Monthly Archives: December 2013

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.

IMG_0752

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.

IMG_0754

 

IMG_0756

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.

IMG_0759 IMG_0757

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.

IMG_0762

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)

IMG_0769

 

Advertisements

Mountain biking at Mount Buller

A few weeks ago I finally got around to getting up to Mount Buller to explore its mountain bike trails.

It’s about a three-hour drive from Melbourne and in winter is a ski resort.

But it’s also got a growing reputation as a destination for mountain bikers in the summer months.

Looking back to the Mt Buller resort

Looking back to the Mt Buller resort

I’ve had a map of the trails at home for ages and, after getting a few days off, finally had the chance to see them for myself.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

I went up in early November, just as a cold front came through Victoria, giving the state a last taste of winter.

When I got up there it was freezing cold and a few light snow showers were still sweeping over the mountains.

But after driving for three hours and already checking into a caravan park in nearby Mansfield at the bottom of the mountain, there was no way I was going to let them stop me.

And I’m glad I didn’t. I decided the first day I’d spend pedaling around and exploring the cross-country trails. It was hard at first to match the map with the layout of the resort and where the trails went, but when I found the first trailhead, I just set off.

I took it slow to start off with, as the trails were new to me. They wound their way through close alpine forest and were nicely rocky and rooty, providing some nice obstacles to keep my attention.

The trails I tried tended to go straight down and then follow a twisty and turning route back up.

At one point on the way back up there was brilliant corner that had a spectacular view out across the mountain landscape. Whoever built the trail also realised it was a special place, adding a picnic table under a nearby tree and a stone seat just off from the corner.

Corner with a view

Corner with a view

View of the alpine area

View of the alpine area

My second day there I did the Delatite River Trail, 9km of brilliant downhill that followed the river and crossed it numerous times over wooden bridges. The weather turned brilliant and the sun was out and it was warm. The start of the trail was pretty scary as it was very steep and rocky. But it smoothed and leveled out eventually.

The trail ends at Mirimbah, at the base of the mountain, and where on weekends in summer a shuttle operates to take riders back up to the top of the mountain. I was there on a Monday. So it was back to the top the hard way for me.

The start of the ride back to the top of the mountain

The start of the ride back to the top of the mountain

Watch out for gnomes!

Watch out for gnomes!

The gnomes' home

The gnomes’ home

I followed the road up and the steepness wasn’t as bad as it seemed on the drive up. Except at Hell Corner. That’s where it got really steep for the last 1.5km to the resort.

But at least now I can say I’ve also ridden to the top of Buller, not just down.

Next trip will be on a weekend to take advantage of the shuttle!

The view from the top of Mt Buller

The view from the top of Mt Buller