Thursday, May 31, 2018

Steavenson Falls, Steavensons Falls Scenic Reserve - March 2018

I haven't been up here since the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfire torched the place.
It’s been years since I’ve visited Marysville, not since before the 2009 Black Saturday have I ventured up here. With the town having been wiped off the map by the fires (with many deaths) I was interested to see how the town was rebuilding and also how the surrounding bush was revegetating. After working and then mucking around back in Melbourne all morning it was after 2pm by the time I pulled on my boots and set off from Marysville along Tree Fern Gully Track.
The walk starts off by passing by a nice little lake.
Driving into town it had been difficult not to notice the new buildings that had sprung up since the fires, and now heading along Tree Fern Track up beside the Steavenson River the regrowth since the fires was also very obvious. This regrowth is one of the main reasons that off track walking in the high country is a very hit or miss affair now days, if you find yourself striking a belt of these saplings while on an off piste ramble you can almost guarantee frustration and pain in your immediate future as you try and push through the wall of scrub. Not that I had to worry today though as I had a nice wide track to follow.
Crossing the Steavenson River.
The bushfire regrowth beside Tree Fern Gully was pretty thick, thank god the tracks were clear.
Tree Fern Gully Track
After following Tree Fern Track for a couple of kilometres, which transported me out of town, I crossed the river again and turned off onto the track that would take me to Keppel Lookout. Having walked here years ago I knew that now the hard work for the day was about to begin! After crossing Falls Road (the access road for Steavenson Falls) the track started climbing in earnest. The climb is never overly steep but it is pretty relentless, only really dropping once on the 400 metre odd climb up to the lookout. It was as I dropped down this short section to cross a small creek that I had today’s wildlife experience as I disturbed a Copperhead sun baking in the middle of the pad, no photo today though as the snake was too quick and I wasn’t overly keen to be wading into the blackberries trying to find it.
The climbing got a bit more serious once I left the river and started to head for Keppel Lookout.
The route is fairly well signposted for the most part.
Dropping down to cross Robertson Gully I saw my one and only snake for today.
Climbing on a bit I touched Paradise Road for a couple of metres, stopping to check out an upturned dumped car, the scenic highlights were now coming thick and fast! While the section of the walk after flirting with Paradise Road starts climbing a little more solidly, it’s probably the best bit of the climb. I was now getting a few glimpses through the regrowth down towards Marysville as well as the distant hills. With out doubt though the best view came when I emerged from the regrowth and suddenly found myself at Keppel Lookout. With a nice steel structure to stand on while I took in the expansive view it looks like Parks Vic have poured a fair bit of money into Keppel Lookout. Actually it looks like Parks have used a lot of resources on most of this walk, no doubt getting money from the bushfire recovery fund that was set up after the 2009 fires, the walking infrastructure around Steavenson Falls is particularly impressive.
Touching Paradise Plains Road for a few metres brought a change of scenery!
Probably my least favourite thing to negotiate on any walk...
Looking down over Marysville towards the Cathedral Range from Keppel Lookout this afternoon.
After checking out the views down to Marysville and across the the Cathedral Range I wandered off down the track again. The pad now more or less stays fairly high for awhile now as it makes it’s way across to Stevenson Falls, this five and a bit kilometre section over to the falls was the best walking of the day in hindsight. The track winds around a gully rising and falling fairly gently as it slowly makes it’s way around to De La Rue Lookout, I was somewhat surprised to find a bit of running water in this gully as we were at the tail end (hopefully) of a very dry spell. De La Rue lookout is a stunner, better than Keppel Lookout in my humble opinion as the views across towards Lake Mountain are extensive, the mountains crowned in the silver stubble of dead Mountain Ash trees having a certain macabre beauty. Apart from Lake Mountain and of course Marysville, down in the valley, the other notable view was across to the Razorback in the Cathedral Range. The traverse of the Razorback is one of the classic walks of Victoria and takes the best part of a day (or two days sometimes), the view from up here though, shortening up the ridge top traverse a lot and making it all look pretty easy.
The bush is slowly regenerating....but it's going to be a long time before it gets close to the beautiful forest that it was before the fires unfortunately.
Looking across to Lake Mountain from De La Rue Lookout.
Looking down towards Marysville this afternoon.
Leaving the dusty lookout, the pad started to drop down towards Steavenson Falls a little more seriously. The track down towards the top of the falls heads down across some fairly steep slopes and the track builders have put in a lot of effort along here, there are long sections of dry stone walls to allow for the benched track to descend the slopes. Once again as I was dropping down here I crossed another small creek that had a reasonable flow in it, considering that we’d only had a millimetre or two of rain in the last six week this was good to see. Less than half an hour after leaving the lookout I emerged from the bush and turned up the Steavenson Falls tourist track to check out the top lookout at the falls.
The Cathedral Range ridge line traverse looks pretty easy from here...
Dropping down to the top lookout of Steavenson Falls the track looked like it has had a fair bit of money spent on it.
It's a little hard to get a good photo at the top of Steavenson Falls...well it was for me anyway!
The Steavenson River about to drop over the falls.
The top lookout at Steavensons Falls doesn’t really offer the best perspective of his beautiful waterfall but if you’ve travelled all the way to Marysville to check them out then you may as well make the climb up to check things out. With the Keppel Lookout Track that I’d been following picking up the tourist walk to the lookout near the top of the falls, at least I didn’t have far to go. The track crosses the Steavenson River a few metres upstream from the top of the falls and then heads down to a substantial lookout structure. The view down over the lip of the falls is OK I suppose, although it’s pretty hard to see much but tumbling water from up here, the true scale and beauty of this spot is revealed lower down. The top lookout does give a good overview of the whole Steavenson Falls day use area as well as down the valley towards Marysville so it’s not a bad place to chill out for a few minutes.
The pick of the view is from the bottom lookout, I think.

Shouldering my pack again I set off on the fairly steep descent down to the base of the falls. There are two view points at the base of the falls and they are both very good, the true beauty of these falls are definitely best appreciated from down here. Even accounting for our prolonged dry spell and the diminished flow of water the scene was pretty sweet, I even timed the sun going down behind the distant hills which helped to light up the rocks around the falls, we are not talking The Kimberley here, but it was still pretty good. Leaving the falls I started my journey back down stream towards Marysville, after stopping to check out the small hydro set up that powers the lights that light up the falls at night, I climbed up the steep stairs to re-join Tree Fern Track.

There is a small hydro set up at the falls, it powers the lights that light up the falls at night and sells any excess back into the grid.
The steepest climb of the day is from the hydro back up onto Tree Fern Gully Track.

Tree Fern Track was the track that I’d followed out of Marysville a few hours ago and now I was following it all the way back into town. You could actually park at Steavenson Falls and avoid about 4 kilometres of Tree Fern Track and to be straight it’s probably worth considering that option. With impenetrable regrowth crowding both sides of the track for the most part Tree Fern Track is definitely the least enjoyable bit of todays walk I think. It’s not all crappy though, there are some views across the river to some of the newer houses in Marysville from one of the higher spots and, as it’s name suggests there are quite a few large tree ferns to check out, which is never a bad thing. Somewhat ironically as I was sweating my way the last few metres back to the ute I copped a bit of light rain, yep it hasn’t rained for what seems like an eternity but when I eventually get out for a walk it rains, I suppose the moral of that story is that I should do some more walking a break a few droughts! The rain wasn’t quite drought breaking today though and I arrived back at the ute a few minutes later still relatively dry (well apart from the sweat), taking my boots off and settling in for the two hour drive home.
It hasn't rained for weeks down here, so of course I started to get a few drops falling on me as I wandered back down to the ute.
Tree Fern Gully Track
There was some big trees here back in the day.
I suppose this could be why it's named Tree Fern Gully Walk.
The old time loggers use to place planks into these slots to get above the surrounding scrub while they worked away with an axe to fell these huge Mountain Ash Trees.
The Dirt.
According to my walking notes I walked 14.9 kilometres today and while there is no metres climbed in my notes I’d guess it at around 550 metres over the course of the walk. Speaking of notes I was using Melanie Ball’s notes out of Top Walks In Victoria for today’s visit to Marysville. I’d rate this as a medium grade walk. The track itself is very well signposted and, even accounting for the fact that I was passing through areas full of dense regrowth the pad is clear of scrub, well apart from a couple of downed trees that I had to hurdle (the hurdling bit may be a bit of a Feral embellishment). This is a nice enough walk but I’d probably time your visit to late winter and early spring to make the most of the higher water levels. Marysville itself is still rebuilding but there are now plenty of options available for both eating and sleeping and it gives a bit of a warm and fuzzy feeling supporting these communities by buying something, well it does for me anyway;)

Relevant Posts.
Cathedral Range~North Loop, Cathedral Range State Park, 2016.
Cathedral Range~Southern Circuit, Cathedral Range State Park, 2015.
Monda Track, Toolangi State Forest, 2017.

Back at the lake, it was still spitting with rain.
If you've got some kiddies at home this little park would be a great spot to bring them to blow off some steam I reckon.
The end!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sutherland Creek, Brisbane Ranges National Park - January 2018

Sutherland Creek
With the temperature in Melbourne predicted to be in the reasonable range on this Saturday I was thinking that a walk out west might be the go. I’ve waffled on about it before but I tend to find it a bit hot and dry in the open forests to the west of Melbourne over summer, when I walk over there in the warmer months I’m always looking for a walk that has at least the possibility of a swim. Today I decided to re-visit a walk that I’d done a long time ago (surprise, surprise), returning to Sutherland Creek. I vaguely remember walking up this untracked valley once and passing by a pool that looked deep enough for a dip, that was a long time ago though and I wasn’t too sure how accurate my ageing recollections were.
The country is looking a little dry at the moment.
So anyway after my almost routine Saturday morning of a Macca’s coffee and toasties I parked the ute in the dry and dusty Steiglitz Court House Carpark. My first impressions this morning, looking at the parched landscape (we’d just suffered through consecutive days in the low 40˚ in Melbourne), was that finding enough water for a swim in Sutherland Creek was about as likely as Andrew Bolt admitting climate change is real. I consoled myself that at least today wasn’t stinking hot, actually the day was a little overcast as I set off this morning with a forecast temperature in the mid twenties. As is tradition (well my tradition anyway) I walked around twenty metres this morning before stopping to take a photo of the historic Steiglitz Court House, and tradition also dictates that the photo is fairly ordinary, but hey, that won't stop me trying!
Steiglitz Court House.
After the court house stop I headed along the dry and dusty Stawell Street towards Wrixon Street, now when talking about streets here we are talking about what was a street back in the mid 1800’s during the gold rush, the bush has all but reclaimed the streets. Heading up the old alignment of Wrixon Street there are a few bits and pieces scattered around providing clues that there was indeed a bustling town of 1500 people here at one stage, but what there wasn’t was much of a pad, thankfully it didn’t really matter as walking through the open forest isn’t too hard and I basically just headed up hill until I met the gravel South Steiglitz Road.
Stawell Street.
Wrixon Street has been more or less reclaimed by nature.
If you poke around enough you can find a few remnants from the old town.
The walk along South Steiglitz Road follows the crest of a ridge and while the views are a little limited, the many grass trees along the sides of the road more than make up for the lack of far reaching vistas. The road is a bit dry and dusty though, the open eucalyptus forest wasn’t casting much shade so I was pretty happy to reach the southernmost end of the road and drop off the ridge down a very old fire track. This fire track follows a shallow gully down until it reaches Sutherland Creek, judging by the number of old mine shafts scattered around the scrub I’m thinking that this old fire track might be a left over from the mining days. Whatever the case the old track made for nice walking this morning.
The walk south along South Steiglitz Road features a lot of grass trees.
South Steiglitz Road
At the southern end of South Steiglitz Road I dropped down to Sutherland Creek down a shallow gully along this old fire track.
Arriving at Southland Creek the scenery ramps up a bit.
Once I reached the banks of the bone dry Sutherland Creek my easy walking was over for awhile, I now had to make my way up stream for around 4 kilometres through the trackless valley. I was in a pretty good head space this morning though, I was expecting an off track walk so was mentally prepared for a bit of a scrub bash, but initially at least everything was pretty good. I started my walk north up the creek, alternating between strolling the fairly open areas bordering the creek or rock hopping my way down the actual bed of the creek. The creek bed option allowing me to check out a few water holes remaining in the dry creek, things weren’t looking overly promising as far as having a cooling dip, but at least the walking was good.
There were a few pools left in Sutherland Creek, nothing I'd swim in yet though.
Easy creek bed walking.
Climbing in and out of the creek was a little difficult in spots though.
Walking the gassy, lightly timbered flats beside the meandering creek was actually easier than walking the rocky creek bed, but walking the flats meant numerous crossings of Sutherland Creek and each crossing involved me negotiating a two or three metre almost vertical entry and exit, not the easiest thing for this broken walker. Apart from the fairly numerous small water holes and the reminders of mining history scattered about, the other feature that was getting my attention this morning were the rocky bluffs towering above the creek. With the valley almost gorge like in spots these rocky buttresses, with their sparse covering of grass trees and Ironbarks backed up by the now blue sky, meant the little creek was punching above it’s weight today really.
The rocky spurs and bluffs around Southerland Creek were looking good under the blue sky.

There was the occasional sign that others had walked here before.
Sutherland Creek was teasing me a little, plenty of water but no spot deep enough for a dip.
There are plenty of old mine shafts scattered around the creek flats.
The further I walked up steam today the rougher things got, the easy open creek bed walking morphing into a scrubby stream. I was hemmed in a little too as the open grassy flats beside the creek were now frequently blocked by interlocking spurs which meant a little more climbing and descending on the rough broken ground. If all that sounds a bit serious then don’t worry too much about me, it was along here that I found my water hole that I’d remembered from years ago. This waterhole is backed by the usual rocky bluff on one side with a course sandy beach on the other. Stripping off I waded into my deserted swimming hole, happy to find the water over head height in the middle. As I mentioned earlier we had suffered through a few stinking hot days recently which meant that the water was just at that nice temperature meaning I could linger for awhile and explore my watery wonderland.
The walking got a bit rough the further north I went.
Hey, hey, this'll do me!
The best kind of summer bushwalking.
I even had my own beach.

All good things eventually come to an end though and all too soon really I emerged dripping onto my deserted little beach to have a bite to eat, while at the same time I waited for the sun to do it’s work and dry me off a bit. While jumping into these swimming spots is always a joy, pulling on my hot and sweaty clothes and boots afterwards isn’t always that pleasant, so I procrastinated as long as I could before succumbing to the inevitable and climbing back into my sweaty gear. Continuing my creek ramble northwards the valley got rougher and rougher until I arrived at the base of a small dry waterfall, with the creek now full of scratchy scrub I was mostly keeping to it’s banks which meant climbing over a few low spurs. On reaching the dry waterfall I easily scrambled my way up on the left, stopping at the top to get a photo of the somewhat dubious looking water in the plunge pool.
Heading up stream again I reached this waterfall.

It was now early afternoon and the sun was packing a bit of a punch as I continued to push my way up stream, the open forest giving me no cooling coverage. The good news was that a couple of hundred metres after climbing the waterfall the valley started to open up a little and the walking got a little easier again. Continuing on I arrived at another dry waterfall, this one dropping down a side gully, this waterfall is part of the original route of the long(ish) distance Burchell Trail, the walk has now been re-routed to start from Fridays Camping Area and is still walkable. I now picked up the end of Deadmans Loop which signalled the end of my off piste ramble for today, the walking track now short cutting Sutherland Creek a couple of times it headed easily back to Steiglitz. Passing Wrixon Street my circuit was over, after retracing a few hundred metres I was back at the ute taking my sweaty boots off and settling in for a relaxing drive home. Life was good!
The original alignment of the Burchell Trail use to climb this waterfall up a side gully.
The last section of my walk today had me following the Deadmans Loop Track.
The Dirt.
I walked 9 kilometres and climbed 130 metres on today’s medium grade walk. I was lucky to find enough water in Sutherland Creek to take a cooling dip but you wouldn’t want to be relying on that in summer. There is a fairly long off piste section on this stroll and while it’s very easy as far as off track walking goes you still need to concentrate a bit, if off track walking isn’t you’re thing then maybe call this a hard walk. The open flats beside the creek would make a nice spot for a picnic but you need to be a little careful of the old mine shafts scattered about. I used the notes and map out of the House of Chapman’s Day Walks Melbourne, it’s walk number 7 in the 2017 edition of the book. If you are in Melbourne and are looking for a walk with a fairly remote feel about it, maybe a bit of gold ming history or the possibilities of a bit of wild swimming then this walk is worth considering, avoid very hot days though.

Relevant Posts.
Boar Gully, Brisbane Ranges National Park, 2016.
Yankee Gully, Brisbane Ranges National Park, 2014.
Little River, Brisbane Ranges National Park, 2013.

Heading back into Steiglitz along Stawell Street, I've just arrived at Wrixon Street and my circuit is complete.

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...