Mount Ida via Dargile Forest, Heathcote, Victoria.

So, the first proper walking post for 2014 should be about what? Well, a walk in 2013 of course. As the diligent reader will know, I’ve been laid up for the past month with a dodgy neck, so walks are thin on the ground. As in none. Things are looking up though, as my neurosurgeon is back from his holidays and I’ll be seeing him next week.

Oh yeah, I also had an MRI, which shows I’ve only got one bulging disc causing angst and every other problem is due to osteophytes (bone spurs). Somewhere along the line I’ve developed a few and they seem to be pressing into the surrounding nerves. What does one do about these? I’ve no idea, but that’s why I’m paying this bloke a stack next week to decide. Are you bored yet? Sorry, but I’ve got a few more paragraphs of this to go.

One thing about the MRI. I’ve had them before and previously they’ve been these enormous machines. Not my most recent though. Somehow I was introduced to a minuscule version. How about this. The operator told me I couldn’t have headphones, which are usually de rigueur to combat the alien sounds of the machine MRI-ing, as, “Looks like your head won’t fit!” Huh? Now you think I’ve got this enormous melon head, don’t you? It continued, “Pull in your shoulders, as you don’t fit in the tube”. Now you think I’m as wide as Haystacks Calhoun, don’t you?

I’m not sure what the story was, but I was worried he’d coat me in butter to slide me in. I ended up being shoved in with my shoulders touching the sides and my face having only a few inches of breathing space. I guess it was just my luck to elect to attend the premises of the, ‘takin’ the piss MRI’ (TTPMRI).

Anyway, it was pretty weird, so I took a photo of it when I left. See what I mean about its size?


Problematic MRI for the horizontally challenged

That’s it for the latest medical update. Now this walk. It seems apt to write it up now, as I did this day stroll in January last year and it just happened to be boiling. If you’re in Melbourne now, you’ll know what I mean, as the current heat wave is slightly apocalyptic. It bothers me a little when people write, ‘once in a century heat wave’ and it’s only 14 years in. I’m sure I heard the ‘once in a century’ line around 2009, when a string of mind-snapping hot days was a prelude to the Black Saturday fires? Anyway, it might be easier to write, ‘once in a decade heat wave’ from now on?

I picked this walk out of Glenn ‘Sultan of Sweat’ Tempest’s book, ‘Victoria’s Goldfield Walks’ and he does note, ‘…the forest is open and there is little real shade so it would be best to visit during the cooler months of the year…’ Okay. I read this, considered the advice for a while and then promptly ignored it.

Why didn’t I write up this stroll called ‘Mount Ida and Dargile Forest’ last year? Pretty easy really. I spent the day fighting off heat exhaustion and as a result, only took a handful of photos, which were ordinary to say the least. So, it was subsequently tagged, ‘walk to never mention to anyone’ and was promptly binned. If you continue reading, it’s not my fault. I’ve given my disclaimer, as this may not be my best work.

Here we go. This walk is close to Heathcote and I couldn’t really remember what the place looked like? Upon reaching it, I realised why I couldn’t remember. It seems to be completely forgettable and even now I’m only guessing what’s there. I shouldn’t be too harsh as it does have one claim to fame of the ‘longest main street in Victoria’. Woah. Ease up with the highlights big boy!

The days fun started at the Dargile Forest Picnic Area, with the the aim of the day to reach Mount Ida. Don’t ask me why it has that name, as I’ve no idea. Maybe it was some sort of hipster surveyor from those ‘ye olde’ days? Upon reaching the summit he may have proudly shouted, “I da awesome!!” and just streamlined his proclamation?

Anyway, I was off and racing, but within 30 seconds wasn’t too happy with my walk notes, so I took a short cut. As a result, I came across an ancient watering hole, used by alcoholics during centuries gone by.


I missed the party. By about 50 years.

Note one. Don’t take my shortcut, otherwise you’ll come across this sight, which is pointless, as I’ve checked the cans and they’re all empty.

I ended up powering up Rodney Track, whilst thinking to myself, “Why am I here? It seems to be hot and the forest is open. Someone should have told me to walk this in the cooler months. Bastards.”

Photo options were also thin on the ground. This tree though, was a little interesting. There seemed to be some sort of growth/fungus/I’ve no idea/I feel like a cup of tea on the tree, which appeared to be bursting out through the bark.


When I saw it, all I could think of was this scene…


…so I made sure to keep well away from it.

Oh yeah, just a note. I was going to put in a more graphic photo from the movie concerning the outcome of this egg observing, but I was concerned about my younger readers, plus the squeamish punter. I don’t want people throwing up breakfast through their nostrils, as a result of my blog post. I’m a very caring sort of bloke like that.

Anyway, away from the movies, I continued up until reaching one of the highlights of the day. An elongated stroll up ‘North Ridge’, where the views were quite nice. I think. Remember I hardly took any pictures, so I’m only guessing.


North Ridge to Mt Ida

Due to the baking heat, it seemed to continue for quite a while, but eventually the top was in sight…


…but, that’s nowhere near Mt Ida. The stroll continued until I reached a road, where the slackers can summit by parking their car near the top. Then again, I was wishing my car was near the top, as there was a fair amount of melting = cursing like a sailor who’d being kicked in the nuts, going on.

A quite sharp hill leads to the top of Mt Ida and I’m sure you won’t miss it. Just follow the hundred structures, antennas and fire-watch tower, which sit atop…


The fire tower was manned that day and I did stop and talk to the bloke high above. He said something that sounded like words and I replied with other words. It’s a bit hazy a year later, but I’m sure it was an interesting conversation. I was going to take a photo of him, but I’d lost my mojo for pictures due to impending heat stroke. As you can see from the images, there’s not a lot to keep the sun away from cooking the cranium.

The highest point is an insanely drab affair with the buildings around, but I followed the books advice and continued on until reaching a semi-shady area with some nice views.


It was pretty dry though and bright summer sun is a killer on photos…


…as I pondered the brown paddocks below.


If you’re heading there, it’s the spot to be and it’s not far from the towers, as the next photo shows.


I spent quite some time in this peaceful spot, before reluctantly leaving the views behind and beginning what turned out to be quite a trudge back down the mountain.

Waving goodbye to fire tower man, I retraced my steps along North Ridge before taking a turn-off down Rodney Track. Initially this descent achieves ‘prick’ status, as it’s steep and the surface is a little loose. I was constantly checking my step to ensure I didn’t go arse-up.


Start of steep descent down Rodney Track

The knees were copping a decent workout, but my slow pace meant I wasn’t missing any ‘treasures of the track’. If only there were some lenses in these glasses, another arm and the other wasn’t bent. They’d be great otherwise.


If only

The quality continued as I found some sort of metal thing. I’m sure it’s important to whatever it fell off.


This is surely something

Whilst inching my way down, I actually took a photo of the landscape. Here’s looking back at the descending Rodney Track.


Not very thrilling, is it? Don’t worry, as the highlights continued. A small piece of ceramic caught my eye. What I usually find in the old goldfield places are blue pieces of ceramic, which I assume were part of the old-timers bowls or plates? No idea, but I’ve seen a few around Steiglitz Historic Park. On this occasion though, the small piece was green. Mm…


Then again, it may have been dropped by some bloke last week who then ran it over in his car. Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned it for a while, but it was still bloody hot. In fact, the sun was so brutal, even trees were wearing headbands to stop the sweat.


It’s hot in the Dargile Forest

Finally, I reached the end of Rodney Track and now made a beeline to the car, although I was barely moving due to brain flame-out. I passed by ‘Eatwell Track’, but what I was looking for was, ‘I Don’t Feel Well Track’. I didn’t find it though.

All you need to know is I made it to the car in one piece and proceeded to sit with the air conditioner on for about a decade before being able to drive. There was also another lesson learnt. No matter how light the boots are, it’s not a good idea to wear the Gore-Tex lined ones when you’ve got to walk on the surface of the sun…


Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Since the last time I didn’t do something smart.

That’s that. Can you see now why I didn’t write this up last year? Not a lot happened and the only chance I’d ever go back to that dusty, dry place is in the middle of winter.

In wrapping up, do you ever wonder what happens to all the little things I find on the way during these walks? All I can say is the mantelpiece is getting a little full…


Trinkets tell the tales

I reckon I’m done. With this post and after looking at tomorrows forecast. 44°C is not my ideal temperature. Oh yeah, remember earlier how I didn’t want to use a graphic photo from the movie Alien? Sorry. I’ve changed my mind.


“Well, this has been a disappointing start to the day.”