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Posts Tagged ‘Bushwalks’

Melbourne for Dogs - who could resist that brown-eyed retriever?  Not me!

Melbourne for Dogs – who could resist that brown-eyed retriever? Not me!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since I managed to update my blog!  Well, actually I can, as I have been pretty busy, with work trips to Mongolia, Canberra, Hanoi and Cambodia since then (plenty of stories and sights to share). But my big news is that the first copy of my new book, Melbourne for Dogs, has just arrived in my hot little hands today, as an advance copy from the printers.  Honestly – the anticipation has been almost too much to bear – it’s been somewhat like an elephant’s gestation, 2 years in the making and finally it has popped out fully formed in glossy, glorious colour!

RSPCA Victoria have come on board and endorsed it, which is wonderful, and we’ll be launching it at the Melbourne Dog Lovers Show, which will be at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton from 2nd – 4th May 2014.  You can pre-order it from Woodslane online, or after the show, it will be available in all good bookstores and online, as well as through RSPCA shops, and some vets and pet stores as well. It will retail for $24.95, but if you buy one at the show, it will be on special for $19.95. There are over 700 off-lead dog parks and 50+ off-lead beaches in there, as well as a series of longer dog and people-friendly walks to keep you entertained, in the style of the Melbourne’s Best Walks book.  I do hope you and your pooch enjoy using it to explore (off-lead) pastures new – Indie and I certainly enjoyed researching it!

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Wattle-lined banks of the Yarra River at Fairfield Park

So, my perspective on what makes a good walk has changed dramatically in the last week, since my son managed to break his leg convincingly enough while skiing to end up in a wheelchair. Gone are the 10km narrow bush trails. Now what I look for is a good short level path which can still take us into the bush to enjoy the gorgeous spring wattle.  The slightest tree root or deep sand or gravel can stymie us and a too narrow path yesterday, on a bit of a slope, almost saw us tipping him into a lake!  No wonder he optimistically calls it off-roading!  A good sense of humour never goes astray at such moments, and we eventually giggled our way out of it.

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‘Have wheelchair, will travel’ – Bushland Circuit near Studley Park Boathouse, Fairfield Park

Anyway, the call of the sunshine and mild weather today was too much, so, dog in tow, we headed off to the Studley Park Boathouse and pushed around the pretty 1km Frank Macfarlane Burnett Bushland Circuit, which runs beside the Yarra River through 100 acres of native bush and grasslands.  It’s hard to believe you are right in the heart of the city. The incentive of an iced chocolate and light lunch in the sun at the Boathouse was an added bonus for our efforts, but the bush itself is just glorious at the moment.  Needless to say, this walk is both wheelchair and pram accessible and OK for dogs on lead – though I haven’t yet managed to train Indie to help me pull the wheelchair up the slopes!

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Proprietary Geese at Studley Park Boathouse, Fairfield Park

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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!

Humpback Whales playing off the Great Ocean Road

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Well, back to the Brisbane Ranges again – they are hard to resist – so quiet and incredible flora. Yesterday I headed back with Sue and Deb to walk Day 1 of the Burchell Trail.  With all the recent rain in the area, unusually, every little creek and gully is running full of water: such a rare site in an area most usually thought of as dry and harsh country.  It is going to be a spectacular spring out here with all this growth, there are interesting funghi everywhere at the moment, and the prolific wildflowers are already starting to bud. This beautiful pink heath (epacris impressa), Victoria’s floral emblem, is already in its full glory.  

Victoria’s floral emblem, Pink Heath

The track today started from Old Boar Gully campground in the north of the National Park and took us along some gorgeous ridge-lines, through old slate quarries for vast views across the western basalt plain back to Melbourne, then down into those wet gullies before a steep uphill stretch and then descent down to Little River Gorge and campsite.  Another surprise on the day was passing a group from the Koonung Bushwalkers Club in Templestowe, who were powering up the hill in fine form as we went down! A gorgeous walk.

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Coloured slate on the slopes of Anakie Gorge, near Nelson's Lookout

Set off for a wander through Anakie Gorge, in the Brisbane Ranges, on Friday, expecting a very wet day, and was pleasantly surprised with just a few spots of rain and even some lovely blue sky!  A short section of the Gorge Walk remains in need of repair following flash flooding in January 2011, but is still entirely passable and an easy walk, though your feet would definitely get wet if there had been any water in the creek, as there are numerous creek crossings. Deb and I decided to vary the simple return walk with a short, steep scramble up to Nelson’s lookout, the path becoming indistinct in places as it traversed some beautiful coloured slate.  Anakie Gorge is incredibly ancient – geologists estimate that some of the folded rock formation in the gorge were formed around 500 million years ago – almost as far back as we go as a planet! The 3km long Gorge track brings you out at the lovely Stoney Creek picnic grounds, which was totally rebuilt following the devastating bush-fires in 2006. The manna gums and other flora has regenerated lushly since then, and the Gorge remains a really beautiful, very wild, and highly accessible walk – a terrific one to do with kids.

Stoney Creek Picnic grounds at the end of the Anakie Gorge Track

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Sutherlands Creek Gorge, From Deadman's Track

Yesterday, I went for a really interesting and varied walk in and around the historic gold mining town of Steiglitz, on the edge of the Brisbane Ranges, just 40km from Geelong.  Steiglitz was once a thriving gold rush town of more than 2000 people, a newspaper, 3 pubs (and many more ‘sly grog’ tents), all built to service the miners who flocked to what was once the richest quartz reef goldfield in Australia.  All that remains today is a few buildings, including the magnificently restored courthouse, crumbling ruins which are explained well on interpretive signage, and relics of mining including huge mullock heaps.  Many of the bush walking tracks around Steiglitz follow the routes of the old streets, which gives you an idea of the scale of the original town. Today, the beautiful surrounding bushland has all but reclaimed the land, though it remains littered with old diggings and mines and no doubt quite a few ghosts!   The walking is rugged in places, but very rewarding with rocky gorges, grass tree covered hillsides and yesterday, an unexpected treat after the rain: thousands upon thousands of orange monarch butterflies – though they wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to take a photo!

Mr Suggs, The Blacksmiths, Steiglitz Township

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Late afternoon scoparia by the boardwalk, Overland Track Day 1

Wow.  Have just returned from 6 glorious days walking the Overland Track, the classic Tasmanian, 6 day trek from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair – right through the middle of Tasmania’s World Heritage listed wilderness. We had unheard of perfect weather for the entire trip – blue skies and 23 degrees – when the previous week it had been snowing!!  It really is such an incredible walk.  While the track itself is just over 60km, the terrain is very challenging, with lots of tree roots, rocks, bogs and ancient rotting boards to stumble over, in between the more modern duckboards (AUD$150 a metre, and worth ever penny to protect the fragile line swamps and grasses).  There are wonderful sidetrips to be done, to freshwater lakes and various spectacular dolorite summits – I can really recommend the long detour from Mt Pelion to Mt Oakleigh – despite the thigh deep bogs!  There was also plenty of wildlife to get up close and personal with: pademelons, wallabies, echidnas, wombats and plenty of snakes! But the standout for me was probably the flora – such unique variety: alpine button grass and cushion plant meadows, myrtle beech rainforests, snowgums, King Billy and Pencil Pines, and glorious end of summer colour of the scoparia.

Alpine cushion plants in the 'Japanese Gardens', Mt Doris, Overland Track

I am going to let my photos speak for themselves and just say, if you ever, EVER get the chance to do this incredible walk, grab it with both hands and shake every last drop out of it.  If you want to find out more about walking the Overland Track, including permits, bookings and equipment, click here.  I did my trip with Cradle Huts, who I could not recommend more highly.

Snowgums on the Overland Track, Tasmania

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View across Shelley Beach from Three Creeks Section of Great Ocean Walk

It was great to get out with friends and kids for a New Year’s Day walk while we were down at Apollo Bay.  We checked the tide times – quite important for the coastal walks down here as many involve beach walking, which is only possible at low tides and in calm seas.   We were in luck – low tide meant we could head for the gorgeous rock pools of Shelley Beach, just one kilometre down to the beach through the rainforest from the bush car park at Elliot River Road.  From there it was a fun and easy rock hop around a number of coves to reach tiny Three Creeks Beach, then off the beach to join part of the Great Ocean Walk, along the cliff tops and back to the start.  The final 900m uphill at the end made my heart and lungs take notice, but could be taken in easy stages for a more leisurely walk.  Just 3km from start to finish, but with sea, rainforest and glorious views, this walk was short but perfectly formed, and definitely will make the Great Ocean Road Best Walks book!

Zac's starfish, Shelley Beach rockpools, near Apollo Bay

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