Olinda Forest, Dandenong Ranges National Park

Remember the end of my last post? How I mentioned this would be about a recent trip to the Grampians? Guess what? It’s not. Actually, come to think of it, didn’t I run with the same joke at the start of the last entry?

What’s worse is if you glance at them both, you’d think they really should be the one post. One is Olinda Falls and this is Olinda Forest. So what’s the difference? STACKS.

Sure, they’re in the same area, but one was all about dreamy, long exposure water shots and this one is more about, well, I don’t know really. What’s worse is this ‘I’ve got nothing’ thought has just hit me.

My last couple of Dandenong Ranges rambles were done in winter, when the mist was thick in the trees, waterfalls flowing and hula-hoops were out for spin (or should it be rotate?).

Not this time though. Instead of the chilly short days of mid year, this wander was only a few weeks back. In comparison to the others, I must warn you now. I’ve got no waterfalls, no mist, no crayfish, no lyrebirds, no wasabi, no blood and no fun. How the hell am I going to pull this off?

Can I create something entertaining enough that won’t have you reaching for the ยท38 to put yourself out of your misery? As I always say though, what are you worrying about? You might have to read it, but what about the chump writing it? He’s going through hell compiling this crap.

Oh, before I start. Let me bring up to date with the overall switch from Blogger to WordPress. As you may know, I wasn’t happy with all the photos still sitting at Blogger, so I decided to haul them all over to here. I also wanted to make them ‘non-clickable’, correctly add alt-tags and fix their dimensions. This could have been easy, but I was forced to man-up and do them one at a time. Finally, they’re all done. ALL 7000 OF THEM.

I must say, it was strangely cathartic redoing the pictures. For about 10 minutes. The rest of the time it was horrific. I think on one day I forgot to eat. That’s how much I was in the zone. OCD was flipped into turbo mode and I wouldn’t stop until the task was completed.

Rest breaks were reduced and in order to reduce downtime by visits to the comfort station, I considered converting something like a sheep into a nappy. After Googling the idea, all I found was it led me to some unusual German websites, so I abandoned the idea and ended up taking a cushion from the couch and installing a toilet under it instead.

That’s not all, as in order to keep myself focused, I’d pause every few hours to self-flagellate myself with whip. Not to keep myself awake, but mainly because it felt good. It was a wild scene at the Fiasco Ranch.

Oh, so even though all the photos and posts are correctly displayed, I did delete a handful of entries. Mind you, they’d barely been read, so if that’s the case, what’s the point of keeping them? Generally they were full of waffle. Unlike this one.

It might be all done, but don’t ever think I’m satisfied! I’m thinking of a new WordPress theme. Any suggestions? If there’s one thing weird about this one, it’s the column on the left. My eyeballs seem to naturally want it on the right. Sure, on a mobile device it’s not a problem, but I’m a dedicated desktop man.

I’ve got a couple of different templates in mind, which hopefully will make the photos pop a little more. The way things are going though, it won’t happen until after Christmas. I just thought I’d warn you early, so if you unfortunately end up visiting the blog in a month or so and it looks different, then you’ll know what’s happened.

Phew! Back to the Dandenongs. I’ll give you a wild guess where I found this walk. Yep, GT’s, ‘Daywalks Around Melbourne’ book. This one is number 81 and essentially it’s a loop walk of about 12 km.

It’s starting point was at Woolrich Lookout, which was remarkably easy to find, unlike my Mechanics Reserve debacle in the last post.

There’s a pretty good view from the carpark and really, if you couldn’t be stuffed, you could just drive up, wind down the window, take a photo and drive off again. You’d have the picture and it’d look like you put some effort in to get it. Well, I guess this is what the people in the two cars would say, who did exactly that thing whilst I was getting ready to walk.

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View from Woolrich Lookout

The more I looked at the view, the more impressive it seemed, so I paused from getting the backpack together and sat back against the car. Looking at the mountains beyond, I began to feel their calming effects. It was almost a mystical experience as the zen washed across me. Peace. Tranquillity. The noise of an enormous mosquito. What?

Wondering what was zonking my zen, I scanned the tree tops and saw what I thought was the worlds smallest UFO. I knew this couldn’t be right, as it was broad daylight and I had a really good camera with me. If something from outer space appears, you just know it’ll be in the middle of nowhere and seen by someone with no teeth, whilst packing a 0.5 megapixel camera.

Reaching for my Coke bottle glasses, I was able to confirm it wasn’t from darkest depths of the universe, but instead was a drone.

drone-flying-over-trees

I don’t even know who was controlling it, but I decided if it had a camera attached and decided to head my way, I’d drop my pants, swing my ding-a-ling in a wide arc above my head whilst yelling ‘Hurrah!’.

In the end, the buzzing object kept its distance, so the pants stayed on and a possible Wikipedia entry was averted. Talk about a hectic opening and I hadn’t even taken a step.

After working out where I was supposed to be going, I headed off and the best thing of all is the track goes past a comfort station in the first 10 feet. I thought it best to have a pit stop, as the 27 coffees I used to keep me awake on the long drive from the western suburbs were beginning to bite.

As I wandered to the required entrance, I was startled to see what looked like a corpse, lying on the grass out the front, with a blanket covering them from head to toe. Was it a crime scene? Should I take a photo? Should I just walk off and make out I didn’t see a thing? Remember the motto from my former workplace when you’re in trouble? It’s a famous Latin saying,

Nihil ipse fatebere maius, negare omnia, probationem postulare.’

Oh, for the non-educated who didn’t do Latin at university, it roughly translates as,

‘Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof.’

So what did I do? Should I have a peek under the blanket? As I stepped closer, I was startled as the corpse suddenly sprang to life. An arm whipped the concealing fabric aside, revealing some random bloke staring at me as he sat up.

He seemed anxious, but maybe he was concerned as I’m similar in size to a Sasquatch and I was holding the zipper of my fly at the same time (I told you I was busting to go). In the end, all I could do was bellow a powerful, ‘G’day’, in my best sounding Charles Bronson voice from the bottom of a well and make out nothing was happening.

What the hell was all that about? I’m not sure, but I think he was just having a kip. What I don’t get is why that spot. Approximately one million acres of open grass was nearby and he decided to get all snuggly, five feet from the Gents.

Anyway, this walk didn’t have much going for it, but already it was going off and still I hadn’t gone more than 50 feet from the car.

Finally the good times were over, as I headed off down Dam Road. I don’t know about you, but I had a hunch a dam would be along this track and I wasn’t disappointed. You better soak up this view now, as it’s the last piece of water you’ll see for the entire walk.

small-dam-olinda

As I wandered on, I continued to take photos, but the results of these were only evident when I looked at them later. It appears I was in an extreme casual mode, as they all appear exactly the same. I’ve got a dozen images at different spots, where I made no attempt to add anything to the picture. Literally, I stood in the middle of the various tracks, put the lens on wide-angle and took a shot without any thought whatsoever. Here’s an example.

sequoia-track-olinda

You might have to get used to it, as this sameness will be relentless as we go along. Oh, but there were the odd occasion where I actually moved my head to take a photo. I entered an open area and the light was nicer behind me, so I turned around for this shot…

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…and was almost run over.

Yes, it may have been a nice little walking track, but as I had my back to the front (does that make any sense at all?) a Parks Vic car came along and I had to hop off the track, otherwise I’d have been turned into a bonnet ornament and driven around like a trophy.

I can imagine the Parks Vic crowd at night, sitting around with their gin and tonics, smoking jackets and pipes regaling the event.

“It took a while, but we finally caught the elusive fat bastarditis!”

Aha, but I survived! Diving off the track also allowed me to take a photo of something other than trees on a wide angle view, so it wasn’t all bad.

yellow-flowers-olinda

It’d been an eventful kilometre of walking and really, it should have calmed down, but never let your guard down in this joint, as it’ll ramp right up when you least expect it.

There I was, strolling along, wondering how Van Halen turned so shit, so quickly, when something appeared in the distance, running along the ground. It took me a second to work out what it was. It was a goddamned feral cat!

That’s not all. It had something enormous in its mouth. I still wasn’t very close, but I’d swear it was holding a huge, blue tongue lizard. A reptile shape anyway.

I wanted a photo, but I think being pummelled by all the early events of the day had left me unable to think clearly. As I raised the camera to my eye, the cat saw me and immediately headed for the bush. I only had one chance at a shot. And I blew it.

The camera was on manual and instead of switching modes, I fired off a photo at its current setting and was left with an image of well…, absolute rubbish. Wrong ISO, wrong f-stop, wrong shutter speed. Can there be anything else? Sure. Wrong socks. I’d put on a different pair of socks than what I usually use and my feet were rubbing a little.

Oh well. It was a once in a lifetime (literally, that’s how often I see feral cats in the daytime) opportunity, so although the failure was big, I was keen to see the results of my ‘image’. It’s not pretty, but this is how it looked.

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Bloody hell. Where is everything? What am I looking at? Where’s the cat? There was nothing more to do, other than switch into Blowup mode.

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There I was. An older, less stylish, a lot wider, less all sorts of things David Hemmings, staring at the image. Sans the natty white pants, but hey, at least I had a similar looking shirt on.

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Eventually I found it. Sure, mine was a lot duller to examine than his…

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…which reveals this.

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My discovery was a lot less juicy, but it was there.

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So there you have it. Not one of my greatest moments, but don’t complain. This is the image straight out of the camera before I enhanced it.

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It actually reminds me of those Bigfoot and UFO photos (hang on, have I got no teeth?) where the item of interest is lost in a blurry image. I do have one reason why this happens though. They don’t exist. Yeah, I know, it’s a wild thought, but until a Yowie comes to my door selling Tupperware, I’m not going to believe it.

Oh, it doesn’t mean I don’t watch those crappy shows about the mythical subjects, such as ‘Finding Bigfoot’. Although, I reckon the best thing about that program is they never find one.

Okay, back to Olinda. What more can happen? Not a lot, as the stock standard photography resumed.

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I had to leave the main track and head off onto the more restricted KC Track, which is named in honour of Colonel Sanders before he bought his first deep fryer.

The narrow path headed downhill and was quite bushy. Not completely bush though, as I found a muesli bar wrapper sitting on the ground.

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If you dropped this, you’re a prick!

I will never understand why people discard their rubbish when they’re out and about? Surely once the wrapper covering the item is gone, then it’s easier to carry the rubbish, as there’s no weight to it?

It’s one of life mysteries and best of all, you’ll never find a person who does it. They know it’s wrong, so they’ll never admit it. Similar to a dirty work kitchen. Plates and cups everywhere, with everyone in the same office complaining about the mess, but hang on, it has to be one of you lot causing it!

Heading on down, I reached Rifle Range Gully Track, but the sign could do with a spruce up.

broken-sign-rifle-range-gully-track

That’s not all, as there was another trophy to be found. This unfinished bag sat in the middle of the track. Unlike the muesli wrapper, I won’t go nuts about this one. The only people I’ve seen eat chemist jelly beans are diabetics. For all I know, the owner of this unfinished bag were on their last legs, was too slow at the sugar fix and stumbled a short distance away to lapse into a coma. Maybe.

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If you dropped this, you’re a prick! Exemption applies if you’re dead.

I continued wandering and at times the walking notes made no sense, but somehow…

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…I eventually found the super-wide Bartlett Track. You could drive a truck up this one, so I thought it would be quite plain, but it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the walk. Plenty of ferns and tall trees to examine. Oh, not photographic wise though. I was still standing bolt upright in the middle of the track, taking the same looking shot.

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I continued to wander as I reached Barges Track and then headed along Georges Track…

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…before something caught my eye. Again? Okay, if you insist, here comes the same photo caption once more.

holding-plastic-bag-walking-track

If you dropped this, you’re a prick!

I was starting to get a collection of rubbish, as I filled my pockets with what I was finding.

Now, things went a little weird along here. I was diligently adhering to the walk notes and this section said, ‘…walk 500m down to the next junction and turn left along Possum Track…’

No problem, right? Well, every junction I’d come to before were like huge intersections. Signs and all sorts of stuff as a hint, so it was easy to stay in the right direction.

This time though, I was strolling along and began to feel as if I’d gone way past 500m, without any sign of a turn-off. It got so bad, I just knew I’d missed it, but didn’t know how this was possible. Anyway, what made it worse was I was walking uphill and felt I’d been doing incline walking for absolutely no reason.

Backtracking, I eventually found Possum Track and not in a million years is it at a junction. It’s not signposted and even the entrance is a little overgrown and yes, I’ll admit it. I used the GPS to confirm I was in the right spot. The notes were written ten years ago, so the area must have changed. Either that, or GT was taking the piss.

Heading down Possum Track, it was a little bushy, but easy enough to follow…

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Possum Track

…and eventually it popped out a short distance from the Eagle Nest Picnic Ground.

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Eagle Nest Picnic Ground

This was a nice spot and with a few chairs and tables around, it was my first opportunity to sit down and put the feet up for a while. It was pretty peaceful and 100% drone-free, but I couldn’t lounge around for too long. I’d started in the afternoon after the monumental drive from the west, so the sinking sun meant I’d have to get moving.

What’s to come? Not a lot, other than I knew this last section would be borderline annoying, as it’d be uphill mainly. I’d dropped a bit of height since the start and in the process of my loop walk, would have to start making it all up again.

I followed Chamberlain Track, which led to Prices Track and other than a few flat sections, continued to gradually rise.

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Prices Track

There were some nice sights amongst the rapid-fire heartbeats though…

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…and some sections were full of ferns. The standard colour…

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…and others in a vibrant green.

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I was well and truly getting towards the end, as I kept chipping away at the hills in front. Somewhere along the line I spotted this contraption in the bush.

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I assume it’s used by the government to tune into my thoughts whilst walking? If so, they’d have visions of abundant baby oil and a rogue turnip.

During all the excitement at the start, I forgot to mention the walk goes through the R.J Hamer Forest Arboretum. Anyway, as I kept climbing, the tracks re-enter the arboretum and it’s easy enough to know you’re there, as the vegetation goes a little nuts. Firstly though, I followed this concealed arrow…

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…as it led along a shady path…

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…before revealing dozens of colourful flowers.

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Light was getting dim, so this next photo is a little blurry…

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…but this one is acceptably sharp.

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Rhododendron

It was quite nice through the arboretum, so it’s a pity I had to keep moving. Light was well and truly fading as I exited the bush and was again on the embankment leading up to Woolrich Lookout. This time though, it was sans drone.

sunset-woolrich-lookout-olinda

I really should start these sort of walks a little earlier than 2 pm, like I did with this one. Ah, but the drive…

Anyway, I made it to the car in one piece and yet another walk from that cursed book was completed. Sure, it doesn’t have the fanfare of the waterfalls and mist, but it wasn’t too bad. Plus, I managed to fit David Hemmings into a walking post. You tell me how many other entries on outdoor blogs have managed that? Oh, one last thing, total walkers sighted for the day? None. Again.

Now it was just a matter to make the long journey home with my pocket full of other peoples rubbish. In summing up, Olinda Forest, Dandenong Ranges National Park is a solid 12 km wander along fern-lined tracks and there was enough to keep me interested.

What’s next? I think it might be the Grampians. Ha!