Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reids Tramline - December 2015

After heading out for our massive Friday walk to Ricketts Point, I backed up on Saturday with another easy walk, this time up at Powelltown in the Yarra Ranges. Today I roped in another victim companion, a mate of mine from work, James who was keen to get out into the bush a take a few photos. I might have broken with tradition in that I wasn't walking alone, but I didn't break with tradition when it came to a start time, it was well and truly mid afternoon when we hit the track. The other notable feature of the day was that it was pretty warm, with the temperature in the low thirties it was just as well it was an easy walk.
The car park has a bit of old logging history scattered about.
Powelltown is still a timber town.
Powelltown is a logging town and indeed we were going to check out the remains of Reids Mill, but first up we wandered along the main road. The town had its hay day in the early 1900's but it still appears to be going OK, with a large sawmill still operating, along with a pub, church and general store. Crossing to the south side of the road we walked an old road easement for a couple hundred metres, the grass seemingly increasing the humidity on what was already a fairly humid day. After the easement joined up with Surrey Road it was time to head into the bush for our walk up to the Reids Mill site.

Heading along the old easement near Surrey Road, there was certainly a bit of kick in the sun today.
On finding the well signposted track we dropped down and crossed the pretty tannin stained Little Yarra River before heading up the valley of Blackwood Creek. The walking along here uses the historic tramline route that ran from Reids Mill to Powelltown so it makes for a pretty easy stroll with just a slight up hill gradient. The highlight for me of this tramline section though was the glimpses of Blackwood Creek flowing along the valley beside the track, like the Little Yarra River, Blackwood Creek is slightly tannin stained and flowing over a quartzite sand base, the creeks look really pretty and were almost taunting me in this hot weather to stop and have a soak.

The Little Yarra River.
The towering Mountain Ash, what's not to like?
After a pleasant stroll up the tramline for a couple of kilometres we arrived at the site of the old Reids Mill, the mill operated in the 1920's and 1930's however there is not a lot left here now days. Poking around the bush a bit we found a few pieces of rusting machinery, including a circular saw blade that looks like it has been buckled in a bushfire. The site is surrounded by what appears to be mounds of dirt but I presume they are actually old piles of saw dust, they are slowly being reclaimed by the forest and are now almost indistinguishable from the surrounding bush, being reclaimed by lush ferns.
There were plenty of ferns crowding the old tramway.
Blackwood Creek.
Leaving the old mill site we crossed Blackwood Creek and climbed a bit up onto an old fire track, the forest drying out as we climbed higher. The temperature also climbed a bit as we moved away from the creek, I was sweating bullets but that is pretty much business as usual for me even though I was walking in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. James, on the other hand was covered from head to toe, one of the joys of having fair skin I suppose, I can only imagine how hot it was for him. After a bit of drink we headed up the old fire track, climbing fairly gently before meeting Big Bertha Track and following it gently down a spur. Big Bertha, now that's a cool name for a fire track, it sounds like it might have been named after an AC/DC song, Big Bertha Track, Whole Lot of Rosie Track, yeah now were talking!
There is not a lot left at the old Reids Mill site.

With AC/DC now stuck in my head we turned off Big Bertha Track and made the descent down to the Little Yarra River again, the descent was fairly short and once again the forest improved as we dropped into the valley, with plenty of ferns and Mountain Ash. Crossing the Little Yarra River I once again looked longingly at the beautiful cool and clear water, if only I had a bit more time I would have loved to take a dip. Does everybody dream of the day that they don't have to work any more and they can take their time and smell the roses or is it just me? The walk was now coming to a quick end as we climbed up from the river bank and we arrived back at the ute, James had survived his first feral walk and I had once again enjoyed revisiting an old favourite.
James, heading down Big Bertha Track.
The forest was a lot drier higher up, consisting of mainly Stringybark.

The Dirt.
I really like this walk, its a fairly easy stroll but the scenery is top draw. The walking along the old tramway is particularly good with the track crowded with lush ferns and a towering canopy of Mountain Ash. Once again it might be just me but I find these crystal clear creeks flowing over the quartz sand very pretty as well. The other slightly unusual aspect of this stroll is that it has't changed much in the ten years since I first visited it, as far as I can see there have been no big fires or floods through the area so the Mountain Ash are all still alive and the creeks sill look good and aren't deeply eroded....all good! We walked 6.69 kilometres and climbed 202 metres on this easy walk. John Chapman has written this walk up in his book Day Walks Melbourne, its walk number 37 in the book.

But once we dropped down towards the Little Yarra River again it got more lush.

Crossing the Little Yarra River at the end of the walk, a very tempting spot on a hot day.

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