Golden Gullies, Vaughan Mineral Springs

Can I start off with a disclaimer? This post is being tossed together with no care whatsoever, as I’ve been behind the eight ball this week. Normally, I’d lie back and tinker this crap for a few days before publishing, but it’s not the case this time. Let me explain.

Remember my House Renovations 101 post a few weeks back? Do you realise it’s the least read post I’ve published over the past year? It doesn’t seem to be too popular, which can only mean one thing. I’m going to enthral you with another house tinkering update. You should know by now, as perversely, if a topic isn’t favoured, then instead of abandoning it, I’ll actually do the complete opposite. Isn’t blogging grand? I can’t guarantee the results won’t be soporific, but there you go.

Anyway, earlier in the week I employed the bloke who went to the Albert de Salvo school of handshakes to sand and polish my floorboards. It went well, but I’m now enduring the post-polish trauma. The stench. Yeah, I was told the stuff stinks, but I had no idea how much, as I’ve never experienced it before. Now I know. The past few days I’ve felt slightly woozy and moderately dysfunctional, although it’s not too bad I guess, as I haven’t lost control of my bodily functions. Yet.

I’m sitting here, trying to come up with something which describes its odour. After a bit of thought, the only similarity I can think of is it smells like Satan’s jockstrap after he’s done an extended session of can-can dancing. Apparently it’s hot down there and as a result he’d sweat a lot? Well, that’s what I was told by someone who was there the other day. All he could say is the joint is ‘hot as hades’. Mind you, I can’t vouch if any of this correct, as I’m a little dubious about this bloke. Do you realize he’s petrified of garlic? Yeah, I know, completely bonkers.

Okay, so the floors are shiny, but their odour may have taken 10 years off my life. I think it’s worth it though. Now, to get it done, I had to empty Fiasco Mission Control (computer and couch) and place things in the garage. This was no problem until the time came to move the three-seater back inside. I thought I’d be able to stroll out in my muscle singlet and just lift it over my head, whilst proclaiming ‘yo mama’ and saunter back to the house with it. Unfortunately though, during my one attempt, I realised it weighed as much as an operating cement mixer. Abandoning the leather beast was my only option and I resorted to lying on the newly stenched floors like a hobo until some sucker came by to give me a hand. Luckily for me, Ben came by a few days later and we manhandled the monstrosity back inside, so now I’m sort of organised.

As you can see, I’ve got plenty of no-writing excuses. I’m aiming to publish a post every Friday (as it that will really happen), so there’s no chance for any down time. In order to keep to my deadline, which I’ve imposed on myself for no apparent reason, I need to finish this spiel today. Oh, another nonsensical imposition is a time limit. The Critérium du Dauphiné is on later tonight and I’ll be watching that.

Is that it? Can we talk about the walk now?


Firstly, I need to bring you up to speed regarding the Blogger commenting system. I was going to ditch the old and start using Disqus instead. This seemed fine, until finding out Google has changed its security, so Disqus is unable to import all the previous comments which are on the blog. Sure, I can start afresh today, but there are 2510 comments over the blog history and it makes sense to not have them binned. In the blurb about this, Disqus says they’re working on a solution. Sounds good? Then again, when Ben read this he said, ‘Oh, that’s what we always say at work, but it’s just to make you feel better, as we’re not actually addressing the problem at all.’ Mm… Finally, I’ve reverted back to the lowest setting, which allows anonymous comments again. Ben finds the abusive ones quite entertaining, so we’ll see how it goes.

Next up. I changed the old sub-heading of the blog from ‘stories of successful hikes and epic failures’. I wanted to get rid of the word ‘epic’ for a while, as it sounded as if I was a borderline half-wit (borderline). The trouble is, I wanted the new rigmarole to reflect each post won’t always be about walking. Easy, huh?


I sat down for a few thousand hours and came up with the following. ‘Wondering. Wandering. Stumbling’. You know, thinking about stuff, walking and falling over? Fits the blog perfectly? Yeah, great in theory until I Googled the words and they appear in the exact order in a Barbara Streisand song from 1974. What?! For the life of me, I’ve got no Barb stuff in my music collection, so I’ve no idea how this came about. Maybe I’d heard something like it years ago and it became wedged in some part of my brain?

Anyway, I wanted something original, so I’ve settled on my second choice, which is on the blog now. ‘Rambles of ambles and sagas of suburbia’. It rolls off the tongue okay, but I’m still not sure if I like it. It’s logical in a sense, but it’s a little unfortunate the word ‘rambling’ is an English term for walking, whereas I’m applying it to the meaning of waffling waffle. There you have it. Can we talk about the walk now?


This is a stroll I’ve done on a couple of occasions, plus a further re-attendance due to a fully blown fiasco, which occurred on my first visit. Again, it’s ancient, as the first trip was back in 2012 and the second attempt was last year. It happens to be another of those where they’ve sat on the back burner and the photos long discarded. There’s a few of these walks and I’m going to pick out some of the more entertaining ones. This will be the same as the last post, as it’ll incorporate a combo of photos from both trips. How easy is this? I’ve got so many walks in the bank I’ve never written about, I reckon I could stay at home for the year and just write about them instead. Don’t tempt me.

Oh, yet again, this is one of GT’s walks from his book, ‘Victoria’s Goldfield Walks’. Talk about free publicity. He may have given me the book, but I reckon I’ve made it up to him by mentioning his name in every second post.

Golden Gullies, Vaughan Mineral Springs, is a 15 km walk, following the Dry Diggings Track, Goldfields Track before returning along the Loddon River.

Vaughan Mineral Springs is the start, which you guessed it, is in Vaughan. I’ve given the entire Goldfield’s area a bit of a shake over the past year and I reckon I’ve covered most things I wanted to see. If you’re a first time visitor to the area, go easy on a land speed record attempt, as there are a few spots to peruse before arriving at the sleepy springs.

Firstly, you should slow down near threatening road signs. Luckily though, most have successfully been brought under control by responsible gun owners. Remember, be alert, not alarmed.


Chewed up in Chewton

That’s not all though. The remains of the 1870’s Duke of Cornwall Mine are there to admire. If you can get close enough. If one sign doesn’t get you, the other one will. How did these escape the gunfire?


Engine House – Duke of Cornwall Mine

Continuing on, I passed the Escott Grave, which is worth visiting. It sits alone in the bush (other than the house next to it) and I was always aiming to come back for a night shoot. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened. Maybe I’ll do some nocturnal wanderings in a month or so, but until then, here it is.


Escott Grave

In 2012, when I arrived in Vaughan Mineral Springs, it was autumn and the non-native foliage was in vivid colour. Cranking up the polariser, I combined the bright shades with the blue sky to brutal effect.


Heading off, I crossed the mighty Loddon River and captured its languid pace…


Loddon River

…before heading inland with the bluest of blue skies ahead (polariser assisted of course).


Gurr Track

It’s all fairly casual walking, with a clear track and only small hills, which barely slowed my locomotive technique.


It’s quite interesting though, as it passes a few ruins here and there. The most notable being this old building, a short distance off the track.


Slogging on, it’s standard Goldfield’s-fare. Remains of old mines and a landscape which always appears to be dry as a chip. The soil is not the most appealing, but there are some interesting things to look at. This rock stood out due to its mottled red and white colour. Sure, it’s a bit hard to see in this half-baked photo.


It might not have been ‘Welcome Stranger’, but it was intriguing enough to pick up for a perusal. Actually, for whatever reason I think someone saying ‘welcome stranger’ with no exclamation attached is mildly sinister. Whilst picking me up hitch-hiking, I can imagine Ivan Milat using it as a greeting.

There’s a spot where the notes told me to head off-track, but on my first visit, I completely missed it and instead continued on to Sebastapol Creek. No big drama, but on last years trip I found the route and wandered through open bush before once again arriving at the creek.

On both occasions the waterway was dry and I must say, there’s some serious erosion going on along there. Check out this section. I thought the tree would have toppled into the creek by now, but on the revisit it was still hanging on.


This area felt quite isolated, although I’m not sure if any houses are nearby, tucked out of sight. With nothing other than bush and the old remnants of long fallen buildings from the 1850’s, I was surprised to find the following item high up, away from the river. In the grass its familiar form stood out, but due to the remote area, I initially questioned what I was seeing. Was it? Could it be…?


Yes, it was…


Okay, I must admit, even I didn’t expect to find a golf ball and I’ve no idea how it came to be there. Then again, compared to the surrounding bush, the river banks are quite green and lush. It then struck me. Although it’s a little far from the ocean, could I have stumbled upon the toughest Links course in the world? Is this one of the greens? Yeah, maybe a few obstacles, but at least it’s a test of skill.


First cut of rough – Sebastapol Links

Pondering the weird, I followed the creek. There’s a distinctive chimney alongside it, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it in 2012. On the last trip though, it’s got me stuffed how I missed it previously, as it might be the largest ruined chimney in history.


The lush green grass was inviting and it seemed a perfect place for a lunch stop. It was great, other than one thing. Yep, I was set upon by the blood suckers. Is there any peace to be had out bush?


Once I’d inhaled my sandwiches, it was time to leave the creek area and its multitudes of mosquitoes behind. A rough path is taken, before again, heading off-track. Now, do you remember way back in this post, how I mentioned a fiasco happened? This applied to the first visit and it all happened during this off-the-beaten path section.

In 2012, it was clear and sunny when I started and on the camera, the polariser filter was in full swing. This was great, until the half way mark. The sky clouded over and the light was too dim for the filter, but I had a problem. I went to remove it and place on a clear filter, but I’d forgotten to bring it. I do like to keep the lens covered at all times, as I don’t trust myself not to go arse-up and accidently drive the unprotected lens into a rock. It might have been too dark for the polariser, but one solution was to remove it for a photo and then screw it back on when not in use, thus keeping the lens covered. I did this a number of times, but can you see a potential pitfall with this technique?

Oh yeah, I continued for a few kilometres and the camera was slung to my side when idle. At one point I lifted it up to take a photo and guess what? Yep, the polariser was gone. Did you get that? Hang on, I’ll repeat it.


At some point in my strolling, I mustn’t have reattached it properly and it fell into the bush somewhere. I was in the off-track area and it was getting a bit late in the day. The light wasn’t good for a proper search, so after a cursory retracing of my steps, I gave up. It was a tragic scene. Anyway, I’ll get back to this moment at the end of the post.

During the sunny 2014 trip, it was all plain sailing as I wandered out the bush and back into civilisation. A road was followed and even it had something of interest. Some movement at a nearby fence caught my attention. It was an echidna and upon hearing my elephant-like footsteps, it was doing its best to bury itself.


Unfortunately, the fence was acting, as… well… a fence, so he was unable to get below ground. I took a couple of photos from above and left him in peace.

Continuing on the road, something else caught my eye.


Ah, the wonders of the Australian bush. A burnt out car.


The walk is rapidly coming to a close now. On the first trip, I had absolutely no idea what the notes were meant to be telling me, so I ended up wandering everywhere like a complete bastard. Last time though, I managed to work it out and after some road wandering, found a rough track, which skirted a hillside with nice views back down to the Loddon River…


…before descending to grassy flats. The notes mention this section is one of the best bits of the entire walk and it’s not often I say this, but I’ll have to agree.

It’s quite open and straight forward, as the peaceful Loddon River is followed…


…until a gate appears out of nowhere.


I’ve no idea if this is private land or not, but as it’s wide-open, I elected to continue through and some nice blossom trees were to be seen.


A bit more wandering and before I knew it, I was back near the start. It’s quite a good walk, with more than enough to keep me entertained.

Now, back to the polariser business. Losing one is painful, as they don’t come cheap, plus this hurt doubly so. In 2012, this was a bit of a training jaunt before going on the Great South West Walk. I didn’t have another polariser for the trip, so I borrowed one. Unfortunately, in the rough and ready coastal frivolities of the GSWW, I promptly destroyed the borrowed one. Too much sand and salt air, left it scratched and quite sad looking. So, upon completion, I had to buy two, just to pay back the unfortunate lender. Talk about a balls up.

Believe it or not, but I was able to roughly work out where it was lost. Using the last photo taken as a guide, until the point I found it missing, I’d only covered about 300 metres of ground. I had the GPS route, so I was feeling confident I’d find it, so I headed up the next day to look. Unfortunately, it was part of the off-track area, and although it’s open bush, it really could have ended up anywhere under fallen leaves or bark. A fairly time consuming wander was unsuccessful and there you have it. It’s still out there. Somewhere.


Have I recovered from its loss?