Rambles of ambles and sagas of suburbia

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kalimna Falls, Otway Ranges. 11th December 2010

Well, I was armed with the Glenn Tempest book of 'Daywalks Around Melbourne' again and I thought I might give walk number 10 in the book a go. It's a circuit walk of about 12 kilometres, rated as 'moderate' and it's named 'Currawong Falls'. Before walking though I had to get domestic. Remember, a hiker's life is not all beer and skittles as I had to get my ironing done before heading out. Besides hiking, ironing is important as well. I put on my ironing face complete with full hiking gear and got it done at a fearsome speed. My leather 'La Sportiva' leather boots with Vibram soles gave me good traction as I found the ironing spray starch was causing the floor to be a little slippery. Boots come in handy at all times, even during the housework. Anyway, now that was done I was ready to head towards the Otway Ranges where this walk is located and not far from the previous week's Cumberland River stroll.

I made pretty good time and found the starting place at 'Distillery Creek Picnic Area'. If I had any sort of flexibility I would have patted myself on the back for having plenty of hours left in the day to get this walk done without rushing. The most I can stretch though is to the top of my head which I patted a few times. Mm...hang on. I can see the start of the track, but there appears to be a fence put up in front of it with a notice attached. I wonder what this means? I strolled up and read a notice from Parks Victoria. "The Currawong Falls walk is closed due to burning peat". I stood there for a moment mildly dumbstruck. WTF??!! Burning  peat? What is this? Russia? There's been non stop rain in Victoria for the last few months so I'm not sure what set the peat off.  Is it dangerous? Would I catch on fire? I sat back in the car and thought of my options. Pretty easy really as I was holding a book with 100 walks in it.  Good work Glenn Tempest! I picked out a walk not too far away and it's called 'Kalimna Falls' but it's only about 8 kilometres long. Well, due to the fiasco of the closed track, I now had less time in the day so the shorter walk would have to do.

Theme of the day: Ferns

I drove to the start of the walk at the 'Sheoak Picnic Area'. It involved a bit of dirt road driving before coming to an expansive picnic area that was completely empty. The weather was a bit dodgy with dark clouds going by so it appeared rain may be on the menu. I parked the car and observed the start of the track. Guess what? Yes, there was a fence in front of it with a sign attached. Gee, I wonder who put that there?  I strolled up to read yet another Parks Victoria sign. "The Kalimna Falls walk is closed due to flood damage to a bridge and trees down on the track". Okay, now this is getting silly. I began to think it was a government conspiracy.  I looked up at the sky, put on my angst face and shook my fist a number of times yelling, "How am I ever going to write this stupid blog if all the walks I go to are closed??!!" It was now 2.30 pm and I decided that there would be no more driving to alternative walks. I was full of questions. Flood damage? Why don't the floods put out the burning peat? I began to think that nothing could be as bad as the sign said and it's really only there to keep knuckleheads safe. I pondered for a moment to consider how much of a knucklehead I am. Well, I decided to walk the track and if it was all too scary I could always come back.  I got my stuff together including the pack but I forgot to put my mandatory Jungle Jellies in. Hopefully I would survive the day without them.

I set off on a wet track lined with tree ferns.  It was pleasant walking and I was glad I had my boots on. Some spots were quite muddy and I had been walking about 38 seconds when a heavy shower of rain hit. Right, off with the pack and on with the 'Mont Tempest' raincoat. I had camera problems in that I have a DSLR and I like to have it slung over the shoulder. Now it was getting wet so I elected to put it in the case and carry it that way. A bit awkward but it would have to do. I spotted a juvenile bird on a branch and took a few photos of him. I'm not sure what sort of bird it is other than it has feathers. I need to invest in a bird book I think and I'm too busy writing this to Google what type of bird it is.

It was peaceful walking with no one around and it wasn't long before I came to the flood damaged bridge which was blocked with another Parks Victoria fence and sign. Yes, the bridge looked a little wonky but I considered my options. How about walking around it? This is what I did and it took me about 7 seconds to negotiate it. Right, that was easy. Now, my first aim after a 3 kilometre walk was Lower Kalimna Falls. I quite like a waterfall and I was hoping to get a few good photos. The track branched off and followed Sheoak Creek until I reached the waterfall.

Lower Kalimna Falls

Even though the waterfall doesn't have a long drop it's a fantastic spot. A pool of water lined with tree ferns and an interesting backdrop. Behind the waterfall is a semi-circle undercut in the rocks where it's possible to walk around and stand directly behind the waterfall. I took my time taking it all in and getting a few photos at different angles.

Undercut behind Lower Kalimna Falls...

I think I spent a good half hour enjoying what felt like a secluded spot which was nice and dry with the overhanging rock above me. It was time to head off again though and make my way further along the path to the next spot which was Upper Kalimna Falls. Wow, the guys making up the names of these waterfalls were struggling for some ideas I think. "Mm..names...Upper?  Lower? That'll do..."

I had taken a number of photos with the help of a lightweight 'Manfrotto' tripod. According to the map the next waterfall wasn't too far away so I didn't want to pack the tripod up and then have to get it out a short time later. The camera locks to the tripod so I thought I'd be pretty groovy and carry the camera whilst still attached to the tripod. I then put the tripod over my shoulder as if I was carrying a mortar tube. Hey, look at me! Getting it done out bush! Well, that was a great idea until I had to manoeuvre around some trees sticking out into the track. I took the tripod off my shoulder and I don't think the reader has to be Sherlock to work out what happened next. Yep, as I did so the camera came off the head of the tripod. I watched as the camera lazily rotated in the air and landed fair and square on my big toe. A Canon 7D with lens is 1.30 kilograms in weight and fell from just below my shoulder height. Ouch! Lucky I was wearing boots and also lucky that the camera was okay. I would prefer a broken toe to a broken camera and after dusting it off it appeared okay. I dispensed with my 'mortar tube' style of carriage though and other than a bit of mild sharp pain it appeared my toe was okay.

Rather large fallen tree on the track...
Now, I was again sloshing through some mud before I came to a very large tree which had fallen down on the track. I thought of the sign at the start of the walk warning me of fallen trees. It made me recall that I don't think I've walked on any track in my life that doesn't have fallen trees on it! It doesn't seem to be much of a problem as there's usually two options. Go around or over. I really think if one sticks to those principles then there will be no problem! I was feeling a bit athletic all of a sudden so I went for the over approach. I was working well until I got to the main trunk and I ended up in a position of my chest flat against the trunk with my legs spread either side in the air above the ground. Lucky I did '5BX' as a kid and have always been handy at push ups with hands together. I had to put some effort in with a solid push up combined with grunting to get over the tree. With all the work though I was feeling a bit pumped and was almost tempted to rip my shirt off and go into a pose down complete with a lat flare. I kept my shirt on though and reached a part of the track that branched off towards Upper Kalimna Falls.

Upper Kalimna Falls
The track at this point closed right in and I was pushing through ferns and my nemesis returned. Nettles. They were everywhere and I was again glad to be wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I was cautious not to brush my hands against the nettles like I did the previous week. In the end I adopted a strange method of walking where I would lift my leg up high to either step over them or on top of them altogether. I was getting some serious knee lift going as if I was stepping over imaginary Swiss Balls. I continued with this freakish gait until I reached a dead end which was a lookout for Upper Kalimna Falls. The falls were a short distance away but were fenced off. The Upper has a bigger drop than the Lower but didn't seem as impressive. Where's the undercut rock?!  I was spoiled after seeing the Lower. The lookout has some impressive ferns overhead with a couple of wooden seats though. It was quite relaxing and I got to work taking a few more pictures.

I was casually taking pictures when I noticed a little black creature moving across my hand. I knew exactly what it was. A leech! I should have expected that the wet fern areas would have the odd leech. I sent him into orbit with a power packed flick and now became a little wary. I began to feel imaginary leeches in my hair! After rubbing my hands through my hair a million times I decided to head off. It was now a walk up a ridge line to a dirt road and then it was back to the car. I had to adopt the super leg lift again until I was away from the nettles. The track then began to climb and was quite open as I climbed the ridge. I noticed plenty of burnt trees in the area and I'm not sure when a fire occurred or maybe it was just a burn off a few years earlier.

I climbed the ridge until I reached Garvey Track. This was a wide vehicle track and as I reached it the rain really started to come down. I packed the camera away and now it was a matter of strolling back to the car. I continued back in the rain until I reached the car park.  I noted the GPS read out telling me I had walked 9.24 kilometres with elevation climbed of 270 metres. These day walks are getting shorter all the time! It wasn't really my fault as my intended walk was closed just like the one I just completed! I guess liability means Parks Victoria have to play it safe and not expect walkers to do any form of risk assessment themselves. It certainly wasn't the toughest challenge I've faced whilst walking!

I was back in the car but I wanted to stop by a lighthouse on the way back which I've never looked at. This is surprising as I have quite a lighthouse fetish. It's the 'Split Point Lighthouse' which is off the Great Ocean Road. By the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with hiking so go get a cup of tea if that's what you're looking for right now. The weather was a mix of heavy showers and sunshine which is quite fantastic for photo opportunities. Upon reaching the lighthouse I was happy to have a break in the rain and I was rewarded with a great rainbow.

Split Point Lighthouse

It's a great spot with some lovely lookouts across the ocean. I waited, hoping to catch a nice sunset but the rain began to sweep in which killed the light. I did get to take a few nice photos though before the rain again began to belt down. It was now a matter of packing up and heading home whilst munching on the Jungle Jellies. It wasn't what I planned for in the day but I enjoyed the walk to the waterfalls. It's a lovely walk that I would probably have overlooked due to its shorter length. Now, if the peat fire goes out on the Russian steppes I will come back to the planned walk at Currawong Falls...

Moon rising over Split Point Lighthouse

Sunset Killer.  Incoming Rain...


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