|Lake Eppalock from the ridge leading to Mount Ida.|
The somewhat modest Mount Ida looks down over the small central Victorian town of Heathcote, while the mountain isn't huge it does have a few things going for it. The open box-ironbark forest is pretty good country to walk in, the open forest with it's grassy under storey allow for easy off track walking and plenty of views. My walk today would indeed feature both an off track section and extensive views, but the main reason I decided to head up to central Victoria today was that the weather promised to be a little better on the north side of the Great Dividing Range, a prediction that turned out spot on. After sailing straight past the access road I hung a u-ey and parked the ute in the small car park just off the Northern Highway, I've done this little stroll at least 3 times before so you'd reckon that I would of remembered where the car park was!
|This walk starts with an easy stroll beside rural farmland along Mount Ida Road.|
This stroll starts off with a walk along the quiet Mount Ida Road, with rural farmland to my left and native bush to my right this dirt road made for an easy start to the day. After gently climbing beside the farmland for twenty minutes or so Mount Ida Road suddenly changes direction and starts heading east, climbing a bit more solidly. The trick here is to keep an eye out for a rough 4wd track heading north east off Mount Ida Road, once on this rougher track there were no real navigational issues until until I reached the summit. Once on the rougher track I continued my climb, the loose rocky surface requiring a bit of concentration on the last steep pinch as I reached the crest of the ridge.
Once on the crest it is a beautiful walk all the way around to the summit, the old fire track more or less keeping to the very crest which allows for numerous views through the open forest. The ridge top walk also passes through increasingly rocky terrain as it makes it's way towards the summit, some of the larger rocky openings allowing views down over the plains towards Lake Eppalock, shimmering in the weak winter sun. With the communication towers on the summit of Mount Ida getting closer the old fire track once again met up with Mount Ida Road. Passing through a locked gate I had one last climb and I was on the summit. Now while the ridge walk had been very nice the actual summit is a fairly underwhelming spot, the communication towers with their generators and the fire spotters tower don't make for much of a natural feel.
|There was a little bit of weather around today, you gotta expect that in Victoria in the middle of winter I suppose.|
The good news is that almost immediately after leaving the summit the walking was once again very good. My route now involved an off track descent off the mountain, initially following a high ridge across some rocky high saddles before it dropped steeply down a spur. The upper parts of the ridge gave me the views and the atmosphere that I didn't get on the actual summit, with the rocky turrets making for a convenient spot to check out the view of Heathcote in the valley below me, although it was the dark storm clouds draping the Great Dividing Range in the distance that drew my eye the most.
|I didn't linger on the summit of Mount Ida, with all the infrastructure it's a bit of an uninspiring place I reckon.|
As I started to drop down the fairly open spur I started to pick up a bit of a pad, it appears that since I was last up here a rough mountain bike track has been built. The rough track made the walking a little easier than I remembered but really the open forest and rocky slabs have always made this off track section pretty easy anyway. Nearing the bottom of the spur the mountain bike track started to head a little to far to the south, so leaving the track I set off through the light scrub to intersect with another fire track that runs parallel with the Northern Highway just inside the park boundary. You couldn't get lost on this short off track section as not only do you have to just keep heading west and you'll meet the fire track but you also have the traffic noise on the nearby Northern Highway to guide you down. Once on the boundary firetrack it was just a few metres of easy walking through the light scrub before I met up with Mount Ida Road, my outward route. The stroll was now quickly coming to its conclusion, once on Mount Ida Road I walked a few metres and I was back at the ute.
I walked 7 kilometres at an average speed of 3.5 kph today. With 225 metres of climbing and a bit of off-piste action I'd rate this as a medium grade walk I suppose. On this visit I used the notes and map out of Glen Tempests Daywalks Around Melbourne book. Parks Vic have also got a lot free stuff online, including a map. If you're a Melbourne walker and you are looking for a bit of a break from the towering mountain ash and wet temperate rainforest walks then this drier open box - ironbark forest makes a nice change, my theory is that a bit of variety keeps things interesting.
|With the mountain bike track heading a bit far south I left it and headed more westerly through this light scrub.|
|After a very short scrub bash I emerged onto this fire track that runs along the western boundary of the national park.|
|Time to head home after another nice walk.|