|The wetlands around Dandenong Creek.|
Once again I had grand plans for this Saturday, the original plan was to head over to the Grampians and climb Mount William by a less well-worn route. There was a problem though, the BOM were forecasting the strongest winds for the year to hit Victoria on Saturday. Now anyone reading my blog might think that the Feral Walker is fairly
fearless reckless, and you'd be pretty right, well at least about the reckless bit! While I don't mind setting off on a long walk in the desert in the summer heat or heading into the High Country in the middle of a winter storm there is one particular type of weather that I'm not that keen on and that's wind. You see I can always prepare somewhat for extremes of heat or cold and therefore have some degree of control over the situation, but if a branch decided to break away in strong wind and I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time then it's just dumb luck what happens next and I'm not that comfortable about that. Now sometimes I've been caught out on multi day walks when the wind comes up but there is not much I can do about that, but to head off on a day walk into a park full of eucalyptus trees when I know that there are high winds predicted would be a bit irresponsible, even for me.
|This is the 800 metre mark in Mr Chapman's notes, my starting point today.|
So anyway enough of me waffling on about my issues. Not wanting to totally write the day off I cast around a bit looking for a plan B, after briefly considering and ruling out a beach walk (being sand blasted isn't much fun either) I decided that maybe the best course of action would be a suburban walk. After perusing my walking guide book collection I decided on a Chapman Walk called Dandenong Creek Parks. Arriving at the designated start point on Nortons Lane nice and early my plan hit it's first hurdle for the day, it looked like every soccer mum in Melbourne and their huge shiny 4wd was in the car park, it seems that I'd stumbled upon what looked like a private school cross country running event. After cruising around the car park it was obvious that I wouldn't be parking around here this morning, with apathy now threatening to overtake me I decided to head down High Street Road and see if I could get a park before giving up entirely and heading home to drink coffee and read the papers. Thankfully I discover a car park near the bridge over Dandenong Creek, after consulting my walking notes I realised that it would be a simple matter of picking up the walk at the 800 metre mark.
|Heading into Shepherds Bush.|
All was good as I reset the GPS and headed off, I was now heading into a bit of native scrub called Shepherds Bush. The notes suggested that after a couple of minutes I should cross Dandenong Creek on a substantial footbridge, yeah you can see where I'm going here, can't you? My substantial bridge was not actually there anymore, I didn't notice even the remnants of a bridge as I made my way along the eastern bank of the creek. Unless you have a bit of walking guide book OCD it doesn't really matter that much, I just followed another path through Shepherds Bush and stayed on the eastern side of the creek, I could visit the western side on my return journey. This track was actually quite good, it stayed fairly close to the muddy creek, sometimes rising up higher as the creek wound around a low spur which generally gave me some good views.
|I was never far from Dandenong Creek today.|
Eventually I popped out of the scrub onto the shared path that is The Dandenong Creek Trail, this multi use path would now be my route south to Jells Park. The Dandenong Creek Trail betweens Shepherds Bush and Jells Park borders the native bush of Dandenong Creek on one side and some remnant open farmland on the other side. It was along this section that the wind made it's presence felt, the creek side trees copping a battering as the wind howled across the open paddocks. The good news was that although it was a bit breezy the sun was out and it was a fairly warm day for the middle of winter, the blue sky always makes taking a half reasonable photo a little easier.
Arriving at Jells Lake I took the left hand fork of paths and commenced a clockwise circumnavigation. I've written up a walk at Jells Park before, Jells Park always makes a pleasant place to walk and today was no different as I made my way around the lake. Last time I posted about a late afternoon walk here so the today's early morning ramble provided a different perspective. My walk around the western side of the lake took me through the Jells Park Conservation Area and I spent some time trying to get a reasonable photo of some of the bird life. Now with my complete lack of skill in taking photos of our feathered friends all that I was able to capture was some of the numerous waterbirds that call the lake home, I guess that I'll leave the faster moving birds that live in the bush for people with a little more talent.
|Jells Lake from the conservation side.|
Leaving the fenced conservation area I passed below the tearooms as I made my way around the rest of Jells Lake, the large open grassy slope deserted today. Soon enough I re-joined my outward route and headed back up towards Shepherds Bush along The Dandenong Creek Trail, sharing the trail with a few other walkers and bike riders. Arriving at Shepherds Bush I kept left and headed towards Patterson's Bridge. Crossing the creek again I walked a little further before picking up a lesser trail (Paperbark Track) on the right, this trail stays fairly close to the bank of Dandenong Creek and was the best walking of the day, the verdant green vegetation giving it a bit of a remote feel even though I was in the middle of Melbourne's sprawling eastern suburbs. Slowly making my way around this short wild section I all to soon met back up with the main path, almost immediately entering Napier Park and it's many manicured sporting fields. The walk was coming to it's conclusion though, after meeting High Street Road I crossed Dandenong Creek again back to the small car park that signalled the end of my stroll.
|The casuarina's were copping a beating in the high wind.|
I walked 8.4 kilometres at an average speed of 4 kpa, with 124 metres of climbing involved I'd rate this as an easy walk. Now as I mentioned earlier this is a walk from the House of Chapman, loosely based on walk number 19 out of the first edition of Day Walks Melbourne. The main difference between the walk that I did and the walk as written up is that I missed the short uninspiring section up to Nortons Lane and that the bridge over Dandenong Creek in Shepherds Bush has long gone which meant that I stayed on the eastern bank until I met The Dandenong Creek Trail. This is a nice enough walk if you are looking to get out for a few hours, the walk is easily modified and is suitable to both the old and the young. A Melways street directory would probably suffice for a walk around these suburban parks, Parks Vic would also be worth a look to see if they have any information online.
|Dandenong Creek below Patterson's Bridge in Shepherds Bush.|
|I don't think Paperbark Track sees a lot of walkers.|
|Looking back the native scrub of Shepherds Bush from Napier Park.|
|The ute is visible on the other side of my final bridge over Dandenong Creek.|