Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bogong Village to Little Plain, Bogong High Plains Circuit, Alpine National Park - April 2019

The view from Mt Fainter this afternoon.
Way back in the days when I still had hair I did a 6 day walk around the Bogong High Plains and ever since I’ve always wanted to get back up there for a long walk. While climbing Mt Bogong or Mt Feathertop can make for great walking I really like meandering around these high, rolling plains. Once the initial climb is over and you are up on the high plains then the walking is pretty cruisey, not to mention very scenic, well in a windswept, barren kind of way.

My original big walk up here was really a 7 day walk that not only traversed the Bogong High Plains but the Mt Bogong Massif as well, being young and stupid I’d done it in 6 days all those years ago. With only 4 days leave from work for this walk I decided to shorten things up a bit, I’d still start and finish at the tiny Bogong Village but I’d omit the Mt Bogong traverse. The good news about this plan was that I’d walk some country that I’d never walked before, oh yeah and I’d cut out more than 1000 metres of climbing and descending, sweet!

So anyway, with all my gear packed the night before I was able to head off fairly early on my long drive up to Victoria’s High Country. After an almost traditional a short pit stop for breakfast at the Maccas at Glenrowan I pulled up at Bogong Village at around 10am, not the earliest start that I’ve ever had but not too bad considering the 5+ hour drive from home.
Down the bottom of Bogong Village on a beautiful Autumn morning - time to set off.
After parking down near the tennis courts I faced the hardest navigational challenge of the day, that being to navigate my way back out of the village and onto Springs Saddle Fire Track. With Bogong Village built into the slope of a steep valley I had a fair climb just to get back up to the Bogong High Plains Road this morning. Now the easy option would of been to just traipse back up the zig zagging road that I’d driven in on, but I was sure that there must be a walking track back up to the top of the village. With a bit of exploring I did indeed find an old walking track climbing up towards the but to be honest I think the road would of made for quicker and easier walking, oh well, you live and learn I suppose!
Climbing back up through Bogong Village I followed the access road for awhile....
...before picking up this old walking track, which more or less took me in the direction that I needed to go.
Once on the Bogong High Plains Road my navigational conundrums weren’t over quite yet, I now had to locate Springs Saddle Fire Track. Now it’s been 25 years since I last climbed Springs Saddle Fire Track, so while I had a vague idea where the track left the Bogong High Plains Road my memories were a little sepia toned. After climbing up the bitumen Bogong High Plains Road for a couple of hundred metres I found a track heading off in the direction that I needed to go, yeah this navigation stuff is pretty easy I was thinking. Setting off up what I was mildly sure was my track I got around 100 metres before arriving at a fence and a gate across the track….a locked gate…and a fence with no authorised entry plastered all over it…hmmm.
I walked up the Bogong High Plains Road for a couple of hundred metres.
Hmmm....?
Onto Plan B I suppose. Retreating back down onto the Bogong High Plains Road I headed a little further up towards Falls Creek searching for another track. After a few minutes, and with nothing even closely resembling another track, I headed back to my original choice. Once again I was back at the locked gate. It was now time to pull out the big guns, yep I figured that I’d better have a look at my map. Dropping my pack I unfolded my map, scratched my head for awhile until I orientated it the right way up and then I got really confused, as it looked for all intents and purposes that I was on the right track, even more coincidentally my GPS was also telling me the same thing, hmmm I don’t remember this from 25 years ago. So once again I was mildly confident that I was actually on the right track but how was I gonna get around this fenced off compound? I suppose I could of made my way through the bush around the fence but it looked ugly, really ugly. It would be a hard, steep, scrub bash from what I could see and I wasn’t in the mood. Nope, instead I found a small gap in the fence just big enough to shove my pack through, with me being a fairly svelte walker (??) I was able to shimmy through behind my pack. Ok, now I was in the compound I was wondering how I’d escape from the other side, meandering through the deserted work site I arrived at the upstream gate to find it wide open, well that was easier than I expected.
After a short walk a bit further up the Bogong High Plains Road I returned to my original guess.
Back at the gate/fence I had a couple of choices. I did consider trying to skirt around the perimeter...but that came with a few issues as well on the steep scrubby slope. In the end I put my long dormant Feral limbo skills to good use!
The gate at the top exit of the compound on Springs Saddle Fire Track was wide open...thankfully.
I was really on my way now, although it was more than an hour now since I’d left the ute and I was already sweating like a pig. Once located Springs Saddle Fire Track is a fairly straight forward up hill plod, that much I remember from last time. While the switchbacks haven’t changed the forest has, this area having been well and truly torched in the big fires back in 2003. The climb now passing through mostly scrappy regrowth forest with the stubble like, bleached white skeletons of the old trees poking out above the impenetrable wall of green below. The fires have opened up a few new views on the climb up Springs Saddle Fire Track to Springs Saddle, although it was slightly depressing that after climbing for a couple of hours I could still see the deciduous trees down at Bogong Village.
Once on my way up Springs Saddle Fire Track it's a fairly straightforward up hill plod.
I didn't have to climb too far above Bogong Village before I started through bushfire regrowth. 
Climbing Springs Saddle Fire Track. I was lucky today in that the weather was almost perfect.
A couple of hours after setting off and I can still see Bogong Village down in the valley.
After a bit of a break at Springs Saddle I continued on my journey towards Mt Fainter, the track now climbing south around the southern slopes Bald Hill. The good news was that the Fainter Fire Track, of which I was now following, started to contour a little bit along here making the last couple of kilometres to Bogong Jack Saddle Hut a little easier. Now I'm buggered if I've ever seen a hut here but it's called Bogong Jack Saddle Hut on my map so that's what I'll go with, there maybe an old hut in the tree line somewhere but I've never seen it. What there is though is a very nice grassy flat area to camp, made even better by Mt Fainter towering overhead. It was mid afternoon by the time I shuffled into Bogong Jack Saddle today and the green grass provided a welcome spot to drop my pack for awhile and have a belated lunch (for anyone thinking of camping here there was some water flowing beneath the track a few hundred metres before I got to the saddle).
Springs Saddle. There is a Parks Vic signpost pointing down Springs Saddle Fire Track to Bogong Village here...which only made the locked gate at the bottom more confusing.
The Mt Fainter Fire Track climbs a bit but was generally easier than the climb up Springs Saddle Fire Track.
There were even a couple of patches of un burnt forest along the Mt Fainter Fire Track.
On my maps this spot is called Bogong Jack Saddle Hut, although I've never seen a hut.
Bogong Jack Saddle would make for a very nice camp.
It was a little hard to leave the beautiful Bogong Jack Saddle Hut but I knew that the best was yet to come. I now had another couple of hundred metres to climb before I’d break out above the tree line and more or less stay above it for the next three days. Fainter Fire Track climbs fairly solidly after leaving the saddle as it climbs the steep northern slopes of Mt Fainter North, although the ever expanding views now more than compensated for pain of the climb. With the track climbing the open eastern slopes of Mt Fainter I decided that it was time to leave the formed track and strike out across the open slopes towards the summit. It all sound pretty easy walking across those open grassy slopes, however the rough tussocky ground is actually a little harder to walk on than it looks in a photo, especially with 20 kilograms hanging of my back.
Leaving Bogong Jack Saddle the Mt Fainter Fire Track starts to climb solidly again up towards Mt Fainter.
Mt Fainter North.
Climbing Mt Fainter Fire Track and I'm about to break out of the tree line.
These little Red Robins were a feature on my AAWT walk up here a couple of years ago, they certainly lifted my spirits as they flittered around whilst I inevitably recovered from another climb.
Arriving at the cairn on Mt Fainter North it looked like the whole of the Victorian High Country was spread out before me. Mt Feathertop, Mt Buffalo, Mt Bogong, Mt Hotham and closer to home Mt Jaithmathang and the Bogong High Plains were all visible. After taking I the view for awhile I shuffled across the open tops towards Mt Fainter South, although after passing over a high knoll between the two summits I reluctantly decided to give the summit of Mt Fainter South a miss this afternoon. All the time I’d spent mucking around getting out of Bogong Village this morning meant that I was now starting to get a little low on daylight so I figured the prudent option would be to head down the Fainter Fire Track to some lower ground to camp for the night.
Late afternoon and I've made it up to Mt Fainter North.
The views from up here are extensive.
Mt Feathertop draws the eye up here.
Mt Fainter North with Mt Bogong in the distance.
There are still a lot of fires burning in the High Country at the moment, I'm not sure whether this is a controlled burn or a bushfire?
Dropping down the Fainter Fire Track I was planning on camping at the first spot that had a little shelter and some water. Thankfully, with the light fading quickly and the temperature plummeting with the sun, it didn’t take me long to drop down onto a little snow plain in the shadow of Mt Fainter South. After a bit of poking around I found a flattish spot for the tent along with a nice rock to sit on to cook, life was good. There was no sitting around after dinner tonight gazing up at the clear night sky, as soon as the sun had gone down not only did the temperature plummet but a decent wind whipped up, it was time to crawl into the sleeping bag.
Looking back to Mt Fainter North....
....and looking forward towards Mt Fainter South.
With daylight running out I dropped down to find some water and a spot to camp.
It's beautiful country up here.
The Dirt.
Ok, I walked 20 kilometres and climbed 1282 metres on what is a hard grade walk. Once on the correct track navigation today was simple, however escaping the clutches of Bogong Village was a bit of a bitch. You can get past the locked gate on Springs Saddle Track, however I’m not sure of the legality of this…you’ll have to make up your own mind (incidentally, there is a Parks Vic signpost at Springs Saddle pointing back down Springs Saddle Track to Bogong Village, so maybe Parks Vic are also a little confused?). Mr Chapman and Mr Thomas have both written up this section of the walk (more or less) but both sets of notes are more than a decade old. I used Rooftop’s Bright-Bogong-Hotham Forest Activities map today as well as my GPS maps.

Relevant Posts.
Mt Feathertop, Alpine National Park, 1990.
North West Spur, Mt Feathertop, Alpine National Park, 1999.


Tent's up...
....dinners cooked.
The view over to tomorrow mornings destination, Mt Jaithmathang.
The last of the setting sun on Mt Fainter South.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Shrine & Botanic Gardens, Melbourne - March 2019

The Shrine of Remembrance.
We had a long weekend in Melbourne this weekend but instead of heading for the hills (they are mostly still on fire anyway) Sam and I headed into the city for a couple of nights. The main reason we were in the city was for me to attend the Download Festival, but never wanting to waste an opportunity for a bit of exploring I decided to head to the Shrine and the Botanic Gardens for a short stroll. Over all my years I’ve never actually visited the Shrine of Remembrance and I’ve probably only been to the Royal Botanical Gardens a couple of times, so what may seem a pretty mundane walk held a bit of interest for me.
I had a fair walk just to get to the start of my described stroll this afternoon.
We were staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel over at South Wharf on this city stay so I had a fair walk just to get to the start of the described walk this afternoon. Walking along Southbank was a very crowded affair today, as not only was it a long weekend in Melbourne but the Moomba Festival was also on. The river side promenade was crowded with families out enjoying the beautiful early Autumn weather. After a 15 minute walk south beside St Kilda Road I eventually picked up my walk at the Shrine of Remembrance and was on my way.
Alright, I'm on my way.
I entered the Royal Botanic Gardens through the main entrance off Birdwood Avenue.
This is one of those pleasant strolls that is by no means hardcore walking but is more your 'nice place to take a stroll' type of walk. Leaving The Shrine almost as soon as I’d arrived at it, I crossed over Birdwood Avenue and headed into the Royal Botanic Gardens. I’m not overly knowledgable about Australian Flora and I’ve got even less knowledge about introduced plants, so I’m not going to even attempt to accurately label the hundreds of different trees in the gardens. Strolling my way west I followed the signs pointing me in the direction of the Fern Gully, passing the Children’s Garden and the National Herbarium on the way.
The Royal Botanical Gardens.
I'm not even going to try and name all the different plants. 
I was now heading towards the Fern Gully, passing by the Herbarium on the way.
The Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne.
Reaching the Fern Gully my route dropped down towards the large Ornamental Lake, I was meant to track around the side of the lake now but there was a problem (there always is on my walks!). The track that I was meant to continue my walk on was fenced off, it seems the the Moonlight Cinema have this bit of the gardens fenced off over their summer season, so I now improvised a little as I skirted around the eastern perimeter of the cinema area. We not talking an off track epic here though, I was able to basically just skirt around the fenced off area and was soon back beside the Ornamental Lake and back on my notes and map.
On reaching the Ornamental Lake I had to track around the Moonlight Cinema grounds.
Back beside the Ornamental Lake I was back on my notes again.
The Ornamental Lake Area in the botanic gardens is a very popular spot and is a nice spot for a picnic, or a bite to eat and a coffee in the café. With a wedding on in the café this afternoon I missed out on my caffeine fix though and continued on my late afternoon stroll. It can feel a little like you are walking through a Claude Monet painting here, the softer late afternoon light only enhancing that feeling. Still skirting around the lake I crossed over Long Island on a series of bridges and passed through an area of native bush that replicates a lower Yarra River Billabong, this no doubt is what a lot of this country around here looked like before European settlement.
It felt a little like I was walking through a Monet painting this afternoon.
The Ornamental Lake.
The Ornamental Lake at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens.
Lower Yarra River Billabong.
My walk now climbed a little which gave me some views down over the Yarra River and across to Melbourne’s Sporting Precinct. Passing through the ornamental Lynch Gate I left the botanic gardens and meandered my way up to House Drive and Government House. Unfortunately you can’t get too close to Government House but I was able to get a photo through the security gates and up the driveway, having a nice friendly chat with the security lady at the same time as she rushed out to see what the Feral looking bloke with the DSLR slung around his neck was up to.
Heading towards Lynch Gate my route climbed a little giving me some views down over Melbourne's Sporting Precinct.
The Royal Botanical Gardens near Lynch Gate.
Despite all the greenery I was never far from the CBD.
My short afternoon stroll was quickly coming to it’s conclusion now as I meandered my way through some more parkland, crossed back over Birdwood Avenue and got back to the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine of Remembrance is a monument to all our fallen soldiers lost in numerous different conflicts over the years. The Shrine looks back up to the CBD along St Kilda Road but it is far enough removed from the city that noise of the city is more or less non existent, so it is a very peaceful and solemn place, an appropriate place to finish off my walk.
Service Women's Gardens.
Government House
Approaching Birdwood Avenue my walk was coming to it's end.
There is a lot to get your head around and check out on this stroll, you could probably do this walk numerous times and still not see everything I'm thinking.
Now seeing that this is a my self indulgent blog I’m going to post a couple of photos from my day out at Download before my memories turn to dust. The Download Festival has been running overseas for years but last year was the first year that the festival has come down to Australia. The festival is the obvious successor to the much loved Soundwave Festival. Where as Soundwave was an all ages type of set up, Download is a licensed event so basically that meant that I could grab a beer (or two) and watch the bands while having a drink, all good and as with Soundwave there was virtually no agro despite the fearsome looking crowd. I caught Airbourne, Anthrax, Frenzal Rhomb, half of Alice in Chains, Devilskin, Judas Priest and Slayer today on what was superb day out. I’m not going to try and say which was the best band or show as they are all great in their own way, I’ll definitely be getting myself some Devilskin tunes on my phone though.
Approaching the Shrine of Remembrance from Birdwood Avenue.
The Shrine of Remembrance
Looking back down St Kilda Road towards the city. The shrine is far enough away from the CBD that it's a peaceful spot.
The walk back to South Wharf after my stroll was a nice one.
The Dirt.
I walked 3.6 kilometre and climbed around 80 metres or this easy stroll. This is a walk that is doable for children or the elderly, prams and wheelchairs should be OK too. I (very) roughly followed the notes out of Julie Mundy’s book Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks today and they are all you really need to complete this stroll. Sam and I stayed at The Pan Pacific Hotel at South Wharf again on this stay in the city and as usual it was a good, reasonably priced (for the Melbourne CBD) stay. Download was great and I’ll definitely be back again next year!

Relevant Posts.
Soundwave, 2014.
Soundwave, 2015.
St Kilda to Station Pier, 2018.

Alright, here's a few Download photos (mainly to jog my memory). First up it's Airbourne....
...then Anthrax...

...Frenzal Rhomb...
...Alice in Chains....
...Devilskin...
...Judas Priest...
...Oh yeah!...

...Slayer!...
I successfully wound down from my day out at Download - going Feral indeed!

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...