Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park - 28 June 2014

This is starting to get a bit repetitive, but the forecast for Saturday was pretty crap. We have been buffeted by high winds in Melbourne all week, and today's forecast was more of the same, with the added benefit of rain and hail in the late afternoon .Perfect weather, I reckon, for a walk to check out a couple of waterfalls. As I had to pick up some stuff on the other side of Melbourne we decided to keep heading west and have lunch in Lorne, then I could do a walk while Sam went shopping.
The now traditional pre walk feed, this time at the Oven House in Lorne.
Arriving in Lorne at lunch time we were mildly surprised to find quite a lot of the shops and cafes closed, I'm not sure if they closed for winter or if hard times have hit the 'polo set', I suspect that many of the small business owners may have headed to warmer climes for winter as I haven't noticed a big increase in 'insurance fires' lately. Anyway, whatever the reason, there wasn't the usual large choice of dining options, luckily for us we chose the Oven House cafe using our highly scientific method of looking in the window to see if it looked popular. 
About to head off from Sheoak Picnic area.
After finishing off our baguettes and the obligatory bowl of chips I thought it was probably time I started walking, now being highly organised I'd managed to leave both my map and guide book at home, so with just the GPS to guide me, I thought it would be prudent to revisit a walk I'd done before. Kalimna Falls sounded about right, I remember it as a nice easy walk, so after a couple of wrong turns we eventually found our way out to the track head at Sheoak Picnic Ground. After a quick 'before' photo I was on my way and Sam was heading back to the shops for a couple of hours.
The Kookaburra that was hanging around waiting for a free feed.
Before I was even out of the picnic ground I was trying to get a photo of a Kookaburra that was obviously hanging around waiting for a free feed (taking photos certainly gets in the way of walking, it takes me twice the time to do these walks as it used to, being old and broken may have a little to do with that as well!). Successfully out of the picnic area I headed along an old timber tramway that follows the valley of Sheoak Creek upstream, the whole area was logged in the ye olde days, and now a lot of the walks in the area follow the old timber tramways providing easy walking. The good news for the forest was that as the old timers selectively logged the area (ie, it wasn't clear felled, poisoned, and then torched for tax payer subsidised f#*king woodchips), it had has recovered strongly with plenty of bio diversity.

Following the old tram way.
I had a bit of blue sky to begin with.

The good news was that the weather was holding out OK as I went further up the valley, I was even able to get some shots of the patches of blue sky above the towering trees. After way to many stops I eventually got to Lower Kalimna Falls, these falls have a undercut cliff that allowed me to get behind the curtain of water for a different perspective. After mucking around with my little gorilla pod and slow shutter speeds for fifteen minutes I headed off towards Upper Kalimna Falls. Luckily I had a little mobile coverage so was able to get a  text to Sam to tell her that I would be late back to the picnic area.
There was a few of these old cuttings which the tram way passes through.


Lower Kalimna Falls.
As I moved further up the valley the weather was becoming worse, by the time I got to Upper Kalimna Falls there was lite, but constant rain. After snapping a couple more photos I quickly packed the camera away in the dry bag for awhile, before heading back to meet Sam at the picnic area. I'd decided to return via Garvey Track, so after back tracking a few hundred metres I took the track leading of to the south. This track climbs out of the valley of Sheoak Creek, before descending  and climbing out of a second valley, that of Little Sheoak Creek, it then climbs to a ridge top to meet Garvey Track.
From the cavern behind Lower Kalimna Falls.
There was some timber down which wasn't surprising considering the wind we've had in Victoria this week.
Upper Kalimna Falls.

Garvey Track is a fire track that provides easy walking along the ridge that divides Sheoak Creek and the Cumberland River. The drier forest of the ridge gave me some views to the coast as well as a good look at the dark clouds that were heading my way from the west. Still it was a reasonably pleasant ramble down the ridge, even if the wind and rain was getting worse. Getting back to Sheoak Picnic area in the gathering gloom I was happy to see Sam parked there waiting for me. After doing a quick change under the picnic shelter I was soon in dry clothes and ready for the drive home.


Heading down Garvey Track.
The Dirt.
The walk notes are written up in the second edition of Glen Tempest's Daywalks Around Melbourne, its walk # 3. The book has been superseded but here's the link to his homepage. I did around 8 kilometres and climbed around 300 metres on the walk. This is an easy walk that almost anyone could do.



The weather was getting a bit worse as I got closer to Sheoak Picnic area.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Port Chalmers, New Zealand - 25th December 2010

Huh, why Port Chalmers? Well we were heading for Dunedin on a cruise but quickly discovered that almost everything was closed there on Christmas day, so we decided to explore the little port town of Port Chalmers. I think this will be a quick post as there wasn't a lot happening in the small town, but it was still worth checking out if only to see how others celebrate Christmas.
Our first sighting of Otago.
Sailing into the narrow entrance of Otago Harbour.
Before setting foot on land however the ship had to negotiate the entrance to Otago Harbour, the wind was howling and the entrance narrow but we managed to sail up the winding channel safely. With not much open we decided to have an early lunch before heading ashore, its a little surreal to be sitting on the open deck of a cruise ship with the container cranes making up the view, but that's was our lunch spot.
Lunch on the deck of the ship with the container cranes behind us.
Heading ashore we followed the main street up the hill until we ran out of shops for Sam to gaze in the windows. Crossing over we walked down the other side until we were back at the harbour, well that was the window shopping expedition over in twenty minutes (I'm exaggerating a little, a couple of shop keepers did interrupt their Christmas day to open up for the cruise passengers). The little town of Port Chalmers, while quiet on Christmas day, looked like it would be an interesting place to visit when things were open, there were a few nice looking galleries and cafes.
The main street of Port Chalmers, Christmas day.
Looking down on the town from the lookout.
What to do next? (I like this asking my own questions, I feel like a politician in question time getting asked a dorothy dixer). Well we decided to tear ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the main street and climb to a lookout overlooking the harbour, once at the top we could look down at the ship tied up below us. After gazing at the view for awhile we took a walk through a small garden and sculpture park before heading back down to town.


Sam, checking out the small garden and sculpture park near the lookout.

Sam then headed back to the ship while I went for a longer walk up a mountain on the north side of the port, I've forgotten the name of the track but the walk took me around two hours so it was fairly substantial. If this post is a little on the vague side well that's probably because at that point of time a blog wasn't even on the radar, so I probably wasn't taking in as much detail as I do now, anyway it saves you from some boring waffle.
A little wild life near the second lookout.
The view from the lookout on the north side of the harbour.
Retracing my route back to the ship I joined Sam on deck for a drink while we sailed out the beautiful Otago Harbour, it looked like we were the tourist attraction judging by the number of cars parked on the roads beside the harbour with there occupants outside standing and waving. Before long we cleared the harbour and turned north along the coast, tomorrow we would be in Christchurch.
Getting prepared for another hard night at sea!
People were stopping and checking the ship out all along the harbour.

The Dirt.
We did this cruise with Princess Cruises, as usual all was good with them. Port Chalmers appears to be nice little spot, there were quite a lot of nice galleries and cafes and there are a couple of easy walks around town if you want to stretch your legs.


It's a hard life this cruising caper.

The light house at the entrance to Otago Harbour.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Bluff, Alpine National Park - 21st June 2014

Another Saturday, another crappy forecast. I decided that seeing the weather was going to be crap I may as well head up to where it would be at its worst, with snow showers predicted down to around 1600 metres I figured The Bluff at 1725 metres would fit the bill. So off I headed on the long drive to the track head, arriving at around 1 pm after much sliding around climbing up from the valley.
The start photo, I think the ute will need a wash by the time I get home!

It'll be another day for atmospheric shots.
The weather was indeed crap when I got to the start of the walk, so on went all the wet weather gear including my over pants, now if you peruse the rest of my photos you'll notice that its a rare occasion when I pull on long pants, its an even rarer occasion when I pull on waterproof pants. Suitably attired for the conditions I set off up the track towards the cliffs that protect the summit of The Bluff, sweating buckets in my waterproof gear within about five seconds.
Snow gum on the climb to The Bluff.
Starting to climb through the cliffs that protect The Bluff.
Scrambling up the waterfall track to the top of The Bluff.
Its a fairly steep climb from the car park near Refrigerator Gap, the whole time the cliffs of The Bluff should be in view above, today I settled for atmosphere instead. The good news was that I couldn't see in advance how steep the track was going to get, the bad news was there would be no sweeping scenery shots today. Climbing higher towards the cliffs I  stopped a couple of times to take shots of snow gums and lichen (actually I stopped to get my heart rate below 200 bpm).
Fire ravaged snow gums on the summit plateau.





The cliffs under Mount Eadley Stoney in the mist, from The Blowhole.


Once at the base of the cliffs the track twists and turns, following a series of small chutes and ledges, before suddenly popping out on the reasonably flat summit plateau of The Bluff. Normally from here I'd have a view that would include Mount Buller, Mount McDonald, Mount Clear and Square Top, but today no matter how long I lingered there would be no view. The conditions on top actually weren't that bad, I spent a little while having lunch and waiting forlornly for a break in the cloud, the disappointing thing was that there was no snow.
The track through the snow gums close to Bluff Hut.

                                         
Bluff Hut.
Heading down Sixteen Mile Road.
Eventually I headed of in the direction of Mount Eadley Stoney and Bluff Hut, the walk across the tops was generally easy going across snow grass plains before descending into snow gums as I neared Bluff Hut. Bluff Hut provide a chance to get out of the weather for a few minutes. From here on I would be tracking under the cliffs of Mount Eadley Stoney and The Bluff along a fire track on the way back to the ute.
Just about everywhere I like to walk has been 'storm' damaged n the last ten years.
What's left after the fires.
What its like before its roasted.
I've never walked this part of the track before so I was a little surprised when I had a good look at the map a realised exactly how far I had to go to get back to the ute. The walk along the fire track turned out to be better than I anticipated, the forest was a mixture of regrowth and stark, dead Mountain Ash. The skeletons of the Mountain Ash provided an interesting photo opportunity. There were also numerous fern lined gullies with streams cascading down the slopes and patches of forest that the fires hadn't touched. Just as the light was fading, Bluff Link Road started to climb some switch backs and I arrived back at the car. Throwing all my wet gear in the tray I was soon warm, dry, and heading down the mountain in the dark, arriving home at by 8 pm for a late dinner.
Mount Eadley Stoney towering over Bluff Link Road.
Mount Eadley Stoney.
The Dirt.
According to my GPS I walked 14.3 kilometres and climbed 724 metres. I used the notes from Glenn van der Kniff's Bushwalks in the Victorian Alps, I also used the VMTC 1:50,000 Watersheds of the King, Howqua & Jamieson Rivers map. The walk is well marked and the tracks a generally easy to follow, there is a short scramble through the cliffs protecting The Bluff. The walk back along the fire track is actually pretty good, there are views down into the Howqua Valley and also of the cliffs above. The main consideration on this walk is the weather, the open tops are snow bound for much of winter and the route is very exposed, Bluff hut provides good shelter halfway through the walk. I'd rate this as a easy medium walk.


Almost back at the ute, my only blue sky for the walk.
The author is cold, wet, and tired, after another nice walk.