|The summit photo.|
With one eye on an upcoming long distance walk in Scotland I was looking for a bit of a stroll today that would raise my heart rate a bit. I decided to head up to Kinglake National Park and do the Andrew Hill Circuit, a walk that once again I'd done more than once before over the years. The Andrew Hill Circuit has a bit of climbing and no coffee shop within easy distance so I figured that it would be a positive for my fitness and not a negative. Like a lot of Victoria, Kinglake and its National Park was absolutely decimated by the huge Black Saturday bush fires in February 2009, I was hoping that with the Andrew Hill Circuit being in dryer forest on the northern slopes of the park that the forest might have recovered a bit better than some of the wetter forest on the southern slopes.
|Island Creek near The Gums Camping Area.|
I pulled up at the start of the walk at The Gums Camping Area at around 1:30pm, a pretty early start for me really. I would imagine that The Gums Camping Area would be one of the closest National Park camping sites to Melbourne and it would be a good spot get away for a night, with its magnificent trees and the nice Island Creek flowing past. On the subject of trees, if your not a fan maybe give the post a miss because in this part of Kinglake National Park the trees, which are predominantly Messmate are the main attraction. Locking the ute and resetting the GPS I meandered my way south along the valley of Island Creek, the track occasionally breaking out onto the banks of the little creek but more often than not passing through the dampish forest and ferns slightly away from the water views.
|The initial section of today's walk followed Island Creek up stream.|
Reaching the picnickers at Island Bend Picnic Area I left the creek and started the climb which would eventually end at Andrew Hill in an hour or so. The walk from here on would follow management tracks all the way back to the ute, I'm not usually much of a fan of walking these dirt roads but today I really enjoyed the easy access they provided, maybe it was the the rare blue sky and sun but my mood had lifted with the cloud. So anyway I was a happy walker as I meandered along, gently climbing up Stringybark Track stopping frequently to try and do justice to the bush in a photo. Arriving at an unmarked intersection I descended down to check out O'Connors Weir, the weir appears to have been opened up by Parks Vic and there was only a small puddle of green algae covered water to photograph through the ferns.
|Heading up Stringybark Track through the dry eucalypt forest.|
Returning to Stringybark Track I continued my climb, the gradient a little steeper, but still pretty cruisey really. Reaching the crest of a spur that eventually ends at Andrew Hill I turned onto Mountain Creek Track, which instead of following the spur to the top of Andrew Hill, descends down into the gully of Mountain Creek, in the process losing most of the height that I'd gained since leaving Island Creek a couple of hours previously. The forest along Mountain Creek track was a lot wetter than the bush on the higher slopes, and the ferns and towering Mountain Ash added to the interest as well as a male lyrebird sighting, although no photo today unfortunately.
|Losing most of the height I'd gained heading down Mountain Creek Track|
When Mountain Creek Track met up with Andrew Hill Track I started to climb again, this time for the last time today. Andrew Hill Track climbed a little more steeply than what had come before, the occasional glimpse through the trees of the surrounding country gave me an excuse to stop and take it in, the late afternoon sun adding to the scene. The top of Andrew Hill is at 625 metres but is covered in reasonably thick forest so the main attraction of reaching the summit was that the climbing for the day was over. I stopped for awhile at the top to give Sam a call and tell her all was well, at the same time taking a panorama photo on my phone to see what I could make of it.
|Climbing Andrew Hill Track.|
|Late afternoon on the climb to Andrew Hill.|
|The top of Andrew Hill, Kinglake National Park has no shortage of signposts.|
It was now fairly late in the day as I headed down the continuation of Andrew Hill Track towards the ute, the descent on the management track was particularly slippery and I had to be careful not to go arse over, going for a couple of fairly undignified slides in a couple of places. Being late afternoon the wildlife was out and I was lucky to come across a large Eastern Grey Kangaroo on the track, unfortunately he didn't linger long enough for me to get a photo of him. When I noticed the smell of wood smoke in the air I knew I was getting pretty close to the camp ground, sure enough I soon crossed over the bitumen Eucalyptus Road and entered The Guns Camping Area, as always slightly relieved to see the ute unmolested.
Once again I used John Chapman's notes from his 'Day Walks Melbourne' book, its walk number 28 in the book and the notes and maps in the book are probably all you really need to complete the walk. The Andrew Hill Circuit is probably a medium difficulty walk, the tracks are all well defined and signposted but there is a little bit of climbing involved. According to the GPS I walked 13.75 kilometres and climbed 498 metres on my meanderings today. If you are looking for a pleasant afternoons walk which features a nice creek, lots of trees and a half decent hill to climb then it maybe worth checking out Andrew Hill.
|The dry forest had some wild flowers out, so with my superior wildflower knowledge I'll name them for you, this would be Pink Heath.|
|This would be White Heath.|
|And this would be....err......Pinky White Heath. ** |