Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mount Beckworth, Victoria.


red bark on eucalypt tree

Do you remember my first walking post of 2013, which just happened to be a walk from last year? Well, you'll be pleased to know that this one is the same! I'm hoping to hike at some stage this year, but I think I overdid things at Christmas, by eating so much that I can't get off the couch. In fact to get out the front door I've had to thoroughly lubricate myself with baby oil to squeeze through. That's okay, but last night I had a Kit-Kat, which was 'a few calories too far'. Once I've done this post I'm going to call the Fire Brigade, just so they can knock a wall down in my house and then I'll be able to roll down the driveway to check the letterbox.

Oh yeah, one more thing about the last post and that's the use of the word 'egads'. Since then I've been bailed up by an angry blog customer who said, "What's with the 'egads'? That's just made up!" I then went on to explain how it was an old word of exclamation and actually means 'ye gods'. The result of this explanation was the reply, "Ye gods? What does 'ye' mean? 'Ye' isn't a word!" I can tell you that the joys of blogging are fleeting and most of the time it's a grind.

Now, this is a short day walk, up and over Mount Beckworth. You'll find it in the latest Glenn Tempest book, 'Victoria's Goldfield Walks'. The walk had been on my radar for quite some time, but it's had a catalogue of fiascos attached to it and none of them relate to walking. Firstly, I headed up there mid-year and whilst cruising along the freeway the weather turned nasty, so I did what every hardened hiker should do. I immediately performed a handbrake turn and planted my foot back home.

red bark on eucalypt tree

Next up, I actually made it to the Mount Beckworth park. Have a guess what I forgot once I hopped out of the car? Yes, I'd forgotten both the GPS and the track notes. Really, that's one of my better efforts, although it doesn't beat the hike where I arrived without socks.

Now, this is a short walk and Mount Beckworth is only 634 mt in height, so I suggest you can summit without supplemental oxygen. What's interesting though, is that Parks Victoria have set out to make the small distance exciting. It's an unusual method, but it seems to work. What they've done is dispense with most signage on the tracks. How clever is that? It's a walk that really rewards the hikers out there who excelled at ESP during school. I was always poor at mind reading. Bending hammers over the top of my head was my forté.

Anyway, it's not too bad, as the park is small, so if you get lost, just head downhill screaming with your arms waving in the air and eventually you'll come across a road and hopefully salvation. If there's no one around, I guess all you can do is climb the nearest tree and jump off and hope for a quick death rather than face starvation. Then again, you could just walk 10 km and have a counter meal at a nearby hotel, which depending on how many beers you have, would be less painful.

The bonus of my previous non-walking visit was that I knew how to get to the park. Have a guess why? Yep, that's because the road that leads into the park isn't signposted. I don't mind a joke, but what's the story up there? Is it part of NORAD and the government is trying to keep its location secret?

Just in case it is a secret location, I wore my alfoil helmet to deflect the government tracking devices and arrived at the deserted Manna Gum carpark by 3 pm. It might be a late start, but I was confident I'd knock the walk off with plenty of light to spare.


The carpark felt isolated, but that wasn't what I found disturbing. There was minimal breeze, but the door on the nearby comfort station was opening and closing quite forcibly. Surely the only reason it would do that, was because it's haunted? At some stage someone may have fallen into the drop-toilet head first? Maybe they're a 'crapper ghost' whose soul can't rest due to the deadly plummet?

Now, a common theme of many Glenn Tempest walks are that as soon as you hop out the car and start walking, you'll be climbing a hill within ten feet. This was no different and I'd barely had a chance to peruse 'elephant rock'....

boulder called elephant rock
  
...and the climb to Mount Beckworth was in front of me...

feldspar track

...which was steep in parts.

steep hillside on feldspar track


I was insanely attacked by flies on the way up. Do you know that feeling when gasping for air and suddenly a fly zooms into your mouth and then bounces off the back of your throat? Well, that happened to me and besides dry-retching I thought, "Where's that fly been?" Not to mention that I needed air, not free food.

I stopped a few times for a breather and to take snaps of eucalypt trees which looked colourful in the strong sunlight.


red bark on eucalypt tree

It's not a long climb, but it was enough to take my breath away due to the excessive Christmas pudding attached to my torso. I continued shuffling up until I could see the target of the walk. There's a huge pine tree on the summit of Mount Beckworth, which is called the 'lollipop tree'. Now, you do realise that as I was walking I kept thinking that its nickname was the 'Paddle Pop' tree? I clearly had the wrong confectionery in mind.

Upon reaching it I can confirm one thing. It's huge and I had trouble trying to fit it in the frame. Here's the best I could do with a wide angle lens in all its distorted glory.

pine tree called lollipop tree


That looks a little weird, so maybe it'll be better from underneath?


pine tree called lollipop tree


Mm... Almost. Apparently it was planted in 1918, so its had some time to get to this size. A bit like me I guess. There's another important aspect of the summit and that's the obligatory trig point. I made sure I'd officially 'bagged' the peak by standing next to it.

trig point on mount beckworth

If you don't know, trig points can be a threat. Lucky for me though, a responsible shooter packin' heat had already thoroughly blasted this inanimate object.

bullet holes in trig point
"I'll shoot you goddammit, if you keep standing straight like that!"

There are some nice views from the top...

open landscape view from mount beckworth


...and one can see how dry it's been in Victoria lately. There's not much that's green in this picture of old, dormant volcanoes.


dormant volcanoes


That was all pretty interesting, but after spending some time resting I was on my way again. A short descent and then I began following the Southern Ridge track. The views may have been nice, but I seemed to be mesmerized by the trees. I went a little overboard with, 'close up of trees and bark' pictures.





Did you say you want to see another one? Okay, if you insist...



This was comfortable walking, but just when I was thoroughly relaxed I had to descend an old vehicle track. Which just happened to be a bit of a knee breaker in its steepness...


steep hillside near southern ridge track
Yes, the camera is level.

...but thankfully it didn't last long. I spotted a magpie on a tree in the distance, although I really should invest in 400 mm lens one day. If you've got an electron microscope, I'm sure you'll see it.


magpie on eucalypt tree


Once off the hill I went powering along a vehicle track, but not before noticing another threatening sign. Lucky for me a platoon of responsible shooters had thoroughly taken out the threat and I felt safe, knowing that people with guns were out there looking after my welfare.


track sign shot by shotgun


In no time at all I reached Manna Gum Track. I wandered off along this 'track' noticing it's blended into the landscape quite nicely.

manna gum track
What's that? A track marker? I've no idea...

That random post seemed out of place, but the next one I came across only added to the confusion. Is this part of the track?


overgrown manna gum track
Now, is that a track marker..?

It was thrill a minute through here, but after passing this large rock slope...




...I found a quite defined track.


manna gum track


Actually, I really enjoyed this section. A fairly steep slope to my left with the odd boulder dotted about was quite interesting.




boulders on manna gum track


It was through here that a sudden movement close by caught my eye. Unfortunately I didn't spot him until I was really close, so he had a chance to head underground. An echidna was burrowing.


echidna digging


I was hoping to get a photo of his face, so I stood back for a while waiting to see if he'd pop up. Instead he continued burrowing, so I gave up and moved on...


bark peeling from eucalypt tree


...eventually reaching a spot called 'The Oval', which is a large grassy area. I'd show you, but the photos were pretty average, so on this occasion you've missed out. What I did do though was find the thoroughly entertaining 'Yellow Box Track'.


start of yellow box track
Start of Yellow Box Track

What made this particularly special is that I saw no sign of a track after about ten feet of walking on it. How cool is that?  I'm not sure of where it was meant to go, so I just made my own way strolling around some rocks...


large rocks on hillside


...whilst still admiring the brilliant blue sky.


large rock and trees


You know what? When I started seeing a road about 20 metres away to my right I officially gave up walking this 'track'. The road was an easy way to finish off and soon the car was in sight. Not before a few more tree photos though...






...and then I was done. It was short, but certainly a nice walk.

So, after three attempts Mount Beckworth was done. What's next? Well, getting a walk in this year would be a bonus. Maybe soon...

tree lying on ground


4 comments:

  1. Hope you've got some walking in since this was written, Greg. Some lovely Australiana here, and it was very comforting to see your polarised skies once more!

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    1. Yeah, some things don't change here in Australiana land! Polarizer and all! I have managed a few walks since, as I've suddenly panicked by my lack of preparation for the big walk at the end of March. Need to get some hills in the legs!

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  2. Great post! I really enjoy reading your blog because my Dad and I have done many of the walks on here and it's interesting to compare your experience with ours. Yours always seems so much more eventful! There's also a few walks on here that we are planning for the near future.

    We live less than half an hour away from Mount Beckworth, so we climb it whenever we can only fit in a quick walk on a weekend. It's a great mountain, many different routes. Climbing from Cork Oaks Camping Ground is completely different to climbing from the Dam. I know what you mean about the haunted "comfort station". Camped there a while ago and it freaked the crap out of me!

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    1. Hi Sam, thanks for dropping by! You do realise that most of my walks were straightforward until I started the blog? Since then everything has been nuts! Ben blames the name of it. I should have called it 'Hiking Comfort'.

      I loved Mt Beckworth as well and if I lived close to it like you, I'd also scoot up and down it quite often! I just ran off the Tempest notes, but after being there I do see how you could use lots of routes around the place. I might get back there again, but there's so many walks I've never done, I'm trying to do them before repeating others!

      You both sound savvy enough for any of the walks I've attempted, but if you need info on any, just drop me an email. I might be able to tell you how to fall over on any!

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