Are you aware of my half-baked blogging system? Essentially, every time I mention what the next post will be, I end up changing my mind about 0.8 seconds later. It’s like I’m being stubborn with myself. I suppose it really doesn’t matter, unless whilst alone, I start arguing audibly. In different voices.
Anyway, I was going to write about a searing session spent near Castlemaine last summer. It was one of those days where it seemed the distance had to match the temperature. 30 °C? Okay, let’s walk 30 km. It was quite horrible, but it should make for a worthy post. It’s on the backburner though, as I want some more photos from the area. Yes, you guessed it, I will drive to Castlemaine, just to take a couple of photos for a post no one will read. At this rate, I might get classed as a certified wanker, instead of the current status of ‘potentially’.
So, what’s this walk about? I must warn you, if you’re traumatised by seeing the name of a bloke who’s invariably noted in every post, then turn around now. Yep, I’ve got Glenn Tempest’s, ye olde book called ‘Daywalks Around Melbourne’, which I bought about five years ago. It details 100 walks and when I picked it up, I leapt upon the front counter of the store, took off my pants and twirled them above my head with one hand, whilst holding the book aloft in the other and proclaimed, “A hundred? Is this some sort of joke?? I’ll knock these off in six months!” Then I was arrested.
Well, here I am, slightly more than six months since, still trying to churn through them. I think I’ve done around 60? I actually don’t want to count, just in case the amount comes to about six, which will send me running off to put my head in the oven.
In this book, there are a handful of little walks. All under 10 km etc etc. Being a tough bloke, who’s known to eat more than four pieces of toast in one sitting, I decided to do all of the longer ones first. I’ve more or less succeeded, but it’s all those smaller ones who are just staring at me when I open the book and they need to be tackled. You may ask, ‘Why? Who cares? Just do the walks you like and who cares about trying to do them all?’ This is a valid question, but clearly your OCD is way too passive. A hundred walks? I’m doing the lot!
This leads to a jaunt I did at Mt Macedon last Saturday. Believe it or not, but I’ve done the standard 20 km circuit, seven times. Yes, seven. I’ve even written a post about one of the trips a few years back. Anyway, I’m not sure why, but it’s by far my most favourite day walk. There’s a shorter one though, called ‘Mt Macedon Circuit’. If you’re really keen, it’s numbered 51 in the book. I think the publication is out of print though, so it may take a bit of tracking down. I found a second hand copy recently, which appeared to be in pristine condition, so they’re out there. Anyway, back to the walk and this stroll incorporates a section I’ve done a bazillion times before, but the first half is on new ground. Off we go then. A whole new world! For a little bit anyway.
Ah, but there was one thing I didn’t really factor in. It’s winter and it might be chilly up on the hill. Sure, I’d checked the calendar, so I knew that bit, but as I was driving towards Macedon, I noticed something else. I couldn’t see the top, as it was covered in cloud. Cruising on the freeway, my anticipation levels arose, as walking in the clouds is quite rare for me and potentially, it could be a photographic bonanza. How do you think I went? I’ll give you a hint. It could have gone better.
After a slow drive up the mountain, surrounded in mist, I thought I should stop by the Camels Hump first. It’s officially the highest point up there, so it made sense to sneak a quick visit in. Oh, I also knew I was going to the lookout just for the atmosphere, as judging by the car park, there’s no way I’d be able to see anything.
I wandered up and before I knew it, I was at the top. Peering out at, well… cloud. At the lookout, there’s one of those distance dial sort of contraptions and I got caught up trying to take the ‘water-reflection-off-the-distance-dial-shot’. It’s an old favourite. So much so, you’ll find on an old post from a few years back with an almost identical set of photos from the same position, on a similarly misty day. Does this look familiar?
How about this one?
Just below the lookout, there’s a snow gum clinging to the rocks. It’s quite interesting, as at 1000 metres, it must just be at the right height for it to survive. Anyway, it suited the current conditions.
There you go. That’s Camels Hump. I told you it’ll be a flying visit. I strolled back down, hopped in the car and powered to McGregors Picnic Ground, which was a short distance away.
Leaping out, the first thing I really noticed was it seemed to be cooler than I imagined it would be. How cold? Well, a man who needs to know the answers to everything, pulled out his Kestrel in order to ascertain the chilliness factor.
Throwing on the pack, I headed off at a fastish pace, which might be a slowish pace for someone in their desirable height and weight range. I found a track next to some trees, as the book stated, but after about 17 feet came to a fork in the road. One looked good, the other a bit shabby. Does one take the road less travelled? Guess what I did? I took the good one, but it appeared to be heading in a circle. The notes said, ‘…disregard a turn off to the right…’. Okay, the good track was the one on the right, so it appears I’d taken the wrong turn within 50 metres of starting. In theory this should have been cause for me to wave my fist in the air, but instead, it was a bonus, as I got involved in some kookaburra stalking.
Yes, three kookaburras were ahead and as I approached, they’d fly off down the track a short distance before landing again. I, of course, continued to walk towards them, so they’d repeat their short flying hop. I think this happened about 500 times. Really, all they had to do was fly back over my head and they’d never see me again. No, they continued to fly forward and I was keenly trying to get a reasonable photo of them, but I didn’t really have the right lens on the camera.
Luckily for me, the more I walked, the less they moved and the longer they ended up staying still. I think they were either running out of energy or couldn’t be stuffed and were thinking, ‘why are we flying away from that fat bastard? He’ll never be able to catch us.’ In the end, I managed to get one photo of them altogether. It took a lot of work to get this, so I hope you’re happy with the result.
Back to the walk. Yes, I was officially heading in the wrong direction and ended up appearing on the road, about 600 metres from where the car was parked. I could have continued onto another track, but I desired the track less travelled, so did a loop and headed back down the start again. Take two.
This time I powered down the correct route, keeping my eye out for the first point of interest, ‘Turitable Reservoir’. After a bit of walking, I found a body of water. Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! Turitable Reservoir!
Except the sign said this.
Well, what a bummer. Had it been renamed? Surely I couldn’t be lost again? Only 20 minutes after being geographically embarrassed before? Really, I don’t discount anything. I was once lost on a walk, so soon after starting, I could still see my car in the car park. Mind you, ‘lost’ is not really what it was. I knew I was in Victoria, so I wasn’t really lost at all.
Okay, the book was written 10 years ago, so I can allow for some changes over time, but I was scratching my head and running my hand through my non-existent beard a little. Right, now what? The notes informed me to, ‘…walk 150m along a vehicle track to a fork. Turn right and walk 400m up to a gate, and through a pine plantation…’
Mm… Yes, I started walking for 150 metres, but no obvious turn off appeared and just to make things tricky, the whole world was pine plantations. In the end I passed another reservoir. I can hear you saying, ‘Was it Turitable Reservoir???’ No, of course not, it was McDonald Reservoir. Eventually, I was coming across industrial sized bridges, which completely confirmed I was in the wrong spot.
Other than having no idea where I was going, it wasn’t too bad. I’d dropped a bit of height, so it was less misty, but the sky was completely washed out. How washed out? Try this. Don’t laugh, but this photo is in colour.
I’d come out into a vast clearing of dam stuff and a few hundred metres away, spied a road heading back into the bush. It would have to do and as I walked down a large, grassy embankment, I noted numerous other footprints, heading in the same direction. Aha! I’m not the only clown who took a wrong turn! Maybe.
Heading down a road well travelled, I figured at some point I’d come to an intersection and get back to an area, remotely near where I was meant to be. Photographically, it was pretty standard fare, but the overall damp conditions were handy for another old favourite. Water on top of a leaf. A bit of liquid certainly adds to an image. How dull would this photo be in the middle of summer?
Where was I? I’ve no idea, but I was spotting things like this…
…and more ominously, something like this.
You’ve got me stuffed where I was going. Unfortunately, all this ‘lost road walking’ had me steadily heading downhill. This was disappointing, as I knew I had to go across the top of Mt Macedon. I was rapidly turning this afternoon stroll into something a little harder.
Eventually, I suddenly came across a house. Where that place is, I’ve no idea, but it was surrounded by large, glaring ‘keep out’ signs. It was all a little over the top. You’d think it was the White House. There was even the classic sign, which said, ‘If you can read this, you’re already under camera surveillance!’ I took a photo, just for you, but it’s slightly blurry, so you miss out.
Actually, what’s with these people who go nuts on their signage? If you were walking and happened to cross my property, I couldn’t give a stuff. I’d be disappointed if you had a dump, but overall, it wouldn’t bother me. Really, there’s no point getting too uppity about your place, as the sun will consume the entire planet in 5 billion years. All those house improvements and your ‘keep out’ signs will just go to waste, as the earth is turned into a cinder. This is why I’m doing my home renovations on the cheap.
Oh, if you’re wondering, this blog will survive. Before I die, I’m attaching it to a rocket, which is being put together in the backyard and sending it off into deep space. Powering away for eternity, until some alien chumps lasso it into their domain. They’d better like it, otherwise I’ll track them down as space dust, and perform apocalyptic-style Chinese-burns on their skinny green wrists.
Back to the present day, a miracle occurred. I found a track, which began to head back towards the mountain and steadily I began to climb again, with the misty conditions returning.
Eventually, I found a track off to the side and following a hunch, went to investigate. After a short distance, I came across a fence, which had this sign attached. It’s the standard fare of the area, complete with exclamation mark.
Upon sighting this fence, two things struck me. One is, I need to wear my glasses all the time, as I initially read the trespassing penalty as one million dollars. ‘A million dollars for walking near a reservoir?? Are they insane??!’ Except it doesn’t say that.
The other thing I noted, is it’s where I should have been about an hour earlier. You know, the track mentioned in the book, from the non-existent ‘Turitable Reservoir’. I was going to wander down to see where I’d gone wrong, but I couldn’t be stuffed. Maybe one day I’ll head back for another look.
Now I was flying. On the right track and everything. How good is this? Continuing to wander, the black and white silhouette conditions continued…
…before I entered more forested areas, misty and accompanied only by the steady sound of dripping water from the damp trees. Oh, plus the heaving of my lungs and the dulcet tones of a motorbike somewhere, but otherwise there was no sound at all.
The encroaching cloud wasn’t the only thing of interest though. By chance, I happened to look down an embankment and was surprised to see this place. I believe it’s one of Ed Gein’s summer holiday units. Speaking of which, I’m not sure, but his sales pitch of, ‘stay the summer and I’ll end up wearing you like my mama!’, could do with a little work.
After some wet wandering, I suddenly came to a small path, which led onto the Macedon Ranges Walking Track. I definitely knew where I was then, as it’s a route I’d walked many a time before. It’s the usual way, which heads up the mountain and comes out next to the Mt Macedon Memorial Cross.
I was higher now and it was wall to wall clouds.
I began to slip and slide my way upwards and noted my rather lame progress. By now it was late in the afternoon and I thought I’d be alone, so I was surprised to hear some movement on the track below me and heading my way.
Looking down, I could see a bloke walking. It was a bit embarrassing, as I’d slipped into full-blown, wheezing locomotive-mode, whereas he was strolling along quite easily. What’s worse is when he got closer, he appeared to be about 250 years old. My brain feverishly crunched the numbers, ‘What? The world’s oldest man is about to blow me away? For the sake of your dignity. Speed up!’
It was no use though, no matter how fast I trudged, he was upon me. In the end I gave up and pulled out the oldest trick in the book. No, I wasn’t stopping due to a total collapse of the lungs. No, I was only pausing to take some photos.
I guess he didn’t think anyone else would be out and about at that time of the day either, as upon sighting me, he stopped for a moment in surprise. Then again, maybe he halted, as he was suddenly struck with my unique features? A cross between a drug affected Val Kilmer and the Elephant Man after a pedicure. Whatever it was, he looked stunned for a moment, before moving towards me and we began a unique conversation,
He said, “What are you doing?” My mind thought it was obvious, but I played it straight and narrow, by explaining, “Oh, you know, trying to get up this hill.”
He said, “You’ve got a camera?”
I said, “Yeah, it’s a camera.”
He said, “What are you taking pictures of?”
I said, “The usual stuff. Birds. Leaves. Fungi. My tackle”.
He said, “So only small stuff then?”
I said, “Yep.”
Then he said with a hint of disdain, “You’re not one of those blokes who takes photos of water drops on sticks and leaves. Are you?”
I said, “What? No! I’m not one of those wankers. They’re photographic hacks who should be ashamed of themselves. I hate those blokes!”
With a few more utterances, he moved on and I was left chewing cryogenic mud in his wake. Now I was well and truly alone. Not quite ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, but more like, ‘Could be Mistaken for a Gorilla in the Mist’.
Oh, and the inevitable fungi.
Plodding on, I eventually popped out at the top. It was definitely late in the day now and in the cloudy conditions with dim light, it was a little hard to see what was going on. The Mt Macedon Memorial Cross was out there. Somewhere.
I wandered over to it for the customary photos, which I always seem to take from the same angle and direction. Really, my photos of the area can be transposed to any other Mt Macedon trip. No light was handy for one thing though. A floodlight shining on the cross made for a nice silhouette on the surrounding trees.
I didn’t have a lot of time up my sleeve, so after a bit of a wander, I headed off, as I still had three or so kilometres to go and by the time I’d finish, it’d be well and truly dark. Passing the Major Mitchell Lookout, I gave it a miss, as it appeared the views would be limited.
There were some other people around, but I’ve no idea where. I could hear their voices in the mist, but didn’t actually see anyone. Then again, maybe it was the spirits of Major Mitchell and his clan instead? Cursing there were no tearooms at the top of the mountain in his day? Leaving the entrance to the cross, it did feel like exiting a ghost town.
I found the track, which goes behind the tearooms and almost broke into a trot, as light was fading quickly. I even had to put the camera away, as it was getting pointless. Well, after another couple of photos of course.
When I reached my car, it was officially dark. I fumbled around looking for keys and noted as soon as I stopped, it was freezing. Checking the thermometer in the car confirmed it was only 2 °C. I don’t often say this, but I found it cold.
Was that an interesting saga? The notes say it’s a 7.3 km walk. Mm…. How far do you think I travelled? According to the GPS, 12 km. It looks like I walked a few more than needed, but I did solve the Turitable Reservoir mystery. Well, not really. I looked at a Parks Victoria map and it’s listed in the same way as the walk notes. Huh? Why does the sign say differently? I’ve no idea and I have no interest in finding out. Now you’re probably bored with the whole thing anyway? Finally, I do know Turitable Creek goes through there, so that explains something or maybe it’s one of those eternal mysteries. A bit like how a certified half-wit can become the Prime Minister of your country.
Anyway, I may have been waylaid a little, but it was bonus really. If I’d found the way correctly, I’d have missed the kookaburras, Ed Gein’s house, numerous ‘keep out’ signs and the bloke from John Fogerty’s outtake song, ‘The Old Man Down the Track’. All in all, it was a decent day out. As a bonus, my hands have defrosted and I can even feel them again. What more can I ask for? Oh, best of all, it’s another walk from the book completed. I’ve either done 61 or 7. As you know, I won’t be counting.
Mt Macedon, Victoria has dozens of walk variations up there, but this 10 km circuit isn’t too bad if you’ve done most in those hills.
What’s next? I could say, but as you know, I’ll probably change my mind as soon as this is published.
Haha, I loved this post! Keep walking and keep writing please 🙂
Awesome photo of Kookaburras!
Thanks for the link to Ed Gein! I needed to triple my existing terror of encountering killers on my solo walks! I wonder what keepsake he would make from my body parts. The kookaburra stalking was well worth it. I've managed two in one shot, but three? Must be a record. Your getting lost account makes me feel better about my directionally-challenged abilities but I think your problems were probably more to do with the track and not an inherit lack of geographical sense like me. 🙂 I would have loved the misty forest scenes. Beautiful shots. A walk in the clouds is pretty special and I rarely get to do it so this really appealed to me. Jane
Thank you! A post can always be better, but I think this one had enough in it to keep everyone entertained 🙂
Thanks! If only I had my long range zoom lens with me, it would have been so much easier 🙂 It took me about 30 minutes to get that photo and straight after I took it, they were gone. Just made it!
Many a movie has based characters on Ed Gein! Off the top of my head, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs, but there would be more. He's one of those timeless lunatics 🙂 Those kookaburras were tricky, as I had the wrong lens, but finally I got a usable photo. Most just show blurry blobs in the trees. Yeah, before the walk, I had no intention of doing a post on this walk, as it's pretty nondescript, but once I got in the cloud, I just had to write about it!
Hahahaha. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who gets lost on Mt Macedon. Last year I did the Cross to Camels Hump and back walk with a friend and somehow we accidentally circumnavigated Camels Hump on the way back. Our conclusion (as we both considered ourselves to be seasoned hikers and we were equipped with Mr Tempest's said book) it had to be alien abduction.
Oh, love the photos as always.
As the sun streams down here with warnings of High UV your report brings back fond memories of wandering around the misty forests in Victoria. Excellent photos, Greg and I love the story, especially about the guy passing you. It seems that they older they get the faster they go, I am still waiting for that to happen.
I can easily imagine wandering down the wrong path, as Macedon has little tracks running all over the place! Not Goldfield's bad, but interesting enough 🙂
Thanks! Mist in the hills is always a nice change.
I've noticed Europe is getting baked. Some quite searing temperatures? Oh yeah, what gets me about that bloke is he had the one pace. Not quick, but steady and not needing to stop for a second for quick break!
I'm feeling that hill climbing pain and humiliation right alongside you, Greg!
Yep, hills are never the friend of an oversized gent such as me 🙂
Love your blog, which I've just discovered, and of course your walks! The photos are beautiful! I love walking but only seem to do it in overseas cities not lovely country tracks. These blog posts make me want to get out more.
Thanks! It's hard to get out when it's cold, but there are bonuses if you do. Usually you've got the tracks to yourself! I must admit, I've been dragging the chain a bit this winter. Usually it's my walking season, but I've done stuff-all. You've actually reminded me, I need to walk in some other places than around Melbourne. It will be nice to see some different landscapes for a change.
Thanks for dropping by!