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.

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