Monday, February 22, 2010

Mount Victoria Trail

On Sunday we walked up to the summit of Mount Donna Buang along the Mount Victoria Trail. The walk starts in Warburton township, right at the start, off Martyrs Road. Anyone can drive up to the summit of Donna Buang and experience the awesome views from the top of the lookout. There's picnic tables, toilets, BBQs, etc., so on a fine summer's day, it's popular.

The road to the top is called the Donna Buang Road (called Acheron Way at Warburton end) and there are as many cyclists as cars in the warmer months. It's a steep climb in a car, challenging on the bitumen road and an absolute slog along the narrow walking trail that we took on Sunday.

The forecast was for 32 and a cool change in the afternoon. The walk was signed as being 12kms return, a 7-hour walk. We had packed lunch and lots of water and started off at 10:10am, disappearing into the ferns and bush. After skirting around some private paddocks and blackberries, we started the hike proper. Uphill.

Lots of birds and bugs and huge tree ferns... The canopy blocked the sun and heat and it was difficult to know how high we were. A sharp noise rang out and puzzled us; it was like a shot but hoarse. We saw the first of two other walkers and asked his thoughts on the noise. He had thought of foghorn but realised that was absurd. We three concluded it was a deer, having seen lots of tracks and also 'no shooting' signs.

After nearly two hours of constant uphill trekking, feeling slow, we heard an occasional car overhead. We were nearing Donna Buang Road, well past our halfway point. A sudden increase in blackberries confirmed we must be near civilisation. Hot and elated, my feet and legs felt strange hitting the road. The next section was much less steep, and starts with a vehicle track that leads up to a whirring communications tower. This section I would recommend for someone wanting a good challenging walk (driving up and parking on the summit road), maybe a picnic, but not training for Kokoda...

At the summit, in the bright sunshine, we ate our lunch and bandaged my heels which had developed blisters. Ouch. In no time we were descending quickly, keeping our eyes on the sky for a forecast storm. It had taken us 2 hours and 20 minutes to walk up to the summit - it ended up taking us 1 hour and 55 minutes to get back down, including stopping for photos and me taking a massive fall near the very end. Not an easy walk but a very accessible and beautiful trip for Melbournians.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sunday Walk

This Sunday we've got a walk planned. It may be a killer, since all the links I've found for it are about training for Kilimanjaro or Kokoda. It's from Warburton, up to the Mount Donna Buang summit, apparently quite a climb, and quite lush and beautiful.
After attempting a big 3 day trek last month and completely exhausting ourselves, we decided some small, less risky but quite intense walks were needed. The failed Mount Speculation attempt was a high-stakes game. If we had have pushed on we would have been not only physically ruined but without water or enough food, and of course in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bonnie Valley

Saturday morning it was hard to get up. We both had 8.30 appointments - Charlie had a driving lesson and I had a 'smash' session, aka personal training. It was a tough start.
Getting back later in the morning, the best thing to do seemed to to be to go camping - just for the night. Consulting the myriad maps we decided to head to Warburton, about 75kms away, then on to Big River area where some campsites lined the river. Charlie called his parents and invited them and then we got busy packing the car with the tent, camp chairs, warm clothes, etc. At 10.45am we were on the road.

The drive to Warburton was uneventful, though I noticed my favourite roadside stall was open. Last time we went past I bought onions, plums and an apple cucumber. They have a selection of the largest zucchini ever. Anyways. At Warburton we had lunch at the same place we always do. I was hoping for the best Caesar salad ever, but it was just ok. We splashed out on fresh squeezed juices with lots of ginger which were delicious. As we sat, we were entertained/distracted by a tarot reading happening at the table next to us.

After buying up some local produce (carrot cake, handmade soaps) and op-shop goodies ($1 scarf), and hailing down Charlie's parents, at 2.30pm we headed north-east in convoy. Along Warburton Woods Point Road, through McMahon's Creek and pretty Reefton for about 40kms to the Cumberland junction. Another 11kms east and then our left turn was signposted as Morris Road which soon branched off into Little Creek Track. Very slow going for 4kms, heading down down down into the valley of Big River. Little trees were springing up in the middle of the road, everything was lush and smelt great. A lot of moisture in the air and it wasn't cold at all.

There were a few campsites to choose from, and it was a bit unclear when we got to the river which was which. We saw another car and tent setup so continued on a bit, along Snowy Road, after crossing the river. Large bogholes greeted us at the entry to another little camp area, and after some cautious investigation, we both headed through without incident.
The campsite was right on the river, with a few tracks leading straight down to the banks. To our dismay there was rubbish strewn all around and as soon as we got out of the cars we each picked our way around the site, collecting the beer bottles, cans, forks and junk and then could enjoy a much prettier site. It was only 4.30pm, so we had hours of daylight and set about establishing our camp in an unusually unhurried manner.

We had hoped to have dinner at Woods Point Hotel, about 50kms further east, but the roads were such slow going on arriving, we decided it would be too hard/tiring/risky to do it all again, twice, at night. Instead we scratched out a dinner with the few things we'd all thrown in the cars as contingencies. Luckily this included a nice bottle of white wine which was cooled in the river and accompanied our packet soup and tinned spaghetti beautifully.

The usual wildlife such as wallabies and other marsupials were nowhere to be seen. Instead there were loud swarms of march flies, a tree full of bees, a dead car in the river and maybe a bat. Dusk came late and with a deepening pink and a barely perceptible drop in temperature.

We slept late - 7.30 - and had strong coffee and Warburton carrot cake for breakfast. Mercifully there were no flies and the temperature was perfect. We needed to hit the road early to be back in Melbourne for a working bee/arvo tea. The day seemed unremarkable but when we got in the cars, waded through the bog and headed up out of the valley, it was clearly a glorious morning. The light played with the mist, tall trees silhouetted against a bright white sky, and all around the rich spell of eucalypt. It was very peaceful and the moisture in the air seemed to have deadened all sound.

Instead of heading back the way we came (along Little Creek Track), we headed along Snowy Road due south for about 14kms to Warburton Woods Point Road. Our map has no contours, and we soon realised we were trekking along a ridge with wide breaks and glimpses of the valleys to our left and right. It was slow going and there was plenty of time to breathe deep, observe damp spider webs and take photos.
We reached Warburton Woods Point Road and farewelled Charlie's parents who headed towards Woods Point. There were a few oncoming cars, which we waved to, and a lyrebird scrambling gracelessly out of sight. We reached the Cumberland Junction at 9.50am, and increased tyre pressure before heading down to Warburton. We passed many cyclists headed up the gruelling hill, baring various game face grimaces.

Eggs Benedict with curly bacon at the first cafe in Warburton, and then we headed back to Melbourne, stopping at the roadside stall where a handful of sugar plums we thrown in free of charge. The Gladysdale bakery received some of our custom too, when we stopped to select a royal sampler of neenish tarts and velvet cakes. We were sticky and happy when we arrived in Brunswick to wash windows and dismantle furniture for friends moving interstate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Time to revive

Dinner at Christmas Street, with mango salad and a tour of the caravan and the garden. Perfect cooling night for a ride home. Perhaps the lament can be anew with the various trip tales. That's handy.