Sunday, September 30, 2018

Wilhelmina Falls, Murrindindi Scenic Reserve - August 2018

Wilhelmina Falls
Murrindindi Scenic Reserve was another of those spots in Victoria that got torched in the Black Saturday Fires back in 2009, the fire not only decimating the bush but also causing 40 fatalities. Today I was heading back up to the reserve for the first time since that day, I was actually starting the walk not far from the old mill where the Murrindindi Fire was thought to have started. Like all of the walks that I do through areas that have been severely burnt in the recent past I wasn’t expecting things on the ground to be quite as good as they were pre fires, but it’s always interesting to see how the bush is regenerating.
The Suspension Bridge at the Murrindindi Camping Area.
I arrived at the walks start at the Murrindindi Camping Area late morning on this Friday, once again it looked like I’d managed to get a nice winters day, with blue sky overhead. Pulling on my boots I set off towards what is probably the highlight of this walk, Wilhelmina Falls. Passing through the deserted camp I crossed the Murrindindi River on the substantial suspension bridge and headed up stream on the very good walking track. The Murrindindi Scenic Reserve is a small parcel of bush within the large Toolangi State Forest, one of the better managed state parks from what I can see and the infrastructure for walkers on this walk is very good.
Murrindindi River
Initially I followed the beautiful Murrindindi River upstream for a couple of kilometres along the Murrindindi Walking Track, this track runs almost the length of the reserve and is a really good walk in itself. The good news is that, with the track running very close to the river in spots I wasn’t battling an impenetrable wall of regrowth trying to get a view of the river along here. After passing a walk in camp (that I’ve got filed away in my memory for a future walk) and the substantial SEC Bridge I reached the turn off to Wilhelmina Falls and started to climb away from the river.
Initially my walk stayed pretty close to the river.
I passed through this walk in camp site.
The walking infrastructure is very good in this little park.
The environment is pretty damp down near the river.
It’s a climb of around 100 metres to the Wilhelmina Falls Lookout but spread over a kilometre it’s a pretty easy climb. Once away from the the Murrindindi River the forest gets a bit drier and opens up a bit, the country also gets a bit rockier with the track climbing the occasional rock out crops making for interesting walking. Arriving at the Wilhelmina Falls Lookout side trip I dropped the pack and made the short side trip. The Wilhelmina Falls Lookout is at the base of the falls and not the top, it still allows for a great view though.
Climbing up towards Wilhelmina Falls the country gets a bit rockier.
The Wilhelmina Falls Lookout is at the base of these rock slabs.

Wilhelmina Falls are where Falls Creek plunges down steep, smooth granite slabs as the water flows down towards the Murrindindi River. These are one of the more scenic waterfalls close to Melbourne I think. I’m guessing that these slabs of granite must be thirty to forty metres high and with Falls Creek having a reasonable flow today it made an impressive sight. The sunlight reflecting on the water as it cascaded down the smooth granite was particularly photogenic today I thought. After soaking up this magic spot for awhile I wandered back to the track, grabbed my pack and started to climb a long series of metal steps to the top of the falls. These staircases not only allow for a safe way to climb the granite slabs but also give a few more glimpses of Wilhelmina Falls, the base of the waterfall is still the best spot to check out the falls though.
Hmmm.....time to start climbing.
There were a few reasons to stop on the climb.
The staircase also allows for some glimpses of the falls.
Once above the falls my track climbed a little more and soon met up with Boroondara Walking Track. This walking track is named after, and maintained by, the Boroondara Bushwalking Club and was the bit of the walk that I was thinking might be a little overgrown and ordinary after the fires. Turning onto the track today though all was pretty good as I continued to climb up to my walks high point, while the regrowth was thick and impenetrable, the track was clear. Boroondara Walking Track meanders around a little before starting it’s steepish descent back down towards the Murrindindi River, the descent was a little damp and slippery but luckily my (dead) cat like reflexes kept me upright this afternoon.
Looking back across the Murrindindi River Valley towards Mt Despair.
The tracks in the Murrindindi Scenic Reserve are generally well sign posted.
There's plenty of evidence left over from the fires.
Topping out on Boroondara Walking Track.
When the steepest part of the descent down Boroodara Walking Track over the route tracks along a damp gully beside a small cascading creek, for the most part this small creek is heard and not seen but there are a couple of spots where you can get glimpses of the water through the bush. Eventually I emerged from the scrub at a car park on Falls Road. From the small car park I once again picked up the Murrundindi Walking Track, only now I was heading down stream. The Murrindindi Walking Track generally contours the slopes a fair bit above the river along here so I don’t think it’s quite as scenic as the lower sections.
In some spots the fire regrowth forms an almost impenetrable wall. 
There are still enough mature trees to make things interesting though.
The Boroondara Bushwalking Club is doing a pretty good job keeping this track clear I'm thinking.
Before reaching Falls Road Boroondara Walking Track follows his small creek for awhile.
It was close to three kilometres before the Murrundindi Walking Track dropped back down to meet the Wilhelmina Track. On the way down I crossed a few gullies and got some glimpses down towards the river and over towards Mt Despair, but for the most part this section is just a forest walk, albeit a nice forest walk, especially in the ferny damper sections. Meeting my outward route I had the best section of the river walk to retrace, heading downstream I once again took a few short detours to check out this pretty river. Arriving back at the imaginatively named Suspension Bridge I crossed over and I was back at the ute, the walk was over.
Heading downstream along the Murrindindi River Walking Track, for the most part the track is a fair way above the river along this section.
The Mt Despair Fire Tower on the other side of the valley.
I took one last look at the Murrindindi River as I got back to the ute.
The Dirt.
According to my very optimistic GPS I walked 17.1 kilometres and climbed 553 metres on this medium grade walk. If you check out the GPS trace on my map you’ll see the route meandering around a bit as I finished the walk, that’s just my GPS trying to push up my stats as I actually was retracing my mornings outward route almost exactly. I used notes and map from the House of Chapman’s book Day Walks Melbourne, which along with my GPS map and park notes was all I really needed to do this walk. Wilhelmina Falls are the undoubted highlight of this walk, like all waterfalls they are best after decent rains, the start and ending sections of the walk along the Murrindindi River also make for a very pretty little stroll. The good news today was that the Murrindindi Scenic Reserve is recovering well after the fires, while the bush has a bit to go all the infrastructure and tracks were in good condition and it’s definitely worth a visit.

Relevant Posts.
Andrew Hill Circuit, Kinglake National Park, 2015.
Mount Everard Circuit, Kinglake National Park, 2016.
Tanglefoot Walking Track, Toolangi State Forest, 2018.
The Murrindindi Camping Area was pretty quiet on this winters Friday.
Murrindindi Scenic Reserve is well set up for walkers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Docklands, Melbourne - April 2018.

There are worse places to kick back and take in the view.....
Someone with more talent behind the shutter button could probably do something with this.
With the school holidays rolling around again Sam and I were looking for somewhere to get away for a day or two. With me not having any time off work and not wanting to spend the weekend driving we decided to head into the city for the night. After checking out all the usual booking sites we eventually decided to spend the night at the Pan Pacific Hotel at South Wharf, formally the Hilton Hotel, this place has one of the best views in Melbourne from it’s rooms I think. The city view rooms look straight up the Yarra River to the CBD which makes the place a very pleasant place to kick back and take it all in.
The view out the back of the Pan Pacific Hotel isn't quite as sweet.
After dropping the bag off in the room, Sam and I decided to head out and roughly walk the route of the Docklands Walk as featured in Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks. Now when I say that we roughly walked the route, what I really mean is that we added on a few bits at the start and end. First up though it was well and truly time for lunch by now so we headed down to South Wharf for a feed. Along with Docklands, this place always feels a bit dead and half empty to me, needless to say you never normally have any trouble finding a seat in a café although you do sometimes struggle to find some of the cafés open.
There is a fairly wide choice of eating establishments at South Wharf, that's our hotel in the background.
After lunch we headed off up towards Docklands to pick up the described walk.
There is a hell of a lot of construction going on in Victoria at the moment.
After refuelling we headed off on our stroll around Docklands, picking up the described route near the red brick Queens Warehouse. Like a lot of these city walks this one meanders it’s way along on a bit of a convoluted journey, this afternoon we first headed towards the Yarra before crossing Harbour Esplanade, walking through a playground and arriving at ‘Blowhole’ an installation by Duncan Stemler. I love checking out the public displays of art that feature on a lot of the city and town walks now days.
Queens Warehouse
Blowhole
After checking out ‘Blowhole’ we meandered our way north along the narrow park beside Harbour Esplanade in the general direction of Victoria Harbour. Our route definitely did meander too, first we headed over to check out a small plantation of Casuarina Trees, the trees actually fitting in quite well in this urbanised environment (but then again I’m biased as I’ve got half a dozen of these trees in my front garden at home). Passing through the Casuarina grove we checked out some more public art, this time the ‘Reed Boat’ by Virginia King before zigging and zagging across Burke Street to check out ‘Aqualung’ by John Mead.
I love camping under these trees out in the bush.
The Reed Boat
The Aqualung

A few metres further on we arrived onto the promenade on the southern side of the wide open expanse of Victoria Harbour. Wandering along beside the water in my shorts and thongs (err, that’s flip flops for any OS readers) on this beautiful sunny afternoon I felt more like a tourist than a local really, a feeling only enhanced by the fact that I’d never visited this part of town before. Walking out along the length of North Wharf we virtually ended up at the Bolte Bridge, the huge concrete and steel structure towering over us at the very end of the wharf, I had no idea you could get this close to the base of the bridge.
The view across Victoria Harbour from North Wharf towards the Melbourne Wheel.
North Wharf
I had my hardcore walking footwear on this afternoon.
You can get a lot closer to the base of Bolte Bridge than I'd imagined.
I don't mind the square edged industrial look...I'm still learning how to do justice to these scenes with my camera, but I'm thinking that I'm slowly getting better.
Retracing our route back down the length of North Wharf we checked out Melbourne Wooden Boat Centre, with the historic Alma Doepel up on blocks in the middle of being restored. The old boats tied up here being quite a contrast to the modern buildings and flash power boats further along North Wharf. Almost a kilometre after leaving the shadows of the Bolte Bridge we arrived back on Harbour Esplanade and after trying to get the bloggers artistic ‘wanker shot’ of the bollards reflected in the water of Victoria Harbour we checked out our next public art installation, this time the (somewhat) famous ‘Cow Up a Tree’ by John Kelly.
Heading back down the length of Victoria Harbour towards the Docklands Stadium in the distance.
The Melbourne Wooden Boat Centre occupy a warehouse at the end of North Wharf.
The historic Alma Doepel at North Wharf.
The new and the very old at Victoria Harbour.
Cow Up a Tree, Docklands.
With the huge Docklands Stadium on the city side of Harbour Esplanade we stayed close to the water as we made our way up to New Quay, checking out the old heritage buildings on Central Pier and their information displays about Melbourne's old maritime history. Like North Wharf (and indeed South Wharf), New Quay ‘feels’ a little dead if you ask me, I wonder weather they should of spent some extra money and made this Melbourne’s Cruise Boat Port, it certainly would of livened the place up a bit and it would of provided a much nicer entry to Melbourne for the tourists than the current wharf at Station Pier I think. Anyway, it’s all too late now, I don’t think the ships could get under Bolte Bridge and I’m not sure if Victoria Harbour would be wide enough to turn them. Reaching New Quay we wandered along the promenade, once again heading towards the distant Bolte Bridge. New Quay is not only home to more public art, interesting architecture, flash boats and cafés but also features more great views both of the Bolte Bridge and also back towards the CBD.
There is a bit of information about Melbourne's maritime history around Docklands, these displays are on the old heritage buildings on Central Pier.
New Quay has plenty of public artworks of it's own. 
As well as lots of interesting architecture.
The Feral weekend dingy....yeah that may be another alternative fact!

Our ‘official’ walk was now coming to it’s end as we wandered back down to the Docklands Stadium, the late afternoon view down over Victoria Harbour supplying one last nice water view. With me not wanting to miss an opportunity to visit the outdoor shops while in the CBD we headed up Little Burke Street towards the centre of town. Along the way we checked out some new street art that has caused a little controversy in Melbourne, basically these murals look very good but because there is no real political inspiration behind then some of the more hardcore street artists aren’t particularly happy to call them street art. I’ll leave it up to the experts to argue the semantics of this, but for what its worth I like them and maybe it’s just my brain but there is a bit of politics involved in them from what I could see, it’s just a little more subtle than some of the more traditional street art.
With our official walk ending at the far end of New Quay we meandered our way back towards the Melbourne CBD.
Docklands Stadium
The free City Circle trams were doing a roaring trade this afternoon.
The view down to Victoria Harbour from the Docklands Stadium concourse.

After lightening the wallet a bit at the outdoor shops and haven a bit of dinner we shuffled our way back down to South Wharf through the Friday night crowds. The twilight views west down the Yarra River tempting me to break out the camera for one last photo. As I mentioned in the first paragraph the views from this hotel are some of the best in Melbourne I think, so we spent a pleasant evening in the room enjoying the light show before us.
Wandering up Little Burke Street we checked out these new murals...apparently they are a little controversial.
This reminds me of some of the artwork popping up on old silo's around country Victoria.

The Dirt.
Although the walk notes as written up are only about 5 kilometres we walked around 8 kilometres today as we meandered around all over the place, although with virtually no altitude gain I’d still rate this as a pretty easy walk (I managed it in thongs!). As I mentioned earlier this is a walk out of Julie Mundy’s book Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks, it’s walk number 4 in the book. We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel at South Wharf on this visit, as I’ve waffled on about already the views from their City View rooms are pretty good. I’m not 100% sure but I think that the hotel is a little cheaper than it was when when it was known as the Hilton at South Wharf, it also looks like they’ve fixed up a few of the rough edges that were creeping in - but don’t forget this is a ‘sample size of one’!

Relevant Posts.
Federation Square & Southbank, Melbourne, 2015.
Laneways & Melbourne Heretige, Melbourne, 2014.
Arts Precinct, Melbourne, 2017.
Heading back across the Yarra River to the hotel after dinner, the twilight scene down towards Port Phillip Bay was sweet.
We could watch the Crown Casino pyro display from the comfort of our room.
Early morning was a little harder to get a photo.