Saturday, February 25, 2017

Churchill to Trig Point Lookout, Churchill National Park - February 2017

Now this is something you don't see every day.
My most notable wildlife encounter this week didn't actually happen on my stroll in Churchill National Park, it happened as I was riding home from work on my evening commute. My ride home from work follows a creek for the majority of the distance and with an extensive series of wetlands on the other side of the track, it's not unusual to see the odd snake, I probably average 1 or 2 a month in the warmer weather. So riding home on Wednesday night I wasn't overly surprised to come upon a large Red Bellied Black Snake sunning itself on the track, in fact it wasn't even worth stopping to take a photo really. Riding on a few hundred metres more I got to something that was though, this time there were two Red Belly Black Snakes entwined on the track making baby red bellies! This was something that I've never come across in all my travels, so after dropping my bike a respectable distance away I wandered back for a bit of a sticky beak. I've got some bad news for all the blokes out there, these snakes had some stamina as they were still going strong after thirty minutes, hmmm, maybe they were teenage snakes;) Eventually I thought that I'd better leave them in peace and headed off home, at least I'm not sitting inside a car stopped in traffic on my daily commute.
This is the best I could do with my phone, funnily enough they were a bit toey if I got too close!

In contrast to my commute this weeks walk was a pretty tame affair, now by tame I don't mean it wasn't any good it's just a walk around Churchill National Park doesn't really feature any wow moments. What it does feature though is a few hills, some nice open forest and some history. Leaving the ute I managed to locate the unmarked track I was looking for without too much drama, once on my way there would be no more navigational difficulties for the rest of the walk. Climbing away from the the car park I emerged out of the scrub onto the wide Channel Track, this track follows an old water race that used to supply water to Dandenong in the ye olde days, now days the track beside it provides for easy, level walking as it contours around the hillsides. The Track passing underneath the huge electricity high tension lines that supply Melbourne with power from the Latrobe Valley, before doubling back to meet the power line again.
Heading along Channel Track I was never far from the power lines.
A typical Churchill National Park scene.
On meeting the huge power lines for the second time I left Channel Track and climbed steeply up an unmarked track beneath the lines. After a short but solid climb I topped out on the top of a ridge, from up here if I squinted enough I could see the high rise buildings in the Melbourne CBD in the distance, in the other direction was the sprawling south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. From the ridge top I followed North Boundary Track, which as you'd assume stays close to the northern boundary of the park. With a quarry just outside the park to my left I wandered along the fire track for awhile before taking an un signposted short cut along a grassy fire break. With Churchill National Park now being almost enveloped by suburbia I wasn't on my own along here, there was a constant trickle of lycra clad power walkers out enjoying the sun this morning too.
From the top of my first climb if I squinted I could just make out the Melbourne CBD.
Heading along North Boundary Track.
Turn left here for the grassy short cut.
With my grassy short cut joining back up with the fire track I left Churchill National Park and crossed into Lysterfield Lake Park and started climbing. I was now heading to the highest point of today's stroll, Trig Point Lookout, at just over 200 metres it's not exactly a giant though. While I was moving around the summit area taking a couple of photos I noticed an Echidna nosing around looking for a feed, as soon as he saw me he did the usual Echidna thing in that he buried his head in the ground, sounds like a politician hey. Pulling up a rock I sat and waited, sure enough after sitting pretty still for a couple of minutes my spiky mate pulled his head out of the ground and resumed foraging for food while I snapped away trying not to move, managing to get plenty of photos of his head I think I've discovered the secret to photographing Echidna's.
Looking towards Mount Dandenong from Trig Point Lookout.
Trig Point, looking towards the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
How cute is this....
I just sat still on a rock with the camera up and ready to shoot and he started foraging around again.

After my wildlife encounter I shouldered my pack and headed off again, I was now heading down the appropriately named Grassy Spur and this was the best walking so far. The open spur along here was giving me great views in both directions but it wasn't long until I turned off onto Woodland Walk and started descending. I reckon Mr Chapman (who's notes I was using) has a bit of a masochistic streak in him as the next couple of kilometres basically involved my descending a spur beside a gully, crossing the gully at the bottom of the spur and then climbing back up another parallel spur on the other side of the gully, it makes the stats look more respectable though I suppose! Topping out I briefly re joined my outward route and crossed back into Churchill National Park, before dropping down again to Stonemasons Track.
Grassy Spur lived up to it's name, and made for some of the best walking of the day.

I'm assuming Stonemasons Track is named that because it passes by an old quarry, although treat that as a Feral fact. I was now gently descending beside a gully and on turning onto Syphon Track I crossed the gully on a dam wall, now while the old dam might have made for a good photo I gave it a miss because it definitely looked like it would be home to it's fair share of snakes and without gaiters on I wasn't keen to go too far off piste. Syphon Track was the only really bushwalking type of track for the days walk, being a single file track with the local flora crowding the sides of the path I was keeping a close eye out for snakes along here too. With the huge power line guiding me back I met up with an old pipeline which looks like it fed the channel that supplied Dandenong's water.
Wandering down to Stonemasons Track, the morning slightly overcast conditions had brightened into a beautiful day.
I'm assuming that the name of Stonemasons Track had something to do with this old quarry.
Sure enough the pipeline did go to the channel and I was soon back on Channel Track and heading in the direction of the ute. The open forest along here has been burnt in the last few years by the look off it and the stark trunks gave me something else to stop and photograph. If you ever have some visitors and they want to see some kangaroos around the Dandenong area then Churchill National Park is worth a try and in particular Channel Track, there are plenty of open grassy areas just off the track that the roos would love. With the power lines once again ahead of me I rejoined my outward link track back to the car park, arriving at the ute a few minutes later after what had been a very pleasant little stroll.
Syphon Track spat back out onto Channel Track.
Back on Channel Track and ambling my way back to the ute.
The Dirt.
I walked 9.4 kilometres and climbed 275 metres on this stroll. I was using Mr Chapman's notes and he rates this as a medium grade walk so I'll go with that, but really it's borderline easy. This is walk # 21 in the 2011 edition of Day Walks Victoria. This little walk is a fairly inoffensive little stroll, while there are no outstanding scenic highlights Churchill National Park does allow you to escape the suburbs and enjoy the sights and smells of the Aussie bush, and in my case it's very close to home. I just used Mr Chapman's notes and mud map as well as my GPS but I'm sure Parks Vic would have a free map online that would get you through, there are a lot of tracks criss-crossing the park so you shouldn't really get lost.
Relevant Posts.
Lysterfield Lake, Lysterfield Lake Park - 2016.
Birds Land, Birds Land Reserve - 2015.
Jells Park, 2016.
Braeside Park, 2016.

The picnic ground at Churchill National Park marked my start and finish point.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Goon Goon Dina Walk, Blackdown Tableland National Park - December 2016

The normal start to this little stroll is from the Munall Camp Ground on the Blackdown Tablelands, but being the hardcore dedicated Feral walker that I am I decided to start it from the small car park on the access road near where the road crosses Mimosa Creek, figuring that the extra few hundred metres would make the stats a bit more respectable. As it turned out the walk up to the camp from the access road was quite interesting, the link track followed Mimosa Creek and the creek seemed to have quite a few potential swimming holes in it's rocky bed. After filing away the potential swimming holes in the deep dark recesses of my mind I confronted the hardest navigation of the walk, passing through Munall Camp. Qld Parks really should be congratulated on the way they maintain Blackdown Tableland National Park, the park is in great nick and the camp was no exception, my route was well signposted and the camp was immaculately clean.
The tracks are very well maintained up at Blackdown Tableland.
There are some nice swimming holes on Mimosa Creek near the camp.
So after easily finding my way through the large camp I set off on the interestingly named Goon Goon Dina Walk. As I crapped on about in the last paragraph this place is amazingly well maintained, I'd swear that someone had taken a leaf blower or a broom around this track as the ground was almost free of leaf and forest litter. My route climbed very gently, again fairly closely to Mimosa Creek although for the most part it wasn't obvious. This walk starts off by passing a couple of points of historical European history, the first notable feature was some old stock yards that had been built at the beginning of the last century, with a lack of wire and nails the old settlers had to be a little inventive, the slip rails are butted into some holes drilled into an old gum tree of which the tree is now making it's own. A short time later I got to the remains of an old cattlemans hut which dates back to the 1950's, apparently the soil on Blackdown Tableland is low in Phosphorous which gave the cattle chalky bones so after a few months the cattle had to be moved to Planet Downs, three days ride away.
There is a bit of European history on offer on this walk.
This is the remains of an old hut that the cattleman used to use back in the 1950's.
There was plenty of natural attractions as well.
Blackdown Tableland features a lot of this dry, open forest.

Continuing onwards the gently climbing track passes a few more information signs before coming to a large sandstone overhang, this is the home to a extensive indigenous art site. It's thought that the art was created by the Ghungalu People who have lived in this area for thousands of years, most of the art consisted of Ochre hand stencils. After enjoying the peaceful ambiance of this magic spot for a little while I once again continued on my little expedition. Almost immediately after leaving the overhang the track passes through a short section of forest littered with huge rocky out crops, their weathered shapes testing out my skills as a lens man again.
Halfway through the walk I arrived at this large sandstone overhang which featured a lot of indigenous art.

There are some spectacular rocky outcrops near the art site.
The indigenous art site is more or less the highest spot on the stroll, I was now gently descending back towards Munall Camp. After crossing the headwaters of Mimosa Creek on some well places stepping stones, the route passed through a couple of open grassy clearings before meeting up with my outward route a few minutes before arriving back at the camp. With the route now familiar I easily retraced my way back through the camp ground and headed back down the short link track to the small car park beside the access road.
Crossing the headwaters of Mimosa Creek.

The Dirt.
This isn't a hard walk, I walked 3.8 kilometres on this stroll and climbed 38 I didn't miss a number there! This easy walk would suit families and people that aren't usually walkers, the track is very well marked and maintained. While the walk isn't hardcore that doesn't mean it's not interesting, there is a lot packed into this short walk, from European history and Indigenous history as well as having a lot of interesting natural features, with a lot of the points of interest featuring little information signs.
Relevant Posts.
Gudda Gumoo Walk, Blackdown Tableland National Park, 2016.
Goodela Walk, Blackdown Tableland National Park, 2016.
Carnarvon Great Walk, 2014.

The walk back to the camp ground passed through a nice open grassy area.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Arts Precinct, Melbourne - February 2017

With a milestone to celebrate Sam and I headed into Melbourne for a night last weekend. After dropping our gear off at the Langham, our Friday evening was spent checking out the outdoor shops (lucky Sam hey!) before heading out for a late meal and making our way back to our room. It's nice to stay in the city every now and again, not having to spend an hour or so getting back to our home in the 'burbs is a pleasant change, as was chilling out in our room and gazing out over the Yarra River and Melbourne's night time skyline. After a very relaxed breakfast at the hotel on Saturday morning I figured that I might head off on an easy city walk while Sam did a bit of shopping, after a lot of research I settled on the Arts Precinct Walk (err that may be another alternative fact.....the real reason was that the walk almost passed by the front door of our hotel!).
Our flash digs tonight.
After saying goodbye to Sam as she wandered off with the credit cards for a couple of hours, I headed down to the National Gallery of Victoria to start my stroll. Now this walk passes by a lot of galleries on it's journey, but with limited time today I was more interested in checking out the outside of the galleries and public art installations. Passing the NGV I did make an exception to that rule though and headed in to the vast foyer to check out the famous water wall, managing to get a photo without too many people in it. Actually getting photos without people in them was a bit of a problem today as the city was crowded with punters in town for White Night. 
I started my walk off at the NGV.
Walking down the wide, tree lined boulevard that is St Kilda Road I checked out the Victorian Collage of the Arts before turning down Grant Street. Apart from a fair few residential apartments Grant Street is home to the Vault, better known to some Victorians as the Yellow Peril. This installation has struggled to find a home in Melbourne and is currently settling in to it's third home so far, now on the forecourt of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art it stands as a contrast to the huge City Link exhaust and the rusted facade of the ACCA. With the huge Eureka Tower guiding me back I headed towards the CBD along Sturt Street, turning onto Southbank Boulevard at the Melbourne Recital Hall, it's interesting architecture giving me a reason to get the camera out again.
The Vault is probably better known as the Yellow Peril in Victoria, it seems to have found a more permanent home now.
The ACCA building.
The Melbourne Recital Hall has an interesting look to it.
Heading back up past the NGV again I checked out the sculptures around the back of the Arts Centre, I've been here many times over the years but didn't realise that there is a small sculpture garden and café hidden away behind the Arts Centre. After circumnavigating the Arts Centre I crossed the Yarra on Princess Bridge, before making my way through Federation Square. I'd been lucky so far this morning in that predicted showers hadn't arrived yet, but the city streets create a bit of a wind tunnel effect and even without the rain it was bloody cold in the shade this morning. 
The Melbourne Arts Centre.
There was a few surprises behind the Arts Centre.

I was now heading for a couple of old favourites, Hoosier Lane and more particularly, AC/DC Lane. I've featured these two spots in my blog before but the good news is that the gritty street art is always changing so revisiting every now and again there is always something new to be seen. The cobblestone Hoosier Lane is a little more on the tourist strip than AC/DC Lane and there was no shortage of punters there today, most of them trying to get a selfie of themselves in front of the mural of Trump and Putin. Hmmm, maybe Trump is infatuated with Putin because they're both fucken' lunatics, unfortunately I reckon only one of them is a smart lunatic though.....
Federation Square.
Hoosier Lane.
Guns & Roses had been in town this week and Angus Young had been up on stage with them belting out a couple of Acca Dacca classics from the Bon Scott era, and rumour has it that Angus was seen down at AC/DC Lane checking things out. Unfortunately there was no Angus sighting today but as usual AC/DC Lane and Duckboard Place provided endless visual stimulation if you look hard enough.  With no crowds to speak of in AC/DC Lane I took my time here, apart from rock'n'roll a lot of the art work here also has a political edge (like a lot of Melbourne's street art really).
Apparently Angus was down here a couple of days ago.

Heading back out onto Flinders Lane I meandered my way up to Collins Street checking out the soon to be demolished water wall in the City Square and an old favourite, the Larry Latrobe dog sculpture. With the need to check out of our room by 1:00pm I started to head back towards the Langham, heading down towards Desgraves Street through the old Nicholas Building. The Nicholas Building features a lot of resident artists studios and workshops, but I was more interested in the ground floor arcade today, the art deco styled roof being particularly good. 
Collins Street was looking pretty good today, although it was bloody cold for February.
The City Square water wall.
How about a bit of Gothic architecture.
The Art Deco Nicholas building.
Desgraves Street like AC/DC Lane and Hoosier Lane features a fair bit of gritty street art, the main difference here is that Desgraves Street also features a lot of trendy little cafés, all of which appeared to be doing a roaring trade today as I made my way through. Popping out to Flinders Street opposite the station my walk was over, all I had to do now was to head back over the Yarra River to Southbank and our hotel to meet up with Sam and then back home to our normal life in the suburbs. 
Desgraves Street was pretty busy today.
Sounds easy enough....
Now seeing that we stayed in a flash hotel on this excursion I figured that I'd better write up something informative about it. Unfortunately I failed to do that so you'll have to settle for these incoherent ramblings instead. We stayed here back when the Langham was the Sheraton a few times and my recollections we're of a fairly nice place that was fairly expensive and it appears that not much has changed there. The Langham had all the usual features of a modern 5 star hotel, with a grand entrance / foyer area and a couple of nice restaurants to choose from. Our room was a corner room on the 18th floor that looked out over the Yarra River and Melbourne's skyline. The only negative thing I can say about the room was that the bed was soft, for a reason that escapes me people that stay in these flash places seem to equate luxury with softness, whether it's beds, furniture, carpet, toilet paper....everything is soft.... much like the people that stay here I suppose, yeah, yeah I know I'm soft! We had brekky as part of the deal at Melba's restaurant and that was really good, although I gave the chocolate fountain and ice cream a miss but each to their own I suppose. We also had free wifi and a 1pm checkout. Would I recommend the Langham, well I've stayed in worse and I've stayed in better, for prime position on Southbank it's hard to beat but if you don't mind a walk then I'd go for the Hilton at South Wharf.
The Langham Hotel at Southbank.
The Langham Hotel was a comfortable spot to bed down for the night.
The Dirt.
I walked around 4.5 kilometres on my easy Arts Precinct Ramble, no GPS reading today though as I didn't want to appear like a complete tool wandering around the city. I loosely used the notes out of the Woodslane book Melbourne's Best Bush, Bay, & City Walks by Julia Monday, the Woodslane website is crap so no link there though. You could quite easily spend a day doing this walk if you visited even half the galleries and studio's that the notes take you past, however for me it's the lane ways of Melbourne that are the highlight of the walk. Like I mentioned we stayed at the Langham Hotel at Southbank. We had a B&B deal with a corner suite which cost us around $440 online, so it's not cheap, but for a special occasion I suppose it's not too bad.
Relevant Posts.

This was the view that I got on every one of the eighteen times I woke up for a piss last night....hey I'm old.
Looking over Flinders Street Station towards the eastern part of the Melbourne CBD from our room.

Mushroom Rocks, Baw Baw National Park - June 2016

I mentioned in my last post that I was heading out and doing a snow walk next and indeed that's how it turned out. The weather in Me...