I must admit, writing this infernal blog has been a struggle lately. Quite a few times I’ve considered pulling up stumps and walking my beardless body into the sunset. A cliff near the sunset is an optional extra.
Writing this crap can be time consuming and horrific. All at once. So, I’m trying a new approach. I’ve set a timer and I’m going to write this post in two hours. I can’t guarantee such a slapdash system will result in anything less than a ramshackle, mental rambling, but at least this post will be done and I’ll have more time to lie back on the couch and stare at the ceiling.
So what’s this entry about? It’s actually a walk I’d considered for about three years. Is this possible? Well, yes it is, as I live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, surrounded by used syringes and Donna Buang is way out east, near Warburton. Westerners like me need a visa to head into such leafy terrain, plus it’s nearly two hours driving one way. I don’t know about you, but four hours motoring with a walk in the middle makes for a long day.
It was always going to happen at some point though. I just needed the stars to align and a full tank of mojo, as the statistics for the walk don’t sound appealing to a heavier gent such as myself. Mt Donna Buang, Victoria may only be 1250 metres in height, but I was going to start in Warburton, which is around the 200 metre mark. This is no big deal, but the business of climbing 800 metres of elevation in roughly four kilometres sounded ‘interesting’.
Oh, this walk was on a Sunday, but before I discuss it, I have to ponder the Saturday before, which had a big bearing of my Donna Buang tilt. What could this be? Only one word will suffice. IKEA.
Yes, Ben and I headed to this vast world of ‘stuff’ on a Saturday. For starters, this was insane, as the entire world was there on the weekend. It’s like Lord of the Flies, as punters scramble and fight to buy things they didn’t intend to get when they first entered. Hell, even we did. I wanted a table and couldn’t work out why I was walking around with coat hangers in my hand.
Anyway, amongst the insanity there was another thing. Over the years I’ve been implored by a number of people to try the meatballs in the cafe. Huh? Yep, more than once the cry, “IKEA? Oh my god, you’ve got to try their meatballs. They’re amazing!!!!” (extra exclamation marks to show how enthusiastic they are). Is this possible? Have I missed out on meal of a lifetime? Well, I was there, so I had no option but to indulge in the hype.
Whilst lugging pillows (nup, didn’t need them either) we entered the cavernous cafeteria, which seemed quite austere. I can understand this look though, as when the doors close, it’ll be easier to just clean the place with a couple of fire hoses.
Anyway, we lined up behind a number of people and observed their purchases. Goddamn it, they were all buying the meatballs. Every one of them. Is this possible? Suddenly I felt like I was in Soylent Green and you know how that ended up.
Finally, it was my turn. Small, medium or large? One can’t go wrong with medium, so I enthusiastically ordered, but as I did so I noted the face of the serving-up bloke. He appeared a bit downbeat. Meatballs were flung onto the plate and mashed potato was served with the sort of gusto one would give when shovelling coal into a locomotive engine. The man wielding the scoop appeared to be so depressed, you’d think he was actually serving up his own testicles and judging by my first inspection of the ‘food’ I couldn’t be sure they weren’t his nuts. The only giveaway is there were more than two on my plate.
Sitting down with our tucker, we both observed before munching. On looks alone the hype seemed misplaced. What do I know though? There was a Swedish flag flying in my food, so they must be good. Right?
Now the taste. I must admit it was intriguing. I assume they’re made out of a slaughtered animal, but there was a strange, chemical-like aftertaste. I’m not sure how to define this flavour, other than a tasting a bit vomit-ish? Mind you, not my vomit, but someone else’s.
Then it struck me what the problem was. They’re not a stand alone main meal and instead, I imagined them in a tomato based sauce with pasta. The main benefit of this is their taste could be obliterated with other flavours, not to mention cheese. Actually, come to think of it, the only reason I have pasta is so I can have cheese. It’s a bit like Ben with meat. He thinks meat only tastes okay due to the additives such as mustard. Take away flavouring and meat is mighty bland. Mm… I’ll think about that one in another post.
Yes, I’ve worked it out. IKEA meatballs are the rhythm instruments of food. You know what I mean? Bass and drums are there to keep a beat, not to be out front and centre of a band. Is there anything more traumatic than a bass or drum solo? They might be a hell of a lot of fun for the participants, but to the listener, they’re woeful. Technically it might all be great, but bloody hell, proficiency doesn’t always mean exciting. It’s no wonder I loved punk music. I’d prefer to have my ears smoked by guitar and vocals, rather than endure self-indulgent wanking of instruments. Sorry, I was getting side-tracked. Is there an official Fiasco Verdict (FV)? Yes, I’m leaning with all my weight towards underwhelming.
Now, how the hell does any of this apply to the Donna Buang walk? Well, it’s quite easy, as the hours after ingesting said balls, my stomach was feeling tight. That’s not all, but freestyle repeating began within a few hours. No worries though, as surely a night in the kipper would leave me fresh for a summit attempt in the morning?
Guess what? Come morning I felt like the Hulk had gripped my intestines with his huge green fist and twisted them. Talk about feeling average, but I still thought it would fade by the time I arrived at Warburton. I got my visa stamped and downed a coffee, before locating the starting point on Martyr Road. Hang on. Martyr Road? Is this street named for comedy reasons?
Just for something different, I was starting late. Tight guts and a long drive meant it was early afternoon before I put one foot in front of the other. I must admit, the green fields at the start were vibrant, as the first incline began.
Then, the real walking was in sight. A track beckoned, disappearing into the trees and there’s no mucking around with this one. Essentially, it heads straight up the hill in a straight line with not a zig-zag to rest the legs at all. As I headed into the dimly lit, forested canopy…
…I felt something come over me. Yes, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to chunder, crap my pants or do both at once. I tell you this. I wouldn’t dare let out a sneaky trouser cough, as I was scared I’d replicate the death of Arius and lose most of my internal organs. Actually, can you imagine Arius ringing home to tell how his day was going? “Hey honey, you wouldn’t believe what just happened before. I crapped out most of my internal organs, but luckily I caught my heart before it bounced off down the road. You should have seen it!!”
So it began. A continuous plod uphill with the meatballs from Hades rotating in my intestines. Within 10 seconds I was sweating way too much and wondered whether I should continue. You know the problem though? I’d put this stinkin’ walk off for years and now I was there, so best to get it over with and never return to the place again.
In the four kilometres where the height is gained, I really don’t have much to talk about at all. Enclosed in forest, there are no views to be had, so the camera took a hiatus. It’s steep and the only objects blocking the straightish path were the occasional fallen tree, which needed negotiating…
…and others, that needed ducking under.
On and on it went, with my main aim being Donna Buang Road. It intersects the track after four kilometres and I knew the climbing lessened after that. The trouble is, with rotating stomach it took forever and just to add to my ‘vomit in any second’ feeling, I came across a vast carpet of flies. What could attract these buzzing hordes? I’ll tell you. Some prick had obviously parked their car on the road above and walked down the track a few hundred metres, before dumping what appeared to be a vast vat of toilet paper and crap. Maybe a toilet from a caravan or similar? I’m not sure, as I didn’t examine it too closely. I was too busy covering all of my major orifices with various appendages due to an impending power-spew.
Powering on, I muscled my way to the road like a leper, high on crack before reaching the sweet bitumen. I can’t say I’ve loved seeing a road so much, but I was thoroughly rooted. Not that I had a chance to rest though, as I had to clear my boots of passengers. Yep, leeches were moving and twisting their way across my boots.
After de-leeching, it was time to move into a new world. The track to Mt Victoria turned into a wide, comfortable inclining affair and its niceness is well guarded. Well, I’m only surmising due to the amount of locks, which secure the gate near the road. Eight seemed a little overkill. Why not encase it in barbed wire and have a few Claymores set up? That’ll really deter the punters.
Bypassing Fort Knox, I continued up the wide track and you know what? It was actually pleasant, compared to what I’d endured the previous few hours.
I mean, it was almost quaint, as even the figures on the walking signs had moss covered backpacks added to them.
Really, this was about a billion times better, so it was a pity I was feeling so shagged, as I couldn’t really enjoy the undulating stroll. I soon passed Mt Victoria, which seemed to consist of television towers and not much else, before heading towards Donna Buang, just to get the whole thing over and done with.
I passed ferns…
…and disembodied gloves pointing in the right direction or maybe it was giving me the finger?
Late in the afternoon, with the sunlight through the trees, I trudged up the final climb…
…before finally reaching the top. Talk about a struggle and I was pleased to see all the mod cons of society at the summit. An enormous lookout tower, picnic tables and best of all, a comfort station. I guess the theme of the day was confirmed in this building though, as someone had missed the bowl and crapped on the seat. Doing the Donna Dump. Is this what the whole walk was about?
Anyway, I had some relief before dragging my corpse-like limbs up the lookout tower. I should have photos of it, but really, this isn’t a tourist site. All you need to know is it’s huge and I made it to the top. The view was okay, but the odd dark cloud sat out in the distance. The forecast had been for late rain, so I was a little concerned of a soaking at some point.
Oh, just to make matters worse it was traditionally ‘late in the day’, so I had to get moving. What’s depressing though was the descent would follow my footsteps down the steep, four kilometres of hell track. Going up might be hard on lungs, but heading down sure tests out the creaky knees.
I did have one variation up my sleeve. Initially retracing my steps, I then took a detour via 10 Mile Picnic Area. A highlight was an Australian bush tradition. An abandoned water tank. I’ve lost count of the amount of rusted out tanks sitting in different parts of the scrub on various walks.
Passing the picnic area I wandered down the road for a kilometre or so and it was strange feeling. The winding road leading off into the distance was one of the more attractive things I’d seen for the day. The writing is on the wall for this walk once I start thinking like that.
Then it was back on the manic, descending track down to Warburton. The light was dimming, so I cranked up the speed, which isn’t very fast at all. I must admit though, in the steeper sections, it was easier to jog a bit, especially when passing the dumped septic contents and horde of flies surrounding it. Oh, did I mention my knees were hurting? I probably did about five minutes ago, but they were screaming. If one ever needed trekking poles then this was the place. Or heroin.
I assume the track originally only existed as a place for phone cables? Maybe? That would explain why it’s all straight ahead. I noticed these signs along the way…
…but it appears some people didn’t heed the warning before digging.
You know what? I think I made it down the hill in about 10 minutes, as gravity is the friend of the generously built. I ‘sprinted’ past some nice fungi…
…and in rapidly dimming light, I popped out on a track a short distance from the finish.
The photo above may look mundane, but it was extremely well-welcomed. Finally out of the forest, finally on flat ground to give the knees a rest and finally an opportunity to de-leech the boots. Again. It’s a lot easier flicking them off onto an open track, where I can see I’d actually got rid of them.
I must say, light faded rapidly, as I climbed a short hill in the dark prior to reaching the car. I was officially knackered.
So, what to make of it? Okay, it might be controversial, but overall I found the walk to be a bit of a shocker, with a lot of hard work for little reward. I don’t mind (take note, I said don’t mind, not enjoy) a climb, but I prefer some views on the way. Actually any view would be nice and there were none on the track from Martyr Road. Actually, the whole thing only got attractive once I passed the road and up past Mt Victoria, so in the end it actually makes more sense to start at 10 Mile Car Park. At least it’s right amongst the nicer stuff.
Oh, the top of Donna Buang is completely gentrified, so it isn’t much chop, but there’s a nice view from the tower. Yeah, if it’s for the purposes of training or a challenge, then it’s a great walk, but I can think of better places to go on a Sunday afternoon. Then again, I’m fully aware my thoughts may have been coloured by impending expulsion of my internal organs via most of my orifices, due to meatballs that refused to settle. Literally, I was dying of balldom.
Finally. How do you think I went with my two hour blog writing time limit? Well, it didn’t really work, as instead of two hours, it’s taken three days on and off. Officially, I think this was a bit longer than I intended. Mm… Maybe next time.