|'Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.'|
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!
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.
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...
...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...
...or the summer trip?
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...
...which wasn't too bad. It just took a bit of ploughing through, but what really slowed me down was sights like this.
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...
I was getting there though and even had time to pause to catch the inevitable winter fungi on display.
Check out this cluster on a 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.
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.
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...
...and the same spot in December.
The entire area had been burnt.
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.
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).
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...
...hoping it would soon end.
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.
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.
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.
Now, what to make of Yankee Creek? Well, generally it was dry, but the odd pool of water made for a nice photographic opportunity.
The trouble is, other things were causing a rise in blood pressure. Firstly, it was terrain, which looked like this...
...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.
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.
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.
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...
...picking up some passengers along the way.
The old water race walls were off-limits, due to being overgrown with the prickly stuff.
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.
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??
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.