Sometimes you forget that the nicest walks are in your own backyard. After a very hot 30C day yesterday, and just before the first clouds of mozzies descended, the kids and I headed out for fish and chips down at Station Pier in Port Melbourne, then walked along the promenade past Princes Pier where many of our soldiers embarked for northern wars in the last century. This beautiful sunset was showing off to everyone across the old pier’s pylons, and plenty of people were out walking, enjoying the gentle evening breeze. Further along and the walkway continues past quiet Sandridge beach, which is marked by recovered pier timbers engraved with the names of the old boats which sailed into Melbourne, bringing hopeful new immigrants arriving at Station Pier, eager to start a new life. Sad that we seem to have forgotten that, with notable First People exceptions, we were all boat people once.
Archive for the ‘Coastal Walks’ Category
Posted in Australia, Coastal Walks, Cycle paths, History, Melbourne, Places to Visit, Travel, Walks, tagged Melbourne, migration, piers, Port melbourne, Port Philip Bay, sunsets on 11/28/2013 | 3 Comments »
Posted in Australia, Birdwatching, Bushwalking, Coastal Walks, Places to Visit, Travel, Walks, wildflowers, Wildlife, tagged Arthurs Seat, Bushranger Bay, kangaroos, lighthouses, Mornington Peninsula, Point Schanck, Travel, Two Bays Track, Two Bays Walks, walking, walks, Wildlife on 10/17/2013 | 6 Comments »
Time for a day out. Too much work and not enough walking, makes for a dull life, so Deb and I skived off yesterday and bit off a biggie – The Two Bays Walk: 28km from Dromana, on the Port Phillip Bay side of the Mornington Peninsula, up and over Arthurs Seat (for non-locals, that’s a big hill, not a chair, in case you were wondering!) then down through glorious bushland to Cape Schanck lighthouse overlooking the Bass Strait. It’s only an hour’s drive from Melbourne, but feels like a million miles away. We started from the carpark at the Bunurong Track, at the corner of Latrobe Terrace and Bayview Road. Purists might want to start from the Dromana Visitor Information Centre, which adds another 2km of suburban road walking to the start of the track, but that didn’t appeal to us, as we were here for the bush, and we thought 28km was enough for anyone in a day! The walk is very well signposted with the ‘Two Bays’ fairywren emblem and arrows along the way, the only potential point of confusion being the high numbers of kangaroo superhighways (no seriously, there are a LOT of kangaroos) which criss cross the second half of the track as you descend towards the coast.
The first part of the walk is a steady but not too harsh climb up a well made path with spectacular views across Port Phillip Bay, which winds up, around and along the ridge-line of Arthur’s Seat. You can make detours to pretty Seawinds Gardens (you could start the walk from here if you didn’t want to walk up Arthur’s Seat) and the summit along the way, but are soon descending down from the bushland, past a lovely dam for a quick 30 minute walk through some quiet suburban streets, before heading past vineyards and bucolic farmlands to enter into the first of a series of joined reserves and national parks for the remainder of the walk.
Beyond Arthur’s Seat, the walking is fairly easy – mostly flat or gently undulating and following through lush ironbark, blackwood and banksia forests. The Greens Bush section contains some of the biggest healthiest stands of grass trees I have ever seen, and their towering flowering spikes (up to 4m+) are just glorious, though occasional ones are perplexingly wonky!
Apart from the magnificent bushland, in full flower at this time of year, we came across an echidna and fairy wrens, plenty of parrots and a good collection of fierce bull ants on the sandy parts of the track. Some of the string of reserves have been reclaimed from old grazing property, so we even came across drifts of blue forget-me-nots and canna lilies along one of the fern tree-lined gullies, though hopefully the fantastic local ‘Friends of’ groups are seeking to clear the introduced species over time – for now it feels like walking through English woodlands in places.
There were a number of delicate native orchids popping up but also some flowers neither of us could recognise. Do any readers know what this spectacular plant is? it looked a little bit like a ‘chicken and hen’ plant, but was a 1.5m high and 3m high shrub just drenched in 1cm wide flowers. Gorgeous!
Oh… and there’s also kudos for anyone who can tell me what type of caterpillars make up this seething mass: they were each about 15cm long and crossing the track en masse beneath our clomping feet!
The final leg of the walk brings you out above magnificent, isolated Bushrangers Bay, which is apparently where two convicts from Tassie landed in the 1800′s after commandeering a schooner, using it as a base for their maraundering. From there, you hug the coastal scrub above the seacliffs, the waves of Bass Strait pounding below you, before coming out at Cape Schanck light station. We’d pre-ordered a taxi (Peninsula Taxis in Frankston) to collect us – as it’s a darn long walk back if you haven’t arranged a car shuttle. A warning that Optus phones don’t have any coverage for the last half of the walk, though Telstra 3G seemed fine throughout.
If you have a few more days and you’re just getting warmed up, you could prebook to stay overnight in the lighthousekeeper’s cottages at Cape Schanck, then set off west along The Coast Walk in the morning, through Point Nepean National Park for a further 30km to Portsea. From there, it’s a walk out to Point Nepean and a further 30km back along Port Phillip Bay via the more pedestrian Bay Trail to Dromana by which time you’ve completed the 100km triangle which makes up the Mornington Peninsula walk! If you don’t have the time (or energy!) to do the full Two Bays walk at once, it can be broken into lots of short and easy walks. The walk into Bushrangers Bay (6km return), accessed from the car park on Boneo Road (Rosebud-Flinders Road), or the walk into Greens Bush (accessed via Greens Road) would be a perfect short day out – the tracks are easy and interesting for kids too. None of the Two Bays walking is suitable for dogs though (even on-lead), as it passes through a number of national parks and protected areas, where dogs are not allowed, and for good reason when you see the beautiful and delicate flora and fauna along the way. There are also no water stops, shops or toilets along the way, so you’ll need to be self-sufficient. In terms of time you need to allow, you’ll know your own pace – if you’re a fit marcher, you’ll get through in 6 hours. An average walker used to reasonable distance might take 8 hours. The delightful Deb and I are dawdlers (or rather, I am, and Deb is just incredibly long-suffering and patient!), so with lots of stops to gawk at the scenery, flowers and fauna along the way, a good half hour for lunch (and for me to huff and puff up the stairs!), we took 10! Whichever way you do it, just do it. It’s a perfect walk.
Have just spent the past week getting out and about with the Geelong Walks book – so exciting when all your work comes to fruition and people start to use it! Now, though, my plate is clear so I can knuckle down on Melbourne for Dogs, which is due to the publishers at the end of April. From that point, it is still around 5 months of editing, designing, cartography etc until it reaches the shelves – I find the whole ‘hidden’ processes behind books quite fascinating.
Meanwhile, my co-author on Melbourne for Dogs, a.k.a. Indie, is just kicking back and contemplating the seagulls from her window seat on the front of my kayak, down at St Kilda marina yesterday – a great way to cool off after the longest lasting run of 30C+ February days we’ve ever had in Melbourne. Needless to say, we’re enjoying doing the beaches chapter of the book just now. West St Kilda Beach is a favourite – close by and off-leash for dogs all year round – plus the kite boarders who favour it provide endless hours of entertainment for dogs who run after their enormous, colourful kites in the shallow waters. Dog heaven.
Posted in Bushwalking, Coastal Walks, Places to Visit, Travel, Walking with Children, Walks, Walks with dogs, tagged Bellarine Peninsular, Brisbane Ranges, Geelong, guide books, Travel, Victoria, walking, walks on 01/16/2013 | 4 Comments »
Back to Planet Oz to find my new book waiting on my doorstep. Yay! A year in the making and it feels like an elephant pregnancy, but finally Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges is here. I think it looks great – but I would do! It should be in bookstores, newsagents and Tourist Info Centres in the region before the end of the month – let me know what you think! You can also buy it direct through Woodslane’s online bookstore or other online booksellers. It retails for $29.99 and includes 40 great walks. Alternatively, if you are in a cafe or other outlet and would like to stock it, let me know and I will put you in touch with the publishers. Now, finally, onto Melbourne for Dogs….
Posted in Coastal Walks, Places to Visit, Travel, Walks, Walks with dogs, tagged Hill walking, knoydart, munros, scotland, Travel, walking, walking in Scotland, walks on 12/31/2012 | Leave a Comment »
Well, the night before this glorious day, the water pipes froze in the ground here, it was THAT cold. But in the end, despite it being the second week of December and the rest of the UK wallowing in the wettest year on record, I walked in t-shirt sleeves under blue skies and above expansive views across the sea to Skye. In fact, it was so picture-perfect, that I can’t help but include lots of photos in this blog, to give you a sense of why this place is so special.
Though the sunlight hours are very short up here in the Western Highlands (around 5 hours in all), I decided to have a crack at a hill walk up Sgurr Coire na Choinnichean (it rhymes with ‘heineken’ apparently: ‘sgurr korry na konniken‘). It is the big hulking hill that rises above the tiny town of Inverie (reached by boat from Mallaig), but is often overlooked for it’s more glamorous neighbouring munros, which were topped with snow. However, it has some hidden surprises – and it also gets the sun for most of the day, which is incentive enough in winter! A beautiful start steeply up through the mossy forests above Inverie, over the deer fence by way of a vertiginous stile, then a pathless clog up and up, and up some more through heather, mud and icy bog, with Inverie becoming progressively smaller below.
The sky was brilliant blue and the iced up heather spectacular, as you can see:
After a lot of puffing up the boggy hillside, you lose sight of Inverie below and make your way around the rim of the impressive hidden gully/gorge of Allt Slochd a’Mogha (seriously, don’t ask me how to pronounce that one!).
At the head of the gorge, you reach a totally unexpected high level pasture-land/bog, which gives you 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and lochs, including the magnificent Laddher Bhein, Bhein na Caillich and across to the Cuillins on Skye.
The final pull up the two summits of Coire na Choinnichean was not for me this day, sadly, as with the sun going down by 3pm and the rocks and ridges hanging onto their ice, I had to turn around and save it for another day. SO tough with it close enough to grasp….
Totally wild. Utterly spectacular. Very, very hard to leave.
Who’d have thought you’d come to Scotland in winter to walk in your t-shirt and get sunburnt? True! It was 1C yesterday but it was blue, blue, blue and not a breath of air. Mind you, sunrise wasn’t until 9am and I skated along the icy path from Inverie up over the hill towards Airor then bashed across the moors and hillochs further west past Glaschoille Loch for a view across to the impressive Cuillin skyline on the Isle of Skye in the distance. It’s really quite hard to get a sense of scale of the mountains in Scotland – they are so large, but when you are out in the wild, there is nothing to compare them to to give you a sense of scale. What looks like a half hour walk turns out to be 2 hours, and the going is harder as, for the most part, there are no paths: you pick your way amongst the bogs and burns and tussock grass.
I did discover there are distinct advantages to it being so cold that all the water has iced over: when yomping across a bog (there are lots of peat bogs around here), as long as you are relatively fleet of foot, the crunchy ice layer gives you just enough support to race across instead of sinking in the mire to your knees, as is my usual habit!
Posted in Bellarine Peninsula, Brisbane Ranges, Bushwalking, Coastal Walks, Geelong, Places to Visit, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking with Children, Walks, Walks with dogs, tagged Australia, guidebooks, Travel, walking, walks on 10/27/2012 | 2 Comments »
Well, here’s a bit of excitement (for me at least!). My next guidebook, Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges (Woodslane Press) was finally sent off to the printers on the 19th October and should be in stores by mid-December, ready for you to plan some lovely Christmas walks. It will retail for $29.95 and has 40 terrific walks to suit all sorts of abilities and interests. A big thank you to my terrific editors at Woodslane Press, and to my patient friends who joined me on many of the walks (Karen, Deb, Di and Fred – legends all!). Here’s a sneak preview of the cover, so you know what to look out for. Hope you enjoy the walks as much as I did!
From one end of the world to the other! Imagine circumnavigating an entire uninhabited Pacific island on a walk. And imagine it only taking 20 minutes! Yes, Mystery (Inyeug) Island, which is plonked in the middle of the South Pacific and is Vanuatu’s southernmost island, really is THAT tiny. And THAT beautiful – somewhat like a film set to be honest. A mere drop in the ocean, protected by a sheltering Intao reef and cared for by the neighbouring villagers of Aneityum Island, it has a little sandy track around it which passes under pandanus and palm trees, some fabulous snorkelling and not much else. Except – did I mention a landing strip? The neighbouring inhabited island is so hilly, that during WWII, the Americans built a grass landing strip which basically runs the length of the island and today still has 2 flights a week to the provincial capital of Tanna Island.
Most visitors to Mystery Island arrive via Cruise Ship lifeboat tender, and bring much needed cash to the islanders who operate tiny market stalls for the day trippers, but it’s also possible to make your way here independently, and stay (you need to be entirely self-sufficient) in the very basic wooden bungalow which is sometimes open and run as a community tourism project by the Aneityum Islanders. For a serious walk though, you’d need to catch a boat with your hosts back to Aneityum, and think about doing the 2.5-3 day walk around the larger island and maybe even a walk up it’s 852m Mt Inrerow Atahein – definitely on my bucket list!
Posted in Bushwalking, Coastal Walks, Dogs, Great Ocean Road, Places to Visit, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking with Children, Walks, Walks with dogs, Wildlife, tagged Bushwalks, Great Ocean Road, humpback whales, National Parks, Otway Ranges, Separation Creek, walking, walking with dogs, whales, Wye River on 07/09/2012 | 1 Comment »
Well, now that the Geelong, Bellarine and Brisbane Ranges book is tucked up with the editors (it’s due out before Christmas!), it’s time to get going on my next two projects: Melbourne for Dogs (well, for their owners actually), and Best Walks of the Great Ocean Road and the Otways. While it was pretty (err, VERY) cold this weekend, the forecast was for clear skies, so Indie (my furry companion) and I headed down to the Otways, for a weekend of dog-friendly turbo-walking. Understandably, there are quite a lot of restrictions on walking with dogs in the Great Otway National Park, but there are some great areas you can take your dog – it’s just important to check with Parks Victoria before you head off. We started off at Wye River, south of Lorne and took Paddy’s Path above the Great Ocean Road to Separation Creek, then clambered back along the rocks. Not only was the sea calm, but there were two humpback whales making their way down the coastline, no more than 30 metres off shore – what a bonus!
Posted in Bushwalking, Coastal Walks, Great Ocean Road, Places to Visit, Walks, Walks with dogs, tagged Great Ocean Road, Jarosite Headland, National Parks, nature, Otways National Park, outdoors, Point Addis, walking on 05/14/2012 | 2 Comments »
So, autumn is here already and I have been busy writing up the final chapter of the Geelong, Bellarine and Brisbane Walks book. I love the rhythm of writing, but autumn is also my favourite walking time – mild days, crisp skies, fresh air with a bit of a bite, glorious colours, and fewer slithering friends to worry about. By June, I hope to be started on the next book, which will cover the Great Ocean Road and the Otways: I can’t wait! I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my feet just itch to get out walking, and when I am wandering along, I think there is nothing more joyous than to be out walking in our beautiful land. My walking buddy, Karen, epitomises this in a way my dodgy knees and hips can’t express: here she is on our recent walk to the Jarosite Headland near Point Addis. So what about you? How does a great day out on the track make you feel?