Moleside to Battersbys, Great South West Walk

Hey, do you remember this stroll? Undeniably it’s part of the longest attempt to write about a walk in the history of mankind. Seeing how this hike was completed in winter, I was pretty confident it’ll all be written up by Christmas. Well, I’ve got some news for you. It won’t be, but don’t worry. This post is a quickie with not a great deal to report of the 20 km walk from Moleside to Battersbys along the Glenelg River.

Oh yeah, the walking was pretty straightforward, but there was some major trauma during the evening I spent at Battersbys camp. Did you see what I just did then? I’ve just done one of the oldest writers tricks in the world, by intriguing you enough to keep reading in order to find out what happens at the end. Well, either that or you could skip the padding which I’m about to use to stretch out the post, go right to the finish and find out what the trauma was? By all means you can do this, but in the process you’ll miss a tortured tree and an eternal wallaby. Decisions…

Now, it was only three days before I reached the coastal town of Nelson, which is the half-way point of the hike. I was looking forward to that, as all of the days previously were over familiar territory, having walked them only a week before on my failed first tilt at the GSWW. This of course is one reason why I’m finding it hard to write this up. I need some new sights!

I left Moleside camp and began the stroll which generally follows close to the Glenelg River. Actually, this is quite a nice leg of the walk, as the path rises and falls with views of the river during the day. The only trouble was I couldn’t really find much to photograph, that I hadn’t already done so a week earlier. This of course is unacceptable in the blog world, so I was pretty excited to have some pareidolia action suddenly appear. Up ahead a fallen branch caught my eye.


What an unhappy looking branch! The first thing I thought of when I got closer was of its similarity to a ‘face’ in the mamelon of Hanging Rock. Okay, let’s have a look. The branch…


…and the rock. Check it out, they’re dead ringers!


I remember this rock making a few appearances in the movie, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ which helped add to the sinister tone of the film. You don’t believe me? Well, here’s a screen shot from the movie.


See? Don’t forget, you’ll never be led astray in fiasco land. Well, you might have to put up with some crap, but at least I won’t lead you astray. As I continued on, I remember feeling quite happy about that sighting, as I knew I’d be able to pad out this post with it. Actually, do bloggers also think of posts when they’re walking? I tend to spend most of the day contemplating something to do with the blog, which may mean I should seek psychiatric help.

Where was I? Oh yeah, one thing about the forest sections of the GSWW is they’re a fungi lovers paradise and on this particular leg I remember sighting the most impressive example tucked up under a tree, which I made sure to keep my eye out for again. I bet you’re really excited by this news, but you’re probably wondering what they looked like? I’d included the following picture in a previous post, but as I don’t want you to leave this entry I’ll save you the trouble by showing the photo again. Here’s what I’m talking about from a week earlier.


Mm… Looking at it now, I may have talked it up a little too much, but in person it was fantastic, mainly due to the size. They are enormous, which may not be apparent right away, but don’t forget the photo above was taken whilst looking out of a plane window at 30,000 feet.

I remember wondering how they’d progressed over a week since I’d last seen them and I knew exactly which tree they’d be hiding behind. Spotting the appropriate tree, I raced up to it, but felt a little disappointed to see my ‘super fungi’ had deteriorated a little. There’s a Latin phrase, ‘mortuus est in asinus affectu’ which is the official medical terminology for what I felt upon sighting the fungi on this day. What does this phrase mean in English? Well, I can’t do everything for you, so if you’re really keen you can head off to Google Translate and run the phrase through there. Now, do you want to see it…?


I kid you not. That’s what can happen to fungi in a week. Well, to say the least, it was a bit of a bummer, so I continued on, passing a few more that were a little bit nicer.


I was making good time and at one point left the river to walk through a heavily forested area. As I was doing so, I spotted something familiar up ahead. Now, be prepared for a number of photos that are essentially the same, plus being a wild man I’m also posting pictures that aren’t in focus due to the slow shutter speed I had to use because of lack of light.

Here we go. I hadn’t spotted much wildlife this day, but suddenly a wallaby appeared up ahead on the track. He was keeping a close eye on me as I approached.


He looked at me for a few seconds and then took off ahead out of sight. I thought he’d headed off into the bush, but as I continued on and rounded a bend in the track he was there again…


…standing upright, keeping an eye on me. As I strolled on, he again bounded off ahead and I thought he’d gone bush on this occasion. Guess what? Nope, I rounded another corner to be met with a familiar sight. By employing the use of camouflage, he was being a little sneaky this time, but I was onto him as his ears were giving the game away.


Once again, off he went and this was rapidly turning into ‘rinse and repeat’, as I rounded the next corner.


Now, do you know how long this ‘bound, stop, look, bound’ went on for? Just on 2 km! At first I thought I was scaring him, but in the end I suspect he was taking the piss out of me. I just knew what he was thinking, “Hey, do you think you can catch me with your non-bouncing feet? Dream on big boy!!”

That’s four photos now and although I seem to have another twenty whilst this action was taking place, even I gave up in the end. He’d continue to go out of sight, but just when I was fully expecting him to be sitting there as I rounded the next bend there was noise through the bush off to the side, as he’d finally headed off-track. I actually got a lot of entertainment out of that and now I was well and truly getting near the end of the days walk.

As the track continues on, it finally begins a descent to Battersbys camp, which is another lovely spot. A large grassy area with cooking shelter and landing to walk out onto in order to take photos of the traditionally glassy water of the Glenelg River. I dumped the pack and put my feet up for a while, before late in the afternoon I took some insanely reflective photos of the water. What do I mean? Well, in the next photo it could be said the picture is upside down and it’s actually a shot of the sky, but it’s not. That’s how flat the water was.


Now, remember way back to the start of this post I mentioned a traumatic end? What could possibly go wrong considering this blissful camp? Well, from Moleside camp to Battersbys I hadn’t seen a person at all. It was winter, it was cold and with the sun setting early I fully expected a solitary evening. Guess what? Wrong!

Battersbys camp is accessible to vehicles and although the hikers campsite is for walkers only, there’s a large area for car campers right next door. So, there I was mellowing out on my own, having eaten, tent up and with light rapidly fading when I heard the sound of a car drive into the car camp. Mm… Maybe some last minute sightseers? No, I couldn’t be so lucky, as they stopped and appeared to be staying the night.

I strolled over using trees for camouflage to see who my neighbours were to be for the night and was quite surprised to see two middle aged blokes hard at work emptying their 4WD of what appeared to be their house. These blokes had what looked like a ton of stuff. There was an enormous tent going up, barbecue with multiple gas bottles, chairs and so it went on. Then out came the axes. Mm…

With shiny axes at the ready I watched the two blokes stroll around looking for wood, whilst noting they were rather ‘interesting’ looking. They both had a hint that at some time in their lives they’d been smashed around the head with large rubber mallets until their faces were suitably gruesome looking and their heads had adopted a classic ‘potato shape’. They then began chopping up any wood lying around for a fire.

Anyway, I left my foxhole and returned to the hiking shelter to recoup my Zen  I was just hooking up my inner Buddhist when the chopping stopped and suddenly the two blokes appeared nearby carrying beers, heading to the landing which that reflection shot I took earlier was taken. Seeing how they were only ten metres away and in order to stay on their side, I yelled out in my most manly voice, a hearty “G’day”.  Do you know what happened? They both looked at me whilst sipping their beers, didn’t even acknowledge my comment and walked off back to the wood chopping site.

My reaction to this snub was the obvious thought, “You rude pricks!”. I guess though, there was a couple of scenarios to this. Maybe they looked at me and thought, “Woah! There’s one of those hiking funny boys!” or “Woah! How can we have a rough and tumble roll together whilst naked with one of those hiking funny boys here?!”

Oh well, I gave it my best shot, but as it was now dark I contemplated hitting the tent for the night. On cue the axe chopping started again, as it appeared they needed more timber (for a fire?) than beavers on steroids.

Then something truly evil happened. Yes, my neighbours put on a stereo. Mind you, not just any old stereo. It was so loud, it sounded like it was getting piped through the speakers from Woodstock. Okay, now they were being pricks². If it’s at all possible, do you know what was worse? They weren’t just playing music, but it was the radio and it was one of those horrific ‘hits and memories’ stations!

So, there I was having every dirge-like ’70’s and ’80’s power-pop/crapola, complete with radio advertisements wash over me. I was feeling queasy, until I suddenly heard my most hated song that with one morsel hitting my ears, immediately bent me over involuntarily in pain. Yes, it was Billy Joel’s, ‘Uptown Girl’. There’s no song I’ve ever heard that makes me want to retch violently and here I was defenceless against it.

I only had one antidote, as I sprinted to the tent and fumbled through my pack for my iPod. I desperately needed the dulcet tones of the Sex Pistols to clear my head. It was a close call, but I made it and held my stomach as it churned. I lay there thinking, “Why am I so small? Why can’t I be King Kong for just a day?” If that was the case, everything would be peaceful again with a traditional combination of the ‘munch and stomp’.


“You play Billy Joel?? Loud?? AT A CAMPSITE???”


“Hits and memories radio?? Loud???!! Into the ground you go!!!”

So, there you go. I lay back in the tent whilst my lumberjack friends continued chopping and blasting the surrounding area into submission with crap radio. For all I know they were now naked and covered in baby oil whilst chopping their wood, but I was saved by the iPod. I remember wedging the headphones in with the sleeping bag, so they couldn’t accidently fall out during the night.

In finishing off after all of that trauma, how about another peaceful reflection shot of the Glenelg River.