Sunday, April 7, 2019

Olinda Valley, Dandenong Ranges National Park - February 2019

This is another post that will feature a lot of big trees.....although somewhat unusually they won't all be natives.
My Feral mojo was running a bit low this Saturday. Instead of jumping out of bed when my alarm went off at 3:30am I turned over and went back to sleep…there’d be no High Country Walk today. Eventually the sun started to light up my bedroom and I figured that I’d better make a move if I wanted to actually get a walk done today. After a cursory glance at a couple of walking guide books I decided to head up to do a walk called the Olinda Valley that has been published by the House of Chapman.

Now I know how to get to the start of this stroll fairly well as not only have I walked up here a handful of times over the years, but we also scattered Sam’s Grandmothers ashes from the Rotunda where I’d start the walk from. So saying all that I can’t really explain why I set the Sat Nav in the ute to get me there, even more baffling is why I kept following it even when I was sure it was leading me astray? Anyway, after a scenic tour of the Dandenong Ranges I eventually arrived at the car park at Woolrich Lookout. I suppose the silver lining of the extra time it took me to get there was that the low cloud cleared almost as soon as I arrived.
I started today's stroll at the Rotunda at Woolrich Lookout, a spot that has a little personal history for me.
There was fair cloud cover overhead when I arrived at the car park this morning....
....but thankfully it had almost burnt off by the time I started walking.
So, beneath a rapidly clearing sky I set off towards Dam Road, flirting with the edges of the R.J.Hamer Forest Arboretum as I dropped down to the dam. The introduced trees in the arboretum make a nice contrast with the scrappy native forest on the walk I think. Passing an inky black dam that looked to me like the probable home to a Bunyip (yes, I’m always getting my probables and possibles mixed up!) Dam Road soon bottomed out and I immediately started a short but steepish climb up to Lookout Rock on Rock Track. Unfortunately the trees have more or less shut down any views from Lookout Rock but it was still worth dropping off the track to check out the big granite rocks.
Dropping down Dam Road I was walking through a very mixed forest. 
Now this is a site that I don't see on every bush walk in Australia.
There be Bunyips?? The dam on Dam Road.
Back in the native bush.
Leaving the lookout my track contoured below the Olinda Golf Course, still being reasonably early in the morning there wasn’t too many people around though. Up until now I’d more or less been walking old fire tracks but after crossing over Mathais Road I picked up KC Walking Track which dropped, steeply initially, into the Olinda Valley. KC Track was a nice walk and towards the bottom I found myself sidling a fern and Mountain Ash covered slope as I made my way down to Rifle Range Gully Track.
Early morning in the R.J.Hamer Forest Arboretum.
You generally don't see many Himalayan Conifers on walks in Australia.
Heading along Rock Track, Olinda Golf Course is up the hill to my left.
It almost seem like it wouldn't be a Feral walk without me coming across a humpy or two.
I remember walking Rifle Range Gully Track some 30 years ago with Sam when we use to live locally, back in those days Rifle Range Gully Track was a wide and clear fire track, now days things are a little more claustrophobic. Heading west up the lush gully on Rifle Range Gully Track the ferns were now crowding the walking pad, the narrow pad compete with ferns is a definite improvement o the old fire track, although the Blackberries were a bit of a worry. Crossing Bartlett Track I followed Barges Track for a couple of kilometres, I was up here last year and back then the bush had just been burnt in a prescribed burn, so it was good to see the country recovering nicely this morning.
Dropping down KC Track I was back in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Big trees on KC Track.
KC Track is more your traditional type of walking track.
Rifle Range Gully Track.
Rifle Range Gully Track...some sections of this track are getting a little overgrown now days.
The last time I'd walked Barges Track this area had just been burnt.
Eventually I arrived at Georges Track and started to follow this wide track, once again under towering Mountain Ash Forest. My Feral navigation went a little awry along here though, I was looking to turn left onto Hermon Track and do a bit of a left, right dogleg, instead though I ended up doing a right, left dogleg and ended up on Eagles Nest Road. I could blame a missing signpost and a misnamed track on my map but really I just wasn’t concentrating enough. My little alternative didn’t really affect the walk that much apart from the fact that I didn’t get to visit Eagles Nest Picnic Ground, as I joined the un-signposted Chamberlains Track from the the south and not the north.
Georges Track
A fairly typical Dandenong Ranges National Park scene off Georges Track.
Easy walking this morning along Georges Track.
If anyone reading this is still awake you're doing better than me, this walk is really a left, right, left in the forest, type of walk so it’s kind of hard to add find a bit of colour to make things readable. After a short climb up Chamberlains Track I headed right along the un-signposted Prices Track as it tracked along beside a gully which is a tributary of Lyrebird Creek. I was now heading back in the general direction of the ute and this wide open and almost level fire track made for a very pleasant way to make my way back. After crossing over Boundary Road I continued on up the the right hand fork of Manna Gum Track, this track was slightly overgrown in spots and featured a fairly steep little pinch so it felt like I was on a proper bush walk again.
After a bit of freelance route finding I headed along the the wide Prices Track through more beautiful forest.
Crossing the more major Boundary Road I continued up the gully on a lesser track.
It was a stunningly beautiful summers day now.
I took the lower fork of Manna Gum Track, although it was a bit overgrown in spots.
After the steep climb I once again entered into the R.J.Hamer Arboretum and suddenly I wasn’t walking through just the native bush anymore. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that the arboretum was created to provide some fire protection for Olinda, the introduced flora being a lot less flammable than the Eucalyptus Forests that cover the majority of the Dandenong Ranges, although once again treat that as a Feral fact and regard it with suspicion. It was along here that I passed my second batch of humpies for the day. Checking out these humpies it appeared that these introduced trees make for good humpy building material, no doubt our original inhabitants would of been keen to get their hands on these trees.
Manna Gum Track
My second humpy sighting for the day.
The track actually got a little indistinct in spots here as I wound my way around to eventually meet up with Mathais Road again. The go along this little section of the walk was to keep an eye on the ground, the arboretum people have placed track markers on the ground in the middle of the path and they are easy to see…once you remove the various leaf and forest litter that covers them! Meeting Mathais Road I did a quick right/left/left shuffle (yes, like I said it’s that kind of walk) and started climbing in earnest back up to the ute. This short but steep climb was up an imaginatively titled track, signposted as Walking Track. Climbing up here the walking track soon spat me out of the trees onto the big grassy slope below Woolrich Lookout, with this mornings cloud cover now well and truly burnt off now, it meant that suddenly I had some great views across to the Yarra Ranges and Mt Donna Buang, a nice way to end my days walking.
The track markers are placed on the ground through here?
Looking east on Mathias Road...I was going west.
Looking west along Mathias Road, I zagged left just before the bus stop....
....and almost immediately picked up the imaginatively titled Walking Track.
There was a bit to stop and photograph on my final steep climb back up to the ute.
The Dirt.
I walked 14.7 and climbed 573 according to my GPS on this medium grade stroll. Without any notable attraction this is a typical “paint by numbers’ type of walk I think, by that I mean that there is a lot of turn right follow X metres, turn left follow Y metres, turn right…..you get the idea. Now while there isn’t any standout attraction on this walk the different forests that I walked through were enough to hold my interest today, the Mountain Ash are a particular favourite and the introduced conifers in the arboretum add a lot of interest to this walk. Talking about the trees in the arboretum I’m thinking Autumn and Spring would be the best times of the year for this section of the walk. I used and more or less followed the notes and map out of the Chapman’s Day Walks Melbourne book and they are all you really need for this stroll. Parks Vic would no doubt have some free stuff online too.

Relevant Post.
Mt Dandenong, Dandenong Ranges National Park, 2018.
Olinda Falls, Dandenong Ranges National Park, 2018.
Mt Evelyn Forest, Dandenong Ranges National Park, 2016.

Emerging from the trees...Woolrich Lookout is on the other side of those conifers. 
The view north towards the Yarra Ranges was sweet.
Another nice little stroll coming to it's end.


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