NB – 20/09/16 – Hi! As you can see, I’m not meant to be here. What I’ve done is come back from the future of 2016 and throw a quick blurb into this 2014 post. This post was originally about a place called ‘Clearwater Creek’ in Lederderg State Park. The details where I got the walk from are below. Little did I know (and the author of the walk notes) that I wasn’t in Clearwater Creek at all, but rather Watties Creek.
Yeah, I know, it sounds like a fiasco, but I’ve got a disclaimer. The official map is wrong, which is where the problem stems from. If you visit this post, titled, you guessed it Clear Water Creek, you’ll find out the full story. All you need to know is that whenever I refer to Clearwater Creek in this post, I’m actually talking about Watties Creek.
I could go through and retype it all, but I figured this note will assist. It doesn’t affect the walk anyway. Unless you break a leg and phone for help and nominate the wrong spot. Oh well, the only advice I have is to try and not get injured! Anyway, I’m going back to 2016. Oh, don’t get all excited about what’s to come in 2016. It’s pretty annoying. Believe or not, but some bloke who’s bright orange is running for the White House. Wait until you get to 2016 and find out. It’s a wild scene.
I must be getting soft. The dedicated masochist reader of this blog will know I’ve had a flare up of what’s called in medical terms, a ‘bung’ neck. As a result I’ve seen my neurosurgeon, who although licking his lips as he eyed off my throat in a desire to slice it open, decided to try a CT injection of cortisone for potential short term pain relief.
That’s what happened this morning. I had the same treatment two years ago and it was a fairly painless procedure. Not today. Whilst being injected, I was warned I’d feel pain in my arm, but I didn’t think it would feel like a Yeti had just sat on it. It’s hard to describe, but if you’re out hiking one day and come across a mythical beast, ask him (is the Yeti a bloke? What’s a woman? A Yettette?) to sit on your arm, so you know what I felt today. Oh yeah, just to clarify things for all you deviants out there, I said sit on the arm, not the face. It pays to clear some things up.
Anyway, I’ve made it home alive and am now waiting for some pain relief to kick in. I don’t know if it’s meant to, but I feel a bit blah, but hopefully the feeling wears off later. Don’t panic if you’re reading this post and suddenly it goes all blurry. It’s not your eyes, but instead it’ll be my uncontrollable drooling as I lapse into a mouth watering coma over your screen. If that’s the case, I hope I don’t wake up dead, as I’ll never finish this write-up.
Okay, whilst I contemplate death, here’s yet another blast from the past, although it’s not really that long ago. More like a blast from the kinda recent. Lerderderg State Park. Have you heard of it? There’s a chance you may have, seeing how I’ve force fed you many tales of woe during multiple ‘derg rantings. Don’t put your feet up either, as I’ve still got three more to go before I can confidently say the lerd’ (can’t write another ‘derg so soon after the last one) is done.
You know what? It all started when someone left a comment saying, “Why don’t you do some walks in Lerderderg Gorge?” It was probably said innocently, but due to my strange thought processes (demented) I interpreted it as an attack on my hiking palmarès. “Huh? You reckon I can’t walk in Lerderderg??!! Bastard!!!” As you can see, I’m always pushing the limits of being a wanker.
Anyway, a walking in the ‘derg (this can be used again, as it’s miles from the last one and you’d have forgotten about it anyway) I’ve gone. At the end the ‘derg (blast. There was one only a minute ago) posts, I’ll show you a map of the gorge where I’ve highlighted each conquered track. Instead of going out on a Friday night, I’ll regularly sit at home in my leather chaps and do stuff like that instead.
What’s this one all about? I got this walk out of Glenn ‘Baron of Ball Breaking’ Tempest’s book, ‘Daywalks Around Victoria’. Do I have to mention where I get these from? I suppose I’m applying the ‘good bloke’ principle by doing so. One day I’ll do my own books. First cab off the rank in mine will be a full traverse of the west suburban Sunshine at night, with the aim of not getting robbed or stabbed in the process. Instead of track warnings regarding snakes, I’ll include the locations of syringes you’ll most likely find. Gear lists will include steel-capped boots for tackle kicking and a ·38 revolver (always snub-nose, as they clear the holster faster).
Sorry, I was day-dreaming. This walk is listed as ‘difficult’. I’ve found some of the Tempest walks he declares ‘easy’, quite hard, so I’d prepared not for ‘difficult’, but vomit inducing. Nearly all my previous outings in the gorge were during winter. I’d prefer winter hiking any time, but it’s not for everyone. Generally, it’s only for men who are men and women who’re glad they’re not men, as the men are tools and it’s understandable not wanting to be one.
Warmer weather might mean easier Lerderderg River levels, but the snakes are out and about. Frankly, I reckon the joint is a goddamned snake pit, so I felt a little wary as I picked out a warmish day to get this jaunt done. There were some changes though. Shorts and gaiters were de rigueur, even though my non-suntanned legs were a potential, embarrassing eye blinder. Preparing for this, I decided to walk with a full-sized watermelon down the front of my pants, so if I came across anyone, their eyes would be diverted from studying my laser beam white legs.
I successfully found the start. Actually, it wasn’t hard to find, as there’s a certain sameness about the walks I do. Generally it involves stepping out of the car, adjusting the watermelon to the left and then walking uphill. It’s quite traditional. Oh yeah, it was already warm and the skies were clear. Do I have to tell you? I guess you already know, but for newcomers, the polarizer was locked and loaded onto the camera and never coming off.
Once over the initial hill, I settled into a routine of undulations. Spring and warm weather had brought out the flowers, along with this buzzing bee.
Strolling on, I came across an intersection I’d need to find later in the day. It wouldn’t be hard to locate in six hours time, as all I had to remember was look for the destroyed sign.
It looked like Hercules had done some walking in the area.
Moving on, the ambling was comfortable and fairly run-of-the-mill, until I came across some water-filled vehicle tracks. Something caught my eye in the water…
…and by slipping into ‘stealth-elephant’ mode, I spotted what was moving.
Yes, a fairly smallish echidna was mellowing out in the water on this already hot day. Oh yeah, I wasn’t standing as close as the photo appears. A fair bit of zoom and cropping was involved, but even though I kept some distance, he spotted me and buried his head into the water. He remained with all his defences deployed until I’d passed by.
I reckon it was a pretty good find for early in the walk. Not wanting to stress him out by hanging around, I pushed on and encountered one of my favourite plants. Grass trees.
So far, so good. The cruisy walking was over now, as the track began to plummet towards the river. On the way though, I came across this strange contraption. A cage of some sort?
I don’t know what’s kept in there, but with the door open, I’m not sure if that was a good or bad sign. I wasn’t too worried, as it was way too small for a Yowie to be locked up in. It was a perfect size though for the gimp. Maybe this is where he hangs out?
A steep descent followed before reaching the Lerderderg River. Now the fun and games were to commence. I’d walked along the river a few times and it’s always entertaining. A mixture of getting wet and battling scrub along the banks. I did have the gaiters though, which I hoped would deter most scratching. I passed these old signs…
…and then headed into the water for an early crossing.
Although a bit tricky, I actually find the river sections of the gorge to be the most interesting. There are a lot of huge eucalyptus trees to admire and the trunk of this one was popular with ants scurrying across.
The polarizer was working well, as I gingerly plodded downstream…
…looking for the easiest route. I criss-crossed a few times, due to the inevitable cliffs looming up ahead, blocking the way.
Ambling on, I came across a nice section of river, which was quite open and it allowed me to sit down for a while in non-plant scratching peace. I even pottered with a few…
…time delayed photos for some water blur.
I didn’t want to get too comfortable though, as I could imagine lying back on the rocks and dozing off, before waking at about 11 pm, wondering why I was sitting on a rock in the dark.
Upon moving, it was standard fare of bent eucalyptus branches creating folds of bark…
…and then sections of long grass, branches and flood debris, which put the gaiters to good use.
I continued bumbling along, keeping an eye out for some approaching cliffs, so I could get on the right side of the river to avoid them.
It was nice to get out of the grass, as I’m always a little apprehensive when I can’t see what my feet are tramping on. My only early snake warning device is extremely loud stomping and various profanities shouted out at frequent intervals.
If you’re in Lerderderg Gorge one day, enjoying a peaceful walk in nature and hear, “MUTHAFUCKA!!!!”, being shouted, then don’t worry, as it’s only me. Say hi while you’re at it.
It’s all pretty quiet, isn’t it? No dramas? Well, there was about 37 seconds of insanity to come. I just passed these nice pools of water…
..and continued rock-hopping, when something stopped me in my tracks.
At the last second between a few rock-hops, I spotted the world’s largest black snake, with a flame-red belly lying out in the sun. I’m not a reptile expert, but with that description, I’m taking a guess it was a red-bellied black snake. What do you reckon? I really wanted to take a photo, but I was more concerned about the uncontrollable dump I was performing into my pants.
I just managed to put the brakes on few feet away and I really hoped he hadn’t cracked the snakes. For a second we were both motionless, eyeing each other off, before he suddenly took off at full throttle across the hot stones and into the river. I’d never seen this before, but the snake went deep, slithered around a few rocks, before heading up to the surface, flicked his way across the top of the water to the other side and then vanished amongst some rocks. Bloody hell. It was a close one, but the bonus was I got to see how good a snake swims and now I know they’re very good at it.
Feeling a little hesitant now, I meandered on, but when I came across this annoyingly, branch covered section of river bank…
…I decided the easiest way would be in the water. I strolled in…
…and continued splashing on.
I’ve walked in the Lerderderg River dozens of times and never had many problems. I’ve read the dark river rocks are slippery, but I’ve always stayed upright without any troubles. I was actually thinking, “What’s this crap about slippery rocks??”, which was the dumbest thing to think, as you just know what happened next.
Yes, I feel over. Not just any fall, but one of those classics, where you fall forward and the only way to stop from collapsing is move the feet quicker for some stability. All this does though, is speed the body up until you finally tumble and due to the futile, rapid fire recovery movements, you hit the water with a lot more oomph.
It was a hot day, so going into the water was no problem, unless you happen to holding a DSLR in one hand. I just happened to be holding a DSLR in one hand. The only aim in my mind was to keep the camera above the water, even if it risked destroying my body, due to not being able to use one hand to break the fall.
I raised my camera-hand towards the heavens and performed a solid splashdown with so much force my entire body went under. If you happened to be watching, this is what you would’ve seen.
Oh yeah, the camera survived. Somehow, the only thing not underwater was the upraised hand. Actually, just reviewing the above photo. I should mention the result looked identical, except a camera is in the uplifted hand. Plus, it was in a river, not a lake. Plus, it was daytime, not night. Plus, it was in 2013 and not 1972. Other than that, it was exactly like the photo.
I was now a little damp.
I must say though. I’m a little blasé at times, but even on this stinking hot day, I had all my goodies in a dry-bag within the backpack. I generally don’t trust myself to stay upright, so I learnt long ago to use dry-bags, no matter what the weather. On this occasion, the diligence worked out, as although the entire pack went underwater, a spare camera lens bundled up inside remained unsaturated.
Phew. What did I tell you earlier about 37 seconds of action?
Strolling on, it was thankfully quite tame…
…as I reached the opening of Clearwater Creek entering Lerderderg River.
I now had to follow this rough and ready creek for a few kilometres. I’ve walked a couple of other tributaries in the gorge before. Not that you would know, as I haven’t written about them. All you need to know is I have and I actually like these spots, as they feel quite isolated and generally there’s no sign of previous foot traffic. Yeah yeah, I know civilisation is not far away, but surely I can fantasize about a bit of wilderness?
My Tempest notes mentioned the creek is easier walking than the river. Mm… I was a little suspicious. During summer, maybe that’s the case when the place has dried out a little. I found a lot more water in the creek than I’d imagined. Sections like this rock pool, accompanied by slippery verges, meant it was slow going.
At least I was remaining upright, as I followed winding curves within the creek and passed numerous fallen trees.
I must say. I was feeling rooted. It was quite hot and there’s a deceptive feeling heading up the creek. It’s not obvious, as the terrain looks the same, but it’s all uphill. This probably makes sense, seeing how the creek drains into Lerderderg River?!
Actually, the confined area meant there was no breeze and it was quite stifling. I was accompanied by plenty of sweat and the sound of dozens of frogs. Now and again, one would hop out in front of me and I’d attempt to snap a photo of the web-footed friend. Most attempts were failures, but this one wasn’t too bad. He propped himself against a rock and waited until I passed by.
I must admit, I’m quite fond of a frog. It’s probably come about due to an addiction of peppermint Freddos over the years.
Anyway, onwards. Fallen trees continued be a bit of a nuisance, although the first one in the next sequence was easy to stroll under…
…but the second…
…needed the traditional scramble over.
I must admit the gaiters were proving to be a winner along here. At one point I stood on a largish rock, but my foot slipped down the side of it. The inside of my lower leg gouged down the misshapen rock, until I regained balance. Without the gaiter on, I would have lost a fair bit of skin or sustained a nasty cut, but luckily the fabric did its job, leaving me injury free.
I wish it wasn’t so hot, as the creek walking was quite spectacular in spots…
…but, due to the heat, sapping my mojo, I began to look for shortcuts to avoid the numerous corners. The only trouble was, every time I did it, I seemed to pick the wrong corner to cut. In the next picture, I cut across a corner, thinking I was flying, but ended up at the top of the cliff to the right. There was no going down from there, so I back-tracked and returned to the more traditional, ‘straight up the middle’ approach.
It was pretty slow going, but snapping a lot of photos, is one way to take frequent breaks. I quite liked the curved lines within this eucalypt tree trunk…
…before coming across what looked like a radioactive pond, full of tadpoles. If you drink this water, I suggest treating it first.
I was bragging about the gaiters before, wasn’t I? The first miss of the day was a slight stumble, resulting in a bit of a branch scrape, resulting in subsequent bleeding.
My travels along the creek were nearing an end and due to impending heart attack from exertion, I was glad to escape.
I passed by this enormous tree…
…before finding the steep Lerderderg No.2 Track. Okay, can I help out with track names in future? As it appears the naming blokes were asleep when they came up with this one.
I was feeling a bit low on juice, as I started to trudge up…
…but, stopped here for a breather, as the sun getting low in the sky, created a nice glow through the trees.
The lovely sight didn’t last long, as I resumed slogging. Officially, Lerderderg No.2 Track sucks. If I had my way with track-naming, I’d label this one as, ‘Fuck You Track’. Mm… Okay, it may not be acceptable on most maps, but go easy on me. The cortisone hasn’t done much so far, plus it’s my first draft. I can work on a better name later. Finally though, the top was in sight…
Reaching flatter terrain, I soon passed the Hercules destroyed signs from earlier in the day. I was feeling stuffed though and months later, there’s a way I can always tell if I was knackered. I stop taking photos. I seem to remember putting my head down and powering back to the car, feeling the joy of seeing the ‘Made in Japan’ vehicle parked by the roadside. Besides finally resting, at last I could get rid of the watermelon in my pants. Why did I bother? As per usual, I didn’t see anyone for the day.
Anyway, slumping into the car, I realised all anyone needs after a hot day of walking are leather seats and air-conditioning. Oh, you don’t have leather seats in your car? Then I can vouch for a cheaper alternative. Leather shorts, preferably cut mid-thigh, are just as good.
What was the go with this? Mm… Looking at the GPS read-out it seems from the 7 km mark, it was all uphill. More than enough for a beefy gent on a hot day.
Time to wrap things up. I’m out of photos, but in describing the day, I’ve applied the little used ‘Diseases and Casualties of the week’ (1632) by John Graunt to this walk. Now, by checking this out…
…there are a few things to compare.
Let me see, considering what happened, there are quite a few things, which potentially could have been fatal to me. Frightened? Yes, the snake, definitely. Griping of the guts? Oh yeah, I was 100% griping. Drowned? Yep. Sore legge? For sure. Lethargy? Huh? That’s standard! Riding of the lights? I rode some lights like a bastard, so I was lucky to survive.
Man, the list goes on. Let it be known, if you apply the above ailments to Lerderderg Gorge, then you’re well and truly not going to survive. Then again, maybe modern medicine will save you, especially from ‘suddenly’. Damn, lucky that one has been cured.
Cortisone injected torso is done for the day. No sudden uncontrollable slobbering due to coma though. I guess that’s a bonus.
Remember. This is Watties Creek, Lerderderg State Park and not Clearwater Creek. Just thought I’d be annoying and mention it again.
You had me at the watermelon down the pants!
I hope to see you enter in the Australian Writers Centre best blogs again mate. Another nice post with humour and pain!
Hey Darren, glad you liked it!
I reread this post and it's truly a ramshackle affair. A bit off the rails, but that's what happens after one has taken some decent painkillers! Ben always says my best material is when I'm off my rocker on some sort of medication 🙂
Oh yeah, that best blogs thing. Yeah, I'll give it another go this year, but I've learned my lesson. No fanfare beforehand. I'll get entered and keep a low profile to see what happens 🙂
Two drownings in a week? I suppose very few people could swim in those days, at least in the UK.
I always carry a Sea to Summit dry sack in my day pack as well, even walking around town. More than once it's saved me a few thousand dollars in sodden cameras in unexpected deluges.
Good job with the aqua-echidna and the submersible snake. Seems even wading through creeks in our deadly country is fraught with potential peril.
I know! I also didn't know winde could knock off some many people in a week?!
I thought a savvy stroller such as yourself would be equipped for a sudden submersion. As you know, these stinkin' cameras are worth a quid! I learned my lesson after drowning a DSLR and finding it cost me $400 to fix 🙂 Almost half a lens!
I never want to see a swimming snake again. There's just some things I don't need to see whilst out walking!
Am I moving? Speedo says 30km. Prima facie case.
JM, two thumbs up! Glad you've put the hard yards in and come up with an answer 🙂 That photo was a little harder to take than what it appears…
Again, I reckon you're onto something. Now, that makes a bit of sense considering the goat-frenzy of Lerderderg. Definitely large animal size. Interesting to see who put it there. I might have to make some further enquiries…
Thanks for coming up with a good idea!
Maybe pig traps.
Mm… Are there pigs in Lerderderg? I guess so. They're probably everywhere. You blokes are no fun though. A cage for the Gimp is way more entertaining.