Mount Connection: 30 April 2017

Mount Connection GPS route

I first did this walk very early on in my ‘walking life’, back when I didn’t have a car, was restricted to where I could get to on a road bike, and barely knew what a cairn was (honestly, I’d had to ask a friend). It was also before I had a GPS, and therefore didn’t get written up as a blog post. It probably doesn’t really need a post, because it’s so close to Big Bend and fairly straight forward, but in the interests of being as complete as possible (and I’m already missing enough) I’ll do it but keep it short.

This time it was Graham’s birthday, and having gone on a walk the day before he was updating his peakbagging list. We noticed he hadn’t done Mount Connection, and it seemed the perfect thing to do when he got back from lunch with his son. We met up in town, drove slowly up behind the flocks of tourists (despite the late hour), and were read to leave from Big Bend at 3pm.

Start of the walk from Big Bend.. hard to miss

The start is well signed, and after 20 minutes following the 4WD track we came across the sign on the left hand side of the road that marked the track to Collins Bonnet via Mount Connection. The walking was much nicer here, no more road and a rather nice rocky track with sections of board walk.

The road walk begins

Off the road and onto a much nice walking track!

We were motoring along, it turned out Graham wanted to get to the summit within the hour (!), and sure enough, just before the hour we stood on the track 100m to the north of the summit. When I’d first come, I hadn’t found a pad to the top, so we just ducked into the very low scrub and small scree. On the way back, we found a cairned pad that was patchy in places because it was so open, but there was one there. If we’d walked another 20m we’d have found it!

Looking back at Mt Wellington after a section of boardwalk

Graham adds another rock or two to the cairn marking the pad to the summit

We spent 15 minutes on the summit enjoying the view, trying not to cool down too fast. Graham had enough time to do a birthday FB post, while I sat and thought about how different walking was from the last time I’d been up that way. I think the biggest difference was that I had long since replaced my pre-walk self-doubt of ‘am I going to make it or am I going to get lost and make a fool of myself’ with a confident belief that any mountain is climbable even if there’s always a sense of caution as to what restrictions weather, injury and terrain might place on intended plans.

Graham on top! Happy Birthday :)!!

Wellington (can you see the tower?) from Connection summit

The walk back was a tad more relaxed, although it seemed we were forever chasing the line where the shadow of the mountain met the edge of the sun’s rays as it sank low and golden to the west. We ducked off the road and onto a nearby scree field at one point just to catch it on the trees. Despite all of that, we made it back in 1:10, in what proved to be a lovely birthday afternoon walk!

All up: 9km, 2:30, 419m ascent.

Chasing the sun back home

Off track onto some scree, just to catch the sun’s glow

Dromedary and Platform in the distance, while the sun makes gum leaves shine like gold

Last bit of pinky red

And we’re back.. a lovely 2 hours!

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Schouten Island: 19-22 February 2016

Story, Daedalus and Bear/Bare Hill gps route

Story, Daedalus and Bear/Bare Hill gps route

I was looking forward to this one! 10 months prior, for Graham’s birthday, I’d bought him a yacht ride to Schouten Island. Theoretically he could take whoever he wanted, but I did hope I’d get to share it with him! This summer we’d bided our time, not wanting to go when it would be packed. I had one week off between the end of exams and the start of the new semester, and this fell over the last weekend before I started up again. It marked the end of my summer of walking.

On the first day, we went for a walk along the beach

On the first day, we went for a walk along the beach

Unfortunately we didn’t get off to the start we wanted, with a late night call the day before we were due to leave: the yacht wasn’t fit for sail, did we want to go over on a motor boat instead? Disappointed, we had little option but to agree.

The rock was varied and wonderful

The rock was varied and wonderful

As we drove up through grey drizzle we started to doubt the weather forecast, although our spirits lifted at the sight of silver sea and dark blue mountains – our mountains! The boat ride over was fast and bumpy and we arrived disappointed to find way more people than expected. I struggled to stop my expectations of what would be get in the way of me enjoying what was. We found a spot as far away from others as we could, rapidly became experts in rigging our tarp, and decided to escape the bustle.

The rock was varied and wonderful

The rock was varied and wonderful

We walked west across beautiful white sandy beaches with turquoise water, clambered over rocky headlands, found shells, watched birds feed and otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the place and the company. On our return we went for our first swim, then treated ourselves to biscuits and cheese, olives and dips – far more luxurious than I’ve ever had on a bushwalk! The penguins made us aware of their presence that night, but you could hardly get upset at them.

They beach we camped at was just lovely

They beach we camped at was just lovely

We woke to the sounds of a kookaburra laugh, and enjoyed yoghurt and fruit for breakfast. As we were preparing to head off one of the guys from a group who were camped next to us headed over for a chat, and gave us a tip about the taped trap up to Mt Story. We accordingly revised our plans, and walked the few metres to where it started!

On the second day, we headed for Mount Story

On the second day, we headed for Mount Story

It was quite nice walking, and we were liking being on a track. Though we warmed up fast, the blue tongue lizards gave us plenty of reasons to have breaks. A final short scramble and we were on the summit, marked by a giant pine stag. Swifts raced around us, so fast that you could hear the swoosh as their wings cut through the air more clearly than you could see them. It was quite amazing and we spent most of our time on the summit admiring them.

Our first blue tongue showing off its tongue

Our first blue tongue showing off its tongue

We did have one more mountain to climb though, and it looked a decent way off, with a bit of mess between it and us. So we packed up and began our descent down a steep green gully with huge drops off the rocks (we took care to avoid them!). Down at the saddle we began the undulating walk over to Daedalus, surprised at how easy the terrain was now. It hadn’t looked it!

Story gets closer..

Story gets closer..

The final climb was a scramble, as it always is with those big rocks and they way they pile themselves on one another. But we had lunch to celebrate with, and a wonderful pool of water hidden in the shade beneath one rock was beautifully refreshing!

I did like the rounded rock

I did like the rounded rock

The walk back was straightforward, and we stopped by the Parks hut where we checked out nautilis shells and pigmy possums (which look very much like mice!). We arrived back at our tents in time for a late afternoon swim and some fruit salad and cream. Just perfect!

Our second!

Our second!

The busy beach was much quieter, with only two other parties, which meant we had it to ourselves to enjoy a late night stroll under the moonlight. We sat on rocks and listened to hungry baby penguins before the mosquitos once again had us retreating to our tent.

Looking towards Freycinet from Mt Story

Looking towards Freycinet from Mt Story

Having climbed the mountains we’d set out to climb, our third day was one for relaxing and enjoying. We started it with a lovely easy walk up Bare/Bear Hill. On older maps it is spelled Bare, on newer ones it’s Bear – it could be either really as it doesn’t have a lot of trees, but there’s also this one rock that very much resembles a bear climbing up the hill on all fours!

We plunge into a steep green gully, heading over there to Daedalus

We plunge into a steep green gully, heading over there to Daedalus

If you go to Schouten, even if you’re not a walker, this is a must. It’s short and well taped, and the views are just lovely!! We took our time, and sat on the top just enjoying everything. Although we did get rather protective of ‘our’ beach every time a boat approached, as it was now completely ours, the other two parties having departed earlier that morning.

After we're down, the walking improves substantially

After we’re down, the walking improves substantially

We wandered back down and headed straight for the water. It was beautifully cool and most refreshing… until… a huge shadow (about 1×1.5m) appeared in front of me. Reassuringly, I wasn’t the only one to get a shock, as it made it’s way over to Graham and swum underneath his legs! Later, when we’d recovered, we took rather a liking to our sting ray.

Looking towards Chicken point from Daedalus

Looking towards Chicken point from Daedalus

Though we’d had quite an easy day, we must have been tired because we had no problems falling asleep on the sand after lunch. When we woke we figured we should check out the waterfall the Parks volunteers had mentioned, and the coal mines while we were at it.

Time to relocate - I like our new view!

Time to relocate – I like our new view!

As we walked we spotted two sea eagles flying together. But they weren’t just flying. They were playing, or dancing, or courting even. They dipped and soared and did barrel rolls together. Just magnificent!!

Can you spot the Bear?

Can you spot the Bear?

Though the length of the walk to the waterfall had us doubting its worth, as did the trickle of water in the creek we were walking up, we were to be proven wrong. The waterfall itself didn’t have an awful lot of water cascading over it, but we decided to check out the pools we’d been told were on the top.

Climbing Bear/Bare Hill

Climbing Bear/Bare Hill

A short climb up and around, and there we stood, looking back out towards the Parks hut and our beach, with some lovely little pools to bathe in. The rock was beautifully sun warmed, and the water refreshingly cold. It was lovely to have fresh water to immerse in after days of salt water! We reckoned we could have spent all day there if we’d come in the morning and brought lunch with us! But we had to tear ourselves away, get back for dinner, lychees, another moonlight walk and more noisy penguins!

No.. it's not too small!

No.. it’s not too small!

The final morning was grey and drizzly to start with, but we weren’t going to waste it, so we headed out to comb the beaches and see what treasures the northerly had washed up. We found plenty of shells, including parts of some nautilus shells.

Ah... pristine sand and water!

Ah… pristine sand and water!

Our trip back arrived at 12 on the dot, bringing blue skies with it, and so we enjoyed a slightly slower yacht ride back to Coles Bay. Schouten is such a beautiful place, as is Tasmania – it’s all too easy to forget, and so nice to be reminded of it.

Did I mention a lovely beach?

Did I mention a lovely beach?

All up: Story and Daedalus: 12.2km, 8:41 with plenty of breaks, 991m ascent.

Three Thumbs: 8 July 2015

Three Thumbs GPS route

Three Thumbs GPS route

Not quite Dawson.. in fact, nothing like it at all! But that’s the power of the weather for you. Walks were needed for the club program, so I put my name down to lead one in the only uni break I get this year. I chose what I thought was an appropriate winter destination: Mount Dawson. On the north western point of the Mt Field plateau, I knew very little about it but that it was likely to be scrubby, it wasn’t particularly high, and may or may not have a view. More importantly it wasn’t too far away to drive to, and it should have been doable in a short short day.

Start of the track, nicely signed.

Start of the track, nicely signed.

But it wasn’t to be. The forecast was 95% chance of rain, snow down to 900m. I wasn’t feeling particularly well and spending the day in the cold and rain wasn’t sounding attractive at all, especially knowing I’d be working all night beforehand. I all but called it off, but when Jane sounded particularly keen to get out, I figured maybe Three Thumbs would suffice. It was a new addition to the revised peak baggers list, which I’m technically not following yet, but sometimes it comes in handy ;)!

Catherine and Jess pause for a chat. I was glad they were both there and enjoying it.

Catherine and Jess pause for a chat. I was glad they were both there and enjoying it.

Again, I knew nothing about it, except that the weather in Orford looked significantly better: 50% chance of rain! I was to learn from my fellow walkers as we sat and chatted in the Sorell Banjos that it was in the family walks book, and was on tastracks… Clearly I do  my research well! I wasn’t too fussed – I was pretty sure we’d get up and back without an issue.

Looking at the high point

Looking at the high point

I was tired, but a lot better than the day before, and had had a lovely visit from a friend earlier that morning at work, which had already made me smile. So it was a relaxed kind of day, with a very civilised 9 am start.

After a few renovations, Jess checks out the shelter... Comfy?

After a few renovations, Jess checks out the shelter… Comfy?

The drive was short and as we got our gear together we debated whether or not we’d need gaiters – it was THAT kind of walk. Then off we went. An easy track wove it’s way through dry schlerophyll forest, and it wasn’t long before the sheoak and banksia wars began. In between ducking to avoid accurate aim and occasionally sending a missile back, it was good to catch up with people, some of whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while.

Ben and Catherine take in the view

Ben and Catherine take in the view

After a few rises and dips, we found ourselves on the high point of Three Thumbs, marked by a white trig. Of more interest, just past the trig, however, was a stone shelter someone had built. And past it, was an appropriate spot to look out to Orford and Triabunna. It was nice to have no rain, and a view to look at, and I thanked Jane for making the walk happen after all.

When someone throws banana peel at you... they're asking for it down the back of their shirt.. clearly!

When someone throws banana peel at you… they’re asking for it down the back of their shirt.. clearly!

We chatted, ate, threw rocks out as far as we could and listened to them hit after quite a long pause, and Jess scored her own banana peel down the back of her shirt – I’m sure it was Ben’s way of congratulating her on getting through her placement ;)!

The cold eventually had us moving, and we took the forest loop back for something different. The banksia/sheoak wars were replaced by group conversation, which was really quite nice. And then we were back, before we knew it. We decided on lunch at the lookout, and it was nice to look out at Maria Island. I wondered if that’s where I’d be in a week’s time…reckon it might just be ;)!

All up: A VERY leisurely 2.09 hrs (including more than 30 min on top, and a few other lengthy breaks), 3.6km, 285m ascent.

Mangana, Mt: 18 November 2013

Mt Mangana GPS route

Mt Mangana GPS route

Ahhh, what a relief it is to be able to get out and go for a walk! I didn’t realise just how much I look forward to, and need, my weekly walking for my own sanity. Or how disappointing it can be to realise that the three days of perfect weather, that happen to coincide perfectly with my 2.5 days off (that are for once completely free), are no longer my days off.

 

Nice track to follow up through the forest

Nice track to follow up through the forest

I’d planned to have a nice relaxing walk in to Lake Rhona, a wander up and round the Denison Range, and back out. It was going to be a nice little contrast from the 6 peaks in 3 days from the weekend before, and boy did I need it. I’d come back after those three days refreshed but physically tired, to a horrible day at work. Not a good start to the week. It only got worse. Our staff of 4 had been cut back to 3 a few months back, and now it was down to 2: me and one other. He had to work his days off, I was hopeful we’d be back to 3 by the weekend, and news was looking good. It wasn’t to be so, and it hit hard.

 

Standing where the trig used to be, can you spot the trig now?

Standing where the trig used to be, can you spot the trig now?

The weekend went surprisingly smoothly, but it took it’s toll. We were both tired. By Monday, a slightly easier work day, I’d decided I’d make the best of the weather and go and explore an easy mountain, the last of the southeast peaks on the peak baggers list for me. I must have known to save it, it was just what was called for: a quick drive down, short trip across on the ferry, lovely little drive through nice country (must go back one day when I have more time) and then the easiest walk up.

 

View from the lookout on top

View from the lookout on top

My GPS says I walked 4.5km, and up 200 metres in 1.10 hrs (which included 20 minutes exploring the summit – though the official walk time is supposed to be 1.5 hrs return), but it didn’t feel like it. Maybe because I hadn’t been out, or maybe because last weekend was such a big weekend, I found it quite easy but still got all the usual benefits out of being out in the sun, amongst the trees, away from everything, just plodding along.

 

Mrs Ladybird

Mrs Ladybird

I was a tad disappointed with the views from the summit (all websites said ‘spectacular panoramic views’), but that was ok. This one seemed to be more about the walking than the view, interestingly. So after a wander round some of the pads (found the spot the trig used to be, found the trig 20 or so metres away, found a lookout, and checked out the various man made installations) I headed back down and out.

 

The beach I went wandering on.. lovely :)

The beach I went wandering on.. lovely 🙂

I took a bit more care after planting one foot no more than 10cm away from the tail end of a tiger snake, very grateful that it wasn’t the other end! When I got back to the car, after a short interaction with a ladybird, I headed back, and decided to stop at a few places on the way. I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, but I figured I could at least explore some of those I had to go past anyway.

 

Up the stairs to the lookout, looking back at my mountain

Up the stairs to the lookout, looking back at my mountain

So I went and had a walk on the beach at Adventure Bay, at a stunning little strip of sand. Warm sand between toes, cool water, fresh sea breeze and rock pools, are other favourite things, besides climbing mountains! Then it was back into the car and on a bit further to the lookout. I ran up the stairs (I think the tourists thought I was nuts) thinking that I should at least FEEL like I’d done some exercise. It was certainly more work than climbing Mangana!

 

From the other side of the road.. looking towards Hobart

From the other side of the road.. looking towards Hobart

A quick look at the view from the top, and the thought that remote places were much nicer because they weren’t covered in people, and I was running back down (more weird looks) and off on my drive back home. The driving and waiting took a lot longer than the walk, and a full day to explore Bruny would be more ideal, but it was pretty perfect. I’m now physically exhausted (not much sleep), but otherwise refreshed :).

 

Quoin Mountain: 8 August 2013

Quoin Mountain GPS route

Quoin Mountain GPS route

This walk was a little unplanned.. well rather unplanned. Wednesday, yesterday, my boss told me to leave an hour early today, so I figured it was perfect for a walk. Finishing at 8 would mean no need to rush, and plenty of time to do something. The weather was perfect too: morning frost but sunny. Being so very last minute and not having a lot of petrol in the tank, I went for the closest peak, which happened to be Quoin (they’re slowly getting further and further away).

 

Locked gate at start of walk

Locked gate at start of walk

Quoin is an interesting one, because I think the usual access is from Colebrook, or at least that’s how I’ve heard others have done it, and have driven quite close to the top. But recent reports suggest there’s a locked gate which makes the walk a fair bit longer. So I thought I’d go for a recce out the Bagdad way, with the bike, and figured worst case scenario I could head up to table mountain if I couldn’t get close enough. This was one walk I’d have liked to have had others along for, but not knowing if I could even get close meant I couldn’t quite take the chance.

 

Old bulldozer on the side of the track as you head up

Old bulldozer on the side of the track as you head up

As it turned out, I got further than expected, and ended up deciding to just give it a crack then and there. Table could wait. I’d driven to within less than 4km from the summit, arriving at a locked gate. No private property signs were up, and there was a little gate for people, with a sign just asking that it be shut. So, after looking for someone to ask if I could walk through their property (I’d been lead to believe it was owned by a Norwegian and HWC member), but realising none of the buildings were actually inhabitable, I got the bike out, and started peddling. Aside from one or two bits walking the bike, it proved a very effective way to get to where I wanted to go, and I’d suggest it as a ride/walk for any keen mountain bikers who want to cross riding with a bit of walking.

 

Quoin Mountain from the 4wd track

Quoin Mountain from the 4wd track

The 4wd track is mostly dirt with wet (or on the ascent, frosted) leaf/forest matter covering it. There are some sections where it’s rock, and after a bit it meets up with another road, much better quality, which is all compacted gravel and easy to ride on, both up and back.

 

Some bits of road were slightly overgrown

Some bits of road were slightly overgrown

I had more issues on this walk with the GPS maps not being accurate to what’s actually on the ground, and the track I’d drawn from Google Earth on my computer not being accurate either (granted, the imagery was from 2008 or something). It showed roads going where they didn’t (at least not obviously) and didn’t have some of the very distinct roads marked at all. Google Earth had also given me the impression that there were a lot of very open forestry coups to the east of the peak, and I’d assumed I could just find a way through it once I was there. Mistake! The coups were sufficiently regrown to have made a scrub bash take a bit of time and effort.

 

Awesome bit of rock in the middle of nowhere

Awesome bit of rock in the middle of nowhere

After nearly just deciding to straight line it, I got sensible, and a haunch made me follow one very overgrown road hoping, really hoping, that I’d find a nicer way up. I’d almost given up and was all for turning back to a spot that I’d seen where the scrub seemed a bit thinner, when I popped out onto what seemed like a very decent road compared to the one I’d been on (you can guess which one was actually marked on the GPS, and which one wasn’t!).

 

Little bit of snow? 200 metres from the summit, at the road clearing. Off track from here.

Little bit of snow? 200 metres from the summit, at the road clearing. Off track from here.

After following this a bit, and coming to a crossroads, I was so tempted to take the road that seemed to go straight up, but again, got sensible and pulled out the iPhone and consulted Google’s satelite images. Wise choice. It seemed to be one of those days where you have to try really hard to resist the temptation to go straight up. So with the phone in one hand, the gps in the other, and very thankful for both, I managed to work my way up on old roads, some rather overgrown, to within 200 metres of the summit.

 

Quoin summit cairn

Quoin summit cairn

I think that’s about as close as you can actually get on the roads, and in any case the scrub is no higher than knee height. I had a thin covering of snow, which made it quite nice, and also gave me snow showers every time I bumped into or pushed past something! No views really from the summit, but it didn’t really matter.

All up: 11.2km, 2.31hrs, 508m ascent.

Brown Mountain: 4 August 2013

Brown Mountain GPS route

Brown Mountain GPS route

Today was supposed to be a lovely little wander up Mt Mueller, with what had been a forecasted 2-9 degrees and sunny after initial frost. Of course, after having obtained the key from Forestry, the weather forecast progressively deteriorated, to -2 to 3 degrees, snowy, rainy, and windy. Given the exposed nature of the ridge line and some advice from other walkers, a change of plans was in order. So we went to the opposite extreme, chose something close by so as to avoid running into any roads closed due to snow, something short, and something with very little exposure. Brown Mountain in the southeast, just above Runnymede, it was to be. And a brave four of us decided to brave the weather, which ended up 100% better than expected.

Fungi on the road

Fungi on the road

A lot of bushwalkers knock some of the easy, short, low southeast peaks like Brown Mountain, and yes, there’s not the same level of challenge, the unknown, and pitting yourself against the elements as there is in some of the harder walks in other more rugged parts of the state, but that’s not so say these kind of mountains don’t have their place. In fact, the last few I’ve been on have been rather enjoyable: great company and conversation, with no urge to rush. They’re short little walks that leave you feeling refreshed but not exhausted.

Cairn on tree stump

Cairn on tree stump

Anyway, we met up in the city, and drove in one car out past Sorell, heading towards Orford. At Runnymede we turned left down Woodsdale road, and parked the car on the righthand side of the road, maybe 4.5 kms later, opposite a gated road with a sign informing us that there were quarry operations going on and no unauthorised personnel were to enter. So we donned our boots and daypacks, and jumped over the sign, as you do. There was evidence of quarrying in the past, but nothing very recent at all, and we meandered up the road, occasionally just stopping and chatting, almost as if the walking was getting in the way of our talking!

Following the cairned and taped pad to the summit

Following the cairned and taped pad to the summit

There were two more fences to jump, the second landing us in the reserve and technically off the ‘authorised personnel only’ stuff. From there it was a shortish walk under the southern flank of Brown Mountain and round to the west, where you’re just over 200 metres from the highpoint. There’s a cairn on a chest-high tree stump on the left of the road, and both a cairn and pink tape on the track and a tree nearby on the right of the road. We followed the cairns and tape up the very short walk to the summit and trig marker.

Summit view towards Wellington

Summit view towards Wellington

The view on top was better than expected. We could see the weather hanging over Wellington and beyond, and were very grateful we weren’t trudging up Mueller! Instead we enjoyed lunch in the sun, and only decided to move when the clouds threatened to roll in, chilling the air even further. We had more of a hunt around on the way back down for some loggers ruins we’d been told about, but all we succeeded in spotting was what looked like remnants of a wall/boundary/windbreak made out of scree.. it was just a bit too unnatural to be anything else.

Trig

Trig

As we wandered back down we came across a local on a dirt bike, and had a bit of a friendly chat (nope, no guns were drawn). We were back at the car in 3 hrs and 45 minutes – quite a fair bit more than the expected 2.5 hours, but that might be testimony more to the amount of talking and enjoying we did, than the difficulty or length of the walk! It was 9.7 km, with just under 500m ascent.

Prosser Sugarloaf: 1 August 2013

Prosser SL GPS route

Prosser SL GPS route

Well, this little peak jumped on the radar rather out of nowhere. I was looking for a walk to do on my Monday off, and thinking I wouldn’t have too many takers – most people work at reasonable hours – I figured something close and short would be in order. But as it turned out, there was interest, but Monday was a no go. Tuesday was a no go for me, and Wednesday was a no go for the third member to join our party. So Thursday it was, and the weather was kind enough to behave too. We were expecting to join up with a 4th member somewhere along the track. He didn’t have the same time restraints we did (I finished work at 9, and another had to be at work by 4.30-5), or a bike, while we all had bikes and were planning to ride part the way (at least on the way back anyway!).

 

The 'ride' up

The ‘ride’ up

As with some walks, this went nothing like expected. For a start, the way I’d thought we would go, via Twamley Homestead, which seems to be a generally accepted route, though slightly longer perhaps than the way we went. It happened to be the route I came across when searching the internet for any info on Prosser SL. Anyway, the third member of our party had a number of friends who had done Prosser, some via Twamley, others via Weilangta road, and it seemed Weilangta was the way we were going. A quick guilty message to the fourth member to let him know we might not be seeing him, and after maybe a 30 minute drive we were at our start point.

 

And then the walking begins

And then the walking begins

The drive takes you from Sorell along the Arthur Highway towards Copping, but you turn left onto Kellevie road before you get there. A right hand turn onto Bream Creak road, followed shortly by a left onto Weilangta road, and it’s just a matter of driving straight along the road until you arrive at 55 G 572377 5274600. There’s a place to pull over on the left hand side of the road. We got our bikes out, kitted up, and off we headed.. under the boom gate across the road.

 

And the real walking, now off track

And the real walking, now off track

After an initial, very brief, period of riding, we realised just how bike unfit we were, and we got off to push.. there were a few times we climbed back on, but fewer and further between. As we progressed, it was clear that the road we were on did not match up with the roads marked on our GPS maps, which had us checking google satelite maps when we got to the spot we thought we were supposed to be turning left, but that turned out to peter out quite quickly to an unrideable very overgrown possible road (see map, first detour). Thankfully 1 bar reception worked, and we knew to keep going along the road we’d been on. It took its own natural route, and soon we were back on the apparent track marked on our GPS maps.

 

On the summit

On the summit

As we rode/walked along, we heard a vehicle approach from behind, and I know I was thinking, if only we’d waited, we could have driven through at the same time, and avoided the ride! The reality turned out to be even worse – apparently you should always check that closed gates are actually locked.. especially when you’ve seen half a cut lock lying on the road. Whoops – lesson learnt! Anyway, the guy, quite friendly, went on his way to chop up some wood and we kept going.. having gone too far to turn back and I knew I was at least enjoying myself, even if we all complained about pushing our bikes up the hill!

 

Joined by a wedgie

Joined by a wedgie

Not long after our first foray off the road, we came to another fork, the road we were on appearing to continue straight ahead, while another, well travelled road, but much muddier and not as well maintained, branched off to the left. We stopped and talked a bit about which way to go, my instinct said left, but we chose to go straight ahead for a bit. After a short distance of nice downhill it was clear on the GPS that we were not going the way we needed to (see map, second detour), so a shout and a turn around and we were back at the turn off. A little bit of mud, just to add to the fun, and we were rolling along the right road. Gave our friendly wood chopper a fright as we said hi again on the way past, and kept going until we got to the high point on the track just before it dips down prior to the final ascent. We stashed the bikes, not wanting to push them back up the hill, and a wise choice it was as there were trees down across the road at the bottom anyway.

 

Muddy bit before the downhill. Back at the turnoff at our second detour

Muddy bit before the downhill. Back at the turnoff at our second detour

It was nice to be walking without pushing a bike, and presently we came to an expected fork in the road, so we took the left fork, marked with a rather old “tram track” sign, from the logging days. The road bends to the left and sidles around the peak, and we were going on info that there was a taped route up somewhere along the side but after a bit of a venture along the road and no sight of it we walked back a bit, to an openish part in the scrub and headed up. The walking was actually quite open, the bigger challenge coming from the kind of scree you can’t trust because it’s not very stable at all, and tends to move as you put weight on it.

 

But the distance was short, and it was only a 20 minute walk from the track to the summit. Nothing too special, a trig, some trees, and not nearly as good a view of Maria Island as you got from the road we pushed our bikes up. But we were treated to a bit of an effortless display from a wedgie. We had a bite to eat, I sent my 30 year old sister a birthday message from the top, and we headed back down as we started to cool down in the wind. Back at the bikes, only a few uphill sections to go, past the mud, and we were onto the road.. and then the fun began :p! Downhill all the way, no peddling really necessary, just some strong hands on the breaks, and the occasional thoughts about gravel rash and broken collar bones as we raced back down to the car.

 

All up, 3hrs 55mins including stops, 2 hrs 45 up, 1 hour and 5 back. The section of the track that we rode the whole way back took 1 hr 20 mins to walk, but only 15 mins to ride back! 16.9km, 902m ascent.