Monthly Archives: February 2015

Cairns at Mt Baw Baw

They like cairns at Mt Baw Baw.

Nope, not Cairns the hot sunny humid holiday centre in North Queensland, cairns, the pile of rocks to mark something. (Although if a decent cyclone went through Cairns, it could also end up a pile of rubble. Sometimes I wish one would – oooo controversial!)

Anyway, since my last walk in the Alpine National Park near Mt Buller, I’ve acquired a taste for Victoria’s high country.

And a few weeks ago I finally got around the driving up to Mt Baw Baw, one of the closest alpine areas you can drive to from Melbourne.

It takes about three hours along the M1 freeway, then through some nice farm countryside, and then a very twisty, turny and steep road to the ski resort.

It was so twisty turny that by the time I reached the top I was feeling pretty car sick and glad to get out and take a few VERY deep breaths.

My walk started out from the village along the Summit Trail, through snow gums, until I reached the first cairn of the day, the summit cairn on top of Mt Baw Baw.

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I then hit the Village Trail and followed it until I reached the turnoff to head into the Baw Baw National Park.

It was nice, single track walking through forest and open plateaus. It was very quiet too. I don’t remember hearing many birds or wind through the trees.

The next cairn was at Mt St Phillack.IMG_0574

I carried on walking until I reached the junction for the track to Mt St Gwinear, which was my destination on this day.IMG_0575 IMG_0576

The junction is at a place called Camp Saddle, and there’s a brilliant little cave shelter there formed by a couple of huge rocks. It would be a great spot to stop and rest in bad weather.

At the top of Mt St Gwinear was another cairn and a great view out over the alpine region and down to Lake Thomson.IMG_0581

I retraced my steps to get back to Mt Baw Baw. The walk to Mt St Gwinear and back was about five hours I think. But I was taking it pretty slow and stopping and starting a fair bit so it could probably be shorter.IMG_0583

I’m looking forward to getting up there again some time and aiming for Mushroom Rocks or Mt Whitelaw. Hopefully before the snow starts.

 

Ignoring the signs to find a new path

Sometimes, ignoring track signs can be for the best.

Normally I’m a stickler for following a set path and signage suggestions, but you shouldn’t always believe everything they say.

For example, we spent Christmas with my family in Far North Queensland. They live in Atherton, on the Tablelands, west of Cairns. (Now, according to the tourism marketers, known as the Cairns Hinterland – blergh!)

Atherton sits at the base of Mt Baldy, the hardened core of an ancient volcano.

Mt Baldy

Mt Baldy

In all my years growing up in Atherton I only ever climbed the mountain once.

So on our recent trip home I decided to climb it again for old time’s sake. And to walk off some Christmas over indulgence.

The views from the summit are fantastic – the town below, farms, Tinaroo Dam, volcanic features like the Seven Sisters and Mt Quincan, and ranges in the distance that include Queensland’s highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere.

The top of Mt Baldy. Widow Maker is to the right

The top of Mt Baldy. Widow Maker is to the right

Also at the top is an official, wooden sign that says the track finishes there. But the track appears to continue. And tacked to a tree is a laminated piece of paper with a mud map showing that the track continues down the other side of the mountain and links up with some other tracks to create a loop walk.IMG_1109

This was a real treat for me as I’ve often wondered what was on the other side of Baldy.

And what I discovered was a well-walked track through dense rainforest, which was a significant change from the dry, sparse scrubby bush the track going up the mountain passed through.

From the summit the track went down and around the southern side of the mountain and returned to the scrubby bush around the base. It also linked to a track that went steeply up a nearby hill called Widow Maker, which I’d never known was called that.

The views from the top of Widow Maker were fantastic too.

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So instead of a shortish walk up the mountain and returning the way I’d come, I found a longer, more interesting path.

So ignoring the track signs can sometimes lead to some pleasant discoveries. Is there a lesson for life in there?