Sunday, July 29, 2018

Olinda Falls, Dandenong Ranges National Park - May 2018.

Olinda Creek tumbling down over the lower falls.
Looking at the weather forecast this past week had me considering speeding up the construction of my ark. I’ve got one in the planning stages due to climate change, and the fact that my house is all of about 10 cm above sea level, yep after Tuvalu goes under, chateau Feral will be the next to go. Where was I?….oh yeah, the forecast. The BOM had rain of almost biblical proportions forecast for Melbourne a few days out with 40 mm forecast one day and 80 mm the next. Not wanting to waste a disaster I decided to head back up to check out Olinda Falls, figuring that all the precipitation should do a little to help my photos of the tiny waterfall. Of course almost as soon as I committed to this plan the rain seemed to disappear into the ether, bugger. Having made the plans now I was a committed to the walk though, with around 30 mm of rain having actually fallen in the last couple of days I was hoping that the falls might have a bit of water coming down them.
It was another fairy early start this morning, I was on my way before 8am.
The good news is that the Dandenong Ranges are only a relatively short drive from home so I was pulling on my boots and setting off before 8am this morning. This stroll starts beside the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road and immediately drops into a gully following a tributary of Olinda Creek downstream. This section of the walk can be pretty slippery and muddy in winter sometimes, but even after the rain of the last few days it wasn’t too bad this morning. It’s a very narrow section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park here, basically the creek gully is the park, with rambling house’s crowding each side. Normally the private property is almost invisible as the track stays near the creek but, after all the recent storms that had gone through that meant that today I had the surrounding gardens autumn leafs blanketing the ground. Now while the leafs definitely aren’t native they did add a bit of colour to the damp bush, with all the weeds encroaching the gully from the surrounding properties we are not talking pristine wilderness here though.
There are quite a lot of deciduous trees on nearby private land.
The track down here is called Mechanics Track and apart from the creek and it’s damp environments it also features some very impressive Mountain Ash trees, as I’ve waffled about these trees before on my blog but these huge trees are a bit of a favourite of mine. The vegetation can sometimes crowd the pad a little going down here but it was all pretty clear and easy this morning, only the short section after crossing Falls Road before the Olinda Falls side trip giving me a bit of a drenching as I pushed through the scrub.
The walk down Mechanics Track features a lot of ferns and Mountain Ash.

Dropping down to to the Upper Olinda Creek Falls I found the creek flowing fairly well this morning. The upper falls are more of a cascade really, it’s a little hard to get good photo’s from the constructed lookout above the creek. Normally that wouldn’t have provided too much of a conundrum to me as I would of scrambled down into the creek, but I was thinking that the muddy bank probably didn’t need walkers slipping and sliding down it as this is a pretty high use area not wanting to cause any more environmental degradation I stayed on the lookout (judging by the many eroded pads it looks like many don’t). I’m thinking that the best opportunity to get a good photo at the upper falls is probably to zero in on one part of the cascades and concentrate on that so, using the safety rail as a tripod that’s what I did.
Upper Olinda Falls
The cascading Olinda Creek at Upper Olinda Falls.


Leaving the upper falls I dropped down the steeper track to Lower Olinda Falls, it’s a bit steeper and there are lots of stone steps but it’s worth the effort I reckon. Arriving above these more substantial falls I hoped around the slippery rocks for awhile taking in all the scene. With the low morning sun slowly lighting up the valley Lower Olinda Falls looked pretty sweet this morning. The lookout here is on the far side of the creek and it gives a good view up stream to another small waterfall as Olinda Creek drops steeply into the valley, via a series of small waterfalls and cascades. Once again, utilising any available firm surface to use as a tripod I tried to get a reasonable photo, the contrasting light conditions making it interesting.
The Lower Olinda Falls are a little more substantial although the light and shade was making things tricky.
Looking down the valley of Olinda Creek into the early morning sun from the lower set of falls.
It's a relatively steep descent and climb into and out of the lower falls.
Instead of retracing my route back to the ute I now dropped down Cascade Track to eventually come out of the bush onto the substantial Barbers Road. The highlight of this short section of today’s walk was probably the view down and across the valley with the early morning sun slowly starting to burn off the overnight mist, with shafts of sunlight penetrating through the mist and lighting up the trees in the valley in an almost translucent light. Once on Barbers Road I wandered down to meet VW Track near a small weir on Olinda Creek.
Cascade Track
The weak sun was slowly burning off the overnight mist.
Mountain Ash
I've just emerged from the scrub at the bottom of Cascade Track onto Barbers Road.
Mr Chapman suggested that the start of VW Track might be a little indistinct but VW Track was like the Hume Highway on this visit, the wide gravel surfaced track climbing fairly steeply up a spur. The forest in this section of the park is a lot drier than it had been as I’d descended down beside Olinda Creek, so I was able to get a few glimpses through the more sparse vegetation. With the track levelling out a bit I arrived at an area that had recently had a controlled burn through it, now the wide gravelled track made sense. Passing along beside the burnt area the contrast between the lush green unburnt side of the track and the toasted blackened side was fairly extreme.
This little weir on Olinda Creek is at about the spot that VW Track leaves Barbers Road.
The forest on the spur was a lot drier than that which was down near the creek.
OK?
There had been a prescribed burn along VW Track.

After five minutes or so I’d passed by the burnt area and headed along Bartlett Track to meet up with Falls Road. Arriving at Falls Road there were all sorts of warnings posted on the gate saying access to the area was closed due to the Parks people conducting a prescribed burn, hmm. Not to worry I suppose, they weren’t likely to be burning here for a few days after the last couple of days rain I don’t think. It was now mid morning and turning onto Falls Road I met my first walkers for the day who were ambling along in the other direction walking their dog.
I followed Bartlett Track back to Falls Road.
Oh
The circuit part of this walk came to an end as I crossed Olinda Creek on Falls Road and turned back up Mechanics Track. Once again now I was passing beneath huge Mountain Ash trees and ducking under huge Man Ferns as I climbed towards Mt Dandenong Tourist Road. After mucking around a bit taking photos of all the colourful autumn leafs I eventually emerged from the quiet solitude of the gully onto the side of the busy tourist road, my week’s peaceful interlude was over again.
Climbing Mechanics Track, once again I was back in the Mountain Ash.

The Dirt.
I took my GPS on this walk but forgot to reset it after the walk so I’ll go with Mr Chapman’s stats which say that I covered 7.2 kilometres and climbed 370 metres on this medium grade stroll. I’m calling it a medium grade only really because there is a fair climb involved from the bottom of VW Track back up to the car park at Mechanics Reserve. I’ve been to Olinda Falls quite a few times over the years and I’m thinking that these falls are definitely best seen after some good rains. Search around the inter web a bit and you’ll find some reasonably photos of the falls floating about, Mr Fiasco has got some good stuff online off the top of my head. The section of this walk down Mechanics Track and to a lesser degree, Cascade Track can get fairly muddy in wet weather. Like I mentioned above I used the notes published by the House of Chapman out of their Day Walks Melbourne book, it’s walk number 26 in the second edition of that book.

Relevant Posts.
Dandenong Ranges Walk, Dandenong Ranges National Park, 2015.
Ferny Creek, Dandenong Ranges National Park, 2017.

It looks like at some stage water was pumped out of this tiny creek - for irrigation I'm guessing?
Climbing back up Mechanics Track to the ute.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

China Town, Singapore - December 2017

Sago Street, Singapore.  (I think! I'm probably not going to caption a lot of photos on this post because I'm a little vague about the exact locations sometimes.)
I’m thinking that instead of kicking back and living the life on this trip to Singapore, I really should of knuckled down at night and written up these Singapore posts (yep, I’ve got one or two more in the pipeline). Not having taken any notes at the time really, I’m now going through my photos and spending way too much time on Wikipedia as I try and write something coherent about this little excursion. Now, while Wikipedia is interesting enough I suppose, it lacks a little when it comes to colourful writing, and colour is what makes any of my self obsessed waffle remotely readable I think. So anyway that’s my long winded excuse as to why these old Singapore posts are about as stimulating as that viagra you can buy online…..so I’m told.
We got a sneak preview of China Town on our hop on hop off bus tour.

After getting dropped off in Chinatown on New Bridge Road, Sam and I immediately headed off to explore the bustling back streets and alleyways. Like our visit to Little India our stroll around Chinatown was a little bit of an assault on the senses, the various shops and markets are not only very colourful, but also very fragrant in a lot of cases. Like a lot of our time in Singapore we were largely blessed today with the weather too, while it was super humid the rain largely away.
New Bridge Road.
I'm reasonably intrepid...but not that intrepid!

We were a little late in the morning to see the Chinatown Wet Market at is busiest and best I think, so with most of the vendors already winding down for the day Sam and I continued meandering our way along Sago Street. Like a lot of the Chinatown precinct, Sago Street is home to a variety of colourful shops and stalls. Seemingly you could spend your whole life in Singapore and not be able to visit all the shops here, well that’s how it looks to me anyway, although I’m not much of a shopper at the best of times.

Sago Street
South Bridge Road.
Leaving the bustling Sago Street behind us we started a bit of a gentle climb up Ann Siang Road towards Ann Siang Hill Park. I’m thinking this is the trendiest area in Chinatown although that is really only on an observation of the trendy boutiques and bars that populate the street. The other notable feature of Ann Siang Road were the beautiful restored old heritage terrace houses, something that we have a few of back home in Melbourne and that have featured on my blog one or twice.
Now we're talking...!
Climbing up towards Ann Siang Hill.
It wasn't all traditional Chinese traders.

Ann Siang Hill Park is the highest spot in the Chinatown area and while the hill doesn’t provide for much in the way of long range views, the tiny park does make a nice spot to chill out for awhile in a slightly more natural environment. After chilling out for awhile in the park Sam and I headed off towards Siang Cho Keong Temple. This temple was built back in the late 1860’s by the local Hokkien community. With the smell of incense in the air and plenty of people filling in for their prayers Sam and I were happy enough to once again observe the comings and goings from the outside today.
Looking towards the CBD from Ann Siang Hill.
Leaving Siang Cho Keong Temple we back tracked a little before heading down Telok Ayer Street to once again check out some more places of worship, this time Al-Abrar Mosque, Thian Hock Keng Temple and Nagore Durgha Shrine. With the day slowly turning to night, we said our goodbyes to Chinatown and started meandering our way back to Marina Bay through the CBD, content once again after another great day exploring Singapore. If only I could fund this lifestyle permanently!

The Dirt.
We walked around 2 or 3 kilometres on this easy walk, as we poked around the Chinatown precinct, although the walk back to Marina Bay probably double the distance. The taxi out from Marina Bay to Chinatown was only a few bucks and the walk back was free. It’s pretty old school but we used a Lonely Planet City Guide for our information on this stroll. As I’ve already waffled on about we stayed at Marina Bay Sands on this visit which was pretty sweet!

Relevant Posts.

Singapore, 2017.
Little India & Kampong Glam, Singapore, 2017.
Thian Hock Temple


Wandering back through the CBD to our hotel, I love the contrasts of this place.