Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ada No.2 Mill to Powelltown, Walk into History, Yarra State Park - January 2017



My second day on the Walk into History (WIH) started off pretty slowly, after a fairly restless nights sleep I awoke up to very light rain falling on the tent, hmmm that wasn’t part of the plan. The forecast had looked very promising when I left yesterday but somewhere along the way things had obviously changed a bit. Now the rain was only very light, just a mist really, but it was enough of an excuse for me to stay in the tent snoozing. Luckily by around 9am the precipitation had stopped and I figured that I’d better crawl out of the tent and face the day. Once again the mozzies were on hand to greet me and while I enjoyed my yogurt and muesli they enjoyed my blood, with all creatures appetites satisfied I packed up my wet tent, flicking of a couple of leeches as I did. Apart from me being super lazy, the other reason that I’d taken my time firing up this morning was that I’d figured that the now wet scrub that crowded the track would be real leech territory, I was clutching at straws a little but I was hoping that as the scrub dried out a bit during the day a few of the leeches might disappear. Now I’m not sure if it was my cunning plan or not but I didn’t pick up a another leech for the remainder of the walk.

Setting off this morning the Victorian Hardwood tramway immediately crossed the Ada River on a long section of duck boards, this is a very pretty section of the walk with the remains of the old trestle bridge slowly being reclaimed by the forest adding even more interest. Climbing away from the river and leaving the duck boards behind I was soon walking past the alternative campsite, it was definitely a good call camping at the mill site as this spot was pretty ordinary (IMHO). The tramway climbs gently through some drier forest, crossing Dowey Spur Road before suddenly arriving at the High Lead winch station. This marked the spot where I would start a very steep descent, it also marked the spot where I got Telstra coverage judging by the amount of beeping coming from the top of my pack.
The remains of the old tramway trestle bridge at Ada River.
The climb up to High Lead from the Ada River was pretty easy.

There isn't a lot left of the top winch station.
After sorting out all the messages and calls I started my plunge down off High Lead to Big Creek. This bit of track is steep, dropping around 415 metres in 1.6 kilometres, but it’s not really just the gradient that’s the problem, it’s also the fact that the track is covered in a lot of loose forest litter which meant that I was never quite sure if I was going to launch myself down the hill like big fat green sloth riding a snowboard made of bark. Maybe due to my cat like reflexes but somehow I managed to emerge at the bottom of that terrible descent in one piece, the good news was that High Lead appeared to be the crux of this walk, so I set off along the the tramway above Big Creek thinking to myself that this bushwalking stuff is pretty easy, yeah what could go wrong hey?
The track down off High Lead was the steepest of the whole walk.
Although my photos don't really show how steep it is.
Really the only relief on the descent is when the old tramway crosses Roman Creek Road near the bottom.
Eventually I got to Big Creek and the steep slippery walking was over.
The Big Creek section of the walk started of a little bit overgrown but quickly became better defined as I made my way towards the Latrobe River. It was along that here, as was ambling along, that I almost had the face plant that I’d managed to avoid on the slippery descent from High Lead. Meandering my way along the old tramway it felt like my foot was suddenly being reefed from my leg, WTF. Luckily my cat like reflexes paid off again and I managed to pull my foot from whatever had in in its death grip. Looking down trying to make sense of what just happened I noticed that the metal reinforced strap on my gaiters was now hanging loose, only now attached to the gaiter on one side. Investigating a bit further my steel trap like mind slowly started to piece it all together, it seemed that the gaiter strap that goes under the boot had hooked on an old metal railway spike that was hidden in the forest litter on the ground, my forward momentum had luckily then pulled the strap out of its buckle before I face planted. I suppose this was one of those infrequent occasions when having legs like small tree trunks helped me out a little.
The walk along Big Creek was another enjoyable section of the WIH.
Well I was enjoying it until this old railway spike almost caused me to face plant.
The spike ripped the steel reinforced strap from my gaiter.
Now with the tramway not being too overgrown I did consider throwing my gaiters in my pack and continuing on without them, but as I’d already seen two snakes on the walk I figured that the gaiters would offer me at least a little protection in a worst case scenario. So after rethreading the metal strap (easier said than done) I slipped the gaiter back on, ten minutes later I went within a couple of inches of standing on a Copperhead snake. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or my serpent mate, luckily he went one way and I went the other, but I was suddenly very happy that I’d stopped for five minutes to fix my gaiter. For a two and a half kilometre section of the walk the Big Creek Tramway was certainly providing plenty of excitement today. When I arrived at a long section of duck boarding it meant that I was about to cross the Latrobe River for the first time, signalling the end of my eventful Big Creek section of the walk.
I dunno who was more surprised, me or my Copperhead mate!
Crossing Big Creek.
Once I hit this long section of duck boarding it signalled to me that the Latrobe River was close at hand.
My first crossing of the Latrobe River.
I was ready for lunch now and was looking for a good place to stop for awhile, I’d been thinking that the bush camp near the Latrobe River or the High Lead Car Park might make for a comfortable stop but neither option appeared very appealing when I arrived. So I pushed on for a bit, heading along the bitumen Yarra Junction - Noojee Road for a couple of hundred metres before picking up Latrobe River Tramway. The tramway along the Latrobe River was a little overgrown to start with but soon opened up into good walking, after fifteen minutes or so I arrived at another of the numerous log bridges, this was the spot that I’d been looking for to stop for lunch. With a bridge to provide a flat platform to prepare lunch, complete with handrails that made for a perfect back rest and lots of good water, it was hard to actually pack up and leave this spot.
The initial section of the tramway along the Latrobe River is wedged between the river and the road.
I've had worse spots for lunch.

Continuing on beside the Latrobe River the easy walking continued, although the closer I got to The Bump the more overgrown the old tramway became. By the time I arrived at the base of The Bump the tramway was pretty rough indeed, in fact things were a little confusing along here where some pink tape led my across a creek into a thicket of blackberries before I emerged onto the Yarra Junction - Noojee Road. Now waist high blackberries are indeed rough going and to make matters even more confusing I couldn’t for the life of me find the continuation of the track on the other side of the road? No amount of map consulting helped, there just didn’t even appear to be even a rough pad where my map and notes suggested it should be. I did find something else though, an alternative exit point that would of avoided my blackberry thicket, complete with signpost, hmm it seems that the pink marking tape had led my astray a bit there. With my map suggesting that the pad headed bush again just to the west of the Latrobe River crossing I walked up and down the road verge a couple of times, but I’m buggered if I could find it, eventually I cut my losses and trudged a few hundred metre to the top of The Bump along Yarra Junction - Noojee Road. In hindsight I suspect that the track must lead off from a small fire track, I walked along this track for a little distance but with my map showing I was in the wrong spot and with the old road heading too far south I eventually headed back to the main road, which I at least knew would take me to the top of The Bump.
There are a few nice cascades along this section, this one had it's own little  plunge pool.
The closer I got to The Bump the more overgrown the old tramway along the Latrobe River got.

So after a ten minute road bash I once again re joined the WIH at the top of The Bump. This is the spot where, after getting sick of winching the logs over the hill the old timers dug a 315 metre tunnel beneath the hill to transport their logs through. After having a bit of a break I set off on the last tramway section of the WIH, this tramway slowly descends meeting and then following the Little Yarra River for awhile. The walking down here is really good, the tramway was fairly clear with just the odd ferny gully to push through, but the good easily outweighed the bad. Passing through a succession of deep cuttings the route was particularly interesting, with fallen trees across the top of the cuttings forming a rough roof in a couple of spots. One cutting even featured what looked like a Mountain Ash growing out of the old tramway, I thought that was a little odd as these Mountain Ash take hundreds of years to mature and the tramway was in use less than 100 years ago, getting closer I noticed that the wind had snapped the Mountain Ash off and deposited it like a spear into the cutting, that would of certainly got my attention if I’d been ambling along that day!
Descending down off The Bump the route was clear again.
The cuttings along the old tramway added some interest.
Check out the Mountain Ash, it's been deposited javelin like into the cutting, hmm no place for a feral walker!
My last log crossing.

Once I met the Little Yarra River the tramway got a little more overgrown as it crossed and re crossed the river a couple of times, but there was still no worries following it. On meeting Mackley Road my tramway way walking was over, I now followed this quiet dirt road out to Yarra Junction - Noojee Road, instead of following the bitumen road into Powelltown though my route now took my on a tour of the back blocks of town. Crossing straight over the main road the track dropped down through another gully before climbing and passing over someones front lawn (well that’s what it felt like to me), picking up an old track on the other side of the lawn I contoured around the the edge of the valley that is home to Powelltown. I was never far from town along here, actually more than once I was a little concerned that I might be walking through someones property, after crossing another couple of gullies the track officially entered town, I was now in familiar territory again as I’d walked this section with my mate James when we did the Reids Tramline walk. After zig zagging my way along the quite back roads I re joined the Yarra Junction - Noojee Road for the last time almost opposite the pub. Unfortunately I was heading in the opposite direction today, out to the west end of town and the Powelltown Picnic Area, such is life! Today had warmed up a fair bit from my damp start earlier this morning, wandering along the concrete footpath in the late afternoon sun I was really starting to feel the heat a bit, I even had a couple of the locals comment to me that it was a bit hot for walking as they shook their heads and watched the crazy guy with the big pack meander his way through town leaving a trail of sweat behind him. Arriving at the Powelltown Picnic Ground I was happy to see that the ute was still where I’d left it yesterday morning, throwing all my sweaty, smelly gear in the tray I jumped in and cranked up the air con, the ambiant temperature readout had it at 30° outside, hmm no wonder I was a little hot and sweaty.
The WIH passes very close to a few of the local houses in Powelltown.
Before climbing in and out of a few more gullies as it makes it's way around the out skirts of Powelltown.
Past the mill.
And arrives onto the main Yarra Junction - Noojee Road from beside the church.
The Dirt.
I walked 22.6 kilometres today and climbed 240 metres on todays medium grade walk. While the tramways today were a little rougher than those on day 1 the going was still pretty good, the only time things got a little vague was when I was looking for the old track that passes the site of Nayook West before climbing up to the top of The Bump. I suspect the correct route follows the old road that leaves Yarra Junction - Noojee Road opposite where the Latrobe River Tramway enters it, but I just wondered up the main road for a few hundred metres. Over the course of the two day walk I walked a total of 44.6 kilometres and climbed 869 metres. I was using the notes and mud map out of Glenn Tempest’s old book Weekend Walks Around Melbourne, somewhat amazingly you can still order this book, which dates back to 2003 through Glenn’s website. For such an old book the notes are still fairly accurate.
Relevant Posts.

I've arrived back at the Powelltown Picnic Area.
Hmmm, this looks serious...


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