Look out. It’s another post. Two in a year so far. 2019 is going off! Then again, I shouldn’t get too carried away, as the pressure will be on to create more
Anyway, time to do some house-cleaning and bring unfinished trips up to date. This is one of those, as it’s day two of the Fortress circuit in the Grampians. Technically speaking, the title of this post should be,
‘The Fortress Hiker Campsite to Mount Thackeray Hiker Campsite, Grampians National Park’.
Yeah right. A heading like that is way too much of a tongue-twister. I just said it to myself and it was like shouting with a mouthful of marbles.
The bare bones of the day ahead was to drop down from the Fortress camp to Victoria Range Road and then slog for about 10 km to the next camp, beneath Mt Thackeray. The idea of being on a road for most of the day didn’t appeal, but at least there was some views to be had at the end of it.
Now, if you’re late to this blog, you might be wondering when this trip was done. A few months back? Last winter? Oh no, this was on the last day of winter in 2017. Then again, was it?
I’ve been playing around with a time machine and who knows? Maybe I did this on the last day of winter this year? Then again, my time travel tasks wouldn’t involve hikes. Once I’ve got it tuned up, I’ll be heading back into the past. First stop would be December 16, 1935 where I’d open the garage door and turn Thelma Todd‘s car off.
Then it’ll be back to July AD 64. Whilst Nero is sleeping, I’d replace his fiddle with a tuba. Let him play that while Rome burns! If you start reading how he was tubaring while Rome burned, then you know I’ve been successful.
Oh well, I guess I better get back on track and talk about some more tedious stuff. My night spent at Fortress camp was non-eventful. If you can remember, I deferred from sleeping under the enormous rock overhangs nearby. Sure, it was irrational, but I had a dreading feeling regarding ‘Dem Big Rocks of Damocles’ overhead. My snoozing would have been well and truly interfered with.
Setting up a short distance away down the hill solved those thoughts and it provided some nice views as the sun began to rise. The rock wall above the overhangs had an early morning glow to them.
The memory is a bit hazy, but I do remember the temperature being crisp. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air was still. With the camp at about 760 metres, I felt the chill. Remember also, this was during my super, fat bastard days. The cold didn’t bother me much then, as I was encased in blubber. Since I’ve lost my winter coat, I certainly feel an iciness in the bones now. I’d probably have died of hypothermia if this trip was done sans beef.
It’s handy having multiple photos to look back on and jog my memory, as I’d forgotten about the next image. At the camp, I wasn’t short of fresh water, as there was a constant pool being formed at the base of the enormous rock overhang.
It was trickling constantly and seeing how it seems to have filtered through a gazillion tons of rock, it was remarkably fresh. I’m not sure if it’s there all-year round? Come summer, I assume it dries up. Not so in late winter, as I had litres on hand. Oh, I had to be careful with it though. Touching the bottom of the pool released a cloud of silt and sediment and the result was nothing like the song.
‘Take me down to the Sediment City/where the grass is green and the girls are pretty’.
Besides being flush with fresh, cold water, I was also making cold, hard cash. On a rock nearby, I came across some abandoned loot.
Sure, five cents mightn’t seem much to you, but wait until I’ve got the time machine fired up. I’ll head back to 1966 and buy up big with it. Maybe a sandwich at least.
Anyway, eventually I was packed up and ready to move. I knew I had to drop down the hillside and meet up with an old track that leads to Victoria Range Road. There was a bit of a problem though. How do I get to it?
I’d had a cursory look around the night before and didn’t really see anything distinctive to follow. I figured I’d work it out in the morning. As you can see though. It’s morning now and where am I meant to go?
In the end, I followed the rock wall, whilst stopping to admire the bonkers-shaped rock pillars that are a feature of the Grampians…
…before descending down a rough track that faded in and out.
In the end, I gave up looking for a path, as I’m not sure if I was following something made by human, animal or David Lee Roth. As it is, I passed this large boulder to my left…
…before eventually popping out on the track, which greeted me with a nice reflection in a pool of water.
Initially, it was a bit rough on the ankles…
..but other than a few fallen trees…
…it became well and truly gentrified for walking.
I then reached Victoria Range Road and it looked…
…as dull as I’d imagined it to be. There were two bonuses though. One, it was winter, so the road is closed to vehicles, particularly 4WD behemoths. I’d dread doing this wander in summer and having to negotiate the noise and dust of passing traffic for kilometres.
Secondly, as I’ve said many a time, any walk has been better than any day I’ve ever spent at a desk in an office. Also, it was easy to get some rhythm going and make pretty good time without thoughts of navigation.
Again, photos can tell a lot about a day. Reviewing them, I noted only a handful of the road, which tells me there wasn’t much to take pictures of in the big scheme of things.
One landscape image was this one…
…and if I didn’t know better, it’s Signal Peak and Mt Abrupt from behind. I think.
Instead, it was time to look for the little things that might be photo-worthy. This fungi…
…stood out and I’ve seen enough science fiction movies to know not to touch it. Obviously, this would happen if I did.
There were a plentiful supply of tannin-stained water pools, providing reflections…
…and on some occasions, bubbles. Complete with sun starburst.
As the next photo shows, delirium began to set-in. Clearly I thought it looked like Pac-Man or is it an ancient spanner?
Yeah okay, now I’m getting bored, so I might skip it along. After huffing and puffing my way up a number or hills like a locomotive overdue for service…
…I was fast approaching the Mt Thackeray campsite. Prior to it though, I came across water…
…running across the track. It might look average, but I actually filled up my water bottles from this overflow. It was fresh as well. Nothing beats roadside gutter water.
Another hill-climb followed and then I was upon the campsite. Even better, there was a surprise when I arrived. Due to the wonders of writing, my tent was already set up.
Even though I felt like lounging around, I figured I’d do the main aim of the day and that was to climb Mt Thackeray. Sure, it was sunny, but at that time of the year, the days are short, so I was soon heading off again. Also, the location was all new to me, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take.
There’s a sign indicating it’s only a kilometre to the top of Mt Thackeray, so in theory it shouldn’t take long. As I set off, a well-worn track was easy to follow. It began to fade though. I’m assuming the time of year didn’t help. I’m sure after a summer of punters tramping through, the route is quite clear? I can’t imagine too many others venture along it in winter.
Taking my time, I managed to work out…
…where to go. Soon, I faced the steep sides of Thackeray…
…which I knew I had to get to the top of. Somehow. I followed a rough track, at the base of these rocks…
…until I came to a point where I could climb aboard and begin to head up. A rock cairn…
…led the way.
Soon, I was out of the scrub and slowly climbing the rocks, while being mindful not to break an ankle. Seeing how I hadn’t seen anyone in two days, I figured getting injured wouldn’t be ideal.
I continued to follow the intermittent cairns, but the way up was simple enough…
…as I began to gain some height.
I continued to climb until eventually the top came into view…
…complete with a toppled trig point.
In my memory, some parts of this day are a bit vague. Not the top of Mt Thackeray though. Photos don’t do it justice, but the clear sky on this late-winter day were amazing. Dare I say, I can’t remember the views from a top of a hill having this much clarity before. Summer has a haze, but not on this occasion. It’s was if I didn’t need glasses anymore (I wish), as anything I looked at seemed so detailed. To the south-west, parts of the Fortress stood out…
…and to the north, well, there was other Grampians stuff.
I easily spent an hour at the top. The sun had a bit of warmth to it, so it was the ideal location to lie back on a soft rock and take it all in.
It’s not the highest spot around, but at 979 metres, it’s as good as it gets in that area. Anyway, time never stops, so after an extended lounging on the summit, I began to head back down.
Retracing my steps, it was enjoyable to take in views from the other direction. I cautiously followed the terraced-style rock…
…before reaching flat ground again. The climb wasn’t hard, but I wouldn’t want to be stumbling along those rock shelves if they were wet.
Once down, it was a matter of heading back to my tent and there you have it. Another post and another Grampians sojourn. I’ve got nothing left in the memory bank regarding this day, so it’s best I head off. What’s next? I might as well finish up this trip, so it’ll be day 3 of the Fortress Circuit.
Wow! 2 posts within a week – you’re on fire! ;o) The photos are great – looks like it was a cracking day. I would love to have a couple of days in the Grampians that weren’t cloudy or hazy (and also involved a helicopter to drop me in and pick me up because me and hills don’t get on that well) because it looks awesome!
Great read, I appreciate your dedication to the report
Excellent work as usual Greg. Still the best and my favourite bush walking blog around.
Hello Greg. Informative and entertaining as always, and your usual great pics too. Your blog displays considerably better balance than that old trig point marker. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one quite as completely Thackerayed!
Thanks for continue with writing up the second day of the Fortress circuit. In contrast to the first day, the clear blue sky on the 2nd day brought amazing mountain view. These wonderful photos do well to highlight or tell the trip experience.
Yeah, it’s been a post overload! The Grampians does have some amazing rock formations. At the rate I’m going with my knees, I might also need a helicopter soon!
Thanks! My general rule is that if not much happens on a day of walking, then any post about it will be full of other stuff 🙂
Thanks Neil! Hopefully I can keep at it, although I’ve got a few trips lined up now. There might be a post backlog 🙂
Oh yeah, the Thackeray trig is distinctive! Pretty easy to identify the location if you ever come across a photo of it. I quite like that it’s collapsed. Give it a million years and hopefully it’ll be gone 🙂
The top of Thackeray is well and truly one of my better outdoor experiences. Photos don’t do it justice, but the clearness was amazing. Better to see, rather than attempt to describe 🙂
I was sitting here at work this morning contemplating another mind numbing week, when on spec I decided to log onto Mr Fiasco’s old blog for a bit of a giggle. Imagine my surprise to find a couple of new posts, you bloody ripper! Even more serendipitous is that I was up on my own ‘fiasco like’ attempt on the Fortress on Saturday (I still haven’t got to the very top yet). Good to see you back Greg, hopefully I’ll catch you out in the bush somewhere.
Love reading your posts, always gives me a laugh, please don’t stop blogging
Ah, you’ve done a recent trip to the Fortress? Being summer, I guess you had completely different conditions to me? I had water all over the place, but I can imagine it’ll be dry as a chip at this time of year!
Thank you! I might disappear for a while, but I’ll eventually always come back to the blog 🙂
I used to read your blog a long time ago. But I have been away for awhile. Its good to see you are still posting (at least twice in 2019). I look forward to reading some more.
Thanks! Yeah, I come and go as well, Hard to blog for years on end. Seem to be spending more time out and about lately, so hard to find time. I’ll give it a go though.
Yay back again! Love this blog so much. Cheers for your new posts Greg
Am missing your blog posts. Nothing like a Hiking Fiasco tale to liven up my day. Thankfully, there are plenty of old posts for me to re-read and giggle over. I know how much effort it must take to produce such high quality writing. Much easier to do the walking I reckon. Thanks for all your hard unpaid writing and photography work over the years. We all appreciate it. I hope you are surviving the chilly Victorian weather! 🙂
Yeah, the blog has been well and truly slack. Seem to be out and about too often to sit down and write! One day…
I just reread your blog, from start to ‘up-to-here’. I am so impressed by your work, the banter, the hike details and the photography. Well done. (It’d still be a be great resource without your signature style, but not nearly as entertaining!)
Come back Greg!
Mm… Maybe one day!
Great writing mate.
Brilliant description of that walk, Greg. Have been missing the laugh that your blogs always bring. And are you sure those bubbles aren’t frog spawn?? 🙂
Thank you! Yeah, I must say I’ve been decidedly slack with the blog writing. I guess I’ll fire up at some point and do the million other walks I’ve done since the last post?!
Yes I think you need to do a hike and blog post soon ?
It looks like I’m going to have to! It’s been so long, I’ve no idea how to use WP anymore. I’ll need to do some practice posts to work out how this joint works again 🙂
Love your blog, Greg. Just read your (old) entries about Cathedral in preparation. I’m officially scared now…
Come baaaaaaaaak! This is ridiculous. Just do one post
I am sick of checking your site for updates and seeing that stupid Mt Thackeray pic of the bent ordinance marker. Lol
Mm… I don’t think the Cathedral Ranges are too bad? I remember being so fat I got wedged in the Cave Wells and also had a tumble up top and landed on my back. Other than that it’s fine!
Gee… talk about being hard up for some entertainment if you’re hanging out for my waffle! I’ll have to finish the last post in this Grampians trip. It’s only about 3 years too late.
Hello Greg. I’ve been wondering how you’ve been through the last year or two. Even my teenage kids have occasionally asked how you’re going. Glad to see you’re still ticking along, even if Hiking Fiasco remains effectively Thackerayed!
Yeah, surviving okay. Still walking, but I can’t say anything is really notable?! I managed to fit the GSWW in again during winter. Just the usual stuff.
Well, the lack of continuity notwithstanding (I always wanted to write that, and I almost half hope I used it correctly…), Hiking Fiasco remains a gift and has been an inspiration for a number of fiascos of our own. Whether updated or not, long may it remain online. Thanks Greg.
Yeah, although the blog is in hiatus, I guess it still exists, so I can fire it up again if I get the mojo for it!
ooohh, the rock formation is so adorable, is this a minor trek going to Mt Thackeray?
Mm… I haven’t been over there to check! Maybe one day 🙂
WOW! It’s fabulous scene. Thanks for sharing. looking forward to more posts.