Pyrete Range, Lerderderg State Park

Alas, this post has the same problem as the last couple. It’s meant to be about a recent trip to the Grampians, but clearly it isn’t. The reason for this ongoing saga is I’ve got to go back there to take a particular photo, but haven’t made it as yet.

Ah, but I’m thinking of going tomorrow (Wednesday) so if things go to plan, I’ll get it done. This of course makes no sense to you, as you’re reading this on Friday. Let it be said, writing these stinkin’ posts takes a few days. I wish I could knock one out in a couple of hours, but instead it’s a long, drawn out affair.

Generally I’ll write a paragraph, then sit back and stare at the ceiling. Then I’ll start another, but suddenly realise I need a cup of coffee or tea. So I’ll get the drink and return to stare aimlessly at the screen, frantically trying to come up with some ideas.

This is rarely fruitful, so after another ten minutes of blog block, I’ll decide to get another drink. Then I’ll listen to ‘Death or Glory’ by The Clash. Usually this penetrates the barrier surrounding my mojo and releases the artistic crapping on method.

No doubt though, just when I get a paragraph sorted out in my head and I’ve begun to tap away like a lunatic, something will interrupt. A knock on the door from a salesman can happen and I live in the only suburb in the world where if you don’t answer, they don’t go away. Literally, I’ve had freaks banging on the door for ten minutes. Finally I’ll have to succumb and answer the door.

Firstly though, I go to my props chair, which is always ready to be deployed. Select my beard, wig, maybe even my old ‘fake awake’ eye shield, which I used at work to convince the boss I was working and the broom. Once kitted up, I’ll sneak up to the front door and gather myself at the schlock and flaw launch pad.


Anti door to door salesmen equipment

With stealth I’d grip the door lock in one hand and silently unlatch it. This allows me to then burst out the door at full throttle and confront the salesman. Invariably he’ll immediately run down the driveway at full speed and I’ll be right behind him. I’d follow for about one hundred metres with broom in the jousting position whilst shouting, “Who has so many umbrellas that they need an umbrella stand!?”

Once he’s cleared the block, I’ll return to the house, de-wig and put some pants on (oh, I forgot to mention. I’ve got no clothes on during these antics). I’ll wait for the arrival of the police, but I’ll have that covered, as I’ll now be wearing clothes and my sudden change of appearance will flummox them. They’d be expecting to talk to a bloke who was naked, had hair like a wolf-man, full beard and an eyeball eye-patch. I’d stick to my Latin motto of, ‘nihil admittis, negare omnia exposcam prodita probationem’ and that’ll be it.

The salesman who’s getting paid $2 cents an hour will have no interest in pursuing it any further and the police will mark the complaint off as ‘enquiries pending’. This is the standard investigation response that keeps the boss happy, as it appears you’re looking into it, when in fact you’ve moved on to something else and couldn’t be stuffed with the complaint. Done! Who said blogging is dry and mundane?

So here we are. Tuesday morning. I perused all of my uploaded GPS files on Strava and randomly picked out a walk I’d forgotten all about. Pyrete Range, Lerderderg State Park is a 15 km circuit that follows Pyrites Creek via the historic Drapers Lode Antimony Mine. Oh, Lerderderg State Park is completely different to my usual hang out of the Lerderderg State Park. Yeah, I know, it makes no sense, but the two areas are separated. My regular walks are where the Lerderderg River runs through and this one has a different creek and the overall area is called the Pyrete Range.

Regarding the last paragraph, I really don’t expect you to have a clue what I’m on about. Give it a Google search though and it’ll all make sense. Remember, I used to include links to these sorts of things, but invariably they’d be dead within a year. Since the blog update, I’ve diligently being binning them, as frankly, dead links are annoying. All I can do is point you in the right direction if you’re interested in learning more about any of this stuff.

Okay, back to this particular saga. I’d actually forgotten what had happened, but after examining the photos, it all came back to me, so this’ll do for the post this week. Oh yeah, where did the walk notes come from? You better believe it. GT’s book, ‘Daywalks Around Victoria’.

I did this wander last summer and seem to remember it was quite hot. I love the long evening light for walking, but I dislike the heat. Can we have winter with long daylight hours instead? Can the earth do this for me? I’m not asking for much.

I began at the carpark on Antimony Mine Road, which is standard fare for the area. Vast areas of cleared land surrounding the park itself.


It would have been interesting to see the landscape a few hundred years ago before the white blokes arrived. I guess a walk like this one would have been harder though? From my house, I’d have had to push through 30 km of bush just to get to the start, which doesn’t sound very appetising at all. Plus, where would I get my fish and chips from at the end of the day? Catch the fish? Grow the potatoes? Invent a deep fryer? Way too complex for my liking.

I kitted up and headed up a hill at the start. I’ve lost track of the amount of walks where the opening step is up an incline. Talk about pushing the friendship.

Anyway, I chugged up a hill, came to this old, faded sign…


…and promptly became geographically embarrassed. Getting lost is never much fun when you’re only about 300 metres from your car. There aren’t many walks where I remotely know where I’m going and I’m waiting for the day where I’m out bush and then suddenly find myself standing under the clocks at Flinders Street Station, whilst saying to myself, ‘I think I took a wrong turn back there somewhere?’

Anyway, I’m the master of correcting a geographical blunder, so I was soon in the right spot. It just took a bit of a bush-bash to get on track and when you see what I was meant to be on, you’re quite right to wonder how I ended up lost. Here, I’ll show you the correct route.


Antimony Mine Track

You can’t win them all. I continued on and I must say, it’s a hard landscape to try and jazz up photographically in the middle of summer. The soil is dry and actually, the whole place is dry. Quite hard to find something colourful other than the occasional flower/weed/some sort of plant.


There is of course the remains of an old antimony mine, which was my next destination. Before this walk, I’d never heard of anything called antimony. At first glance I thought the book said the, ‘Anthony Mine’. This made me ponder if Anthony had his own mine or Anthony was an actual product.

Ah, but my extensive research for this post (I Googled Wikipedia and that’s it) says antimony is used to alloy with lead and tin, which improves the properties of the alloy. Something like that.

Anyway, the first signs of the mine were appearing, as old, rusted pieces of metal were making their presence known.


Amongst all this long forgotten pieces of metal, there was something more interesting and borderline entertaining. A weird looking steel mesh bridge, which apparently was built back in WWII when the mine was up and running. It looks a bit dodgy in parts…


…but it seemed to withstand my half ton weight quite well.


Even though it had a bit of a bounce to it and I was keen to see how much air I could get if I used the trampoline approach, part of my brain told me to zip across it as quickly as possible and not tempt the weathered steel into a catastrophic failure.


I made it in one piece and that was one of the walks highlights done. Pity it only lasted 18 seconds. Oh, but the mine was coming up, so there was something else to peruse shortly.

There are a few grass trees around, but as is the way with most places these days, cinnamon fungus is out and about in the park and it makes a habit of killing these trees. My only word of advice before walking is wash your boots ya’ bastards.


I was soon amongst the mine and really, there’s not a lot left. I’m trying to think of an appropriate descriptive word for how it looks and after a few minutes I’ve come up with one. Rooted.


Antimony Mine ruins

It’s funny with these places. In year terms, they’re not that old, so you’d expect some complete structures still. Instead, something like Pompeii looks better than these old ruins and the Pomp was smashed over 2000 years ago. Oh well.

I had a short look around, but it seemed any piece of steel was probably harbouring a thousand red-back spiders, snakes or one very enraged Jimmy Hoffa, so I kept well clear.


I now headed on towards Pyrites Creek. Ah yes, it might be Pyrete Range, but Pyrites Creek runs through the middle of it. Why the different name? Apparently in the 1800’s someone did a typo and we’re stuck with the wrong spelling. How’s it not possible to change it?

Anyway, I passed some more ye olde ruins…


…before arriving at the creek.


Pyrites Creek

When you look at the last photo, I know what you’re thinking. It just looks like a wide, walking track. No, it’s the actual creek, which just happened to be dry as a chip when I visited. As I took the picture, I imagined it would surely be a doddle to walk on. Usually in these sort of places I’m clambering over rocks, fallen trees and avoiding patches of water. This one looked like a highway though.

I had to follow it for nearly 5 km, so initially I thought it would take me no time at all. Ah, but the highway section didn’t last very long, plus fallen trees would slow me down.


In some cases they were more accommodating. High enough off the ground, so I could just stroll under them.


There were some patches of liquid, which this leaf enjoyed floating on…


…and the occasional spot where rocks were surrounded by water.


The creek bed was actually quite interesting. This worn down stone is almost wafer thin, although it’s probably hard to see this in the photo. Nice fingerprints though.


A branch lying nearby had bold markings that almost looked man made…


…not to mention rocks, which also stood out with their numerous curved layers.


Once I began walking, the creek took on a more traditional look of others I’d walked in before. Reeds covered some parts…


…and frequent pools of water stood out for their, um… green quality. This rock looked like it was sitting in jelly. Lime flavoured of course.


A clump of grass was doing well to be clinging onto this fallen branch.


I was deceived when I hit the creek, thinking it would be fast moving affair, but as bends were reached, the going was a bit tricky…


…so on most occasions like this, I’d cut the corner by going inland and then rejoining the creek past the obstacle.


This huge, dead tree leaned precariously, so I made sure I raced past it. Knowing my luck, the one time it’d fall and I’d be under it…


…and end up like the last hiker who walked along the creek.


It was pretty good walking though and certainly not as rugged as the other Lerderderg creeks. Some sections had only a fine layer of small pebbles, so under the water they looked great photographically…


…and I’m sure it would be a good walk to revisit after heavy rain, when they’d be a reasonable flow of water.

Oh yeah, I know I let you down in the last post, as I gave you no blood at all. Don’t panic though, as this walk had an injury inflicted. I get injured so often though, for the life of me I can’t remember what happened on this particular occasion. I think my leg slipped and hit a rock in the creek, causing the cut and swelling. Then again, maybe that was another walk where I bashed my shin and started bleeding?


Yeah yeah, I know. I should have been wearing my gaiters. It’s always a toss up when it’s hot though. I sweat enough without having soaked legs under the constricting material.

Anyway, I finally reached as far as I needed to go along Pyrites Creek. It was now time to head inland again and start making my way back to the car. If I could find it.

Yes, I had another slight moment of not having a clue. I spotted this orange arrow on the tree, which pointed…


…to what looked like a fairly distinct path, heading up the hill.


Without a thought, I launched up this incline. Stopping at times to admire the rugged view from above…


…until I realised something was odd and ended up saying to myself. ‘Hang on. I’m not meant to be climbing any hills.’

Oh, the ‘track’ was rapidly petering out as well, so clearly I’d ballsed up. I was meant to be in a gully, which now sat a few thousand feet below me. I could have backtracked, but it seemed too convoluted. Instead, I let the force that continually pushes against the oversized man work in my favour. Gravity. In seconds I crashed through the dry scrub…


…whilst combining multiple strings of profanity into one huge, never-ending curse, until I reached the bottom and saw this.


Aha! The ol’ frisbee marker. I was back on track and after some initial, bushy sections, the landscape suddenly opened up…


…revealing large areas of open grass.


I must say, these areas would make a nice spot to camp out for a few days. I’m not alone with this thought though, as evidence of fire pits were scattered around nearby.

There were a couple of grassy areas before I headed back into the bush, with some markers guiding the way. I guess whoever came all the way down here to put up these was cursing he’d forgotten the nails. Tape was handy…


…until it looks like it ran out.


The track was easy enough to follow without them, as I passed the occasional grass tree…


…until coming to a fence.


Now all I had to do was follow it all the way back to Antimony Mine Track. Sure it was straight-forward, but it wasn’t very appealing, as it headed straight downhill…


…and then climbed the other side.


Finally, I’d summited and the track was only metres away when something happened. I’ve covered this before in a post about my Merrell Moab Ventilators.

I was strolling along when suddenly a dry branch on the ground speared straight through the toe cap of the boot. Huh? Is this some sort of joke? Is the front made out of papier mΓ’chΓ©?


Honestly, these type of boots are crap, aren’t they? Flimsy, soft and have no longevity at all. They’re a glorified runner combined with a wafer-thin insole. Their only benefit for me is the wide-fit, which is my never-ending shoe problem. Also, they only need about 10 seconds of wearing-in before they’re ready to go.

It’s all expensive stuff. I spend so much money on lightweight shoes or boots that only last a year, yet I’ve got leather boots, which are fine after six years of use. Mm… If they weren’t Gore-tex lined, I’d wear them all year.

I’m doing some research on non-Gore-tex leather boots and they could be a potential purchase. I haven’t bought any outdoor stuff this year, so I think it’s acceptable to buy something before the year is out.

Anyway, I reached the wide track with my punctured boot and before I knew it, was heading downhill back to the car and the walk was done.

What do I think of it? This might be a big call, but I think it’s better than any in the usual Lerderderg River area. Plus in summer, the usual haunts are packed with people and this one in the Pyrete Range is a bit off the radar. Sure, there were signs of people having camped here and there, but it was hot and I didn’t see another person all day. That wouldn’t be the case at O’Briens Crossing.

So what’s next? Well, that’s a stupid question. The Grampians of course.