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.