Look out, here’s another one of those walks, which has been on the Big Greg back burner for a long, long time. Why would an 18 km walk be so hard to complete? Well, that’s easy, as it’s not a circuit. What was my answer to this lament of the lone walker? You’ll find out soon enough, but first some quick spring cleaning in winter.
It’s been brought to my attention I frequently complain in these posts about being sick. I’m either battling a virus, worrying about my head falling off due to a neck injury or feeling sorrow, as I can no longer see my junk due to an expanding girth (relax people, the blog is partially an alter-ego).
Pondering this information, I sat back in my couch and stared at the one thing which allows me clarity in my thinking. A chandelier in the lounge room, which hangs so low, I have to duck if I need to get to the TV. I often sit and stare at it, saying to myself, “What is that on the ceiling?” After an hour or so of gazing it all made sense.
Yes, the chandelier is not really functional when your ceiling is only 8 feet high, plus I’m not as sick as what some people believe. When I am crook though, I do it in a true masculine style, like a bronzed up ANZAC. If I’ve got a cold, there’s no delicate ‘atishoo’. Oh no, what you’ll get is a thunderous explosion of searing hot mucus, which if you happen to be downwind of, will leave you cursing not paying extra for windscreen wipers on your glasses.
Alas, the last few weeks have been like this and I think it’s acceptable, as it’s my first bug of the year. Anyway, I picked up something, which seemed like a run of the mill Ebola Virus. Some coughing, sneezing and general bleeding. The trouble is it didn’t get better, so I’ve had to see a doctor not once, not twice (roll those drums you bastards), yes, three times.
There’s one reason I don’t like getting sick, as I’ve got to face a doctor and what a mind numbing exercise it always is. Regarding this current bug, I am better and after my last attempt at medical intervention, I never want to be sick again.
I’m sure you know by now I’ve got a sense of the absurd and I can’t seem to shake it. If I go to a medical centre, there might be ten doctors in the building. Amongst those, it’s more than likely one of them is a complete lunatic. If this is the case, I bet you a million bucks, without even trying, I’ll end up seeing the fruitcake.
There I was the other day, being attended to by Dr ‘The Tehran Express’ Obvious. There was a freestyle session of facial contortions, nodding of the head, general grimacing and the following conversation, as he slowly and methodically announced, “Drink plenty of fluids… eat lots of fruit… plenty of vegetables… watch your salt intake… wear a condom”.
I was submissively nodding my head to ‘o wise one, but the last piece of advice seemed a little odd, so it seemed best to seek clarification.
I said, “A what? Did you say a condom?”.
With a deadly serious expression, he made eye contact and slowly repeated, “Yes, wear a condom”.
I sat there silently for a moment and stared at his ceiling, wishing there was an ill-fitting chandelier to help my thought process. The best I could come up with was the following.
I said, “I’ve got a virus, right? What’s a condom got to do with it?”
He said, “Nothing”.
He may have said ‘nothing’, but what’s interesting is I thought he was going to say a bit more. You know, expand on his comment. Instead he just sat there in silence, staring at me. It was time to nail this conversation once and for all, as it was killing me.
I said, “So why did you say it? What’s the point?”
He said, “It’s got nothing to do with what’s wrong with you. I’m talking about your general health”.
I said, “Mm.”
See what I mean? It was so simple all along. He was talking about my general health and not some revolutionary treatment where wearing a franger will prevent a chest infection. Damn. I leaned back in my chair and cursed failing ESP at school.
After all his sage advice, I really should have finished with, “What about matches? Is it okay to play with matches? Particularly near petrol?”
In the end, even I was scratching my head at the 30 minutes spent at this medical centre, which I’ll never get back in life. All you need to know is there are no other current ailments and hopefully you won’t hear about stuff like this until next year, when I’m bound to get another.
So, the Tipperary Track near Daylesford. As I mentioned earlier, I’d been wanting to do this for a while, as it’s always talked about being a nice walk and definitely in the ‘easy’ category. Do I really need to tell you what walk notes I was going to use? Okay, if you insist. They were from Victoria’s Goldfield Walks, which is available from the Temple of Tempest (TOT). No doubt it was going to be a long day, so an early start with the short daylight hours was imperative.
Did you like the last sentence? You know that was never going to happen, as I don’t think I’ve ever started a walk early, even when I really, really have to. Not even in the Tasmanian winter could I start before 10 am. Just look at Smuffin and I on the Great South West Walk. One morning we psyched ourselves to start early and were up and about by 6 am. Guess what time we left? Yep, 9.30 am. Somehow it took us three and a half hours to have some porridge.
I arrived at the launch pad of Lake Daylesford at 12.20 pm and even I had to shake my head in admiration at how late I was starting. It was bedlam as well, as the locals were pretty feisty.
Amongst the aggressive quacking and webbed-feet stomping, I quickly threw the pack on and was off and motoring. The colour of autumn is always refreshing, as I made my way along the lake edge.
Oh, I just remembered something. I took a lot of photos on this day, but for some reason the big, sweeping landscape shots were remarkably dull. I think I lost my vast picture wizardry, but if it’s any consolation, I took the best leaf photo ever taken in the history of the mankind. Mm… Sounds like an extravagant call by an egotistical helium head? Yeah, fair enough, it pays to be humble, so I’ll amend the comment.
I took the best leaf photo ever taken in the history of the universe. Ah, much better.
A few weeks earlier, I’d passed the outflow of the lake and it was as dry as a nun’s hat. On this occasion, the water was flowing and I cursed not having a tripod, in order to catch some creamy water via a slow shutter speed. All was not lost though, as a nearby fence gave me an opportunity to brace the camera for a reasonable time.
Don’t you dare think I was finished here, as I had to attempt a shot from the other side. It was a bigger ask though, as I was fence-less. Relying on steady hands brought about by years of eating roast chicken, I managed to achieve a usable photo. A little more blur would have been nice, but what do you expect? I’m not a statue. True, in real life I may be seem so dull, you actually think you’re facing a store room dummy, but I’m actually flesh, blood and virus.
Rain had fallen the previous evening, leaving behind a grey and overcast sky. In the dull light, the landscape photos were a fizzer, but the recent precipitation had provided me with other sights. Water droplets. Other than a Yeti in fishnet tights and high heels, there’s nothing more arousing to a hiker than a bulging water droplet on leaves or branches. Right? Or is it only me?
Anyway, there was the traditional broken branch…
…or being spoilt for choice amongst multiple stems.
When it came to the wet leaves of Daylesford, I had the standard…
… mixed in with an occasional lucky break. A bright colour amongst the dark green.
Then it happened. Let me talk you through the moment. A small leaf lying on the rain soaked, gravel path stood out. It’s light colour caught my eye due to the contrasting ground and a subsequent close inspection revealed perfect water globules delicately adhering to its skin. You don’t have to tell me, as I already know. I bent down, took aim, pressed the shutter and…
…that my friends is the best leaf image you’ll see for all of eternity. Make a note in your diary, check your watch or eat a potato cake. Wherever you see this image, you’ll remember the point in time and say, ‘Man, I’ll never forget the moment. The moment I saw Big Greg’s leaf”.
Phew. I’m feeling hot under the collar. Anyway, leaf watching had to stop sooner rather than later, otherwise I’d never finish the walk. Extreme bending over is time consuming, so I decided to stretch the legs a little and was soon passing some attractive rocks jutting into the path.
There’s actually plenty to see, as Sailors Creek sits down to one side and it’s an attractive sight. Remember though, the big photos were dull, so you miss out. Oh yeah, it’s easy walking as well, with barely an undulation to slow me down.
I came across the old Mistletoe Mine and thought it would be quite interesting, but upon inspection I realised a deep hole in the ground, covered by steel mesh to prevent the unwary from plummeting into it, is not that exciting. The remains of a shed on the hillside gave me a photographic composition, but as a whole, I reckon I can survive for the rest of my life by not having to revisit.
Moving on, the comfortable walking continued…
…and for the life of me, another Daylesford mystery duly arrived. I’ve done a few walks around the area and every one has a similar find. Somewhere off the track will be discarded rubbish, which is from various ages (ring-pull beer cans anyone?). One constant object amongst these various piles of refuse has been broken crockery and I always like to examine them. Without fail, I always assume they’ll be marked, ‘Made in England’, but just to mess with my head, they never are. Instead, the logo is ‘Made in Japan’. If anyone has intimate knowledge of smashed plates in the Victorian goldfield’s and can answer this, by all means, leave a comment.
After sending the jagged piece of crockery into low orbit via a very vigorous Frisbee method, I moved on, passing a couple of natural springs, before reaching a place called, ‘The Blowhole’. Mm… Interesting name. I’ve visited a million places called this before, but they’ve always been an opening on a coastal cliff, where waves thunder into and explode back out in a mist of spray. What on earth, all the way inland, could be similar?
Okay, I sought knowledge and found the answer on an information sign. It made me wonder. How easy would life be if signs were attached to everything? Buying a car? You could steer clear of the ones marked, “I’m a lemon” and seek out something signposted as, “I’m a ripper”. Meeting someone new? You may think they’re going to be your best friend, but the sign stating, “I have no interest in you whatsoever and I’m only giving you the time of day, as I want to upend your partner” will keep things in perspective.
Oh, the Blowhole? Sorry, I got a little off-track. Anyway, it’s just a spot where the river had been re-routed. In the ‘ye olde’ days, a hole had been cut into the hillside, where the water now flowed and a long stretch of former river bed was now free to access for mining. Nothing beats mining for changing the landscape and even here, over a hundred years later, the river will never return to how it was naturally. Isn’t that great?
Oh yeah, the same old water problem, which I’d faced a few hours earlier occurred. I was sans tripod, so the only way to jazz up the photos by using a slow shutter speed was to adopt a sort of strange, mildly perverse mounting technique on a nearby fence. It wasn’t too bad…
…as I slowly made my way down…
…until reaching a large rock pool opposite.
Apparently after heavy rain the thing goes berserk, but it was tranquil on this occasion. Maybe another visit is on the cards in spring? If my half-baked explanation didn’t make sense regarding the re-routed creek, then maybe the next photo will explain things. It’s believed dynamite was used to create the following.
You do realise I’m well and truly past the halfway mark of the walk? It seems like I’ve missed a bit, which is completely correct, but this can happen to the best of us when un-image inspired. There was some nice stuff to come though.
After the Blowhole, the landscape changed and I really loved the next section. As is the case with these places, it has a descriptive name. Just after Flagellation Fields sits Breakneck Gorge and it has some nice walking. An undulating path within the occasional hemmed in wall of the gorge were a nice change of pace, plus Sailors Creek through here was quite attractive.
There was also a first, as I wandered up the grassy path.
I met someone walking the other way. Rarely do I see anyone on any of these strolls, so almost having a head on collision took me by surprise. As a result, I think I lost the power of speech and instead of saying ‘hello’, I tried too hard and slipped into ‘freestyle existential mode’ by proclaiming, “I love the umbrella stand in your hallway”. Don’t analyse it, as it’s not meant to make a lot of sense, but my fellow walker interpreted it as the cue to sprint in the opposite direction, whilst waving their hands above their head.
More importantly, the terrain was still nice…
…but if photos never tell a whole story, then this is a good example. This fallen tree was an absolute belter in size. Unfortunately, in the picture it looks like a twig. I can only imagine what it sounded like when it hit the deck, but as I wasn’t there at the time, well…, you know the rest.
My ‘early’ start was starting to catch up on me with the sun dipping behind the surrounding hills…
…leaving me wondering if it was going to be an official ‘completely black’ finish.
Eventually I reached Newstead Road in fading light…
…before following another flat path near Hepburn Springs.
It’s a pity the pump to Golden Spring has been removed…
…although this hasn’t stopped the water bubbling to the surface. I was tempted to have a taste, but I figured it’d been removed for some sort of health reason. Maybe.
Wandering on, I stumbled a little in the rapidly fading light before crossing Hepburn-Castlemaine Road…
…and finally making my way up Jacksons Lookout. I can’t say this tower will win many design awards and frankly, I’m surprised my weight didn’t make it collapse, as it’s not the sturdiest structure I’ve seen.
The outlook from the top was not the greatest either, as surrounding trees have blocked most of the view. The elevation did allow a clear sight of low, fast moving clouds, but the trade off was a freezing wind, as it whipped around the tower. Rain also seemed imminent.
In the grand scheme of things, this walk is about done. A short downhill stroll to Hepburn Springs and it was time to put the feet up. Well, this is the case if you’ve got a car there after doing a vehicular shuffle and also if you haven’t lost the eyecup off your DSLR. Huh?
Yep, you better believe it. In the dark, I followed a descending track into the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve and upon arrival I checked the camera and found the eyecup was missing. I must say, I’ve lost stuff before, but I’d be buggered if I could work out how this piece had gone missing. It wasn’t the end of the world, as they’re only worth a few dollars on eBay, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
You better believe it. Under headlamp, I walked all the way back to where I last remembered it was definitely attached. This happened to be Jacksons Lookout, where I’d taken my last photos of the day, before abandoning in fading light. You’d think it would be sitting in the middle of the track, but oh no, it wasn’t, so it was a wasted trip and instead of finishing the walk in the early evening darkness, I was now condemned to the pitch black variety.
It was time to cut my losses and give up on the eyecup retrieval and figure out how to get back to the starting point. In my notes, GT suggests getting a taxi for a $15 fare. Mm… I’d already lost ten bucks with the camera and wasn’t really keen to spend any more. Rain, which had threatened for hours had also started to fall. Feeling depressed about my futile search, I figured the only way to deal with this funk was walk in the steadying downpour. Really, it makes sense. If you’re depressed, why not accentuate your suicidal feelings by wandering in freezing, heavy rain? Yes, it seemed reasonable to me, so I began wandering back to the car.
Oh, if you’re wondering, I wasn’t going to backtrack. Instead I went for the ‘straight ahead’ method and took the road, but I learned something very important about walking from Hepburn Springs back to Daylesford. IT’S COMPLETELY FUCKING UPHILL ALL THE WAY. Phew, that’s better. I was glad to get this out of my system.
Actually, the only real hills I faced all day were on the road during my ‘look-at-me-I’m-depressed-due-to-my-lost-eyecup-camera-blues’ wander. By the time I reached my car I was feeling mildly spent and this is explained after I perused the GPS for the day. Nearly 26 km is more than enough for a day walk. Anyway, I made it in one piece and this ends another jaunt, which had sat undelivered for years. It’s not a bad one, although maybe the taxi was a better idea than my fully-baked return to the start. Oh, if you find a Canon eyecup near Jacksons Lookout, then you know who it belongs to.
What’s next? I’ve no idea, as I’ve been researching a bit of a change. I’m finally getting serious about switching from Blogger to WordPress, but it involves a lot of things, which could potentially go pear-shaped. This is why I’m seeking professional help. So, if you suddenly log on here one day and it all looks quite weird, well, you know I’ve made the switch. I’m sure you won’t lose too much sleep over it though…