Tag Archives: Victoria

Riding up Mt Baw Baw

Just keep pedalling. That’s the main thing on my mind as I tackle what’s billed as one of the toughest bike climbs in Australia – Mt Baw Baw.

From the signposted start of the serious climbing – called The Gantry – to the Baw Baw village, it’s a steep, leg burning, lung busting six kilometre slog up a lightly trafficked road through magnificent tall gum tree forest.

There are helpful (some may say unhelpful) signs along the way counting down the distance to the top – and the gradient of the road.

It’s mostly in the teens. But there’s one section where it hits over 20 degrees. At that point my legs are almost too tired to get out of the saddle. At that point I just put my head down, breathed hard, and my toddler’s favourite song, The Wheels on The Bus, came into my head. It got me through.

This was the second time I’ve done this ride. A mate came along this time and I’m not sure he’s forgiven me yet.

But the relief at reaching the top makes all the pain worthwhile. Plus the café with its coffee and muffins to refuel and the big glass windows with the view down into Victoria’s Gippsland region.

The ride down is a challenge too. You’re hard on the brakes all the way as the bike feels like it wants to surge away and throw you off.

This climb is one of Victoria’s annual Seven Peaks cycling challenge. It’s something I’m very keen on tackling next year.

Baw Baw ride

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Major Mitchell Plateau hike

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I did the Major Mitchell Plateau three day circuit walk in the Grampians National Park recently.

A three hour drive west of Melbourne, The Grampians have been a destination I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.

An unexpected week off from work gave me the opportunity to throw on the backpack and see somewhere new. After more than a year since my last overnight hike (a new baby don’t give you much opportunity for camping) I wondered whether I still knew what to do.

I started out at Sheep Hills Carpark and quickly fell into the steady rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other.

The track was obvious and rose steadily to Mt William. Unfortunately the day I set out was grey and rainy and the views of bush and surrounding mountain ranges were intermittent.

The final climb along the road to the top of Mt William was steep and hard on the feet. There was no reward at the summit as it was completely clouded in. It was cold and windy so I didn’t bother spending much time up there and set out for the First Wannon campsite.

The track got rougher but was still easy to follow. It descended steeply into Boundary Gap and then climbed just as steeply again up and onto the plateau. There was a bit of careful rock scrambling near the top which I wasn’t ready for. After about five hours of hiking up and down through the rain I was feeling pretty shagged and keen to set up camp and get dry and warm.

It was a nice campsite with a drop toilet and a small creek running through it.

Day two for the walk across the plateau dawned much nicer, with puffy white clouds and plenty of blue sky. This was the day I got all the views across the Grampians and the surrounding farmland below.

It made enduring the weather of the day before worthwhile.

The walk off the plateau is steep, followed by a long steady descent to Jimmy Creek Campground.

Again, I was pretty happy to get to the campsite so I could relax, even though it meant leaving behind the feeling of being remote and away from everything.

The third day back to the car was pretty boring – an undulating fire trail with little in the way of views.

Back at the car I headed to Halls Gap, the tourist town in the middle of the Grampians, where I stayed at one of the caravan parks for the night before heading home. I liked Halls Gap; a pleasant spot where you could base yourself for day walks around the area.

Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle return walk

For a great day walk with ups and downs to stretch the legs, about an hour out of Melbourne, the walk from Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle and back in the Yarra Ranges is well worth a look.

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Starting at the Fernshaw picnic ground beside the Watts River just outside Healesville on the way to Marysville, the track is well trodden and easy to follow. Although in some places large trees have come down across it after what must have been a massive blow so there’s a bit of scrambling required to get over them and through tangles of smashed limbs and branches.

The first part of the walk is pretty flat and winds through tree ferns and tall, straight mountain ash. You can hear the river somewhere amongst the trees. You then climb up and down a couple of steep, forested ridges to reach Dom Dom Saddle, another nice picnic area on the way to Marysville.

At about 20km long, the walk is a decent one for some huffing and puffing exercise and time out among the trees.

And we made it back to the car in time to stop off at Tarra Warra winery for some wine tasting on the way home. That’s one of the best bits about walking in the Yarra Ranges, the cellar doors to visit in the Yarra Valley on the way home.

Exploring Melbourne’s bike paths

With the recent birth of my wonderful, adorable daughter – our first child – there hasn’t been much time or opportunity for adventurous pursuits outside the city.

While neighbourhood pram walks have replaced hikes through the bush, I’ve discovered the planning for those short walks can be just as intense as organising a multi-day walk. Do we have spare nappies, changes of clothes, wipes? Does our route pass shops, toilets, parks? Are there shortcuts to get home in case of emergencies? What’s the weather going to do?

Anyway, every now and then my wonderful wife gives me a day off from parenting duty to indulge in some outdoorsy stuff with friends. I’ve been using that time to explore Melbourne’s extensive network of bike paths. And I’ve been wonderfully surprised with what I’ve found.

Long trails that twist and turn, up and down through bush-lined creeks and watercourses, snake through parks and past sports ovals and change from concrete to gravel to single track. The paths are long and can be linked up to create long circuit rides that take you to far flung parts of the city you may never normally see.

Below is a quick video of a big ride a friend and I did recently. Headed out on the Scotchman’s Creek trail to Jells Park and Eastlink, along the Dandenong Creek trail, out to Paterson Lakes, then back via Beach Road – 83km on mountain bikes. Good times.

Where we went.

Big ride

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse video

About this time last year I went for a walk with a friend to stay at the Wilsons Promontory lighthouse keeper cottages. I wrote about it here.

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It was one of the nicest walks I’ve done. The cottages are an amazing place to stay. I’ve finally gotten around to sorting out a video I made walking around the cottages.

 

 

A day walk on Paul Range

This is a short day walk I did a couple of months ago. I came across its description on the where2walk website. Its main attraction for me was that it was in the Yarra Valley, only about an hour drive from home in Melbourne and littered with wineries to visit on the way home.

The walk was okay. Nice views of the valley. It was all on fire trails and dirt roads which isn’t really much fun because you can’t really feel like you’re in the bush when you’re walking along a road. Being passed by some motorbike riders and 4 wheel drives doesn’t help. But at least I was out of the city and amongst some trees. It wasn’t a great walk but the exercise was nice.

And of course stopping at a couple of cellar doors on the way home. The first one was Yarrawood. They have a nice cafe there and the best Devonshire tea I’ve ever had. Huge scones and very generous with the jam and cream.

Pure deliciousness

Pure indulgent deliciousness

I also tried Long Gully Estate. A great little cellar door hidden up a small valley up a narrow dirt road.

Wombat State Forest MTB ride – video

A few weeks ago, before the weather in Melbourne turned cold, grey and rainy, I went for a ride on the mountain bike trails in Wombat State Forest.

The last time I rode out here was a couple of years ago when I did the Wombat 50 MTB race (I wasn’t racing. Just happy to finish) so I’d forgotten what to expect.

What I got was 19km of fast and flowing single track that weaved its way through the forest. There was lots of opportunity for speed down gentle descents while the ascents weren’t too long or taxing.

Great fun.

And as a bonus, Woodend, a nice town off the highway is just a 10 minute drive away. So after a few hours of pedalling the trails, there was time for a reward treat of coffee and cake at one of Woodend’s cafes.

It’s better to watch the video it in HD – less blurry. Not the most exciting edit but still feeling my way through and exploring the GoPro editing software.