A couple of things to start of with. Have you ever been walking amongst people and you hear a snippet of conversation, but think to yourself, “I think there’s more to that and I’d love to hear it?”
I had that recently. Whilst walking in the city, I passed two women talking and one of them said in disgust, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. It’s only her husband that died.” That’s all I heard. Besides a chuckle to myself, I thought it was worthy enough to start off this post.
Oh yeah, the other thing I wanted to mention is I had a bit of trauma with the headline, as there seemed to be way to many ‘gorges’ in the one sentence. I like to break words up a little, so you don’t see them over and over again, but what can you do when it’s the name of the place?
They obviously didn’t think of me when they named the park, as they’d know I’d have a problem with its title. Gee, this blogging business can be tough at times. I guess there are other issues worse than the word ‘gorge’ appearing too often? World hunger is one thing that comes to mind I suppose, but that’s about it.
Anyway, here I was on a recovery walk after a week of suffering from a head cold. I had an idea to go for something longer, but decided I was kidding myself. Take it easy I thought, so I picked out a short wander. Ingliston Gorge, Werribee Gorge State Park I hadn’t visited before. Also, at only 5 km it was a perfect recovery length in distance. Actually, there’s only one other walk in the park I haven’t been to. Once done, I can leave the place alone for the time being and try somewhere else.
This walk is short, so I thought it would be a good chance to try wearing a pack. Albeit, a super light one. I haven’t worn a pack on my walks since my neck/disc drama, so this was a big step.
I picked out a small camera backpack and loaded it with a few basics to put some weight in. Spare camera lens, GPS, beacon, headlamp, knife and a box of 396 condoms. One never knows how many hot hikers are out on the trail, so it pays to take the party pack. Remember, ‘if it’s on, it never looks as long’.
This walk is tucked away in an area of Werribee Gorge, which isn’t visited as frequently and that suited me fine on a sunny Sunday. Walking amongst crowds defeats the purpose of hiking for me and as I drove to the walk, I passed the carpark for the track to Falcons Lookout, which I’d been to earlier in the year.
I was a little gob-smacked to see about 20 cars parked all over the place, including a line along the road. Surely there weren’t that many people in the area? If so, it would be like ‘Lord of the Flies’, with full on fights to get a bit of track without stepping on someone else. I continued on to the carpark I needed and was pleased to see only a solitary car, which meant I should have a quiet walk.
I stepped out the car to be greeted with the sounds of the Australian bush. A combination of screeching cockatoos and the dulcet tone of multiple motorbikes. Just as a final little kicker, I noted they were two-strokes as well, which is the recipe for one of the most offensive noises known to mankind.
They were somewhere in the vicinity, but I couldn’t see them, which was a bonus. The sound was brutal thought. I noted I was clenching my teeth and the effect two-strokes has on me, is the equivalent of someone scraping not just ten fingernails down a blackboard, but their toenails at the same time. A cacophony of screeching nails, which make my teeth grind.
Then again, a more realistic example of the annoying pain would be if I was ironing whilst standing in a barrel of water with battery jumper cables clamped on my nipples and then being struck by lightning on the top of my head. The pain that would cause is similar to what I felt listening to those motorbikes. Mm… Werribee Gorge might be 360 million years old, but suburbia is rapidly approaching and this was a prime example of it. I think I need a photo to relax with.
That’s better. I nice relaxing rock, bathed in filtered sunlight to take my mind off that noise. The walk starts off fairly simply, with a stroll along an old vehicle track, before turning off to descend on a narrow path to an area called ‘Sloss’s Gully’.
Now, I had the ultimate sight gag, which involved a ‘publication’ I have that would be used in conjunction with ‘Sloss’s’. The trouble is, do you think I could find the ‘publication’, which was vital for the joke to work? I turned my house upside down looking for it, but it’s still missing. For the time being, this means one of the world’s greatest jokes will not be seen or written.
If I find it, I can return to the spot, but without it the gag would be useless. Now that’s trauma and it’s taken some time to write this up because guess what? Yes, I was turning the house inside out looking for the vital ‘publication’.
Anyway, the picture below is a view of the ‘Sloss’ and it’s a fairly standard stroll amongst the odd fallen tree.
Now, this walk through the gully isn’t very awe inspiring is it? No photos leapt out at me when I took them off the camera. So, I thought I’d spend a minute writing some rubbish to wake you up and what better way than a few paragraphs of rambling? I noticed in hiking blogs there’s not a lot of skin on display, so I thought I’d bring ‘sexy back to hiking’. What better way than a random shot of my naked lower leg?
Trust me, you’ll have to hang in there over the next few paragraphs in order for all of this to make sense. How did you go with the photo? Feeling steamy yet? Does the stylish footwear fire you up a little? If not, maybe you’re feeling a little queasy instead?
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve got fairly large calf muscles. I’ve started my attempt at walking 1000 miles over the next year and it’s a chance to get a bit fitter. I must have a strange build, as no one remotely believes the weight I am.
The last time I weighed under 100 kgs was in 1999 and the only reason that happened was because I was dying from a burst appendix. Seven days in hospital would drop anyone’s weight and I managed to bottom out at 98 kgs.
As a result, when people saw me they would look horrified and say, “Oh my god, you’re so thin! You look terrible!” I thought I was down to a good weight, but apparently I look silly when I’m just a shade under a light year away from my ideal Body Mass Index (BMI).
I went to New Zealand in 1999 for a skiing holiday, which was about six months after the ‘AppendixFiasco.com’. Somehow I got roped into doing a bungy jump (yeah, okay, I was drunk), but doing the jump is not the story, although I wouldn’t recommend the leap. It had a feeling of committing suicide, when you didn’t really want to.
Anyway, I was weighed before the jump, so the cord can be adjusted to the right length. I think is an important aspect, as I didn’t want to face plant at terminal velocity. The funky, groovy bungy bloke weighed me and with a puzzled look on his funky face said, “Mm… There’s something wrong here, you don’t weigh that much.” I asked him how much and he replied, “110 kg”. I assured him that was the correct weight to which he replied, “No, you don’t weigh 110”.
Okay I thought, let’s do it again and on I hopped with the same reading. Still perplexed he got me to get off and believe it or not, but he weighed me a third time with the constant 110 kg popping up.
The result of all this is somewhere I conceal my weight well, although being 189 cm helps a little. I’ve been called a ‘mountain man’ before and even, “Hey, you’re bear-like!” I guess I’ve got the pick-handle shoulders and I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll clear this up now. Being ‘bear-like’ doesn’t mean I’m a furball with a complete bear pelt of hair on my back. Remember, I’m the most hairless person with European heritage I know and the only way I could have hair on my chest, is if I invest in a chest wig, which I don’t see in shops too often.
Back to the hike and there were a number of trees with sap oozing out, which was colourful in the sunlight.
Now, back to the important stuff. Where’s this weight hidden? Well, that’s where the photo of my leg comes back into the story. I think most of it is in my legs, as extra training doesn’t make them slimmer, but the opposite. Freakishly large.
I could be a wrestler with the name, ‘The Calf Killer’ although it sounds like I’m into animal mutilation a little. I would be pretty fearsome doing the ‘figure four leg lock’ though. Anyway, this extreme weight probably explains why my hiking style is similar to a diesel locomotive. I get up to speed and generally stay at the same pace from the start of the day walking to the end.
Now, walking 1000 miles should bring me down to 100 kg, shouldn’t it? This is all part of the years test. Oh yeah, for any of you freaks out there wondering, I can assure you the weight I carry around has nothing to do with what I’m packing in my boxer shorts. I thought I should clear that up.
The walk continued along Sloss’s Gully before heading back uphill until it met a large open area. I thought I’d reached an old vehicle track, until I realised it was a cleared area due to a gas pipeline underneath. The gas line wasn’t turning me on much and neither did a sign nearby warning me there were bee hives in the area. Okay, time to move on. I crossed onto the next section of track that went through some undulating country before following a ridgeline. The views were okay along the way at this point.
There were a lot of colourful yellow wattle trees, which made for an enjoyable part of the walk. Yeah okay, I could still hear the motorbikes at times, but overall it wasn’t too bad. With the sun shining, what else is there to do, other than give the polariser a run?
The track continues to wind along until it reaches a clearing, which gives a nice view of Ingliston Gorge. The only trouble is to view it, I had to look directly in the sun, which killed my photo opportunities, but here’s the best you’re going to get.
As you can see, I was facing ‘glare central’ and with the light flaring through the top right, there’s much I can say other than it’s not sunlight. It’s some sort of alien occurrence that wasn’t there at the time and only showed up when I downloaded the photo. Is that believable? It was a good spot to look out across the gorge, but one had to be careful as there was quite a sheer cliff, which I didn’t notice at first.
It was at this point a couple came by and they’d be the only people I’d see for the day. The thing is, I’d see them about another 20 times before the end of the walk, as they remained only a short distance in front of me.
The track now began a fairly deep descent to Whitehorse Creek, which I began to follow. I was expecting a few more thrills, as there had been a bit of rain in Melbourne during the previous week, but upon reaching the creek I found it surprisingly bone-dry.
I now had a kilometre or so of stumbling up the creek bed to contend with. It was quite easy due to being dry, but I can imagine the walk would be a different proposition if water was running.
I was keeping my eye out for some interesting objects to do some close up photography. The only thing I found that was a little different were the finest of cobwebs. It was quite a task trying to photograph one. I attempted to get the right angle, so the sunlight was shining off it and even then it was a challenge. This is about the best I could do.
As you can see, after I spent a decade trying to get a shot of this cobweb it’s still barely visible. Mind you it was pretty tiny and it couldn’t have been more than a few inches across. I thought I should look for an easier one and a short distance away I found a few between the rocks. This was a much simpler assignment.
I didn’t see any spiders though, but maybe my big head looming over their webs sent them running for cover. The creek continued on with the odd gorge ‘furniture’ to negotiate, which consisted of fallen trees and stumps.
Also, I guess if someone is going to mark the way by putting tape on trees, then they might as well use some love hearts shouldn’t they?
Overall this walk was quite well marked and there’s enough orange Parks Victoria triangles affixed to trees to keep one heading in the right direction. I did notice some ‘ye olde’ style markings of trees having arrows gouged into them. It’s great that times have changed and they’re no longer leaving trees looking like this.
It’s fairly rugged country and I was careful with my steps as I was aiming for a ‘non-fall’ walk, which might be a first. Near the creek bed I found the remains of a few hikers who didn’t make it out of the gorge alive. They were possibly victims of the Yowies who roam this area or maybe they were run over by a motorbike?
As I continued on, I did find a little bit of water in the creek, but it was quite stagnant, so I gave it a wide berth.
I headed out of the creek and followed an overgrown trail nearby, but it was still easy enough to find my way through it.
I was quite enjoying this little walk, but suddenly I came to a sign telling me the path leaves the creek and the carpark was only 650 metres away. What?! It seemed so isolated, but the walk was already just about done. Oh well, I followed the track that slowly began to wind its way up the hill away from Whitehorse Creek.
I was on the look out for some more photos on the final climb back to the car park. The trouble is it was so short, there wasn’t much to look for other than the odd leaf. Anyone who has read this blog before knows how much I like a good leaf!
Well, that’s it. I successfully returned to my car and looked at the statistics of the walk. It wasn’t really the longest distance I’d covered when I checked the mileage. In fact, when I looked at the GPS, it said, 4.85 km.
It felt like a longer walk than that and I now know the confusion the funky bungy bloke felt, as I rechecked the GPS a couple of times. It was a little laughable, but I think the cold from the previous week had sapped my energy a little (I think or I could be insanely unfit).
Well, it was time to head off, but do you think it’s all over for this mammoth entry? Did I just answer that? On the drive back I’ve always noticed a trig point on what looks like a man-made hill, a short distance outside the park.
On top of this hill there are expansive views towards Melbourne and I’ve thought about stopping before to have a look, but most times I’ve just looked at the trig point and actually put my foot down instead of stopping. This time I was fired up to stop, climb it and see if the view is actually any good after all.
It was all going to plan, but I noted as I approached the trig point on loose scree-style rubble, which appears to have been piled up by a bulldozer, that I was actually facing my steepest climb of the day.
I managed to clamber up in one piece and the view wasn’t too bad if one could ignore standing amongst a million prickly weeds. I could see a fair way on such a clear sunny day as this one.
I did get to the trig point itself for a closer look and of course I captured it for all you people who get a kick out of such things (is that me?!)
Is that it? Well, almost, but there’s one final thing. It wasn’t the most relaxing time upon my summit, as there’s a slight problem of a railway line about 10 feet away. It’s not the remotest of places. Don’t worry though, I was thinking of all the hikers/trainspotters out there and I managed to capture the 4.08 pm from Southern Cross Station to Ballarat. Don’t ever think I’m not catering to all sorts of tastes in this blog.
Okay, that’s it then and I think this entry had it all. Trains, trees and last, but not least a bit of sexy coming back into hiking with a random skin shot. Oh yeah, there was a piddly little walk as well, which was the main idea to start off with…