Steiglitz Historic Park
This is the first entry in a week or so and it would be a lot easier to write if I could actually get a good night’s sleep. Who sleeps well? I go to bed tired and wake up wrecked instead of refreshed, so I think I’m getting ripped off somewhere.
Oh yeah, I’ve one other complaint and that’s driving. I really dislike driving my car in Melbourne and I’ve run through my mind if I can live without one. After a bit of a brain power session I came up with the conclusion I need a car and that’s that for the time being.
What’s even sillier, is more or less every walk I’ve mentioned in my blog is only accessible by vehicle. I feel a little weird having to drive to go for a walk. Oh well, this walk in Steiglitz Historic Park is no different, as I headed out in the car under a dodgy spring day. Rain was forecast, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.
Sitting within the Brisbane Ranges, Steiglitz was a booming gold rush town in the 1850’s, before declining, with the last mine closing in 1941. At its peak, over 1500 people lived there, but now it seems like only a handful remain. Okay now, that’s the history over with.
The walk I planned was from the standard Glenn Tempest book ‘Daywalks Around Melbourne’ and he titles it, ‘Steiglitz Walk’. It sounded short enough to finish in an afternoon.
I arrived at Steiglitz Court House in pretty good time. This was my starting point and I was quickly off and racing. Unfortunately, within 100 metres it started pouring rain.
It was a bit annoying, but it wasn’t too bad as I realised I’d accidently left my rain jacket in the car due to the rush to get strolling. I zipped back and grabbed the coat and I was off again, heading down Deadmans Loop.
These old places often have quaint names for tracks and I have no idea how this one originated. It was all easy going as I reached Sutherland Creek and began a bit of rock hopping for a kilometre or so.
I was taking it easy, as this was my first outing since my Strath Creek walk in which I smashed my leg on a rock. That was okay, but the thing that annoyed me afterwards was my hamstring hurt as well. Somehow in the tumble I’d tweaked my hamstring, so I thought it was best to rest up for the week. I’m quite an efficient hiker aren’t I? I can fall with the best of them.
Anyway, Sutherland Creek would be a bit tricky after heavy rain, but on this occasion it wasn’t too bad and I was able to rock hop my way down until I came to the point to head inland.
The place to cross and head inland wasn’t immediately obvious, but after a bit of dithering I found the track. It was then easy walking along a gully and I’ll admit now, not much happened during the day, so I’ll speed things up a bit.
One highlight though was one of those ‘Australian bush moments’. Walking on a comfortable track, I thought I heard footsteps behind me. It was a decent thump, so thinking it might be another walker or maybe a kangaroo, I turned around quickly, but there was nothing there.
Mm… Just to make sure it wasn’t a spook, I took a photo hoping there would be some sort of ghostly image in it. Just like always, there was nothing there other than the world’s most boring photo.
Oh well, in the days of film there used to be a bit of anticipation regarding a picture like that, when one had to wait to get it developed. Now with this digital stuff I knew straight away I hadn’t caught a ghostly image of the ‘Slasher of Steiglitz’. Bummer. It was a little weird though and I found myself looking behind now and again as I kept walking.
It was a bleak looking day as the photo of a branch shows. Yes, if you’re wondering, that picture is in colour . The rain had stopped, but the clouds approaching were looking very dark indeed and I felt guaranteed I’d get a soaking before the walk was out.
Whilst wandering, I was careful where my feet were going as there were dozens of caterpillars on the ground and I didn’t want to wipe them out by stomping wildly through the bush. They gave me some entertainment whilst trying to take a decent photo of them. Pretty tricky though in the low light, but here’s a few.
I won’t go into detail of every track I took, other than the walk is essentially a 12 km loop from the Steiglitz Court House. It’s a combination of bush tracks and dirt roads, which were very quiet and other than the footsteps of the slasher, I didn’t see anyone for the day.
I reached the Crossing Picnic Area in good time and then made my way up a gradual rise to Grahams Creek Picnic Area.
After stopping briefly for a drink of water I headed up Hazel Track when the sky got really dark. The wind picked up and suddenly there was a flash of light with an immediate clap of thunder that scared the crap out of me. Electrical storm? Huh?
I thought it was going to rain, but I didn’t expect lightning, which always makes me nervous on an open track due to my height. Thunder is also a noise I find disconcerting for some reason. I just don’t like it and it makes me feel a little weird inside. Anyone got a darkened room with a chesterfield couch that I can relax on, so I can work out why thunder freaks me out?
This area is full of grass trees, which I always find quite spectacular. As the rain started though, the camera spent a lot of its time hidden. so the pictures weren’t the most planned. I kept walking at a reasonable pace and didn’t feel cold even though I could see the steam of my breath. It definitely was chilly, but what was weird was there was no more lightning other than that one zap. I was expecting it to go mental, but the rain now became quite steady and the wind dropped.
I do like the smell of the Australian bush when it’s raining. How do I explain it? No idea, but anyone who has walked in the rain will know what I mean. There were a few birds about and I saw this rosella from a distance, but I couldn’t get close enough to take a proper photo. In the dim light this crop is about the best I could do. I tried to sneak closer, but he flew away.
What other highlights were there? Well, I noticed something in the middle of the track and upon looking at it I could see it was a broken piece of ceramic. What’s interesting is it’s in the same blue and white pattern on a piece I found in Sutherland Creek on the last occasion I came here. It must have been a generic type of pottery used back in the gold rush days. I tried Googling for answers, but all I got was a headache.
Now, if you’re reading this overseas, you might have wondered why you’re surrounded by fools and thought to yourself, “I wonder if Australia is fool free?” Sorry, but as the next photo of a defaced sign shows, we have more than our fair share of dickheads here, so don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The steady rain was making for some bleak photography, so I had to improvise a little by tackling the ‘water drip on a branch’ idea. Mm… Not too bad.
There’s plenty of evidence of old diggings through the area and during the gold rush this place must have looked like the surface of the moon. There are piles of dirt and holes everywhere and it appears no ground was missed during the search for gold. I noticed a fair bit of rusted pieces of metal here and there during the entire walk.
When I reached the Pines Carpark I then realised something a little traumatic. I’d lost my hat, which I’ve had for about four years and has been on nearly every walk I’ve done before. It cost me at least $8 on special, so it almost broke my bank as well.
I considered backtracking, but it was getting a bit late in the day, so I thought I’d continue on. I did find a 50 cent coin at the Pines Carpark, so I was sort of making some money back to get a new hat.
I also got to potter around the old ‘Alliance Mine’ which still contained the remnants of some buildings.
The rain had set in for the day and the overall light was pretty grim, so I thought it best to get back to the car. The sights towards the end were quite varied and it’s easy to forget the park is hemmed in by farmland.
What else? Well, I reached the main street of Steiglitz, which still has a handful of buildings left. On a drier day I would have explored a little more.
So, that’s it! A quiet day for me, other than losing my hat, getting soaked and being chased by the ‘Steiglitz Slasher’.
My GPS put the distance as 13.77 km and the total elevation climbed of 342 metres, which was quite comfortable. This should be the end of this walk shouldn’t it? Well, yes on this day it was, but there’s a sequel coming up as I wasn’t going to let this hat thing rest so easily. As per usual, there are a few photos I couldn’t fit in, so why not finish off the entry with those…