Sunday, May 28, 2017

Levys Point - April 2017

Conditions were a little on the wet and wild side today, this is looking back along the coast towards Levy Point.
With the weather looking a bit dodgy this Saturday I decided against heading into the hills, instead I decided on a bit of a road trip down to Warrnambool, well at around 4  hours each way I suppose it was more than a bit of a road trip. Leaving home well before first light I enjoyed watching the new day dawn through a rain splattered windscreen, still sitting in the ute sipping my coffee with the heater cranked up there were probably worse places to be I suppose. The plan this morning was to re-walk another of Mr Chapman's strolls, the Levy Point Walk, my main memories from walking this walk last time were of the heavy rain that I had to endure, looking out the windscreen I wasn't overly confident that today wouldn't be a repeat.
Time to start walking I suppose, I was not really enthusiastic this morning.
The puddles in the Thunder Point Car Park proved handy for washing the sand off my boots after the walk.
Pulling up at a waterlogged Thunder Point Car Park I pulled on my boots in-between showers, as I break out in a sweat at any ambient temperature above single figures I figured that I may as well start the walk without my water proof jacket on and take my chances with the passing showers. Setting off my first issue was to find the track, last time I'd walked it in reverse (yeah, I mean anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, not me walking backwards). Soon enough I was on track and heading in the right direction towards Middle Island, the walk along here above Pickering Point is a mixture of cliff top tracks, board walks, and steps, the one constant though is the views. Rounding Pickering Point, Middle Island was just across the water in front of me, this little island has a small resident population of penguins guarded by Maremma dogs, made somewhat famous by the Shane Jacobson movie Oddball.
Heading around Pickering Point with Middle Island in the distance.
There was plenty of walking infrastructure on this first section of the walk.
Middle Island

After crossing the Merri River at the inlet I started a bit of a convoluted route up stream more or less following along beside it's grassy banks. Initially my river side ramble had me passing through the outskirts of the Warrnambool, sometimes on the grassy verges of the river, sometimes on foot paths beside suburban roads and sometimes on shared paths. Now I've got to say that the Merri River isn't the most scenic river that I've ever seen, sometimes it looks more like a brown canal than a pristine river. What it lacks in scenery it makes up for with wildlife though, as it leaves the outskirts of Warrnambool the river side track passes by a series of wetlands and while not quite Kakadu there were still quite a lot of water birds around.
Crossing the substantial bridge near the mouth of the Merri River.
This section of the Merri River is tidal.
It wouldn't be a Feral walk without some issues!

After an hour or so of riverside rambling my route deposited me onto a bitumen road, the go here was to follow it left towards the Levy Point Car Park and the coast. Thankfully the bitumen road section is only very short and I was soon passing through the car park and making my way through the dunes to the beach. It was as I crested the dunes that I realised that my luck with the weather was about to run out, the dark clouds looming up from the south west promising rain that they soon delivered, such is life. Dropping onto the beach though I had a bigger concern than a little rain, the sand on the storm ravaged beach was incredibly soft and I had about three kilometres of it to trudge along, and trudge is indeed the right description for walking this beach.
There was plenty of bird life evident as I passed through the what was a very rural scene.
Looking back along the Merri River towards Warrnambool.
With all the rain that we'd been having the Merri River had a pretty good flow in it.
After leaving the banks of the Merri River I headed for the beach.
With my head down I slowly inched my way towards Levy Point, with each step sinking 6 inches into the sand this was pretty slow going. Levy Point provided a little short term relief as I rock hopped around the point, but I was soon back on the sand as I walked the length of Shelley Beach. My beachside ramble was made even harder due to the fact that I'd managed to time my beach walk to correspond with a fairly high tide and a large storm swell. The go along here was to keep as close to the water as possible but have all my cat like reflexes on full alert for the inevitable sprint up the steep beach to escape the odd rogue wave washing up the sand, not something my old calfs appreciated really.
Looking south west I could see that I'd soon be getting wet.
Shelley Beach
With some relief I eventually arrived at the low limestone cliffs that signalled the end of Shelley Beach, climbing up onto the low cliffs I gazed back along the coast at the wild beach, appreciating it more now that I wasn't ankle deep in it. This next section back to the Thunder Point Car Park was really good walking, the track alternating between the open cliff tops and the coastal scrub a little inland. Taking a short side track to the south I arrived at a lookout above Thunder Point, the lookout not only providing for a great view of the churning waters of Bass Strait but also of my ute, yep just like that the walk was coming to it's end. Descending back down to the car park I washed my sandy boots down in one of the many large puddles of water in the car park before strolling out to the car park lookout and taking a photo down towards Pickering Point and Middle Island, I'd taken a photo here this morning but the overhead conditions now made for a slightly better photo I think. 
As if the soft sand wasn't bad enough I also had to contend with the odd rogue wave washing high up the beach, lucky that I've got Feral cat like reflexes ;)
I've just climbed off the sand for the last time.
The low coastal cliffs as I made my way back to Thunder Point made for nice walking.
The track passes through low windswept coastal scrub in spots.
The Dirt.
I walked 11.6 kilometres this morning and climbed 138 metres, now if it wasn't for the very soft beach then I'd almost class this as a easy walk but you can't ignore the slog along the soft sand so a medium grade is what I'll go with. This is walk number 3 out of the house of Chapman's Day Walks Victoria book. This is a nice little walk that is probably best suited to a warm day, although the wild weather does hold it's own appeal for me. Now I've already mentioned the sand but it was fairly hard going, sinking ankle deep at every step, I'm not sure if it's a trait of the beaches down here but when I walked the Great South West Walk a little further along the coast it to was incredibly soft, only thing was back then I was carrying my over night pack and I spent 4 days walking along the beach!
Relevant Posts.

Looking down to the car park from the lookout above Thunder Point.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Emerald Hill Heritage Precinct - April 2017

It was a bit of a grey day today.
Looking for something to do in Melbourne on Good Friday our choices were a little limited, the day was overcast and threatening rain and nothing much was open. With Sam keen to accompany me I started looking for a walk close to town. Now there was some good news though, with everything closed it wouldn't be hard finding parking spot in the city, with that in mind we headed up to South Melbourne to do the Emerald Hill Heritage Precinct Walk. I can't say that this walk had been on my radar of great walks that I want to do for a long time, actually until I opened the guide book that morning I'd never thought of it at all. The good news was that it was south of the CBD, so half an hour after leaving home on this grey morning we were parking the car opposite the Albert Park Light Rail Station and setting off.
Melbourne's old terrace houses are a feature of this walk.
Now in case you're wondering where the Emerald Hill bit comes in well apparently back in the ye olde days South Melbourne was known as Emerald Hill, yeah who knew? To be honest you've got to wonder why they changed it to South Melbourne as Emerald Hill certainly has a better ring about it. Making our way along the almost deserted Madden and Bridport Street's we started our terrace house appreciation stroll. A lot of these old terrace houses date back to the 1800's and are a product of the gold rush. 

This would be a very nice part of Melbourne to live.....unfortunately it's out of my price range.
Meandering along through the grey streets we almost circumnavigated St Vincent Gardens. I didn't get a photo of the pleasant gardens though as it appears that all the local families had converged en-mass and there is nothing more creepy than a old bloke wondering around with a DSLR around his neck. The sense of community was impressive though, I imagine with the local terrace houses having postage stamp sized gardens then the gardens make a pleasant substitute for a back yard. I come from a more distant suburb where I know my immediate neighbours but if you asked me to ID someone from a couple of houses down the street I'd have no idea. Reaching Ferrars Street we crossed over the deserted St Kilda Light Rail before doubling back south to the old Hellenic RSL building.
Today's walk criss-crossed the St Kilda light rail line.
The old Hellenic RSL Hall.
Standing in the middle of the deserted James Service Place I got a photo of the old St Vincent de Paul's Boys Orphanage which dates back to the 1850's, before heading around the corner onto Napier Street and visiting the blander St Vincent de Paul's Girls Orphanage, I shudder to think what these children went through back in the day. After sheltering for awhile while we waited for a passing heavy shower to move on we headed up towards the old South Melbourne Town Hall, checking out even more beautifully restored terrace houses on the way. Heading along to Cecil Street we passed what must be an old corner store, the faded old advertisements still visible on the facade. 
The old St Vincent de Paul's Boys Orphanage dates back to the 1850's.
Still more small terrace houses and blue stone lanes.
Melbourne's streets were pretty well deserted this morning.
South Melbourne Town Hall, the high rise buildings in the CBD are cloaked in cloud in the distance.
We were now basically zig zagging our way towards South Melbourne Market, heading through some tiny bluestone streets. With the CBD skyline frequently disappearing into the low cloud we made a short diversion down Coventry Street to check out a heritage listed portable iron cottage. The Iron Cottage is another left over from the gold mining era when portable housing was in high demand and is one of only a couple left, it certainly looks a little incongruous in the leafy streets of South Melbourne. Doubling back up Coventry Street our stroll was coming to an end as we crossed the old pedestrian bridge over the light rail again, before we arrived at the deserted South Melbourne Market.  With all the caf├ęs either closed or absolutely chockers with punters needing their caffeine fix we decided to head back to the car and head home to get our fix.

This old house must have been a corner store at one stage of it's life.
Conditions over head were starting to brighten up.
The old Dorcas Street Primary School was opened in 1880....and closed in 1997, no doubt making a property developer happy.
The Uniting Church features an historic heritage listed pipe organ, although being Good Friday I thought it best that I didn't pop in for a squiz.

The Dirt.
We walked 4.9 kilometres and climbed a massive 12 metres on our Good Friday stroll. I found this walk in Melbourne's Best Bush, Bay & City Walks by Julie Mundy. This very easy walk is a pleasant enough stroll, if history or architecture is your thing then it should be on your to do list, otherwise save it for when you have a couple of hours to kill and you're in the area. 
Relevant Posts.

Don't worry, we're probably lost.....

Nixon Place

This old Portable Ironhouse is also heritage listed, it looks a little out of place surrounded by flash terrace houses.

Heading back to the car, it's not all old terrace houses in South Melbourne.

Heading home after our big walk I suggested to Sam that I needed a my banana massaged that we should go in and try a genuine therapeutic massage.....

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ironbark Gorge & Currawong Falls, Great Otway National Park - May 2017

Ironbark Gorge
After two Saturdays in a row of pre 4am starts so that I could head up into Victoria's high country and do a couple of hard walks, this Saturday I was ready for an easier option. With Victoria having had a bit of rain in the previous 24 hours I decided to head back over to Currawong Falls in the Great Otway National Park, I've been to these falls at least twice before but have never actually seen anything resembling water flowing over them, so I was hoping my luck might change today. Driving down though, I was entertained by ABC News Radio talking about the latest Trump cluster f*%k, they were wondering if this latest episode would lead to impeachment proceedings. You gotta love the American political system, Clinton basically got impeached because of a bj (actually the real reason was that he didn't admit his infidelities to the senate I think), the orange headed buffoon on the other hand admits grabbing women by the pussy, can't lie straight in bed, and sacked the head of the agency that was investigating him and his administration into its ties with the Ruskies, among a host of other things and yet they are still to be convinced that he deserves to be impeached, hmmmm, whatever, it made for an interesting diversion as I made my way down the normally mind numbing Geelong Freeway.
This walk is very well sign posted, this is the start of the trail as it leaves Distillery Creek Picnic Ground.
It was still fairly early in the morning when I pulled into the almost deserted Distillery Creek Picnic Area and reset the GPS. With the weather looking like it might co-operate I set up off up the well signposted track in a pretty good mood, initially I was going to walk the Ironbark Gorge loop before heading over to Currawong Falls later on. The Ironbark Gorge Track climbs above the gorge on the south side almost parallel to the nearby Bambra Road, the path gains height pretty easily and with the height the views down into the gorge increase. The main interest along here was probably the increasingly rocky terrain though, while the track is very well benched and easy the surrounding environment got fairly rugged as I made my way up to the western extremity of Ironbark Gorge.
As the track heads up the southern side of the gorge the country gets increasingly rugged.
Ironbark Gorge is down to the right.
The bridge marks the point where I started to head back downstream through Ironbark Gorge.
Eventually my route descended a little and crossed a bridge over the creek that has formed the gorge, I now was heading back down stream through the gorge. My route back down through the gorge crossing the creek a few times, as well as featuring a lot more in the way of ferns and mosses. Ironbark Gorge is surprisingly rugged and at spots the rocky walls of the gorge closed right in, in other spots I passed huge boulders that had fallen from the cliffs long ago, one even featuring a sapling growing from it. The good walking continued all the way down stream until I intersected with the Currawong Falls Track, this signalled the spot where I once again almost turned back on myself and started to climb up above the northern side of Ironbark Gorge. Having walked the south side, then back through the gorge and now climbing the north side I certainly had Ironbark Gorge covered I reckon!
The sides of Ironbark Gorge close in a bit in a couple of spots.
This big boulder had a sapling growing out of it.
Walking back down through the gorge.
The damper environs in the bottom of Ironbark Gorge. 

The Currawong Gorge section of my stroll is actually a track that is shared with mountain bikes so consequently it makes for fairly easy walking, and while I did see a couple of mountain bikers they weren't really an issue today. As I've already mentioned I was climbing up above the north side of Ironbark Gorge now, at a couple of spots along here I could look down and see my route that I'd taken through the gorge as well as across the gorge to the route I'd taken above the south side. After the track passed above one last rocky bluff it headed away from the Ironbark Gorge towards the trig on Loves Track. Climbing away from the gorge the forest changed to a more typical drier eucalyptus type, with an understory of grass trees as well as a profession of pink heath and other wild flowers, the wildflowers giving me a reason to get down on the ground and get dirty trying to do justice to the flora.
There was no shortage of assorted fungi on the forest floor today.
Tracking back up the north rim of Ironbark Gorge. This is the last lookout before my route swung away and headed towards the trig.
Pink Heath

After stopping to take a photo down along the coast towards Lorne and then another one down to Aireys Inlet, complete with the lighthouse standing out like a beacon, I walked the last few minutes up to the trig point. My map actually showed the trig a few metres to the west of where the Currawong Falls Track crosses Loves Track on the crest of the ridge but in reality the trig is at the point that I crossed Loves Track, maybe there's been a slight re-routing, who knows? Whatever the case it doesn't make any real difference to the stroll, you're hardly going to get lost on this walk! The trig also marks the high point on todays stroll, although at just over 200 metres we're not talking big mountains here.
That's Lorne in the distance.
As I climbed higher the track passes through drier country.
Aireys Inlet
The high point of today's stroll was the trig on Loves Track.
I was now descending down to Currawong Falls, like the climb the descent is pretty gentle so that allowed me plenty of opportunities to take in my surroundings. It looks like a bushfire has knocked the bush around a bit along here, higher up I passed through areas of regrowth, the little casuarina trees looking a bit like small pines in the weak sunshine. After a few big switchbacks I arrived at the top of Currawong Falls. I'd barely seen any surface water on my walk so far so I wasn't expecting much of a flow over the falls, but arriving at the lookout I could see a small trickle flowing over the rock. Now the issue became how could I get a photo, without a photo it didn't happen right? After mucking around at the official lookout and getting nothing I decided on a little bit of off-piste action to get me down below the falls, there is a very rough pad down here but it's steep and slippery. After carefully scrambling down I crossed the rocks below the falls and then climbed into an over hang that almost allowed me to get behind the falls, and while the resulting photos weren't exactly coffee table book standard, they did at least feature a trickle of water.
Descending down to Currawong Falls the track passed through an open area that been pretty badly burnt in a bushfire.
The casuarina trees almost looked like small pine trees.
Currawong Falls, I told you it was only a trickle!
Three visits and an off-piste scramble on slippery rocks, the lengths I had to go to to get this photo :)
The bluffs above Currawong Falls looked quite good in the weak afternoon sun.
The official lookout with the falls on the won't see much from here though.
Suitably chuffed that I'd actually seen a bit of water flowing over Currawong Falls I carefully climbed back up to the track and resumed my journey. My route now passed a profusion of Blind Corner warnings, no doubt for my mountain biking brothers and sisters but slightly out of place on a walking track. The walk from Currawong Falls back to Distillery Creek Picnic Area is along a gently descending, well benched track, I can see why mountain bikers would enjoy it. After passing by some big tree ferns the track contours above Melaleuca Swamp, the area looking like it is still regenerating after a fire, the dense wall of regrowth lining the track only adding to that perception. Eventually my track curved south westerly and I started to follow Distillery Creek, the recent rain meaning that there was even a little water in the creek, not something that is overly common. Taking the left fork at a nature trail I crossed a short section of duck boards before arriving back at the still almost deserted picnic ground and my ute. 
My first Blind Corner sign, the novelty quickly wore off.
The track passes this nice cliff on the descent back to the car park.....
...As well as passing by quite a few of these large man ferns.
The Dirt.
Well I got what I wanted today, a slightly easier walk after my last couple of high country epics. This is a pleasant enough stroll that is within most peoples capabilities, I walked 16.8 kilometres and climbed 390 metres on this medium grade stroll. Now I've been thinking about how subjective my easy, medium, hard and extreme hi-tech grading system is and wondering if there is another more analytical way of rating a walk, I've decided to start posting my moving average speed to give people an idea of how fast, or in my case slowly, I moved on the walk. The theory being if an unfit, fat bastard like me manages around 4 km/h then the walk can't be too hard, if I'm down in the 1's and 2 km/h then things are getting a little bit more serious. So what was it on this walk? My moving average today was 3.9 km/h, not sure if that helps but I can't hurt I suppose. I used the notes today out of Walking The Otways, which is a book put out by the House of Chapman and written by the Geelong Bushwalking Club, it's walk number 10 in the book. As the name suggests Distillery Creek Picnic Ground would make for a nice spot for a picnic pre or post the walk.
Relevant Posts.

Back on the nature walk near Distillery Creek Picnic Ground.

Distillery Creek Picnic Ground was still pretty deserted when I get back this afternoon.

The picnic area and start of the walking track system is actually on the north side of Bambra Road.

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...