In my last post, I mentioned how this entry would recount another walk in a place not so well-known. Well, I’ve outdone myself this time, as I don’t even know the official name of it. Actually, is it a walk? I’ve no idea. There’s a track and a picnic area, so I assume it’s something.
You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m on about? Well, don’t ask me and I’m the one writing it. What I’ll do though, is in the next few paragraphs, hopefully put some sense into this post.
First things first. This walk suffers from the name not being remotely near where its title suggests. It’s not alone, as Werribee Gorge is another example. Without fail, if I have a conversation about the gorge to someone who doesn’t walk, this is how it goes.
Person says, “What are you doing on the weekend?”
Me says, “I’m going to do a walk in Werribee Gorge.”
They look perplexed and say, “Werribee Gorge? There’s a gorge in Werribee?”
I already know the question is coming, so I’m ready for it.
“No, it’s not. It’s near Bacchus Marsh.”
How about this one then? This is how it goes.
The enquiring person asks, “What are you doing on the weekend?”
I say, “I’m doing the Werribee River Walk.”
“Oh, is that the Werribee River Trail in the new Werribee River Park”.
“No it’s not. This is in the Wombat State Forest on the way to Daylesford.”
So there you go. Mention the name Werribee and the assumption is everything has to be in the sprawling suburb on the way to Geelong.
How did all of this come about? Quite easy really, as it’s one of those tiny walks, which exists in the Glenn Tempest, ‘Daywalks Around Melbourne’ book. It’s only 5 km, so it’s well and truly a stroll, but he talks it up by mentioning it passes the rarely visited Carrolls Spring.
As you may know from my Castlemaine post, my life was saved on a stinking hot day by the Jim Paull Mineral Spring. A litre of Jim’s magical elixir instantly turned me into a powerhouse. I went from a mineral spring sceptic to a convert in a matter of minutes. Forget the baby oil. I’m using mineral water from now on.
‘On the sixth day, a man with two L’s in his name for no apparent reason, has created the greatest drink in the universe. Well, in Vaughan Springs at least.’
Anyway, due to my recent conversion, if there’s a spring on offer, I’m going to seek it out and sample its wares.
Lastly, I actually knew this walk existed for years, as I’ve always seen the turn-off when driving to Daylesford. Unfortunately I’m usually doing 100 kph at the time, so there wasn’t much done about it, other than the thought one day I’d actually stop and give it a closer look. Guess what? That day had finally arrived and I was going to turn off and investigate.
This all sounds great, so it’s a pity I picked the middle of winter to do it. The weather was bleak, cold, damp, gloomy, sombre, drab, grim, dismal, miserable and uninviting. Oh, plus wretched. I knew I forgot one.
Heading out under a featureless grey sky (damn, featureless and grey. There are so many more) I soon hit the freeway and I didn’t need a map to lead me to the start. It was like muscle memory, as I’d driven the Ballan-Daylesford Road approximately one million times before and knew precisely where the turn-off was. Blakeville-Bunding Road. Actually, what’s with the all the hyphenated names? It’s killing me writing them.
I soon found a picnic area next to a bridge over the Werribee River. Immediately after the bridge, there’s a tight bend, but it’s not road you should worry about. No, clearly the greatest risk here is the sign nearby. Luckily the threat has been averted by some responsible gun owners.
Seeing this, I felt so much better. Clearly it didn’t go down without a fight and needed to be thoroughly ventilated, in order to neutralise its threatening appearance.
I left the bullet holes behind and found a track past the bridge. It quickly zipped up a nearby hill, putting some height to the road below.
By the way, I should admit this now and not have you wondering about it later. Even though the title says Werribee River and I keep mentioning the river, there’s a slight problem. I took exactly zero photos of it.
Yes, I looked at the images later and somehow I forgot/couldn’t be stuffed taking at least one picture. I’m not sure what happened there, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
I vaguely remember what was side-tracking me. Fungi. Due to the miserable, bleak conditions, the fungi were out and about. Oh, except I don’t seem to have many photos of them either. What the hell was I doing? You’ve got me beat, as I don’t have a clue.
I recall one moment though where I was trying to capture a fine cobweb on a branch. I think my brain imploded from the angst of trying to focus the camera, as somehow I took eight photos trying to perfect it.
In the end, I think I had a meltdown, as I began abusing the cobweb. If there was a spider hiding nearby, he must have wondered what all the ruckus was about. I can sum up this scene with the following. It’s still not in focus and don’t yell at branches.
Moving on, I saw some water pooled in some fallen bark. The light was reflecting in the liquid, but only on certain angles. In order to get the next photo, I had to adopt some crazy angling. I bent over at the waist until my head was almost touching the ground.
Unfortunately in doing so, I almost snapped my spine. Due to sudden back pain, I straightened up so rapidly it caused an atomic head-rush, which almost made me faint. You should have been there, as it was a wild scene in the Wombat State Forest.
Oh, why wouldn’t I just kneel rather than bend? That’s a good question, but there’s an easy answer. My knees are too sore. ‘I have my balls and my knees and I don’t bend them for anyone’.
There was some interesting fungi about. This white bunch looked quite edible. I’m sure they’re not, but I imagined they’d clearly taste like vanilla.
The fungi-arama continued, as I approached the turn-off to Carrolls Spring.
Here’s another look at the one that’s at the top of the page. Water drops make for a better photo any time.
The side-trip to the spring was sign-posted, which was a bonus, as I had no idea where I was going. Wandering on, I came across a large clearing that seemed incongruous to what I’d just walked.
Now, the spring. I referred to my notes and it’s mentioned as,
‘The spring is in a little walled hollow next to a picnic table.‘
Sounds easy! Um… there was a problem though (isn’t there always?).
It seems visitors have been too lazy in obtaining firewood, so fencing and information signs have vanished. Like this.
In my head, I continued to replay the description about it being next to a picnic table. I began to think I was bonkers, as for the life of me I couldn’t see a table. Where was it?
Oh, there it is. Piled high with other timber for either a big, hearty bonfire or maybe some pending, new table reconstruction. Judging by the feel of the area, I’m leaning towards an upcoming furnace.
Okay, so I had no idea. I was facing a huge open area, wondering where the stinkin’ springs were. Should I investigate some more?
Yes, of course I should. I spotted some interesting looking hardware set up in the middle of the clearing. It was fenced off, so I headed over for a closer look.
I’ve no idea what it’s used for, but I was concerned it was monitoring my thinking, so I gave it a wide berth. I didn’t want the government picking up my thoughts of wearing leather pants.
Where are the springs? No idea, but I was still looking. I even investigated other cleared areas in the bush. Is this where the fencing went?
In the end I gave up, as I was suffering from a little known medical condition. Vanished Springs Subjugation.
Guess what though? There I was wandering out of the paddocks, when I noticed something to one side. Right next to the track.
Really, even though I didn’t think the springs would be a whopping big pump, I didn’t think they’d be just a small, rusting pipe. In the end, I was so pissed off with my aimless paddock wandering, I couldn’t be bothered bending down to taste it. Maybe I’ll go back in summer, as it might look more appetising on a hot day.
What’s to come? Not a lot, as I made my way back to the path next to the river. Some more, long lost fencing had moss clinging to it…
…plus, the fungi kept coming.
Not just on the ground either. Groups were clustered on some trees.
I was soon approaching the turn-around point at a ford in the river. My notes warned me it would be impassable in heavy rain, but ‘is usually shallow or dry’.
Upon finding it, the book was correct, although I got my boots a bit muddy in the process.
Where to now? It was simply a matter of finding a path on the other side of the river back to the car. As I went looking for the track, I could see some people aren’t happy with walkers.
This bloke has been gunned down, but at least it wasn’t people, just minding their own business doing a nature walk being taken out. Horse riders were speared with random pieces of timber as well.
I got way-laid a little, looking for a track. I followed a road for a little bit, before finding a path…
…where it was fungi heaven again. A healthy looking bunch…
…and here’s their unfortunate friends. The Chernobyl Fungi.
I really don’t have much else to add. As the walk is so short, it flew by and I was rapidly closing in on the carpark. There was more fungi, but aren’t you sick of them by now? Maybe one more for the road.
In the end, I came to a sign, which gave me an option of a slightly longer walk back to the car. Mind you, we’re only talking a few hundred metres difference. I’ve no idea which is nicer, but I ended up taking the ‘Rribee River’ route.
The final highlight was a fairly sturdy looking structure. I wasn’t sure if it was something from Blair Witch or an outpost for prison escapees. Whoever has done it, they’ve done a good job. Maybe I’ll come back one night and see if there’s anyone inside? If I’m lucky, I might find Lord Lucan having a nap.
Is there anything else? No, that’s it. I was back at the car after only a couple of hours. After a hundred years of eyeing off this walk, I’d finally done it and like a lot of things you hang out for, they end up being a bit disappointing.
Mind you, maybe my opinion has been formed by the depressing, cheerless, portentous, foreboding, hopeless, ominous, discouraging weather at the time. Maybe a revisit is needed on a nice sunny day. I guess on a sunny day the Werribee River Walk, Wombat State Forest is a nice way to spend a few hours, as the walking is easy.
Also, I’ve been wasting some more of my time by looking online and I found an unofficial 14 km walk, which takes in part of this river strolling. It starts from the same carpark, so it’s definitely been added to my ‘to do list’. This means I’ll probably walk it in a decades time.
What’s next? No idea, but maybe something nondescript again. You’ll be pleased to know this is the only write up of this walk online. Doesn’t it feel amazing to have been involved in some history making? Until someone sends me a link to the same walk, which somehow I missed of course…