In starting off, I should mention my blog needs a bit of sprucing up. First of all, I hope you’ve noticed I’ve increased the size of the pictures on this page to ‘slightly monstrous’. It’s the result of the mental scarring endless Google image searches on individual topics that return postage size photos has caused. Gnome sized pictures worked back in 1995 when everyone was on dial up internet, but I’m afraid it’s time to move on.
This is still an experiment, although I’m already impressed by the fact I can see the pictures without my glasses on. If anyone reading gets too overwhelmed and finds themselves collapsing due to ‘face slapping photo size’, I’d appreciate if you’d let me know. Oh yeah, if by some chance you didn’t notice the size change, I can refer you to a decent optometrist if you’d like?
How about some walking as well? I can say that’s been happening, but I’ve dithered a little with this entry over the past week. The reason being is nothing untoward happened, which makes for a thoroughly casual write up.
The disclaimer to this post is there are no major disasters and about the only thrill you may get is a photo of some blood. Mind you, it’s not just any old blood, it happens to be mine which is disappointing for me, but at least it gives me something to lure you into having a read. I’ll also saturate the entry with photos, which is my signature move when I’ve got nothing to write about.
Actually, this is a fantastic walk and I’ve been wanting to do it for some time. The essential statistics of the Big Walk, Mt Buffalo National Park are it’s a 10 km climb, with 1000 metres gained, to the top of Mt Buffalo. Sounds like a worthy workout? Well, it would want to deliver, seeing how it’s officially named the ‘Big Walk’.
I looked at doing it last year, but the area received some crazy rainfall, which caused the hike to be closed for months on end. It eventually began to reopen, but only the upper segments, cutting out a lot of the initial climbing. Hang on, how can it be a ‘Big Walk’ if there’s minimal painful, climbing stuff? I remember looking at the reopened section on the map and uttering, “They’ve got to be kidding. That’s got to be renamed the ‘piss-poor walk’ I’m afraid.”
Anyway, the total walk has reopened, but there’s one other thing that’s put me off a little. It’s not a circuit, unless you power up to the top and then turn around and race back down the same path.
I’m officially a ‘circuit man’ and I don’t like repeating the same path on a hike, so I put this trip on the back-burner. That was until Smuffin entered the picture, when he told me he was spending a week at Bright, which is only a matter of minutes from the start of the walk. An arrangement to get picked up at the top was the perfect scenario and there was only one tricky part left to contend with. The weather.
Bright in summer is baking hot and the day of our walk was no exception. A forecast top of 35°C certainly had me worrying a little and if you remember my opening post of the year at Steiglitz, I don’t operate too well over 25°C.
The finishing point at Mt Buffalo is over 1300 metres high though and the forecast temperature up there was a far more respectable 20°C.
A simple plan was formulated. Carry a ton of water and get up the mountain quickly. It certainly wasn’t the most technical plan and my speed was always going to be sluggish, due to the intention of drought-proofing myself by carrying six litres of water.
I suppose we could have started the walk at an absurd early time such as 6 am? Sure, we’d beat the heat, but you’ve got to be kidding. It was Saturday morning and I needed to have my rest, so the agreement was to start no later than 10 am, which is a far more respectable hour.
Finally to finish this enormous post introduction off, I must mention there was quite a clan going. Besides old-stagers such as Ben, Smuffin and Anon, there were another couple who are also anonymous. In fact, there were so many anonymous people who don’t exist, but who were on the hike, even I can’t keep up. In the end, the result is we looked like a tour group at the start.
Finally starting, the walk begins at the Eurobin Creek picnic area. Right next to a hat on a pole. I don’t think the owner intended to leave his hat there, but if you see it you’re on the right track.
The Park Victoria notes mention the first 2.7 km are the hardest, which is always an entertaining way to start. The track crosseed Eurobin Creek via a thrilling swing bridge, which left me feeling seasick. I’m not sure why it swayed so far sideways as I walked over it? Am I too heavy?
Remember the mention of a few additional ‘Anon’s’ on this walk? Well, it was at about this point I last saw the newer anonymous members. I would guess at about 125 metres into the walk they slipped into turbo mode and vanished off up the hill. In fact, I never saw them again for the entire day. I guess I was the one with the camera though and on a nice sunny day it was always going to get a hiding.
The notes were actually quite correct. It’s a ‘steady steep’ climb, but not ‘nut snapping’ steep, so I plodded along checking out the highlights along the way. There were plenty of monstrous Mountain Ash trees to keep me amused, although I still haven’t worked out the best way to look at them. With the group in the photo below, I leant so far backwards I was aware of my hair touching the heels of my shoes.
Certainly the base of the mountain is lush, with ferns aplenty and the shade made for enjoyable climbing.
The odd feather here and there are rarely neglected as a photo opportunity.
Evidence of fire can be seen, with the last major blaze in the area being in 2006. It certainly doesn’t hinder the path in any way though.
You should know by now I’ve got a large leaf fetish, but I had a dilemma regarding photographing them, as there were way too many to choose from. Yes I know, I’m fully aware it’s not the biggest problem in the world.
The temperature was already quite warm, but the forest was keeping the sun off the skin. It may have created a bit of stifling humidity, but with six kilos of water in my backpack, I was able to replenish myself every 0.8 of a second or so.
Finally the magical, ‘it’s hard for the first 2.7 kms’ was reached at a four wheel drive track. I was with the traditional Anon at this stage and declared without looking at the map, “Turn right I reckon”. Guess what? It was left, which shows I really should check maps more often.
It was a bit odd not to have any signage at the one spot that required an indication of direction. Mm… Then again, I could have just looked at an enormous makeshift arrow created on the ground. Obviously someone else had the same problem as us. If you’re going to do this walk, remember to turn left when you hit the four wheel drive track.
We walked along the track before meeting the road that goes to the top of Mount Buffalo. The road is crossed a few times during the walk, which is not too bad if you’ve had enough and want to bail out and look for a lift.
It was at a perfect hairpin as well and it reminded me the one thing missing in my camera armoury is a decent wide angle lens. I just missed out on the whole curve in the one photo.
There’s a short section of road before crossing over onto the Big Walk track, which continues on and now offers views down towards Porepunkah. Although still rising, the track is a lot more casual from this point and of course the ferns kept coming.
I also made sure I didn’t neglect the many trees with strips of bark dangling from them, along with the odd fallen leaf sitting among ferns.
There’s not much going on is there? It can’t be helped though as I don’t create balls ups just for the entertainment of this blog. A bit more walking and the road is crossed again, which gave me a chance to have a quick rest. Some of the trees next to the road have old wire and insulators in them. Old phone lines? Electricity? I’m just crapping on now, as I’ve no idea.
When we stopped, I also noticed I’d lost the Parks Victoria handout and map, which I last remembered having back at the first road crossing. How could I lose it? Oh well, it wasn’t vital, as it was a matter of following an obvious path, but I’ve no idea how I dropped it. Come to think of it, it’s not the first map I’ve lost, so if you ever elect to come on a walk with me, I suggest you bring your own.
Back across the road, the track ventured up a path, hemmed in by ferns and trees.
This casually continues on until guess what? Yep, the road is met again at a spot called ‘Mackeys Lookout’ and it was a chance for another photo of a perfect hairpin. Where’s my wide angle lens when I need it? I think I already know the answer, as it’s in the shop, waiting for me to buy it.
From the lookout, the terrain completely changes. Instead of ferns, there’s a section of granite slabs and assorted gum trees. The views are pretty spectacular here once out of the forest and we had intentions of stopping for a snack, but without shade, the sun was hurting. Reflecting off the granite was not helping things, so after a few photos we elected to keep moving.
The path began to zig-zag and objects above started to catch my eye. First of all, it was the traditional jet contrail…
…and then for something different, a paraglider casually cruising down from the top of Mt Buffalo into the valley below.
If it wasn’t so bloody hot, I would have enjoyed this section a little more. The slabs of granite made a nice visual change from the forest areas.
The half-way mark of the walk had been passed and I began to find the open section a little tiring. Anon and I decided it was time to stop, at the first available shady area for a snack and a rest. Trees were hard to find, but a huge boulder next to the track was pretty good for some shelter. A rest, some water and something to eat does wonders for the energy levels. Who would have thought?
There was another rare event on this hike. I was wearing shorts. That might sound pretty dull, until you realise I was only 16 years old when I last walked in shorts. I’ve never been a fan of the exposed leg business and I haven’t changed my mind as I noticed a cut on my leg.
I’ve no idea what caused it, but the Parks Victoria map did make a mention of the open section we’d passed through,
“…watch for sharp Saw Sedge plants along side…”.
So, there you go, I’ll blame the sedge.
We eventually moved on and continued up, with our target being Marriotts Lookout. There was a chance to admire the bright colours in the bark of the trees on the way.
We reached Marriotts Lookout and there’s a great view into the gorge below Mt Buffalo. I noted one enormous boulder standing alone, but do you think I could find out anything about it? Most unusual rocks in the area have been given a name and off the top of my head there’s Egg Rock, the Monolith, Pulpits Rock, Leviathan and Split Rocks. I’m not sure how the one below missed out, but I’m giving it a name. It’s now the ‘Hudson’. Pretty funny huh?
By the way, do you realise I started writing this post four days ago and it’s still not done? I guess you don’t realise how time consuming writing this crap can be. I think blogging will send me to an early grave.
Anyway, on our way again and as the track rises, it enters some much appreciated shade. It does enter some interesting areas, but I can’t mention them all, otherwise it’ll take me another four days to finish this post. I must mention what I found to be an interesting spot regarding the tree below.
There’s a sign nearby that has a comparison photo from the ‘ye olde’ days. The photo on the sign is absolute garbage and it took me a day to find a nice, clear picture online that would be worthy of this ‘fine’ blog.
I eventually found it on the State Library of Victoria website and as a result I lost half a day perusing other unrelated photos. It’s actually a great resource for old pictures I didn’t know existed and there’s plenty of the Mt Buffalo area, including the Monolith which kept me entertained. In fact I’m going to have to revisit my Monolith post at some point to include some present day comparisons to the old photos. Anyway, here’s the picture and its official caption is as follows,
‘Woman sitting in car in bush setting, dry stone wall in foreground’.
Author/Creator: Alice Manfield 1878 – 1962?. Date(s): (ca. 1900 – ca. 1930)
Mm… I think that sums it up, but check out the tree and rock. They’re still the same!
There you go. A bit of history to keep you going. It’s part of a collection of photos attributed to Alice Manfield who was a guide in the area between the 1890’s and 1930’s. The Wikipedia link I just provided gives a bit of information about her, but the photo also has the following caption.
‘Born in 1878, Alice Manfield was the daughter of local pioneer James Manfield, she gained a reputation as Guide Alice, delighting the first tourists to the remote and rugged plateau with her love and knowledge of the spectacular landscapes around the Gorge, as well as her preference for more practical home-made trouser suits”.
Did I just read that correctly? Trousers? The outrage! It’s lucky civilisation didn’t collapse when women decided to wear pants.
Anyway, although the walk continued up, the inclines were now quite respectable to the lungs. It was only a matter of a few kilometres to go, as the path circumvents the Gorge of Mt Buffalo. Actually, the Gorge is the most eminent part of Mt Buffalo when viewed from a distance, as it’s an enormous, vertical rock wall leading to the top. There were plenty of nice views through this section…
…including pools of water amongst the rocks.
Then before we knew it we were closing in on the official finish line at the Mt Buffalo Chalet. Firstly we passed the picnic area known as the ‘Oval’, complete with cricket pitch…
…plus, a great looking tree on the edge of the grass with vibrantly coloured bark.
Following the Oval we ran into Smuffin who’d finished the walk roughly a decade earlier. With the Chalet nearby…
…the wander had officially ended.
Okay, in wrapping up, I think it’s worthy of the ‘Big Walk’ name and I think the statistics reflect the title. Even though it’s only 12.33 km in length, the total elevation climbed was 1,108 metres, which was a pretty solid days work.
In the end I didn’t need my six litres of water after all, as a check at the top revealed I’d only drunk five litres. Plenty left! Is there anything else? Probably, but as this has been the eternal post I’ll publish it and if anything pops up in the next few days I’ll amend it. I might finish off with a lonely lookout seat near the chalet.