Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Beehive Falls, Grampians National Park - August 2016

Beehive Falls.
It's been a little while since I did a walk up in the Grampians National Park so with a Friday Night/Saturday free I figured that I'd head up and revisit the park. My mate James was keen to get away for a bit of a break as well so after packing enough of James' gear into my ute to house a small army, we headed off into the night. Now the forecast for this weekend wasn't looking real flash so it wasn't no real surprise that we spent a large part of our journey up there driving through the rain. Thankfully when we arrived at the Plantation Camp Ground the rain held off while we erected our tents. Plantation Camp was surprisingly crowded, in fact it was the most crowded national park camp ground that I'd been in for awhile which was a bit weird to me as Plantation Camp isn't normally one of the most popular spots in the Grampians. Maybe the crowds were due to Stapylton Camp still being closed so all the rock climbers were down here, I dunno.....
The Plantation Camping Ground was fairly busy on this damp day.
After a night of wind and rain we packed up our damp tents and headed off....for breakfast in Halls Gap, yep hard core walking indeed. After a couple of cups of coffee and some healthy bacon and eggs we finally decided that we'd better head off on a walk before the whole day disappeared entirely into a haze of newspapers and caffeine. Pulling on the walking gear we jumped in the ute and headed back up the Mount Zero Road to Roses Gap, arriving at the car park to be greeted by continuing light rain. This area of the Grampians was severely burn't a few years ago and is slowly being re opened to the punters, you didn't have to look  far to see evidence left over from the fires though.
This end of the park is slowly being re opened after the bush fires of a couple of years ago, there is still a lot of evidence from the fires around though. 
A lot of my favourite tracks are still closed.
We were heading to Beehive Falls to check them out, these small falls flow from the Mount Difficult Range and are best seen after rain so we figured that with all the recent rain that we'd been having then the falls should be looking ok today. Pulling on the rain jacket we meandered our way along the wide track, James was like an impatient puppy anxious to get to the falls, I was more circumspect and taking it a bit slower, this was the first walk that I'd done without my leg being bandaged up since my operation so I wasn't sure how it would go. This walk slowly climbs up to a small amphitheatre in the range where the falls tumble down, and while it does climb it's a very gentle ascent really.
Low cloud draped the Mount Difficult Range this morning.

The last few metres to the base of the falls is a bit rocky.
Beehive Falls looked at their best today.
After crossing over Mud Hut Creek on the substantial bridge we climbed up the now rocky track to the base of the falls. We were right about the rain too, the falls were flowing as good as on any visit that I'd seen them. Beehive Falls are quite a pretty waterfall, the surrounding sandstone cliffs are a mixture of browns and oranges that would look quite impressive in the late afternoon light I would think, even in the damp and overcast conditions today they looked pretty good. The tannin stained water itself has the colour of iced tea and with the numerous swirl pools as it cascaded down there are plenty of opportunities for arty wanker shots, and while I may be a wanker, unfortunately I'm not very these shots are the best I could do.
The Briggs Bluff track was closed just above Beehive Falls.

We mucked around near the falls for at least 30 minutes which turned out to be a good thing, as when we turned  and started to head down to the ute the grey cloud started to break and we got some glimpses of blue sky. The surrounding sandstone cliffs and turrets, more prominent than normal due the vegetation having been knocked back a fair bit in the bush fires, definitely looked a little better under blue skies. After spending some time watching a couple of wedge tail eagles soaring on the thermals we arrived back at the ute, the good news was that my leg appeared to be holding up ok so it was with a little more confidence that I set off up the road for our next adventure.
While we were mucking around at the falls the cloud started to lift, the blue sky enhancing the photos a bit.
The Mount Difficult Range.
The Dirt.
Are you sitting down?.... Wait for it....we walked a grand total of 4.1 kilometres on this walk, and I reckon 2 kilometres were racked up rock hoping around taking photos. The metres climbed was hardly gob smacking either, 131 metres isn't really going to send your lungs into melt down. While Beehive Falls probably aren't worth a visit to the Grampians in their own right they are definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the area, especially if it's been raining recently. The easy track up to the falls is very well constructed until you pass over Mud Hut Creek around 50 metre from the base of the falls, from here on it's a little rocky under foot but its a walk that would still be suitable for young kids. I had some old notes and a mud map out of Tyrone Thomas' book 80 Walks In The Grampians but really you only need the free stuff Parks Vic have online, the best map for the area is probably Spatial Vision's Northern Grampians 1:50,000 sheet.
Relevant Posts.
The bush is recovering well from the fires.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

You Yangs, You Yangs Regional Park - July 2016

Well I'm back at work now, my dodgy leg is slowly getting better, however the doc says that I still shouldn't be doing to much physical activity. The lack of any exercise is having a corresponding effect on my waistline, if I sit on the couch much longer then I'll have to find a shop selling XXXXL bushwalking gear and I'm betting that they're isn't a huge market for XXXXL bushwalking gear. Now apart from walking I normally keep my fat guts under control riding the 30 kilometres to and from work but as you would assume I'm not allowed to do that either. So the plan is now to do a bit of swimming, only thing is that I have to wait for all the cuts in my leg to completely heal up, so that's another week away as well. With a few shorter walks already under my belt post op I decided to attempt something a bit longer today, the You Yangs is another place that I've visited a bit over the years, now days I'm more often Mountain Biking at the You Yangs so I figured that it might be time to re visit some of the walking tracks in the park.
It was an early start this morning.

Waking to some sub Antarctic Melbourne weather was a bonus today as I still have some fairly substantial bandages on my leg, which combined with long pants make for pretty warm walking for someone like me who normally wanders around in shorts even in the depths of winter. I arrived at the Turntable Carpark at around 8:30am to be greeted by showers scudding across the granite covered mountains. Mountains may be a little optimistic actually as Flinders Peak, the highest spot on the walk is only 347 metres above sea level, but as the You Yangs rise out of the barren plains west of Melbourne which are basically at sea level then its a high 347 metres! Anyway with wet weather gear stashed in my pack I set off towards my first objective of the day, the summit of Flinders Peak.
That's Geelong in the distance.
I was sharing the track at this early hour with a few joggers but apart from that the sometimes very busy park was deserted. The walk up to Flinders Peak involves hundreds of steps so I took my time, trying to make sure that I wasn't over working my dodgy leg, luckily the early morning light was good so I was able to stop and muck around with my camera a bit. After passing a lookout that gives an aerial view of Bunjil, a Geoglyph in the valley below, as well as the Melbourne skyline in the distance. Not long after passing the lookout I shuffled my way to the summit, to be greeted by a very cold wind and a shower of rain. Luckily the showers were passing through quickly so after waiting a few minutes I was once again under blue skies. Flinders Lookout provides for some great views down to Geelong and beyond in one direction, and Melbourne and the CBD in the other direction, to the south east I could see the ships making their way through Port Phillip Bay.
Bunjil, a Geoglyph constructed by artist Andrew Rogers to commemorate the local Wathaurong Aboriginal people.
The summit of Flinders Peak.
Looking down to Geelong and Corio Bay from Flinders Peak.
The view north from Flinders Peak, this is the view Matthew Flinders had when he climbed the peak in 1802, well without the quarry and the cleared land.
Dropping down off Flinders Peak I retraced my route unit I hit the turn off for the East West Walk, this track basically circumnavigates Flinders Peak, weaving its way around the mountain through a labyrinth of granite boulders. East West Track is a little rougher than the climb up Flinders Peak, the loose granite on the ground can make for some slippery walking conditions so once again I was pretty slow and careful not to go arse over. The western side of the mountain was still shaded at this early hour, which combined with the showers coming across from the south west made for some chilly conditions, as well as for some rapidly changing light conditions to take photos in. One minute I'd be in grey cold rain coming in sideways, literally a minute later I'd be bathed in blue sky and sunshine, unless you've lived in Melbourne you'd think I'm exaggerating, you'd think so but I'm not!
The East West track is a little rougher than the climb up Flinders Peak.
East West Track.

After passing above The Saddle around to the eastern slopes the track climbed a little, passing above some huge granite slabs which once again gave good views to the east. I was now meeting a few other walkers on the track and it wasn't long until I started to hear the sound of cars signalling my immanent arrival back at the Turntable Carpark. Now you'd think that having walked around 6 or 7 k's I'd call it a day, but instead of climbing into the warm embrace of the heated seats in the ute I headed down Branding Yard Trail. Branding Yard Trail drops from the Turntable Carpark, lazily zig-zagging its way down to a flat area in a the shallow valley to the east.
Some more weather coming in from the south west.
A minute or so later and the skies would be blue again.
Branding Yard Trail is an easier walk than East West Walk, once down in the valley the walking is more or less flat. The trail also passes through a bit more of an unaltered natural environment, it was particularly good today with the wattle blooming and adding a vivid splash of bright yellow to the sometimes drab greens, the Yellow Gums in the damper spots also looking good the soft winter sunlight. After checking out Bunjil up close, just a jumble of rocks from down here, I continued on the Branding Yard Trail. Now I'm not sure who marked the track out but talk about meander, I could often see the gravel path meandering through the light forest ahead of me almost doubling back on itself. You'd swear that the trail builders were intent on getting the kilometre stats up when they marked this walk.
Branding Yard Trail is a fairly easy stroll.
There was plenty of wattle flowering today.
Looking back up towards Flinders Peak.

Eventually I emerged from the scrub to pass over Branding Yard Road, the views to the south from the road showing yet another rain squall heading my way. Seeing the rain on its way I set off on my climb back up to the Turntable Carpark with a little more urgency, the thing with my leg is that it actually feels fine when I'm walking but I've got to be careful not to cause any internal damage, hence the no exercise directive, so my head was constantly telling my body to go slower, but my body actually feels good. I copped a bit of rain on the climb back up to the car park, but once again managed to get by without donning the wet weather gear, with the help of numerous large rocks and caves I'd actually managed the whole walk without the need to put on the gortex, so that was a definite bonus.
The Yellow Gums (I think) were a feature along Branding Yard Trail.
It's impossible to make out the shape of the Geoglyph from ground level.

The Dirt.
I walked 13.3 kilometres today and climbed 564 metres, I'd probably class this as an easy walk. I used notes from the House of Chapman's Day Walks Melbourne its walk number 6 in the book. The walk can be split into three easier walks if you wanted to, as the carpark forms the basis for each leg. This walk features plenty of views as well as passing through some nice open forest, littered with huge granite boulders in places. Parks Vic has a lot of free stuff online for the You Yangs Regional Park and I'm pretty sure that Glen Tempest and Tyrone Thomas have also published notes about walks within the park as well.
Sections of Branding Yard Trail meander around like a drunken sailor, the track is well marked though.

The shower that has just passed through making its way towards Melbourne.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tyakil Nature Walk, Wyperfeld National Park - August 2016

Typical Wyperfeld National Park country.
Recently Sam and I visited Wyperfeld National Park for a day, our main purpose was to walk a long loop out around Lake Brambruk and Outlet Creek. After spending most of the day walking this 20 kilometre loop and being taunted by the amazing number of birds in the area, I decided to swap lenses on my camera and head out on the much shorter Tyakil Nature Walk late in the afternoon to see if I could get any reasonable photos of our feathered friends. The Tyakil Nature Walk loops around a series of small dry lakes that provided a bountiful home to the Wotjobaluk People back in the day when the climate was a lot wetter, Tyakil ba Tyakil' was the name given to Outlet Creek by the Wotjobaluk People.
The Tyakil Walk starts off by heading through this avenue of red gums towards Black Flat.

With Sam electing to stay with the ute and have a bit of a nanna nap, I headed off on my own along the sandy track towards Black Flat. We'd walked this initial section earlier in the day on our long walk and the red gums along the edge of Black Flat were teaming with birds, so of course when I came back late in the afternoon on this stroll, murphy and his law dictated that I'd barely see one of my feathered friends. Not to worry though, maybe I could stalk the grazing roos and get a good photo of them, err no, even my marsupial mates were playing coy now. Oh well, at least I still had the nice desert scenery to check out in the late afternoon.
Black Flat is bordered by these nice sand dunes.
Black Flat is a large grassy depression that is occasionally filled with water when Outlet Creek flows, we're talking once every ten or twenty years or so. Talking to a ranger earlier in the day he was saying  that the massive floods of a few years ago that re arranged the Grampians didn't even make it this far north, so you have to wonder if Outlet Creek will ever flow again this far north. One of the problems with no floods is that the red gums can't germinate, so as the old ones die off we aren't getting any new ones to take their place. Apparently there has been talk of a pipeline like they run from the Murray River to Hattah Lakes, but Wyperfeld is a long way from the Murray River. The environment is competing with the irrigators for the precious water and the environment doesn't vote, so I'm a bit pessimistic about the future of the red gums of Wyperfeld.

After crossing over the grassy depression that is Outlet Creek I continued meandering my way along the edge of Black Flat, passing a few old canoe trees where the local indigenous people had chiseled the bark from the trees for their boats. The track along here is bordered by a nice red sand dune that was looking good in the late afternoon light. After checking out an old bore left over from our more recent European Settlement I continued on towards Round Lake, this lake like Black Flat and Outlook Creek is really just a grassy depression. These dry lakes with there lush covering of green grass seem to be popular places for the local wildlife, and indeed there was a mob of kangaroos grazing on Round Lake when I approached, unfortunately the roos were very skittish today and took off before I could really get a good photo.
There is a bit of old European History on this walk, this is the remains of an old bore, that is Black Flat in the back ground.
There is a bit of indigenous history as well, the local Watjobaluk People used stone axes to carve out canoes from these old red gums, times were a little wetter back in those days it seems.
Round Lake.
Leaving Round Lake the track heads up and along a dune before starting to drop down to Little Jack Flat, I did manage to get a couple of photos of the local roos along here, something that may please any overseas readers but will probably have any Australian readers wondering why I bothered. Even though kangaroos are basically a dime a dozen in Australia I still love to photograph them, they are definitely a unique animal that we are lucky to have them in such huge numbers. Most of the roos made them self scarce fairly quickly but there was one big buck that held his ground for awhile, you wouldn't want to tangle with one of these as they'd do some serious damage.
Even the sometimes drab mallee trees were looking good in the late afternoon sun.
This big boy on Little Black Flat held his ground for awhile.

With the sun rapidly sinking in the west I crossed another couple of large grassy openings, the early evening light giving the country even more of a park like appearance. With recent rain this semi arid country was definitely looking in good nick, with plenty of animals and birds enjoying the great conditions. After almost completing the circuit I eventually managed to get a photo of one of the local galahs, it's bright colours standing out against the early evening sky. After checking out a couple more dunes I wandered back to the ute and woke Sam up from her nanna nap, pulling off my boots I settled back into the drivers seat for the 6 hour trip home, arriving home just after midnight after what had been a great day.
The sun was slowly setting in the west as I made my way back to the ute.
After crossing a couple of these grassy plains the track dropped down to the car park.

The Dirt.
I walked 6.1 kilometres and climbed 66 metres on this easy walk. Wyperfeld National Park is a long way from Melbourne, around 450 kilometres away actually so it takes a little commitment to get there, once you are up there though Wyperfeld National Park makes for a special spot to walk in the cooler months, avoid it over summer though as its baking hot. The Tyakil Nature Walk has something for everyone really, there is indigenous history, European history, lots of interesting flora and fauna and also plenty of interesting semi arid scenery to be seen, some of the sand dunes are particularly photogenic in the late afternoon light. I used the notes out of Take a Walk in Victoria's National Parks by the Daly's, the book is out of print now though, Parks Vic have a lot of stuff on line about Wyperfeld National Park as well.
Relavent Links.
Desert Discovery Walk, Little Desert National Park, 2016
Wyperfeld was looking more like a golf course after recent rain.
That's the ute through the trees.
But there was still time to try to get a photo of this galah against the darkening sky.