Salomon Series, Anglesea

Last weekend I did the final Salomon Series trail run for 2014.

It was at Anglesea, a seaside town on the way to Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne.

Again, I was doing the long course, which this time was 23km – a couple more than last month’s long course of 21km at Olinda in the Dandenongs.

And what a spectacular day it was for a run.

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The morning was cool with a chill breeze but the sun was shining and the sky was clear and blue.

It didn’t take long to warm up when the race started.

The first six or seven kilometres were along the firm compacted sand of the beach under tall cliffs topped with bush that we’d be running through on the way back to the finish.

The ocean was calm and the gentle breaking of the waves on the beach was a steady, hypnotic soundtrack that was a nice distraction from my huffing and puffing as I jogged along.

The course went over a set of rocks that slowed things down a bit as some runners were a bit unsure of the uneven, sharp surface, and then up a headland that took us into coastal scrub and along twisting, turning single trail.

I’m not ashamed to say but the first big climb was a tough one and I fast-walked much of it.

The course then took runners up and down through the bush until the final few kilometres had us running along the top of the cliffs we’d run under at the start.

The view out over the ocean was spectacular. The water was a deep blue and completely calm and flat. Anglesea’s houses in the distance were a magnet to the finish.

Finished!

Finished!

I crossed the line in two hours, 15 minutes and 19 seconds – faster than my time in the Olinda run, which was a couple of kilometres shorter, but hillier. I finished around the middle of my category.

Anyway, now that the Salomon Series is over, I’m kind of left wondering what to do next. I’ve got all this fitness now and need to do something with it.

A friend is suggesting the Melbourne Marathon in a few weeks. Hmmmm, maybe.

Some of my favourite multi-day walks

A few weeks ago Australia’s Outdoor magazine published a list of the top ten multday walks in the country.
I was quite chuffed to discover I’ve done six-ish of them – Queensland’s Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island and Fraser Island Great Walk and Tasmania’s Overland Track (a couple of times), Eastern Arthur Range (I’ve done some of the Eastern Arthurs walk – into and up Federation Peak and out), Western Arthur Range Traverse, and South Coast Track.

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The list made me think there’s plenty more walking I’ve got to do and also about what would be on my list of top overnight walks.
So while the ones I’ve mentioned above are certainly in my list of top walks, here’s a few others that have made an impression on me and I’d recommend.

1. Mount Remarkable, South Australia – Walking through the eastern side of this park presented some beautiful landscapes that, for me, are the picture of what I like to imagine the Australian bush is. It’s a romantic picture but one I like to daydream about. Open spaces dotted with big old gnarly trees and massive blue skies overhead. If you time it right and go around when the area gets rain, the ground is covered by a blanket of green grass and the streams at the bottom of steep gullies are running.

Mt Remarkable National Park

Mt Remarkable National Park

2. South-west circuit, Tasmania – This was my most recent big walk and it was the subject of some of my first blog posts. It had everything – amazing coastal views, challenging terrain, beaches, mountain ranges, strenuous walking and the feeling of utter and total independence and being away from everything.

On the South West Circuit

On the South West Circuit

3. Mount Bartle-Frere, Queensland – This was the first overnight walk I ever did on my own. I had no idea what I was doing but it started a lifelong passion for the outdoors. I was living in Atherton, my home town on the Tablelands in Far North Queensland at the time, and walked from the western side of the mountain. The mountain is covered in dense rainforest. So dense that when I went off track for a bathroom break, I had a moment of panic when I went to return to my pack I’d left on the track and couldn’t find it. After some deep calming breaths and a careful retracing of my steps I found the track again. I don’t think I’ve felt a sense of relief like that since. The climb is a physical challenge but apparently the view from the top is worth it. The weekend I was at the top it was covered in cloud and I didn’t see a thing. Here’s a link to a map of the walk.

4. Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania – One of my favourite places in Tasmania. Passing through Herods Gate into the walls is like walking into another world. You’re surrounded by high imposing peaks – King Davids Peak, The Temple and Solomons Throne are just some. Then walk down into the penicil pine forest of Dixons Kingdom and its old trappers’ hut and resident wallabies. Wonderful.

Solomons Throne

The Temple

5. Blue Gum Forest, New South Wales – Another early bushwalking experience that showed me the beauty of the Australian bush. A beautiful stand of tall blue gums in the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. It was saved from the axe by a group of bushwalkers who bought it in the 1930s to save for future generations. Inspiring bush and an inspiring story.

Salomon Series Run – Olinda, Dandenongs

It was a cold foggy morning at Olinda in the Dandenongs last Sunday for the third race in the Salomon Trail Running Series.

Foggy winter morning in the Dandenongs

Foggy winter morning in the Dandenongs

I was doing the long course, 21km, and we were the first wave of runners to go.

The run was due to start at 8.30am and everyone waiting for the start was rugged up in their pants and puffer jackets until the very last moment.

Thankfully it didn’t take long to warm up when we were finally waved away.

It was a pretty tough course.

There was a lot of steep descent at the start and in the early kilometres. The course seemed to just keep going down and down. I kept thinking “what goes down must come up” so I didn’t go too hard, thinking I’d try and keep something in reserve for the climb back to the finish.

The trails were pretty good – a mixture of wide dirt track, fire trail and single track. They meandered through tall trees, ferny gullies and past gentle streams. I had to keep reminding myself to look around and take in the scenery every now and then instead of watching the ground all the time or heals of the person in front of me.

I was able to run at my own leisurely pace for much of the run. But when the climbing started, it certainly slowed everyone down. Long queues of runners (well, walkers actually) formed on the single track sections with few chances to overtake.

It was a little frustrating at first as I’m pretty good at hills but then I thought there was no point stressing about it. It was a nice day to be out and about and used the opportunity to get my breath back.

As much as I enjoyed the run, I was glad to get to the finish when I did. The juice was running low. But I was happy with my time – 2 hours 16 minutes – and I’m looking forward to the fourth and final race of the series at Anglesea in a few weeks.

The end!

The end!

A walk in the Bunyip State Park

I’ve been looking for new places to walk around Melbourne and while scrolling around Google maps came across a big patch of green called Bunyip State Park.

A quick Google and I found the Parks Victoria notes for the park and it looked like a place worth checking out.

For those unfamiliar with what a bunyip is, a mythical Aboriginal creature, here’s what the Parks Victoria notes say:

The legend of the bunyip

Beware of the Bunyip, a dark furry animal with a round face, small ears and fiery eyes that glow in the dark!

 According to the Aboriginal people, the Bunyip or “Buneep” (as spelt on early maps which show the river, first cattle run and township) is a spirit that punishes bad people.

Local Aboriginal people believed the Bunyip lived in the swamps of the Bunyip River, and therefore avoided the area. Many early settlers, believing this story, never pitched their tents near a ‘Bunyip hole’. People were also careful not to make ripples when collecting water. This upset the Bunyip.

The park is about 65km out of Melbourne and about an hour drive from the city through outer suburbs, small towns, farmland and then forested bush.

We didn’t pick the best day for a walk unfortunately. It was cold, drizzly and the sky just low grey cloud. But it was possibly for the best as the track notes said the area is used by trail bike riders and as we didn’t see or hear any, maybe the weather had kept them away.

It looks like one of the main features of the park is a collection of large, smooth rocks called the Four Brothers Rocks. Apparently there’s a nice view from them but when we got there the cloud was still low and thick and we saw nothing but grey.

It would have been a nice spot for lunch but it was cold and the ground and rocks were wet and it was drizzling so we decided to carry on walking.

Anyway, we had a nice day wandering along foot tracks and dirt roads and I’m keen to go back and explore more. Plus the many tea houses with coffee and cake in the Dandenongs on the way home are another attraction and temptation.

 

A cyclist’s lament – Drivers failing to indicate

Why is it so hard for some car drivers to use their indicators?

It’s that big handle thing sticking out from either the left or right of the steering wheel. And to pass your driving test, I’m pretty sure you have to use it when turning at corners and intersections and when changing lanes.

So why do some drivers seem to forget those are the rules? Do think everyone should just give way to them and that the road rules don’t apply to them?

It’s infuriating. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly been cleaned up by a car changing lanes without looking and without using their indicator.

I’m a cautious rider and keep a very wary eye on cars around me. I pretty much assume every driver could do something stupid – like turn without using their blinker – and adjust my riding to suit. I ride slowly, keep my hands on the brakes ready to jam them on, and try and leave space between me and any cars ahead of me. I’ve been lucky so far and managed to get through unscathed the close calls I’ve had.

But really, when drivers whinge and moan about cyclists who don’t obey road rules, how about they look around them and their fellow motorists.

When they whinge about riders not getting fined for riding on footpaths or whatever, how about drivers who don’t indicate.

If police and the government really want to revenue raise, start pinging people for failing to use their blinkers. In Victoria, it’s a $148 fine.

Oh and by the way, yes, as a cyclist, I always indicate my turning intentions when I’m riding, even when there’s no traffic around out of habit.

 

Castlemaine Gold Diggings ride

Riding around the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, it’s hard to imagine the industry that went on here in the 1850s.

According to Victoria Parks’ notes on the park, a newcomer to the area during the rush described the countryside as looking like “a great cemetery in which all the graves had been opened and emptied of their contents”.

There’s still plenty of evidence of the gold rush that lured tens of thousands of migrants to seek their fortunes – mine shafts, water races, stamp battery ruins and huge piles mullock (waste rock).

But the bush has come back and the park is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours pedalling about and discovering its history.

And there may yet still be gold out there. At one point I rode over a bridge over a creek and down in the water were a couple of guys panning for gold.

I started the ride from Castlemaine, about a two-hour drive north from Melbourne and a great base for the ride.

This was the first trip out for my new GoPro too, after the disaster with my old one while kayaking at Pittwater.

The vision looks good on my computer but doesn’t appear to have uploaded well to YouTube. If anyone’s got any tips for improving the appearance of video, I’d welcome it.

I did a dumb thing

Here’s a tip for new GoPro users: try and remember when you’ve changed the rear door on the waterproof case from the solid version to the one with vents.

That was my dumb thing. An expensive dumb thing.

I was out kayaking at Pittwater, north of Sydney, and decided have a go at doing an underwater video. It was the first time I’d taken the GoPro onto and into the water. Salt water at that.

I put it in the water, hoping to capture pictures of some fish swimming around the kayak when I noticed bubbles coming up from the case.

I remember thinking “that’s not right” for an instant before quickly pulling it out from underwater, realising what was happening and what I’d done.

A little while ago I’d changed the rear door from the solid one which makes the case waterproof, for the vented one because I’d wanted to try capturing more sound on my mountain bike rides.

But my memory lapse meant sea water got into the case and into the camera.

I took the camera out of the case, took the battery out and did my best to get as much of the water out of the camera as I could before paddling back to the house to put it in the sun hoping to dry it out.

Back at the house I started Googling how to save a GoPro after it’s gotten wet.

Some forums said there was nothing that could be done while others offered tips on what to do.

Some said douse it in vinegar to get rid of corrosion on the battery terminals, others said douse it in fresh water to rinse out the salt water, and others said just leave it to dry out or bury it in rice for a few days to draw the moisture out.

I tried leaving it in the sun and the rice trick but unfortunately they didn’t work. It’s dead. It won’t turn on anymore. Some forums said if it was on when it got submerged in sea water the electronics would be fried. And I think that’s what may have happened.

So, I’ve learnt a lesson. I’ve bought a new GoPro and I don’t think I’ll be changing the rear door of the case again.