Coimadai Creek, Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve

Here we go again. Another entry about a place that doesn’t get much fanfare. Starting off though, how do you like the mouthful of a post title? Try and say it ten times quickly and see how you go.

Actually, that was a trick question, as there’s a slight problem. Coimadai Creek lives not far to the west of Melbourne. That’s okay, but how do you pronounce Coimadai? I’ve absolutely no idea, so I did a bit of online research.

First of all, I got sidetracked reading about a 13th Englishman called John le Fucker. If I was him, I’d have changed my first name to ‘Big’.

Moving on, I dug deeper and after an hour or so, I’ve managed to come up with six variations. Best of all, each individual saying them, believe they’ve got the correct pronunciation. Isn’t this always the case? The self-proclaimed expert can be an online killer.

Okay, here we go. I’m not joking, but these are all meant to be ‘correct’. Clearly they’re not, although you’d think at least one of them would be right. Maybe.

Kah-My-Dah, Come-ida, Co-Mad-ai, Coi-mad-ai, Com-adai, Com-adee.

Anyway, your guess is as good as mine. In the end, just say it how you want, as I haven’t got a clue and you can’t go wrong. What about the walk though?

I like it, which probably explains why I’ve done it four times now. At 10 km, it’s a comfortable distance and it’s perfect if I’m looking for a last minute idea for a wander. Another handy aspect is it’s only a short drive on the freeway from my place.

As a bit of trivia, it’s also the only place where Bull Mallee is found, south of the Great Dividing Range. It might not be the largest place, but at least it’s got something notable about it.

As per most walks I do, I’ve never seen another walker, so it’s good for a bit of solitude. My last trip was a week ago and although I’ve got a million photos from all visits, most you’ll see are from the most recent adventure.

Now, the start. The reserve sits on Long Forest Road and I must admit, I think I’ve flown past the carpark at warp factor on at least two occasions. If you’re coming from the south, it certainly sneaks up on you and with both my ‘misses’, I’ve had to indulge in some brutal ‘U-turn’ work. It’s not all bad though, as I get to practice my anti-surveillance manoeuvres if being followed by government agents. Similar to stopping at green lights and then driving through the intersection when they turn red.

There are two carparks, but I’ve only used the one called Happy Valley. It sounds quite nice, doesn’t it? Actually, I just thought of an alternative name to this spot. There mightn’t be anyone else walking when I’m there, but a couple of times I’ve arrived to find two cars parked, but the occupants are in the one vehicle. Do you know what I mean? I guess a secluded carpark like this one could be handy for the odd ‘liaison’. If so, maybe they should change the name to the Happy Ending carpark?

Anyway, the start might be a bit gritty and even though colourful flowers are now out and about, they might be off-set by the occasional sharps container.

purple-flowers-sharps-container

Don’t worry though, it does get better. These flowers are everywhere at the start and I assumed they’d be right through the reserve, but they’re not. My flower recognition is generally pathetic, so these might look nice, but for all I know, they could be a noxious weed.

purple-flowers-long-forest-reserve

Moving on, the path meanders a little…

walking-track-long-forest-reserve

…before arriving at some old farm machinery.

old-farming-equipment-long-forest-reserve

I’ve never been happy with my photos of these rusting relics, so I had a great idea of taking a couple of shots under moonlight. The thing is, I’ve only thought of this in the last 10 minutes. I checked the moon times and it doesn’t rise until 2.00 am, so I might give it a miss for now.

What I might do though, is wait until the moon rises at a more gentlemanly hour, take the photos and then slip a ghostly night image into the post down the track. I will of course make no mention of this. I’ll rewrite this paragraph, so it appears the photos weren’t taken after the post has been published. So many time consuming ideas…

no-7-old-farming-equipment-long-forest-reserve

There’s a dam not far past the machinery and it’s certainly changed a little since I first saw it in 2012. It’s rapidly drying up. What happened to a soaking wet winter and spring? Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t seem to happen any more. The west is dry as a chip. Come to think of it, when I was in the Grampians in July, I was amazed how dry the place was and the locals concurred by saying they’d hardly had any rain. It’s definitely a worry.

Hang on, I’m getting side-tracked. I’ve just had a fear this short walk will turn into a monster post. I better move it along. The dam? Yeah, on my first visit, it looked like this.

dam-long-forest-reserve

How about now? Well, here it is last week. The photo’s taken further away, but from the same angle.

dry-dam-long-forest-reserve

Wandering on, the track drops away suddenly, as it heads down to Coimadai Creek. Now, I’ve no idea what’s going on in this creek. On my first visit, water was flowing quite well. We’re not talking the Amazon River, but at least there was something happening.

On the second trip it was dry, but on the third, there had been a lot of rain around, so I decided to take a tripod with me. You know, in order to capture all of that swirling water in long exposure shots. Guess what? The place was as dry as I’ve seen it and like a wanker, I was left carrying a tripod for no reason.

What happened last week? As I mentioned before, it’s been so dry here, I fully expected not a drop of water. Imagine my surprise when I found the creek flowing better than any previous trip. Huh? What’s going on in Coimadai Creek? I don’t understand!

Feeling confused, I did some more research and pulled out an old Tyrone ‘the beard’ Thomas walking book. He has an entry about Long Forest that says,

…usually there is little water in the creek and crossing is quite easy, but occasionally it may be necessary to wade through shallow water. Merrimu Reservoir is not far upstream and so the water flow is regulated…

Aha! So it appears the flow is dependant on what’s happening at the reservoir? If so, this makes more sense than anything regarding the creek. Anyway, with that mystery partially solved, I had to get cross it.

Oh, when I talk about ‘crossing a creek’, you do realise I’m negotiating about six inches of water? Enough to fill the boots, but that’s about it. Previously, someone wasn’t happy getting their feet wet, so they’ve constructed a crossing of a million sticks. Either that or the undiscovered Long Forest beaver has made its presence known.

logs-across-coimadai-creek

Who am I to complain? I didn’t want wet feet, so I sauntered across the wobbly sticks. In hindsight, I think I’d have preferred soggy boots, as when I reached the other side I noticed something annoying. Yes, an upright stick had snagged my leg on the way over. Now I was left with this.

cut-front-of-leg-bleeding

You know what? I’d brought my gaiters, but had left them in the car. It was hot and I figured the terrain wasn’t gnarly enough to warrant having the heat sucking fabric strapped to my legs for a few hours. You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you?

Once on a Lerderderg Gorge hike, I was struggling up a creek bed when I lost balance on some rocks. As I did so, the inside of one leg was forced against a jagged rock and it slipped down the length of my lower leg. On that occasion I was wearing gaiters and I recall the impact would have shredded the inside of my leg. As it was, my skin was untouched. I really should remember these incidents more often, as gaiters would have saved my leg from this annoying cut.

Anyway, what’s done is done. I didn’t have anything to clean the cut with, so instead, elected to let it bleed like a bastard. Mind you, at least I had a water-filled creek to take my mind off the pain.

pool-of-water-coimadai-creek

water-coimadai-creek

Strolling on, there’s a fallen tree along the track. It’s one of the more artistic ones I’ve seen. On all of my trips, I’ve essentially stood in the same position and taken the same photos of its curved lines.

fallen-tree-with-curved-lines-in-bark

curved-lines-in-bark

Now it was just a matter of following the creek…

trees-along-side-comaidai-creek

water-reflections-coimadai-creek

…before reaching a rock wall, where the track is hemmed in against the water and reeds.

rock-wall-reeds-coimadai-creek

Yep, at this time of year, there I was again, contemplating why I didn’t have gaiters, as I can imagine this spot might be popular with the post-winter, now awakened snakes.

I trod carefully whenever I had to place my feet in the occasional long grass, before emerging from the other side unscathed. Where are those gaiters again? Oh that’s right, they’re in the boot of my car.

Past the rock wall, the track headed up into a large, dry area of essentially trees only/no undergrowth.

forest-near-comaidai-creek

Someone has sporadically placed tape on the trees through this patch, but I’m not sure what’s going on with them. At one point they head straight for the creek, but I don’t know why. If you’re doing this walk, don’t follow them, otherwise you’ll end up in a Lord of the Flies situation. Struggling with the rocks and reeds of the creek. Instead, stay high and just continue.

Further on, you’ve got to go down to the creek and cross it, but there’s a fairly distinctive marker where this spot is. Just cross at the canoes. Canoes?

canoes-near-comaidai-creek

At times this walk feels really isolated, but in reality, civilisation isn’t far away. On my first trip, I came to a wall of reeds…

reeds-in-coimadai-creek

…and like a complete rock ape, ploughed through them to the other side. This was insane, as I found out ten seconds later there’s an open area to get across. Sure, the one tyre system may work…

tyres-crossing-in-comaidai-creek

…but a little further on, a complete bridge has been constructed.

crossing-in-comaidai-creek

On the other side, I followed the creek again and I’ve included this photo for a special reason. You know those old buildings, which are meant to be haunted? You’ll come across a random chair and the guide will say, “People have taken photos of the chair and when they’ve had the film developed, there’s a ghostly apparition on it!”

I used to get sucked in by that line every time and I’ve a number of old photos, taken with the hope I’d capture something. My last was at Port Arthur and I’ve got a beautiful photo of a chair sitting in the corner of a room. With nothing on it.

I guess the use of digital cameras means the haunted house guides can’t get away with this line any more? Well, have a look at this picture. There’s clearly an apparition to the left of centre!

comaidai-creek-reeds

Was it the Freak of Long Forest? I may daydream about meeting the departed, but unfortunately my ‘apparition’ was probably a fly. The reason I think this is because I was besieged with the bastards.

I’ve never encountered so many flies on a walk since my trudge up Zeka Spur a few years back. This time there were billions of the little black ones, which swamped me when I was near the creek. There was no wind to move them on, so they’d arrive en masse and I couldn’t get rid of them.

Waving the hands in front of the face would only interrupt their dastardly behaviour, but not discourage. Literally, I reached the point where I had to give up and allow them to wander across my face. There they were, wandering up my nose, in my eyes and unfortunately down my throat.

Due to some dodgy sinuses (as in my nose doesn’t really work) I breathe through my mouth. Disappointedly, when exercising I’ve got to adopt the mouth wide open approach. A similar look to a whale when it’s eating a school of krill. You just know what’s going to happen, don’t you?

Yeah, not once, not twice or even three times. No, it was on four separate occasions the mouth hoovering method managed to suck in a fly where it would bounce off the back of my throat. Involuntarily I’d dry retch and combine this with an extended series of expletives. Actually, I think the swearing was involuntary as well.

I guess the thing about flies is they’re not too bad, as long as you don’t think about where they’ve been. It’s different seeing them walk across cow pats and then have them walking across your lips. The less I know, the better.

Actually, my fly infested face wasn’t my main angst. It was the cut on my leg. I could feel dozens of them wandering along the wound and at one moment, a mound of blackness formed, as a huge bunch eagerly began to feast on my blood with their faeces covered proboscis. Great.

I did have some Deet spray, but it was in the pack. I was fast approaching a turnaround spot where I’d stop for lunch, so thought I’d hang on until then.

There’s a spot where the track heads up a hill to avoid a small rocky area. On my first visit, I thought ‘to hell with the track’ and forged straight on, following the creek. It was one of the dumber things I’ve done (there’s been a few). I ended up bashing and banging through rocks, reeds and fallen trees. All for no reason at all. Not last time though, as I headed uphill…

walking-track-long-forest-reserve

…and then back down again. Earlier, I mentioned how I tend to take the same photo from the same position. Here we go again. Back in 2012…

above-coimadai-creek

…and last week.

above-coimadai-creek

After this, I’ve no idea what happens here. The track seems to vanish and all I’ve done is wander onwards, keeping the creek to my left. I knew if it suddenly appeared on my right, I’ve done something really wrong.

On a couple of occasions, I’ve suddenly come across a lone seat, situated, well… what seems like in the middle of nowhere.

bench-seat-coimadai-creek

It’s been handy though, as I usually get to this point, have a rest and then head back. It’s also a chance to admire the sweat on my knees if I’ve been wearing pants. Maybe they would have stopped the leg slashing?

sweat-knees-walking

Little did I know though, I was in the wrong turnaround spot. Wandering on a bit further, one reaches Long Point Track. The last few times I’ve gone there and found a way better seat to rest upon. This one is a beauty, as it sits beneath an enormous tree…

bench-seat-under-tree-long-forest-track

…and if you can’t see it, then try this from the opposite direction.

seat-under-tree-coimadai-creek

Last week, I flopped onto the chair and best of all, it’s in a slightly elevated position, so I could get some semblance of a breeze. The flies were constant, but not as bad as near the creek. There were still enjoying my leg wound though.

flies-on-cut-bleeding-leg

It was time to get the spray out. The can proudly proclaimed ‘heavy duty’, so it clearly meant business. Not to mention the bold lettering indicating it contained 40% Deet. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s worse than the flies, as spraying it over my face has a bit of chemical warfare feel to it.

I did so though. Face, legs, shirt, hat, the lot. I sat back and enjoyed my now fly-free zone. Except nothing happened. Momentarily the buzzing hordes pondered and then continued what they were doing before. What? Is this spray crap? If I was a litterer, I would have thrown it as far as I could. I seemed to be carrying a can of compressed, funny smelling air.

Anyway, I rested for about half an hour, before commencing the trip back. It’s not a complete back-track, as a loop can be done by following Long Point Track until Coimadai Track, before returning to the creek. It’s what I’ve done on every trip, so I’m not about to change things now.

Heading off, I wandered up the vehicle track. As I did so, I passed this sign. With a name like that, why the hell would I ever take that route?

sign-steep-track

There are a couple of tracks to by-pass, but I always know which one to turn at. When the house is in view, then it’s time to turn. House? Yep, I told you the place feels remote, but it’s definitely not.

Performing the loop, I was soon back down at the creek and following my steps from an hour or so earlier. I won’t bore you with every detail about the return, so maybe I’ll just slot in a few photos instead.

reed-coimadai-creek

reeds-in-comaidai-creek

The parks regulation sign doesn’t appear to be very popular.

damaged-parks-sign-long-forest-reserve

On one visit, I spotted something in a tree stump from about 100 metres away. Examining closely, I believe it’s the worlds most obvious geocache.

coimadai-creek-geo-cache-container

Pegs? Someone puts pegs in them? If I did geocaching, I’d put in a little Hot Wheels car. I love those little cars.

Wandering on, the return trip whizzes by. Through the open ground and past the rock wall again…

tree-across-creek

…and even passing the relic of an ancient litter-bug. A ring pull? It’s prehistoric!

old-rusted-ring-pull-can

Then I was back to the leg slashing creek crossing. At this spot last week, there was a first. I suddenly saw two blokes walking through the bush. Both had huge backpacks on and as I observed, I was thinking, ‘Whoa! These blokes mean business!’

I continued to watch as they went about ten feet and got into a car and drove off. Oh. That’s not what I was expecting.

Anyway, I continued on. Across the creek without any further injury and commenced the short, but annoyingly steep climb away from the creek. It’s not all bad though, as once a little higher, I get to look at the surrounding terrain from a different angle.

Remember my ghostly thoughts? Well, tell me this. As I was slogging up the hill, I looked to a tree to my side. At least 30 feet in the air was a fork. What should be in the fork? Leaves? Another fallen branch? No, of course not. What about a rock instead? I have no idea how a rock, at least six inches long, has ended up in mid-air. Clearly supernatural.

rock-in-tree-fork

Oh, plus this. What happened here? Did the branch grow through the other tree trunk? Or, upon sighting the intruding stick, the trunk decided to eat it? These are just some of the Long Forest mysteries.

tree-branch-through-another-tree

Once the ‘summit’ has been knocked off, it’s a matter of following the track back to the car. Once, late in the day, a setting sun left a glow on the surrounding trees.

green-bark-eucalypt-tree

It reminds me what I should do. Come back when there’s a similar early evening glow for vegetation photos. When dark, take some pictures of the farm machinery, before then updating this post. Okay, I’ve officially put this on the ‘to-do’ list, so if you revisit this entry in the future, it might look a little different to now. Oh, at my speed, these changes will take place in about ten years time.

Coimadai Creek, Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve might be only a 10 km circuit, but it’s always a nice peaceful stroll along the creek and surrounds.

Is that it? I think so. Somehow, I’ve turned a 10 km walk into a 3300 word extravaganza. If you haven’t slipped into a coma, then you might be pleased with some upcoming stuff. I’m going to the Grampians again next week for a few day walks and generally just sleeping. Smuffin is even attending for a couple of days for one off-track walk, which hopefully will go pear-shaped, just so I’ve got something to write about. It might beat my non-ghost stories of this post…