|Here we go again, another post full of trees! This is on my long climb up Rouch Road.|
I was blessed with a blue sky day when I decided to revisit another old walk, Monda Track. Monda Track is a dirt road that runs from Mt St Leonard to Dom Dom Saddle in the mountains to the east of Melbourne, now a dirt road doesn't sound like it would make for very inspiring walking, but bordering the dirt road is a wide grassy firebreak which does make for enjoyable walking and the open fire break allows for great views of the main feature of this stroll, the huge Mountain Ash trees. After driving to the top of the Black Spur I parked the ute at Dom Dom Saddle picnic ground, pulled on my boots and set off on this fairly long stroll.
|The picnic ground at Dom Dom Saddle was quite a nice spot to be this morning.|
First up today I picked up Dom Dom Saddle Road before turning down Dom Dom Creek Track, the end result of this is that I almost circumnavigated the picnic ground. Dropping down Dom Dom Creek track I had my first encounter with my bogan brothers for the day, moving off the track as four trail bikes screamed up the hill before once again heading bush as they headed back down again obviously suitably chuffed that they'd managed to conquer that piece of track. Bottoming out on Dom Dom Creek I was looking for Heritage Walking Track heading off to my left, it appears that the old walking track has been up graded into a fire track though, luckily for me my trail bike rider mates had just conquered this track too, so at least I didn't have to worry about spider's webs!
The track formally known as Hermitage Walking Track soon spat me out of the bush at a lay-by on the very busy Maroondah Highway. This next section is pretty dodgy, it required me to walk the very narrow to non existent shoulder on the highway for half a kilometre. Crossing to the left hand side of the highway I decided that the embankment was probably my best option, the right hand side is basically lined with armco the whole way with no shoulder. With plenty of Easter traffic around I found myself backed up into the earth embankment sucking my fat guts in more than once along this short stretch, this is definitely no place for the kiddies. With the open grass of the Black Spur Caravan Park appearing through the trees my highway death march came to it's end and I picked up Rouch Road and headed into the scrub again. Now I was using Mr Chapman's notes for this walk and Rouch Road is named Rough Road in the first edition of Day Walks Melbourne. The good news is that I've recently had some correspondence with the elusive Mr Chapman and he has told me that has just finished re-walking a lot of these walks in preparation for a new edition of the book which should be out later in the year - happy days for a guide book junky like me!
|The fire track formally known as Hermitage Walking Track.|
Rouch Road contours above the largely unseen Hermitage Creek for a fair distance, eventually crossing it's head waters after 4 or 5 kilometres and a fair bit of climbing, the good news though is that while the climb is fairly long it's pretty gentle, well as gentle as a 400 metre climb can be anyway. It was climbing away from the headwaters of Hermitage Creek that I had my second encounter for the day with my bogan brothers. Climbing steeply I stepped off the red clay track to take a photo of an old forest giant that had survived the loggers back in the day when I heard the unmistakable sound of a V8 getting louder, sure enough a raised mongrel Missin Petrol slithered around the corner above me all crossed up like a mildly out of control two and a half tonne toboggan. Now I was safe enough, I could hear it coming for awhile and the old tree that I was standing beside would of been more than a match for the Patrol, but....you have to wonder what would of happened if they had come across Mum, Dad and the kids creeping up the hill in their shiny new Spanish Wanker, the Patrol wouldn't of had a hope in hell of pulling up.
|Hmm, more trees.|
Climbing up past Joe Spur Track things once again appeared a little different on the ground than on my old notes, the area to the north of my track had been extensively logged and all the tracks coming in from the north had more or less gone. It doesn't matter much just keep left along the edge of the clear felled area until firstly meeting up with Nursery Spur Track (which I think is marked as Lookout Spur Track on my map) before heading down an un-signposted track (which is marked as Nursery Spur Track on my map). Clear as mud hey! Basically keep left of the logging coupe until you come to some granite boulders blocking off a wide cleared swathe heading back into the old growth forest, this track will lead you in a few minutes onto Monda Track.
|Stay left around the logging coupe.|
|Pass through these granite rocks and you'll soon meet up with Monda Track.|
Like I mentioned earlier Monda Track makes for much nicer walking than may be imagined, this wide fire break basically keeps to the crest of the Great Dividing Range on it's journey back to Dom Dom Saddle. Sometimes followed the gravel road but generally followed a wide open gassy firebreak if the two diverged. It was on one of these diverges that I had my third encounter of the day with my bogan brothers, with the dirt road sidling a knoll to the left I decided to stay on the grass as it headed over the knoll only to be confronted with a gaggle of 4wd's camped on the firebreak (is gaggle the right plural for a group of 4wd's?), no worries I thought as I trudged along keeping to one side of the 50 metre wide fire break. Getting a little closer I could see that they had really made themselves at home here, they had enough wood cut up to last the whole of winter up here I reckon. Now with the whole of the firebreak taken up by numerous tents and vehicles there was only a little bit of grass left to walk along, unless I wanted to wander through their camp (I did consider wandering through and grabbing a stubby...) and wouldn't you know it the only bit of grass left without a car, vehicle, tent or fire on it was covered in toilet paper blowing in the breeze, fuck me you'd reckon they could of packed a shovel into the back of their trucks. Now you may think that I'm a cranky old bastard and I'm probably guilty as charged but.....this grassy firebreak marks the watershed of the Maroondah Dam catchment, so my bogan brothers shit will slowly make our way into our water supply, fucken awesome hey.
|Monda Track's main feature is the big Mountain Ash, some of them have had their tops lopped off in storms.|
Not wanting to tip toe through the shit I bypassed this short stretch on the dirt road before joining the firebreak again next time they met up again. While Monda Track generally loses altitude on it's journey down to Dom Dom Saddle it's a bit of a roller coaster affair, the grass sections require a little concentration as they can be a little slippery. Apart from the towering arrow straight Mountain Ash I managed to get a glimpse through the trees of the somewhat distant Mt Donna Buang at one stage, I think that it's possible to walk all the way around to Mt Donna Buang utilising these grassy fire breaks, something that I may look into a bit more....one day. With the sound of Lyrebirds and the odd deer hurtling out of the scrub for company I eventually made my way down to an old alignment of the Maroondah Highway above Dom Dom Saddle.
Reaching the old road alignment I decided to make the fairly short side trip down to St Ronan's Well. The old road contours above the new highway slowly descending to meet it at the well, a spot that most of the traffic hurtling past would hardly register. It must have been my lucky day today, reaching St Ronan's Well I noticed that there was a 4wd pulled up with his doors open, wandering over to the well to get a photo I was mugged by a couple of dogs leaping out of the open vehicle, bugger me! Now my old bogan mate must have seen the crazed look in the Feral Walker's eyes because, before I could stab the dogs with my walking poles and hurl them onto the highway he rounded them up a locked them back in the truck, crises averted. After taking a couple of very mediocre photos of the well (it was pretty hard because old mate the dog owner was filling up his weekly water supply and the plastic containers were all floating in the clear water), I headed back up to Monda Track before descending the short way down to Dom Dom Saddle and finishing off what had been a fairly eventful walk.
|The old highway down to St Ronans Well contours above the new road.|
I walked 19.4 kilometres and climbed 860 metres on this hard walk. Like I mentioned earlier this is another walk from the House of Chapman, this is walk # 31 in Day Walks Melbourne. Again like I've already mentioned things are a little different on the ground than in the guide book, the main thing to remember is that Hermitage Walking Track now appears to be a 4wd track, Rough Track is signposted as Rouch Track, and lastly when you reach the logging area keep to the left (south) of the logging coupe. This is a good day out but be particularly careful of the short section along the very busy and narrow Maroondah Highway, there is no easy way around it. Either Dom Dom Saddle picnic ground or the open grass of Monda Track would make for a great spot for a picnic.
|The old Maroondah Highway leading into the dam catchment area down the Black Spur, this would be an awesome place to walk or ride....shame it's out of bounds.|
|Dom Dom Saddle is in sight.|