Sharon, Mary, Karen, Donna, Pat and Glenn in the ‘jungle’.
A leech looking for a feed after Mary removed it from her boot.
Decaying Forestry signboard.
Photos by Helen, Karen and Mary
Six brave female souls joined Donna up Gulaga for her second walk as leader. After being assured that nobody would be lost, or rather pleading with everyone not to get lost on the walk, the group was given the good news and the bad news. The good news being that a nice new shiny toilet had been installed up the mountain. The bad news was that the walk didn’t go as far as the toilet but that didn’t matter as that meant that we didn’t have to walk further up the mountain!!
We set off for a four km uphill walk in sunny, humid conditions and located the rarely used and unmaintained Battery Track. In addition to its significant indigenous cultural history, Gulaga has a European history which involves the mining of gold from 1878 to 1920. Stampers, boilers, aerial tramways and even a cyanide processing plant were housed on the mountain during this period. At one stage there was also a school in the area as well as dwellings to house the four hundred or so miners and their families who lived there permanently.
The purpose of this walk was to follow the remnants of the Battery Track, which is now overgrown and difficult in sections, to locate artifacts and relics from the gold mining period. The walk was a very scenic one with the lush rainforest harbouring some beautiful tree ferns along the way, even a Pinkwood tree was spotted nestled amongst them. It really was a surprise to see such a beautiful rainforest in stark contrast to other parts of the mountain which are quite dry.
We made our way to what is left of the manager’s residence, which was just some bricks, bottles and remnants of some type of cooking utensil. We had lunch at that location and then followed our path back out onto the main track. Once on the track everyone was appreciative of Mary collecting all of the leeches residing on Gulaga so that none of us located any on our bodies! We made our way back to the cars and some of the group indulged in some retail therapy at the new nursery, having earned that right. Meanwhile the walk leader pondered over why no males had attended her walk. Was it the degree of difficulty or something more sinister? Perhaps we may find out in the Deua…….
Bev, undaunted by the gathering of 30 walkers, led a circuit of Tomakin. We started with the lookout at Melville point, where several others were enjoying the view, including the local mullet fishermen, waiting for the big “bully” mullet to run out of the river to spawn on the beaches.
Following the shoreline, we walked along “racecourse” beach, so called as it was used in the past for horse races, as the sand is flat and hard at low tide. On reaching the estuary, we then walked around the big sand spit and up to the ramp. Although the remains of the wharf have now been removed, in the past, coastal freighters docked here, taking on freight and passengers. Due to runoff from land clearing and dirt roads, the estuary is now so shallow that this is impossible, but in earlier times is was deep enough for small coastal ships to navigate.
After morning tea in Jack Buckley Park, we resumed our circuit, returning via the new housing estate near Barlings Beach.
David led 5 club members to the site of an unnamed waterfall on a tributary in the area of Quart Pot Creek. The drive to our start was through pretty forest, and rough dirt roads necessitating the crossing of 12 ‘creeks’ all of which had varying levels of running water.
We started with an immediate launch into the forest and a bush bash up a dry creek bed. We soon came upon the creek tributary where the waterfall was situated. The creek although by no means flowing all the way through contained sufficient water for small water holes to form around which we found round holes that we believe were made by the yabby.
Features of the area are large boulders, rocks and tree trunks covered in bright green moss. The moss while pretty on the trunks of tree is treacherous under foot requiring careful negotiating for the day. As we worked our way up the creek we came upon spent orchids and birds-nest ferns. As on other recent walks there was a display of interesting fungi.
After much rock scrambling, some rock climbing and having to take to higher ground to find a way around deeper water we reached the 15m waterfall where some water was falling. David then led us up above the waterfall so that we could look down into the canyon below. There was a choice of lunch site, on the side of the hill in the sun or down near the creek in shade. Leeches were in good supply so the party split up evenly. Those of us already having had a close encounter with these hitch hikers opted for the sun, while the rest walked down to enjoy the last of the creek.
A good paced walk out to the cars along the fire trail, complete with obligatory black snake; completed a great day in the local bush. Thank you David.
Leader David briefs the group before starting the walk.
David surveying the route ahead.
Delicate fungi at home on a fallen trunk.
Erika finds a swing to test out.
Climbing on slippery rocks did not prevent Pat and Erika from having fun!
The climb to the top of the waterfall.
Erika, David, Philip, Pat, Donna and Mary at the waterfall.
On a mild autumn morning Glenn led a group of 13 walkers down into a forested gully, along a mostly dry creek bed and along scrubby trails to the stony remnants of Billy’s Hut. There Glenn described to the group, Billy’s life in that isolated spot.
The occupant of Billy’s Hut was William McCarthy, an Irish immigrant who arrived in his late 20’s and built a dry stone walled, 2 roomed hut in the forest near Nelligan. He became locally known as “Black Flat Billy.” and was a true bush character, an illiterate bachelor whose only companions were a dog, a pig and a diamond python. The hut is now almost invisible amongst the forest, only a few metres from the creek he used for water and the quarry that were the centre of Billy’s small world.
Prospectors began making gold strikes in the 1890’s but it wasn’t until 1960 that the Mines department commenced a more systematic record of mine shafts. It can be assumed that shafts not included in the McIlveen Study were insitu prior to 1890. It is a testament to the skills & knowledge of many early prospectors that they could detect a site that would yields “liveable” amounts of gold.
Our group sat reflectively on a log and tried to imagine Billy’s life but perhaps that reality is just too different from this day & age.
Thank you Glenn for our walk & our trip into the past.
Helen and Donna take in the first side track view of the coast.
Leader Mary, Erika, visitor Bruce, Denise and Donna and Philip, morning tea at Meringo Headland.
The group enjoying Mullimburra rocks.
Helen was quick with her camera…. and
Donna caught them too!
Erika caught them in her lens as well.
Donna, Mary, Helen, Denise, Philip, Erika and Bruce.
Black swans in flight.
There was a great display of Banksia shining in the sunlight.
Photos by Donna, Erika, Helen, Mary and Philip
On a perfect autumn day, with our transport arranged for us (thanks Karen) and no need to car shuffle, Mary led a group of seven walkers on the full length (13.6km) of the Dreaming Track from Congo to Tuross.
Traditionally over thousands of years, the Brinja-Yuin people used this route, linking their campsites, sites for ceremony and trading, fresh water and plentiful food sources. The area is rich in archaeological sites.
We were not disappointed, beautiful picnic spots at Meringo headland and Coila Lake, amazing sea scapes, pristine beaches, an abundance of large fungi, shady wooded areas and plenty of bird life on the lagoons and lakes.
There may not have been any hills, but the soft sand and good pace ensured good use of our muscles!
However, the highlight of the walk, was the show a pod of dolphin put on for us near Grey Rocks. 10 dolphins surfing a clear blue wave close to the shore right in front of us. All of us with cameras in hand, we had to have got the shot!
On Thursday 4th Jill led a smallish group to North Durras and Durras Lake. Starting at the entrance to the lake we followed it around, along the way admiring the lake on one side and the magnificent Burrawangs and tall spotted gums on the other. They looked magnificent on that morning as recent rains had washed them of recent dust while the spotted gums had shed their bark and were glistening in the filtered sunlight.
A short but truly enjoyable walk through this forest.
Photos by Ainslie, Donna, Erika, Heather, Karen, Mary, Philip, Stewart and Tom
28 Batemans Bay Bushwalkers spent the week from Sunday 24 March to Saturday 30 March camped at the Big4NRMA Halls Gap Caravan Park for 5 days of walking in the Grampians National Park, Victoria led by Karen & Donna.
Donna, Lin, Karen, Sharon and Glenn enjoying the warm sun.
Morning tea with a sunny view.
A wet ascent to Mount Sturgeon.
The weather turned unpredictable, leaving just a 4 day walking window between the hot and dry conditions and the cold, wet windy conditions with light hail and snow in the high country.
Walkers crossing an open paddock.
Fyans walk through open forest.
Day 1 – Monday
Dawned wet and very windy, so a hasty change of plans saw some of the group walk about 9km on a good bush track following Fyans Creek from the campsite to the National Parks Visitors Centre in Halls Gap and return. Followed by dinner in the Halls Gap Tavern, which surprisingly, was fully booked on a Monday night.
At the Pinnacle lookout.
Lin, Donna between the rocks.
Living on the edge, Pinnacle.
A preview of Chatauqua Peak.
Day 2 – Tuesday
Cool, clear and sunny. 2 walks offered.
Walk 1 : 4.2 km return to The Pinnacle from Wonderland Carpark. The Pinnacle is the most popular walk and lookout in the Park. Avoid weekends and school holidays.
Tom and Gay on the way up.
Drink stop with a view.
A tight squeeze.
Negotiating the rocks.
Perfect lunch spot on the way down.
Gay in the lead down into the canyon.
Descending through the canyons.
Ainslie writes . . . . . Wonderland in the Grampians had us full of wonder at the jumble of high rocks, but also wondering how we’d make it up yet more steps. Through the spectacular Grand Canyon with its sheer sandstone walls, then an even narrower cleft called Silent Street, and we were at The Pinnacle after a climb of 280 meters in 2.2 kms.
Karen, Ed, Ainslie, Val, Bev, Diddy.
Bev and Ed.
Donna and Tony.
Mike, Ainslie, Jill and Betty.
Val has lunch in the shade.
An international crowd less than half our age was admiring the view over Lake Bellfield and the brown fields of Halls Gap valley. One little French lass was 21 times younger than Val and Betty! Our group of ten was ably led by Bev Brazel; on a walk we graded easy/medium, but the Wonderland Walks brochure grades Medium/Hard. Wonder why.
Camp leader Karen with Mary.
Donna recharges for the walk down.
Ainslie, Ed, Karen and Bev hold on tightly at the Pinnacle Lookout.
John, Heather Jennie and Tony.
Walk 2 : 8.4 km return Pinnacle Circuit from Halls Gap. We split into 2 groups to make the numbers more manageable and walked the loop in opposite directions. The group who walked the loop clockwise appreciated getting the many long series of steps out of the way first while fresh.
Day 3 – Wednesday
Cool, clear and sunny. 3 walks offered.
Walk 1 : 4.2 km return to Sundial Peak from Sundial Carpark, followed by 1.4 km return to Silverband Falls.
Ainslie, Heather and John.
At the lookout.
Karen at Silverband Falls.
Ainslie writes . . . . . Ten of us led by Stewart went on an easy walk to Sundial Peak. After a smooth track we got to the top across rocks. We admired the excellent view of Lake Bellfield. Sundial Peak is so named because it is the first peak to get the morning sun. To commemorate this there is a well constructed sundial made by students in 1968.
We then drove to see Silverband Falls, reduced to a trickle, where we had lunch.
Taking in the view through a lens.
Bev, Stewart, Ainslie and Mike at the Sundial Lookout.
Walks 2 & 3 : To Mt Rosea, and once again the group split in half to make numbers more manageable. One group walked 9 km from Rosea Carpark to the summit and returned by the same route. The second group walked from Rosea Carpark to the summit and returned on a loop track – about 12 km.
At Mt Rosea. Lin, Donna , Betty, Karen, Jennie, Mary, Donna (camp leader), Jill and Ian.
Donna in the maze of rocks which was the track.
Betty forging a way through the rocks.
A long way down Donna!
Ian feeling the ‘tranquility’.
Lin, Jill, Donna, Mary, Donna, Betty and Jennie.
Jennie and Betty pause in the sun.
The loop track has been recently realigned. Follow the signs from the carpark to Rosea summit. Then follow the signs towards Borough Huts. Then take the signposted track to follow old management trails back to Rosea Carpark.
A beautiful day to be in the Grampians.
Bev, Val and Stewart.
Both are gorgeous walks through a variety of landscapes and rock formations with extensive 360 deg views from the summit.
Both groups visited the barely flowing Silverband Falls on the way back to camp.
Note: The Sundial Peak Loop shown in old publications no longer exists. Parts of the return track have been washed out and not repaired.
Dinner that night was at the Halls Gap Hotel, about 1 km from camp on the Stawell Road.
Day 4 – Thursday
Cool, clear and sunny. 3 walks offered.
Walk 1 : Zumsteins Historic Walk, MacKenzie Falls upper lookouts, The Balconies – about 7 km in total.
View south from Reeds Lookout across the Serra Range and to Mount Abrupt in the far distance.
Historic story of Zumsteins.
River at Zumsteins
Diddy writes . . . . . . Five of us set off in one car at 9.30am with Mike as the driver and leader for the day. First stop after 20 kms or so on the narrow winding road was Zumsteins historic holiday resort of the 1920’s or so featuring old pise huts, hand dug swimming pool and a beautiful stroll through the bush block.
Descending the 260+ steps.
The flow at the falls.
Next onto MacKenzie Falls where there were 2 lookouts. Broken Falls lookout and MacKenzie Falls lookout, both had spectacular views. After a lunch break in the shade we drove to have a brief view of Lake Wartook. Then onto Reeds Lookout and then a walk to the Balconies with expansive views to Lake Belfield and the Serra Range to Mount Abrupt to the far South. Last stop for the day was along the Mount Difficult road to Boroka Lookout overlooking Halls Gap village and East to the Pyrenees Range and the new wind farm. We returned to the caravan park by 4pm. A good day was had by all.
Walk 2 : 5.5 km return loop to Chatauqua Peak via Bullaces Glen. On the return leg we also walked the 2.3 km Venus Baths Loop.
Yet another climb in brilliant sunshine.
Bev, Ed and Karen on Chatauqua walk.
Jennie at Mt Chatauqua
Beautiful and varied walk starting in town. Good groomed track and some stairs up the hill with a short side track to Clematis Falls, which would be lovely when falling. Short, easy rock scramble to reach the summit. Excellent views over Halls Gap and the campsite. Descent goes via Bullaces Glen and another dry waterfall and cascades. Lovely ferny spot in more seasonal weather. The side track loop to Venus Baths is through a rocky gorge and leads to a string of swimming holes gouged in a sandstone rock bed. The creek was still flowing despite the drought.
The ‘ladies’ cool their feet at Venus Baths.
Followed by a drive to Zumsteins for lunch and a stroll through the historic ruins. Followed by MacKenzie Falls where about half the group descended the 260 odd steps to the base of the Falls. The Falls are permanent and flow from Lake Wartook, the level of which is controlled by dams further upstream, ensuring there is always plenty of water coming over the Falls. We also walked the 2km return track out to the Gorge Lookout. Very popular spot – avoid weekends and school holidays.
Followed by a visit to Reeds Lookout.
Walk 3 : To the Northern Grampians to walk the Mt Staplyton Amphitheatre, a 6.6 km return challenging hike found in the book Daywalks Around Victoria by Glenn Tempest, published in 2011. On checking with 2 National Park Rangers to ensure the walk was still possible, we started from Hollow Mountain Carpark, and ascended Hollow Mountain. The published walk then continues across a trackless rocky ridge to the summit of Mt Staplyton. This ridge is where our walkers turned back, because the rock climbing was deemed too dangerous to continue.
Crossing the ‘moonscape’.
Into a blue sky.
King and queen of the castle.
Following the yellow markers through a tight squeeze.
Through the ‘black’ hole.
Hop, skip and a jump!
Tom on top of the world.
Under the shelter.
Instead they returned to the cars, drove the short distance to the Mt Zero Carpark, and followed the 5.6 km return track to the summit of Mt Staplyton. The whole day amounted to about an 8 km walk through some fantastic rock formations to achieve more amazing views.
Day 5 – Friday
Cold, windy and possibly rain.
Another change of plans due to the weather. A group drove to the Mt William Carpark and walked 3.6 km return up the steep bitumen road to the summit of Mt William. This is the highest peak in the Grampians and there are views at every turn. At the top a squall came through, so we beat a hasty retreat back to the cars. Yesterday’s walkers who had not yet visited MacKenzie Falls and the Lookouts on Mt Victory Road set out to explore the area. Fortunately the weather improved and they were able to descend to the bottom of the Falls and walk part of the Gorge beside the McKenzie River and also take the track to the Balconies from Reeds Lookout.
View from Mt William.
The remainder of the group toured the area around Halls Gap, some visiting Stawell and Ararat, and some stopping off at Red Rock Olives and the James McMurtrie Glass Blowing Studio near Pomonal.
Day 6 – Saturday
Another cold, windy and possibly damp day. We abandoned plans to climb Mt Abrupt and divided into 2 groups.
Walk 1 : 2.5 km return climb of the Picaninny Hill overlooking Dunkeld. Followed by a walk around Dunkeld Arboretum and Dunkeld Village.
Kitted out, prepared and undeterred by the wet weather.
Consulting the map.
Sharon and Donna at the lake in the Arboretum
At the Arboretum.
Walk 2 : 7 km return climb of Mt Sturgeon, also overlooking the little village of Dunkeld at the southern end of the National Park. This group also visited the village and arboretum.
A lovely autumn day for a pleasant Murramarang National Park walk. There were twelve of us, ten members and two visitors, the bush was lovely and fresh after the rain and there was a variety of fungus to be seen both on old trees (these have the common name of Curry Punk due to their colour) as well as others not so vibrant raising their heads through the undergrowth. Flowers were scarce but the Pittosporum revolutum with its amazing golden yellow seed pods were on show.
Amazing views along the coast and west to mountains and the colour of the sea and the golden sands on the north side of Bay was enticing. A visit to the Canoe Tree another highlight of this walk and the welcoming committee of the local kangaroo & wallaby population as we returned to our cars was overwhelming. We finished our walk with lunch at Maloneys Beach – all agreed it had been a great walk.