Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Pats Creek to Ada No.2 Mill, Walk into History, Yarra State Forest - January 2017


I’ve looked at walking the ‘Walk into History’ a few times over the years but have never actually got around to doing it. The combination of a big car shuffle and apathy had kept me off this walk, with no big views on offer the walk continued to slip down my list of walks to do. However with a long weekend in Melbourne suddenly making the logistics do-able and the weather looking like it might cooperate I decided that I could procrastinate no longer. So after waking my long suffering wife up at 6am, we headed off in two vehicles for the long drive to Warburton via Powelltown.
I'm getting to old and fat for this...

By the time we’d dropped the ute off in Powelltown it was around 9am when we finally found the start of the track in Big Pats Creek, initially we’d gone to Big Pats Creek Picnic Ground only to find that the walk actually started half a kilometre or so back down Smyth Creek Road. The Walk into History (WIH) shares its initial sections with the Upper Yarra Track which eventually will deposit you up at Mt Baw Baw (if you can follow the overgrown track). A lot of the walking tracks up in the Yarra Ranges utilise old timber cutters tramways and while the old tramways make for easy walking generally they also require a bit of track maintenance to keep them clear of the ever encroaching bush. So setting off this morning I was happy to see that the track clearers had been through here recently and my path was wide and clear.
Crossing Big Pats Creek on my first of many log bridges.

After passing through Big Pats Creek Picnic Area and crossing my first log bridge over the beautiful Big Pats Creek, the route started is long but gentle climb up to Starling Gap. The route initially stays fairly close to Big Pats Creek, crossing it a couple of times. Big Pats Creek is like most of the creeks and rivers up here in that the tannin stained water flows over a bed of white quartzite sand for the most part, the combination of tea coloured water and white sand, topped off with an almost impenetrable wall of green vegetation crowding the banks was very pleasing to my eyes. Leaving the banks of Big Pats Creek the WIH climbs up and crosses the quiet Burns Road and then strikes out towards the old Ezards Mill site.
Initially the track stays fairly close to Big Pats Creek.
While the Fedral Tramway had been recently cleared the walk still had a bit of a Raiders of the Lost Ark feel about it.
I was now climbing up through more open and drier eucalyptus forest for the most part. The old Federal Tramway was still pretty easy going, the only sections that were a little rough were where the tramway made its way though deep cuttings or gullies, in these damp areas ferns sometimes crowded the track a little but it was still way easier than I feared that it may have been. Passing the old Ezards Mill Site (nature has more or less reclaimed everything here) I continued the long climb to Starling Gap, on paper this 9 kilometre climb sounds a bit daunting but in reality it’s a very well graded climb, even a fat old bastard like me did it fairly easy! Arriving at the deserted Starling Gap Picnic Ground I decided that this would make a good spot for lunch. The picnic ground here is a beautiful large grassy area surrounded by towering Mountain Ash, the picnic grounds have tables, fire places, a shelter and a toilet, but no water so make sure you carry some if you’re planning on having lunch up here.
There was the occasional big tree down that the track workers couldn't clear.
The Mountain Ash are a feature of this walk.
It pays to keep your eyes open, there's plenty of history slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Double barrel duck boards approaching Starling Gap.
Starling Gap was a nice spot for lunch.
After having a bit of a break and something to eat I headed off on the short side trip to check out a huge steam powered winch that was used to drag timber from up to 600 metres away, when you see the size of the Mountain Ash up here it puts that into perspective a bit. Returning to the picnic area it was time to shoulder the pack again and head off on my afternoons stroll, the good news is that Starling Gap was the highest point on the walk so it should be all down hill from here, yeah we’ll see. I’ve walked this section of the WIH before as a day walk from Starling Gap to the Ada Tree and it was a pretty rough walk in spots, so I was very happy to see that the track clearers had made it out this far, in fact the gently descending tramway walk was about as easy and pleasant as you could get I reckon, the sunny blue sky only adding to my good mood.
This old steam winch used to pull the huge Mountain Ash in from up to 600 metres away.
Strap yourself in for a lot of photos of bloody big trees....
In the damper gullies there are some Myrtle growing.

I was still following the old Federal Tramway at this stage as it made it’s way downstream above the Ada River. Last time I’d walked this bit of track there were some fairly dodgy trestle bridges that we had crossed but the track workers have obviously been hard at work and the trestle bridges crossings have long gone, now I crossed the damp gullies on large sections of duck boards, the track workers had utilised the fallen timber as duck boards in a lot of places giving the track a more natural feel, incidentally they do the same thing down in Tassie so maybe some of those trackies worked on this track. It was along here that I had a couple of firsts today, my first other walker (a day walker on a return walk to the Ada Tree from Starling Gap) and my first snake (a Copperhead), I wouldn’t encounter another walker for the rest of the walk but I would see a few more snakes on my journey.
There was more than a few leeches out and about today.
A lot of the damper gullies are crossed by duck boarding, the old logs on the left are the remains of one of the old trestle bridges.
Arriving at the intersection of Federal Tramway and the Victorian Hardwood Tramway I left Federal Tramway and descended down to the old Ada No.2 Mill Site. It quickly became apparent that my track clearing mates hadn’t made it onto this section of the Victorian Hardwood Tramway as I was immediately pushing through the ferns that were crowding the track. Arriving at my intended camp I was surprised to see that the Ada No.2 Mill Site must now be the official camping area as there are now camping platforms, food boxes, seats and a table. I was thinking that the official camp was just over the crossing of the Ada River, not that it really mattered as I was always planning on pitching my tent at the more pleasant mill site anyway. The parks people have done a good job of utilising some of the left over milling machinery as camp furniture here. If you ever find yourself at Ada No.2 Mill Site it’s worth spending some time exploring the surrounding bush a little, there are all manor of old relics being reclaimed, Inca like by bush, and that’s how I spent my lazy afternoon at the old mill site, well exploring, swatting mozzies and picking off leeches anyway.
Blue skies and sunshine..... all was good in my feral world today!
The Victorian Hardwood Tramway was a little more over grown.
My camp at Ada No.2 Mill site.
Ada No.2 Mill site is a pretty flash camp.
The Ada River is only a couple of minutes from camp.
The Dirt.
I walked 22 kilometres today and climbed 629 metres on this medium grade stroll, as is usual my GPS gave me stats that were a little over the odds compared to the official distances, I think the official distance for the day is around 16 kilometres, and while I did a couple of short side trips and wandered around a little taking photos it's still a fairly big discrepancy. I used the notes out of Glenn Tempest’s Weekend Walks Around Melbourne and while the book dates back to 2003 the notes still proved pretty accurate. As well as Mr Tempest’s notes and mud map I carried the Rooftop’s map for the area and used my GPS maps. Today was actually a bit of a surprise, I was expecting to be pushing through a lot more scrub but the track clearers had made it a lot more pleasant for me, so instead of constantly picking off leeches I was able to enjoy the majestic forest.
Relavent Posts.
Reids Tramline, Yarra State Forest, 2015.
Buttongrass Walk, Bunyip State Park, 2016.
Johns Hill, 2015.
There is no shortage of relics slowly being reclaimed by the bush at the Ada No.2 Mill site.




The Ada No.2 camp is bordered by these Paperbark Trees, although there is still one big Mountain Ash in the middle of camp.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stuart Walk, Spencer Hill Circuit, Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve - December 2016

There was certainly a bit of weather about on this walk.
In between downpours of rain on our Central Australian trip last year I headed out to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station to do a walk that I'd never done before. The telegraph station precinct is a great little spot, with a good selection of walks and mountain bike rides, as well as a nice grassy park complete with BBQ's and toilets, and then there is the historic old telegraph station itself which also features a small cafe. I'll crap on a little bit more about the telegraph station in a later post but this post is about a late afternoon walk on the Stuart Walk and Spencer Hill Circuit, a walk on the eastern side of the Todd River.
The walk starts off by crossing the wide sandy bed of the Todd River.
As is pretty standard for me I was leaving it pretty late in the day to do this walk, although instead of my usual excuse of apathy, today there was a (flimsy) reason for walking off into the twilight. You see I think the country around the old telegraph station is best seen with sun low, there are no great natural wonders here, just plenty of red desert scenery and the beautiful desert light that comes at sunset (and sunrise). So setting off from the huge car park it wasn't long before I was snapping away with the camera, although the looming black clouds were a bit of a concern. Crossing the sandy bed of the Todd River I picked up the start the Stuart Track and headed off into the scrub.
The telegraph station picnic area is on the far bank.
These low rocky hills are typical of the country at the telegraph reserve.
A lot of the tracks in the telegraph station precinct are now also shared with mountain bikes and I suspect that a fair bit of this walk has been re aligned to help cater for my fat tyred mates as the track only bore a passing resemblance to what my notes were describing. So long as the country isn't too precipitous I actually don't mind sharing tracks with mountain bike riders, a lot of our walking tracks in Australia seem to be overgrown and unloved and I think the extra traffic helps to keep the tracks up to standard sometimes (I suppose I should mention here that I have skin in the game as I'm also a mountain bike rider). After climbing a steep rocky section the track came to a high point and then turned south, generally climbing gently up a ridge with some of the flash houses on the out skirts of Alice Springs coming into view. 
Mt Gillen in the distance.
For the most part the shared track passes through low witchetty bush.
Twenty minutes or so after turning south the well defined track dropped down to cross a large clay pan and on the far side arrive at a track junction. Left would have taken my into suburbia but I was going right, up a wide valley heading towards the Todd River. The dark clouds that had been stalking me finally caught up with me along here although a bit of rain was fairly welcome as it took the edge of the desert heat a little. After passing through a wide gap in the surrounding hills the Todd River came back into view, I now headed upstream along the east bank, the walking track running between a long long rocky hill on one side and the river on the other. In between showers I got the DSLR out to try and capture the beauty of the ghost gums in the fading light, spotting a tiny rock wallaby I had no hope of photographing it in the low light so you'll just have to google Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby to check out the wildlife. Apart from rock wallaby's this area also has it's fair share of dingoes, probably attracted to the picnic area at the telegraph station I'd say.
The junction on the large clay pan. I'd come in on the track on the right and was heading back towards the Todd River along the left hand route.
The camera makes it seem lighter than it really was.
By the time I met up with my outward route and completed the circuit it was almost dark, not that it mattered much as I just had to recross the sandy bed of the Todd River and head to the car park. Heading back to the hotel it became apparent that I'd dodged a bit of a bullet on this walk, Alice Springs was awash with water, it appears that a lot of the black clouds that I'd been watching had deposited their load in town while I'd been wandering around the hills just out of town. While our visit to Alice Springs on this trip had been wet so far, things went up a notch for the next couple of days and there was a lot of flooding around town, we even had the normally dry Todd River flowing. When I finally get around to posting about the Alice Springs Telegraph Station I'll slot in some shots of the flooding.
The track back upstream along the river is bordered by this long rocky hill on one side and the Todd river on the other.

The Dirt.
I walked 4.9 kilometres and climbed 56 metre on this afternoons ramble. As I mentioned earlier, late afternoon is the go here, not only do the rocks look pretty good in the late afternoon light but the local animal tend to come out once the heat of the day dissipates a bit. The Alice Springs Telegraph Historical Reserve is a few kilometres north of town, with a good bitumen road all the way its accessible to everyone. This walk could all be done on a mountain bike although some of the rocky sections of single track would require a bit of skill.
Relevant Posts.
Crossing back over the Todd River at the end of the walk it was basically dark.
The weather would deteriorate a little more over the next couple of days, this was the scene as I approached the car park tonight.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Heidi Sculpture Walk & Banksia Park - January 2017

This Saturday I had some big plans. I'd kept an eye on the weather all week and it looked like Saturday afternoon was going to be perfect for walking, so with that in mind I had a big walk planned. Then on Friday some dickhead went crazy in Melbourne in a car killing people and devastating peoples lives, fuck. With my my mojo now severely dented I woke up Saturday morning switched on the morning telly to find wall to wall Trump, now we all knew it was happening but to know that this buffoon has got his finger on the nuclear button and will be making decisions that will effect our planet for hundreds of years finished me off. To be honest my first reaction was that I just wanted to go back to bed and sleep, I just felt extremely tired. I read somewhere that Ben Quilty said that he is always being accused of being a bleeding heart, Ben went on to say something along these lines, well if being a bleeding heart means that he has compassion and a social conscious then there are worse things that he could be accused of. While I've butchered Ben's words a bit probably, I totally agree with his sentiment, if caring about other people and the environment makes me a bleeding heart then I'm guilty as charged I suppose......just don't mistake having compassion with being a soft touch.

Now while sitting on the couch all day in my dressing gown staring at ABC24 had it own appeal, I decided that I had to get out in the sun light. Sam suggested that we visit the Heidi Museum of Modern Art up in Bulleen, a place that neither of us had been before. After a quick perusal of my library of walking books I discover a walk in Banksia Park that incorporated the sculpture garden at Heidi with a short walk though some native bush along the Yarra River, we had a plan.
Heidi Museum of Modern Art.
The plan today was to check out the museum before taking a bit of a stroll around the gardens, the main gallery room featured art by Georgia O'Keeffe, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington-Smith in an exhibition called Making Modernism. Albert Tucker was another artist who's work was featured in the main gallery. Next door in John and Sunday Reed's old house there was some works on slate by Sidney Nolan, the brutalist style of concrete architecture of the house was also interesting, particularly when viewed from the gardens. Heidi is the former home of the Reed's and over the years they hosted a succession of famous artists in their house. For people who don't live in Melbourne this area was famous in the late 1800's as being the home of the Heidelberg Art School, where a lot of our famous artists of the day passed through. Leaving the galleries for a while we headed through the sculpture garden, checking out the small kitchen gardens on the way, this small garden supplies fresh produce to the on site Café Heide.
The main gallery featured works by Albert Tucker among others.
I'm not actually sure that this type of architecture is really referred to as brutalist but that's what it looks like to me!
The kitchen garden supplies fresh produce to the on-site café.
Now I'll spare you the details of all the sculptures and just mention a couple of my favourites, one of the first works that we came to that I really liked was a piece called Theoretical Matter by Neil Taylor, this amazing work featured a cube of lattice like steel and with a huge high tension power line in the back ground it was a fascinating piece. Straight after that we had to go over a check out the Heidi Cows, a series of corrugated iron cowes by Jeff Thomson. Judging by the children running around I'd say the cows are a hit with the kids as well as the adults.
This piece is called The hill and it's by David Wilson.
My favourite, Theoretical Matter by Neil Taylor.
The Heidi Cows by Jeff Thomson.

We now meandered our way out of Heidi and into Banksia Park, while my map had us walking along beside the Yarra River in reality the river was hard to get a good view of through the trees, and seeing that I was walking in my hiking Havaiana's I wasn't really keen on any off-piste stuff today. This little loop track is called the Cherry Grove Trail and features a few information plaques about the old settlement of Warrigal, a farming settlement that was set up on the flood plain. The paved Cherry Grove Trail is very short and before long we'd looped around and were making our way back into the sculpture gardens.
The walk around the Cherry Grove Track in Banksia Park featured more native scrub.
These old fruit trees mark the site of Sidney Ricardo's old farm, he arrived onto these river flats in 1843. After making a success of his farm he later was elected to parliament.
While being very close to the Yarra River for a lot of today's walk there are no really great viewing points, well without going off-piste anyway!
Heading back up through the sculpture park we climbed up gently until we came to a huge red gum, this tree is thought to be at least 500 years old and features a large scar where the Yingabeal People had carved a canoe from it's trunk. We were now heading to the original house, passing some more great gardens on the way. The original house, or Heidi 1 as it's known now is home to works by Charles Blackman as well as being home to the extensive library of the Reed's, interestingly the library featured shelves of non-fiction books but I didn't notice any fiction, some  of the non-fiction I have in my library (well bookcase anyway;) and plenty that I'd like to read one day when I find the time. Our little excursion was coming to it's end now though as we wandered back through the grounds to the car park checking out the Rings of Saturn on the way to the ute, hmmm maybe a new planet might not be so bad....
Wondering back up through the sculpture garden we checked out Unfurling by Andrew Rogers.
Before coming to Basket and Wave by Dennis Oppenheim, Sam's favourite.
The canoe scar on the old red gum.
The old milking shed.
The Dirt.
I didn't want to look like a complete wanker today so I didn't break out the GPS to walk through the sculpture gardens. My notes suggest that this is a 2 kilometre circuit although we probably added a few hundred metres meandering our way up to Heidi 1, not that it matters much it's all pretty easy. Climbing is negligible, I'd estimate it being around 20 metres for the walk so it won't break you! This is a walk suitable for strollers and wheelchairs as well as young children. Entry to the Heide Museum of Modern Art is $22 for adults, entry to the sculpture park in the grounds is free. We loosely used the notes and map out of Melbourne's Best Bush, Bay & City Walks by Julie Mundy.
Relevant Posts.
Warrandyte Goldmining Trail, 2015
Blue Tongue Bend, Warrandyte State Park, 2016

Headi 1, the Reed's first house on the site.
Headi 1 has more information about famous guests that have stayed there over the years.
The Reed's library was an interesting spot.
Rings of Saturn by Inge King.
I'm thinking that this may be Saturn's Moons?



How about a cheerful photo to finish the post off with.....