up in his book 'Weekend Walks Around Melbourne'. The book was written in 2003 though, so it felt a bit long in the tooth. What else could I use?

Well, I had the GPS track. Surely I had nothing to worry about now? Yes, I think so, as a GPS track is handy. Hang on. Am I having a conversation with myself? I seem to be and what's worse is one of the voices that just answered was a woman's. Maybe I'll ask the bloke sitting in the chair opposite, who's actually me also and ask him. This is going well. Anyway, getting back on track, the GPS route was provided to me by Liam Bantock who you can find in the subversive world of Twitter.

Phew. Can I start the hike now? No, not yet, so don't be impatient. I always wanted to do this walk in winter, only for the reason it would be more entertaining. Unfortunately, late April is not the same, but there was a gruesome forecast for our trip, which sounded promising. A break in the endless, fine weather of autumn was on the cards, so it caused a packing conundrum. What do I take in my ol' kit bag?

The northern circuit is known for a fairly lengthy inland section, which is not formally marked, but tape has been intermittently laid out as a guide. Mm... Can it be trusted? Also within this section is Chinaman Swamp, which if wet meant a bit of wading would be involved. As per usual, details on the current conditions was thin on the ground. Even Parks Victoria, who run the joint, had the barest of information when I spoke to them.

Oh, other than gems such as, "Do you know what you're doing?" (No).

"We rescue a few people, generally because of dehydration. Are you prepared to source your own water?" (Yes. I think so. If not, I can drink my own urine, as I saw Bear Grylls do it and I discovered the internet has plenty of videos showing various techniques.)

"Remember to take a first aid kit." (Yes, I always do. Except on this walk, as I forgot it. Technically it was at Wilsons Promontory, but it just happened to be sitting in the boot of my car.)

"Are you an experienced hiker?" (Yes, I've walked around Albert Park Lake more often than anyone else in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Yeah, it went on and on, as I had to complete a check list just to get a hiking permit. Mind you, it's like one of those psych tests where you look for whatever they're after and answer accordingly. Those are always full of stuff like, "You're standing at the edge of a cliff. Do you feel like jumping off?" I mean, come on. You know I'm going to write 'no', when in fact I'm thinking, 'shit yeah. Who doesn't want to jump off?'

In the end, I got the permit and regarding the weather forecast, elected to play safe. Yes, in went the heavy duty three quarter length raincoat and overpants. Gaiters were de rigueur, along with trekking poles etc etc. In the back of my mind though, there's a common theme when I take all the good gear. The weather ends up being like high noon on Venus and I don't use any of it. Mm... What do you think will happen on this occasion?

Early on, there was a drama with the gear aspect. Smuffin may be the cashed up retiree, but he had one minor problem. He had no pants. Yeah, even I don't know what's going on there, but his constant hiking pants, which were nicknamed, 'Vlad Putins', due to a certain Eastern European look (beige, arse-hugging and containing approximately 350 pointless, little pockets) were out of action. It looked like aggressive moths had eaten away most of the fabric, so with dozens of holes he decided not to risk them, due to the possibility of trouser implosion and being left with only his leather g-string to finish the hike with.

What would he wear instead? Yes, shorts. This idea was okay, but I wondered if stomping through coastal scrub would be more suited to pants? You know, so the pants take the punishment instead of skin? I had no choice, as he's right into the, 'all should dress the same out of sympathy to the man who owns no pants' method. The end result? Pants out, shorts in. Loss of skin inevitable.

The thought of getting up early and driving down to hike on the first day was binned pretty quickly, due to an ailment we suffer. I'm not sure of the medical term, but it's more commonly known as 'dicking around'. Some severe micro-managing goes on with the packing. All the stuff needed is laid out in a lounge room and the packing would begin. Upon conclusion we'd sit down on comfortable leather chairs and stare at the backpacks, pondering their now stuffed state. Frequent standing up will follow, where a pack will be lifted by one hand and a comment will be uttered, such as, "Why is it so heavy when there's nothing in it?" Then it would be placed down and we'd retire to the chairs again to contemplate and generally, just stare at them. I don't have any photos of this thrilling scene, but I've faithfully recreated it, so you have an idea of what transpired.

staring at a packed backpack

We decided to stay near Wilsons Promontory the night before, so we could at least be within striking distance the following day. Our choice of accommodation? It had to be the Yanakie Caravan Park, mainly because it's the only place we could think of. It's also lucky we stayed near the hiking venue, as the drive down took longer than expected. Mainly because I got lost and spent some aimless moments looking at empty paddocks near Koo Wee Rup. I guess the writing was on the wall when the road I was driving on suddenly seemed unfamiliar. You know geographical embarrassment has kicked in when you say, "What the hell is that school doing there? Is it new? It wasn't here a few months back". Oh, if you're wondering, the surprise school was built in 1911. I'm not even joking.

Anyway, we finally made it to Yanakie and I guess it's time you had some more photos, as you're probably dying to go to the comfort station and are screaming at your computer, "When will this prick stop writing and post some pictures??!!" Fair enough, so here you are. Let me start off with the birds, which hang out at the caravan park. I felt like Tippi Hedren, as I eyed off a lawnful of galahs...

large group of galahs on grass

...whilst keeping a watch above.

galahs sitting on a cable

The ominous weather forecast looked a probability, as rain clouds passed near us. Actually, the caravan park is in a great location to look across Corner Inlet towards Wilsons Promontory itself.

rain cloud over corner inlet wilsons promontory

I must say, I'm always impressed by rain clouds at sunset. Probably as good as sunrise, but as you know, it's rare I'm awake at that time.

sun setting corner inlet wilsons promontory

This is all great, but svelte hiking gods like Smuffin and I need sustenance, so to hell with the magnificent sunset and off to the car for tea. Yeah okay, I did spot a blazing red sky under a passing rain shower, which was too good to pass up, so it took a bit of nifty roadside parking (consisting of stopping in the middle of the road) to capture it.

rain clouds during sunset

Then it was full steam ahead to the sleepy hamlet of Fish Creek and of course the Fish Creek Hotel. Victorians probably know what's in the town, but for the intergalactic reader I should explain. The whole joint is a little weird, as the locals have embraced the 'fish in a name' aspect and gone nuts. It's like the place is full of random creatures of the sea wherever you look. I mean, there's even one on the roof of the pub.

fish sculpture on top of fish creek hotel

Does this happen in other towns with an unusual name? If so, I'm off to visit Intercourse, Pennsylvania as soon as possible. I must say, if you're heading to Fish Creek for the annual Tea Cosy Festival, make sure you have one of the tasty pub meals. I considered taking a photo of our dishes, but declined, as I felt you couldn't give a stuff about what we ordered and are probably insanely frustrated, as you came here to read about a walk to Five Mile Beach. Oh yeah, I forgot. Rest assured, it's almost the walking day.

Heading back to the caravan park, we opted for the ultimate luxury. Two men. Two cabins. None of this sharing crap. What? Were we going to walk around in a tiny cabin wearing our three-sizes-too-small underwear and check each other out? No way. Stuff like that happens out bush, but not in real life.

The interiors were okay, but there was a fascinating radiator in one of the cabins (not mine, thank god). It was this insanely impressive device, which produced a blinding light from its elements. I cursed not bringing my welders goggles, as it was like staring at the sun. Unfortunately, for all its impressiveness, it seemed to be lacking a fundamental part of its job description. It didn't produce any heat. Oh well, at least Smuffin had a night light to go to sleep with.

small radiator
I bet it's running flat out not producing heat right now.

Oh yeah, I reckon the night before is now done. Roll those drums, as the time machine transports us from slipping beneath the sheets to springing up in daylight, within a matter of seconds.

Okay, the walk from Five Mile carpark was imminent and we were both dreading it. The 18 km is not hard, but as you know from my previous post about this, it's pretty dull. There's nothing worse than an impending dreary day on foot, as it's hard to get going in the morning. Then again, didn't I say earlier on it's always like that? Anyway, packing was done and we were off and racing to the start. Well, via the Yanakie General Store, as coffee was required and kabana and cheese and more stuff. Frankly, I've no idea what was going on, as even though we stayed close to the start, we still didn't kick off until after 10 am.

Rest assured, it's all downhill from now, as I've got nothing to talk about. A bright, patchy white sky meant even the photos wouldn't be any good. Before leaving the car, I had to do one thing (other than forget the first aid kit), which all you gear fetish lovers may be interested in. We had a day walking on a road to come and really, if I had them, I'd do it in runners. The thing is though, there's a kilometre or so at the end of the day spent walking on Five Mile Beach.

I'm not a fan of sand getting into my boots, so wanted to wear gaiters on this section. The trouble is I know myself better than anyone else and just knew if I reached the beach late in the day, knowing camp was so close, there was no way I could be bothered to stop and put them on. The solution? Oh yeah, I put them on at the start and Smuffin joined the party. Yes, I was going to wear gaiters on a road. This isn't a big deal, but as we began walking, some bloke laden down with a pack came waltzing down the road. He appeared to have been out for a few nights and as he passed us, we looked back at him and noted he was doing the same. I just know he was thinking, "Look at these wankers wearing gaiters on a road!" It was that sort of a look.

Really, it wasn't a problem, as gaiters on the legs meant not carrying them on my back. What was to come? Well, the washed out sky produced scenes like this, as I looked back across Corner Inlet to where we'd stayed the night before...

corner inlet wilsons promontory

...before facing the scourge of Five Mile Road. An endless trail of gravel leading off into the distance.

five mile road wilsons promontory

It's interesting writing this a couple of months after the event, as I normally have a good memory and don't need to make notes. It can be said this theory has gone out the window, as I haven't got a clue what happened over the 18 km. It took hours, but for the life of me I can't remember anything other than what the odd photo produces.

A section through ferns made an interesting sight. No, Smuffin isn't a leprechaun who sleeps under a mushroom at night. These were just really, really big ferns.

large ferns wilsons promontory

One thing of note caught my eye through here. A seed of something looked like a choc-top from the cinema and I do like a choc-top. Yeah okay, if you think it doesn't look like an ice-cream, I suggest you close your eyes, slam your head into a brick wall and then rub hot English mustard into your eyeballs. Right, have another look. It's an ice-cream, isn't it?

seed pod from fern

There isn't much more to come, other than photos taken from identical positions, as my previous trips. I think I've now got three pictures of this leaning tree, whilst standing in the same spot. Mind you, there are different weather conditions in each image, so this means it's not the same photo at all?

clouds over wilsons promontory

Late in the day the beach was reached and conditions were strangely benign. A flat sea, no wind and a hazy cloud covered us, as we began the sandy trudge. It's a lovely stretch of beach to walk on if the tide is out, but we had the 'in-between' conditions. The water wasn't out far enough, so walking near it meant being on a 45 degree angle, so we generally kept to the level, but more tiresome softer stuff. There were some things to take our mind of the slog though. This was a nicely coloured shell...

holding red seashell five mile beach

...and a half-buried piece of timber was quite photogenic.

buried timber on five mile beach wilsons promontory

No waves were to be seen, as the ocean was flat...

calm sea off five mile beach wilsons promontory

...but a developing tornado was entertaining.

dark cloud over ocean near five mile beach wilsons promontory

What? It's not a tornado if it's over the water? Okay, alter it to a developing water-spout. Then again, maybe it's just a cloud? So many possibilities and not enough time.

Finally, camp was reached and you'll find this day is done. It's certainly a nice spot to pitch a tent amongst the sheltered ti-tree. Even better as we had the place to ourselves, but I'm not sure what it would be like with a few other people around. I do know wherever I wandered I had to tread carefully due to some freestyle rogue dumpers who apparently aren't real savvy with a shovel.

Anyway, the tide was in, so there was no chance to top up our water. As you know, the water source for the camp is on the other side of Miranda Creek, but we were confident in being able to fill up the following day. Speaking of which. What's to come on the next day? Let me check my list from the start of the post. Oh okay, now I remember. What's to come was the worst day of my life. Let me have a bottle of bourbon with my packet of Valium and I'll start collating it now.

miranda creek on five mile beach wilsons promontory


Friday, July 4, 2014

Tipperary Track, Daylesford, Victoria. May 2014.

standing on autumn leaves
It might be winter, but this is autumn and those are boots.

Look out, here's another one of those walks, which has been on the Big Greg back burner for a long, long time. Why would an 18 km walk be so hard to complete? Well, that's easy, as it's not a circuit. What was my answer to this lament of the lone walker? You'll find out soon enough, but first some quick spring cleaning in winter.

It's been brought to my attention I frequently complain in these posts about being sick. I'm either battling a virus, worrying about my head falling off due to a neck injury or feeling sorrow, as I can no longer see my junk due to an expanding girth (relax people, the blog is partially an alter-ego).

Pondering this information, I sat back in my couch and stared at the one thing which allows me clarity in my thinking. A chandelier in the lounge room, which hangs so low, I have to duck if I need to get to the TV. I often sit and stare at it, saying to myself, "What is that on the ceiling?" After an hour or so of gazing it all made sense.

chandelier on ceiling
Pondering life, death, the universe and poor taste. 

Yes, the chandelier is not really functional when your ceiling is only 8 feet high, plus I'm not as sick as what some people believe. When I am crook though, I do it in a true masculine style, like a bronzed up ANZAC. If I've got a cold, there's no delicate 'atishoo'. Oh no, what you'll get is a thunderous explosion of searing hot mucus, which if you happen to be downwind of, will leave you cursing not paying extra for windscreen wipers on your glasses.

Alas, the last few weeks have been like this and I think it's acceptable, as it's my first bug of the year. Anyway, I picked up something, which seemed like a run of the mill Ebola Virus. Some coughing, sneezing and general bleeding. The trouble is it didn't get better, so I've had to see a doctor not once, not twice (roll those drums you bastards), yes, three times.

There's one reason I don't like getting sick, as I've got to face a doctor and what a mind numbing exercise it always is. Regarding this current bug, I am better and after my last attempt at medical intervention, I never want to be sick again.

I'm sure you know by now I've got a sense of the absurd and I can't seem to shake it. If I go to a medical centre, there might be ten doctors in the building. Amongst those, it's more than likely one of them is a complete lunatic. If this is the case, I bet you a million bucks, without even trying, I'll end up seeing the fruitcake.

There I was the other day, being attended to by Dr 'The Tehran Express' Obvious. There was a freestyle session of facial contortions, nodding of the head, general grimacing and the following conversation, as he slowly and methodically announced, "Drink plenty of fluids... eat lots of fruit... plenty of vegetables... watch your salt intake... wear a condom".

I was submissively nodding my head to 'o wise one, but the last piece of advice seemed a little odd, so it seemed best to seek clarification.

I said, "A what? Did you say a condom?".
With a deadly serious expression, he made eye contact and slowly repeated, "Yes, wear a condom".

I sat there silently for a moment and stared at his ceiling, wishing there was an ill-fitting chandelier to help my thought process. The best I could come up with was the following.

I said, "I've got a virus, right? What's a condom got to do with it?"
He said, "Nothing".

He may have said 'nothing', but what's interesting is I thought he was going to say a bit more. You know, expand on his comment. Instead he just sat there in silence, staring at me. It was time to nail this conversation once and for all, as it was killing me.

I said, "So why did you say it? What's the point?"
He said, "It's got nothing to do with what's wrong with you. I'm talking about your general health".
I said, "Mm."

See what I mean? It was so simple all along. He was talking about my general health and not some revolutionary treatment where wearing a franger will prevent a chest infection. Damn. I leaned back in my chair and cursed failing ESP at school.

After all his sage advice, I really should have finished with, "What about matches? Is it okay to play with matches? Particularly near petrol?"

In the end, even I was scratching my head at the 30 minutes spent at this medical centre, which I'll never get back in life. All you need to know is there are no other current ailments and hopefully you won't hear about stuff like this until next year, when I'm bound to get another.

So, the Tipperary Track near Daylesford. As I mentioned earlier, I'd been wanting to do this for a while, as it's always talked about being a nice walk and definitely in the 'easy' category. Do I really need to tell you what walk notes I was going to use? Okay, if you insist. They were from Victoria's Goldfield Walks, which is available from the Temple of Tempest (TOT). No doubt it was going to be a long day, so an early start with the short daylight hours was imperative.

Did you like the last sentence? You know that was never going to happen, as I don't think I've ever started a walk early, even when I really, really have to. Not even in the Tasmanian winter could I start before 10 am. Just look at Smuffin and I on the Great South West Walk. One morning we psyched ourselves to start early and were up and about by 6 am. Guess what time we left? Yep, 9.30 am. Somehow it took us three and a half hours to have some porridge.

I arrived at the launch pad of Lake Daylesford at 12.20 pm and even I had to shake my head in admiration at how late I was starting. It was bedlam as well, as the locals were pretty feisty.

geese at lake daylesford

Amongst the aggressive quacking and webbed-feet stomping, I quickly threw the pack on and was off and motoring. The colour of autumn is always refreshing, as I made my way along the lake edge.

autumn lake daylesford

Oh, I just remembered something. I took a lot of photos on this day, but for some reason the big, sweeping landscape shots were remarkably dull. I think I lost my vast picture wizardry, but if it's any consolation, I took the best leaf photo ever taken in the history of the mankind. Mm... Sounds like an extravagant call by an egotistical helium head? Yeah, fair enough, it pays to be humble, so I'll amend the comment.

I took the best leaf photo ever taken in the history of the universe. Ah, much better.

A few weeks earlier, I'd passed the outflow of the lake and it was as dry as a nun's hat. On this occasion, the water was flowing and I cursed not having a tripod, in order to catch some creamy water via a slow shutter speed. All was not lost though, as a nearby fence gave me an opportunity to brace the camera for a reasonable time.

outflow stream from lake daylesford

Don't you dare think I was finished here, as I had to attempt a shot from the other side. It was a bigger ask though, as I was fence-less. Relying on steady hands brought about by years of eating roast chicken, I managed to achieve a usable photo. A little more blur would have been nice, but what do you expect? I'm not a statue. True, in real life I may be seem so dull, you actually think you're facing a store room dummy, but I'm actually flesh, blood and virus.

outflow from lake daylesford

Rain had fallen the previous evening, leaving behind a grey and overcast sky. In the dull light, the landscape photos were a fizzer, but the recent precipitation had provided me with other sights. Water droplets. Other than a Yeti in fishnet tights and high heels, there's nothing more arousing to a hiker than a bulging water droplet on leaves or branches. Right? Or is it only me?

Anyway, there was the traditional broken branch...

water droplet on broken branch

...or being spoilt for choice amongst multiple stems.

water droplet on stem

When it came to the wet leaves of Daylesford, I had the standard...

water droplets on leaf

... mixed in with an occasional lucky break. A bright colour amongst the dark green.

yellow leaf on green leaf

Then it happened. Let me talk you through the moment. A small leaf lying on the rain soaked, gravel path stood out. It's light colour caught my eye due to the contrasting ground and a subsequent close inspection revealed perfect water globules delicately adhering to its skin. You don't have to tell me, as I already know. I bent down, took aim, pressed the shutter and...

water droplets on leaf

...that my friends is the best leaf image you'll see for all of eternity. Make a note in your diary, check your watch or eat a potato cake. Wherever you see this image, you'll remember the point in time and say, 'Man, I'll never forget the moment. The moment I saw Big Greg's leaf".

Phew. I'm feeling hot under the collar. Anyway, leaf watching had to stop sooner rather than later, otherwise I'd never finish the walk. Extreme bending over is time consuming, so I decided to stretch the legs a little and was soon passing some attractive rocks jutting into the path.

boulder next to tipperary track

There's actually plenty to see, as Sailors Creek sits down to one side and it's an attractive sight. Remember though, the big photos were dull, so you miss out. Oh yeah, it's easy walking as well, with barely an undulation to slow me down.

I came across the old Mistletoe Mine and thought it would be quite interesting, but upon inspection I realised a deep hole in the ground, covered by steel mesh to prevent the unwary from plummeting into it, is not that exciting. The remains of a shed on the hillside gave me a photographic composition, but as a whole, I reckon I can survive for the rest of my life by not having to revisit.

tin shed mistletoe mine daylesford

Moving on, the comfortable walking continued...

small bridge tipperary track

...and for the life of me, another Daylesford mystery duly arrived. I've done a few walks around the area and every one has a similar find. Somewhere off the track will be discarded rubbish, which is from various ages (ring-pull beer cans anyone?). One constant object amongst these various piles of refuse has been broken crockery and I always like to examine them. Without fail, I always assume they'll be marked, 'Made in England', but just to mess with my head, they never are. Instead, the logo is 'Made in Japan'. If anyone has intimate knowledge of smashed plates in the Victorian goldfield's and can answer this, by all means, leave a comment.

broken plate made in japan

After sending the jagged piece of crockery into low orbit via a very vigorous Frisbee method, I moved on, passing a couple of natural springs, before reaching a place called, 'The Blowhole'. Mm... Interesting name. I've visited a million places called this before, but they've always been an opening on a coastal cliff, where waves thunder into and explode back out in a mist of spray. What on earth, all the way inland, could be similar?

Okay, I sought knowledge and found the answer on an information sign. It made me wonder. How easy would life be if signs were attached to everything? Buying a car? You could steer clear of the ones marked, "I'm a lemon" and seek out something signposted as, "I'm a ripper". Meeting someone new? You may think they're going to be your best friend, but the sign stating, "I have no interest in you whatsoever and I'm only giving you the time of day, as I want to upend your partner" will keep things in perspective.

Oh, the Blowhole? Sorry, I got a little off-track. Anyway, it's just a spot where the river had been re-routed. In the 'ye olde' days, a hole had been cut into the hillside, where the water now flowed and a long stretch of former river bed was now free to access for mining. Nothing beats mining for changing the landscape and even here, over a hundred years later, the river will never return to how it was naturally. Isn't that great?

Oh yeah, the same old water problem, which I'd faced a few hours earlier occurred. I was sans tripod, so the only way to jazz up the photos by using a slow shutter speed was to adopt a sort of strange, mildly perverse mounting technique on a nearby fence. It wasn't too bad...

stream through the blowhole daylesford I slowly made my way down...

stream through blowhole daylesford

...until reaching a large rock pool opposite.

rock pool under the blowhole daylesford

Apparently after heavy rain the thing goes berserk, but it was tranquil on this occasion. Maybe another visit is on the cards in spring? If my half-baked explanation didn't make sense regarding the re-routed creek, then maybe the next photo will explain things. It's believed dynamite was used to create the following.

hole through hillside the blowhole daylesford

You do realise I'm well and truly past the halfway mark of the walk? It seems like I've missed a bit, which is completely correct, but this can happen to the best of us when un-image inspired. There was some nice stuff to come though.

After the Blowhole, the landscape changed and I really loved the next section. As is the case with these places, it has a descriptive name. Just after Flagellation Fields sits Breakneck Gorge and it has some nice walking. An undulating path within the occasional hemmed in wall of the gorge were a nice change of pace, plus Sailors Creek through here was quite attractive.

sailors creek breakneck gorge

There was also a first, as I wandered up the grassy path.

track above breakneck gorge tipperary track

I met someone walking the other way. Rarely do I see anyone on any of these strolls, so almost having a head on collision took me by surprise. As a result, I think I lost the power of speech and instead of saying 'hello', I tried too hard and slipped into 'freestyle existential mode' by proclaiming, "I love the umbrella stand in your hallway". Don't analyse it, as it's not meant to make a lot of sense, but my fellow walker interpreted it as the cue to sprint in the opposite direction, whilst waving their hands above their head.

More importantly, the terrain was still nice...

tipperary track hepburn springs

...but if photos never tell a whole story, then this is a good example. This fallen tree was an absolute belter in size. Unfortunately, in the picture it looks like a twig. I can only imagine what it sounded like when it hit the deck, but as I wasn't there at the time, well..., you know the rest.

fallen tree across tipperary track

My 'early' start was starting to catch up on me with the sun dipping behind the surrounding hills...

late afternoon clouds

...leaving me wondering if it was going to be an official 'completely black' finish.

late afternoon clouds

Eventually I reached Newstead Road in fading light...

newstead road hepburn springs

...before following another flat path near Hepburn Springs.

walking track near spring creek

It's a pity the pump to Golden Spring has been removed...

pump removed from golden spring hepburn springs

...although this hasn't stopped the water bubbling to the surface. I was tempted to have a taste, but I figured it'd been removed for some sort of health reason. Maybe.

water bubbling in pipe from removed golden spring

Wandering on, I stumbled a little in the rapidly fading light before crossing Hepburn-Castlemaine Road...

hepburn castlemaine road hepburn springs

...and finally making my way up Jacksons Lookout. I can't say this tower will win many design awards and frankly, I'm surprised my weight didn't make it collapse, as it's not the sturdiest structure I've seen.

jacksons lookout hepburn springs

The outlook from the top was not the greatest either, as surrounding trees have blocked most of the view. The elevation did allow a clear sight of low, fast moving clouds, but the trade off was a freezing wind, as it whipped around the tower. Rain also seemed imminent.

dark clouds early evening

In the grand scheme of things, this walk is about done. A short downhill stroll to Hepburn Springs and it was time to put the feet up. Well, this is the case if you've got a car there after doing a vehicular shuffle and also if you haven't lost the eyecup off your DSLR. Huh?

Yep, you better believe it. In the dark, I followed a descending track into the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve and upon arrival I checked the camera and found the eyecup was missing. I must say, I've lost stuff before, but I'd be buggered if I could work out how this piece had gone missing. It wasn't the end of the world, as they're only worth a few dollars on eBay, but I wasn't ready to give up just yet.

You better believe it. Under headlamp, I walked all the way back to where I last remembered it was definitely attached. This happened to be Jacksons Lookout, where I'd taken my last photos of the day, before abandoning in fading light. You'd think it would be sitting in the middle of the track, but oh no, it wasn't, so it was a wasted trip and instead of finishing the walk in the early evening darkness, I was now condemned to the pitch black variety.

It was time to cut my losses and give up on the eyecup retrieval and figure out how to get back to the starting point. In my notes, GT suggests getting a taxi for a $15 fare. Mm... I'd already lost ten bucks with the camera and wasn't really keen to spend any more. Rain, which had threatened for hours had also started to fall. Feeling depressed about my futile search, I figured the only way to deal with this funk was walk in the steadying downpour. Really, it makes sense. If you're depressed, why not accentuate your suicidal feelings by wandering in freezing, heavy rain? Yes, it seemed reasonable to me, so I began wandering back to the car.

Oh, if you're wondering, I wasn't going to backtrack. Instead I went for the 'straight ahead' method and took the road, but I learned something very important about walking from Hepburn Springs back to Daylesford. IT'S COMPLETELY FUCKING UPHILL ALL THE WAY. Phew, that's better. I was glad to get this out of my system.

Actually, the only real hills I faced all day were on the road during my 'look-at-me-I'm-depressed-due-to-my-lost-eyecup-camera-blues' wander. By the time I reached my car I was feeling mildly spent and if you look at the GPS read-out, you'll work out why.

Nearly 26 km is more than enough for a day walk. Anyway, I made it in one piece and this ends another jaunt, which had sat undelivered for years. It's not a bad one, although maybe the taxi was a better idea than my fully-baked return to the start. Oh, if you find a Canon eyecup near Jacksons Lookout, then you know who it belongs to.

What's next? I've no idea, as I've been researching a bit of a change. I'm finally getting serious about switching from Blogger to Wordpress, but it involves a lot of things, which could potentially go pear-shaped. This is why I'm seeking professional help. So, if you suddenly log on here one day and it all looks quite weird, well, you know I've made the switch. I'm sure you won't lose too much sleep over it though...