A beech walk in the hills

It wasn’t a sandy beach walk for us when we went up to explore some trails around Marysville, a country town around two hours drive east of Melbourne.

Instead, it was a beech walk of the tree variety that drew us out into the crisp, clean mountain air.

The Beeches is a nice, easy rainforest circuit walk that takes you along the swiftly flowing Taggerty River and its roaring waterfalls and cascades.

Cascades on the Taggerty River

Cascades on the Taggerty River

It was a sunny day the day we went but we still ended up getting pretty damp as overgrown sections of the track were still wet from rain the day before.

It’s amazing how quickly your pants become soaked when pushing through high grass that looks as if it’s got just a few droplets of water on it. All those droplets add up.

Overgrown section of the trail

Overgrown section of the trail

Ah well, first world problems.

Bushfires went through the area five years ago and the bush is still regrowing. Dead tree trunks loom over the regrowth, a sad reminder of what was once there.

Thankfully the rainforest around the river was obviously too damp for the fires to take hold there and the trees and ferns around it were spared.

The town of Marysville was almost wiped out by the fires but the community is steadily rebuilding.

The bakery is a reliable place for lunch and there are cafes in town too.

Tali Karng Hike

There are two ways guaranteed to get your feet wet when walking – walking just about anywhere in Tasmania and the walk to Victoria’s Lake Tali Karng along the Wellington River.

The lake is in the Alpine National Park and is a bit of a mission to reach. The route I took involved 16 crossings of the Wellington River. Hence the guarantee of wet feet.

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My experience of walking in Tasmania – which usually involves sloshing through bogs and shallow streams or in the rain – has made me comfortable with stepping into water and wet boots.

So instead of stopping to unlace my boots and going barefoot into each river crossing on my way to Tali Karng, I merrily plunged into the calmly flowing clear water.

I did this walk in summer – just after Christmas – and had spectacular, warm weather.

I started at the bridge over the Wellington River on Tamboritha Rd, past the outpost of Licola, about a four-hour drive east of Melbourne.

The start of the walk

The start of the walk

The track was easy to follow and the scenery typical Australian bush. The warm temperature had the cicadas screeching extremely loudly for much of the daytime.

There were plenty of campsites along the river and I chose a spot at the base of Riggalls Spur Track for my first night.

The climb up the spur was long and steep and took me above Tali Karng and to the junction with Gillios Track, which I followed steeply down to reach the lake.

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When I got there I found I had the lake to myself, and the pick of the campsites on its shore.

The walk out followed the Wellington River again, which is fed by the lake.

I had one challenging moment when I crossed the river at one crossing and couldn’t find the track on the other side. It just disappeared into a tangle of nettle bushes. I spent about half and hour wandering around looking for the track and contemplated going off-track in the hope I would find it.

But I figured that was not a good idea (and my wife would kill me if I got lost and had to fire up my epirb) so instead I sloshed down the river until I reached another crossing and rejoined the track.

The parking area at the start of the walk

The parking area at the start of the walk

Then it was an easy walk back to the car for the loooonnngggg drive home.

St Andrews Ride

I’m back in training for the Otway Odyssey, a 100km mountain bike race in April, and so trying to rack up the kilometres on my legs. I did this ride on the outskirts of St Andrews, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Melbourne, a couple of weeks ago. Lots of fun. Although I did fall off at one stage but thankfully I’d managed to slow down enough before coming off  that I didn’t do much damage. My camera wasn’t on at the time so, unfortunately, there’s no movie of it.

By the way, St Andrews is a fantastic little town, especially on a Saturday when it hosts a market. The market has a great, laid back, happy vibe. Just across the road are a couple of great cafes too. It’s well worth a Saturday day trip. And if you want to, you can head back to Melbourne via wineries in the Yarra Valley. Good times!

 

 

Kinglake National Park mtb ride

I got a GoPro for Christmas. Thank you to my lovely wife.

Here’s my first attempt at a video from riding in the Kinglake National Park, about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne. I followed a route described in the brilliant Where to Ride, Melbourne Mountain Biking guide.

It’s pretty amateur, but aiming to improve.

Saying goodbye to old, faithful stuff

Does anyone else feel a little sad when a piece of kit you’ve had for a long time finally falls apart?

I do.

Maybe I’m too sentimental.

But there’s a slight sense of loss when something you’ve had for many years, and have been through many adventures with, is no longer up to the job.

For me recently it’s been a pair of bike shoes, a pair of hiking pants, and a silk sleeping bag liner.

Old bike shoes

Old bike shoes

They don’t sound like much, but when I think of the things I’ve done with them, I’m a little sorry to see them go.

The shoes were my first “proper” bike shoes, and the first ones I used with cleats and SPD pedals.

I remember the first time I used the cleats and fell off my bike as I stopped at a red light in Adelaide and couldn’t get my feet out of them. Embarrassing, but luckily it was early in the morning and there wasn’t any traffic.

Those shoes have also done two Otway Odysseys, adventure races, mountain bike rogaines, the Round the Bay, and thousands of kilometres around the country. Sigh.

The pants were from Mountain Designs and had zip off legs. They’ve carried me through Tasmanian bogs, scratchy scoparia, and scree. They had holes and tears but that never bothered me. Each one had a tale. Unfortunately, putting them on the other day, my toe got caught in one of the holes and created a huge tear. Irreparable. Sigh.

The sleeping bag liner I’d also had for many years and has ensured I slept many a comfy night in my tent or at backpackers’ hostels.  But while on a three-night hike to Tarli Karng in Victoria’s Alpine National Park recently (which I’ll blog about soon), a small tear became bigger and bigger and eventually too big for the liner to be effective anymore. Sigh.

But with the loss of old stuff comes the excitement of new. I’ve now got new and upgraded bike shoes, new pants and sleeping liner. New things for new adventures.

New bike shoes!

New bike shoes!

 

 

 

A cyclist’s lament – Glueless tube patches

Two words – they suck. Well, at least the ones I bought and used recently are.

I thought I’d give them a go after a guy at the local bike shop said they worked. Hah! They didn’t – twice!

I’d used two patches on a tube I got punctures in while riding my mountain bike down the Delatite River trail I’ve written about before. I put that repaired tube into a tire to replace a punctured tube, pumped it up and about an hour later found the tire was flat again. When I checked the tube, one of the patches had split and the puncture hole opened up again.

I replaced that tube with another tube I’d fixed with a glueless patch and pumped it up. About an hour later, I found my tire flat again. There are no words to describe my frustration. I took the tube out and, sure enough, the patch had split.

I decided to cut my losses and put a brand new tube in. I also took the patches off the other tubes and re-patched them with vulcanised patches using glue. Much better.

So, after two attempts, I’ve decided glueless patches, especially the Zefal ones I had, aren’t for me. A friend suggests that I haven’t given them enough of a chance as he says he’s never had problems with them.  But he uses a different brand. Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson and it’s the back to the traditional patches for me.

Tunnels at Lerderderg State Park

In the mid 1800s gold was discovered and mined in the area now covered by Lerderderg State Park, about an hour’s drive north-west of Melbourne.

While it was nearly 200 years ago, there are still plenty of signs of this early activity, although with the bush regrowth, it’s hard to imagine thousands of people were here, toiling away trying to strike it rich.

I’ve written before how much I like Lerderderg. The gorge and river, the steep-sided hills, the forest, the calls of birds and rustle of grass as a wallaby bounds away, all combine to create a nice wilderness feel, just a short drive away from a city of just over four million people.

Anyway, every time I go there, there’s something new to discover.

I went recently and this time wanted to explore a mine tunnel I’d often passed and another tunnel I’d seen signs for and heard about.

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I’d brought a headlamp and was prepared.

The first tunnel is right beside the main walking track from the little town of Blackwood, where I’d started from.

There’s light for about 20 metres until it turns right and then it’s utter darkness.

With my headlamp I walked in and started looking around. The floor was soft dirt and the walls hard, cut rock. I paid close attention to the roof, watching for bats. There weren’t any. The tunnel went into the side of the hill for only about 75 metres before it just ended in rock. A bit anti-climactic but at least I now know what’s in there.

The other tunnel is down on the river. It looks like it was dug through the side of a hill to divert the river. A long bend further down from the tunnel is now dry.

The tunnel entrance is blocked by debris that the river runs under but is clear on the other side.  It’s an impressive bit of work and, according to Wikipedia, was done to expose the river bed for alluvial gold mining.

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It’s now a peaceful part of the river and makes a wonderful spot for lunch. On a hot day it would be an ideal place to sit in the river and let the water cool you down.

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There was a track from here that wasn’t on my map that I thought I’d explore. It headed in the direction of some dirt roads that were marked on the map, so figured they must link up at some point.

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Watch your step. More old mining holes

If they didn’t, I thought, I’d just turn around and come back the way I came.

But they did and I followed the dirt roads back to Blackwood where I stopped to taste the waters at the town’s mineral spring. (Spritzy but like drinking out of a rusty pipe)

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