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Posts Tagged ‘Geelong’

ImageBack 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….

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ImageI had an unexpectedly interesting walk yesterday in Geelong, along the banks of the Barwon River – I was anticipating a straightforward, shady riverside walk, but ended up with much more: grand Victorian villas and red brick industrial heritage factories, a lesson in 30 million year old geology with vistas to boot from Seaview park, and a close up commune with a pelican at the adjoining Balyang sanctuary.  The Barwon River Reserves cover both banks of the Barwon River for almost its entire urban length, with excellent cycle/walking paths, and are full of hidden surprises.  Who knew, for example, that the world’s first ice making machine was invented by newspaperman, James Harrison on the banks of the Barwon in 1854!!

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Grey Flying Fox in flight, Eastern Park colony, Geelong

I am currently working on the Geelong chapter for the next guidebook, so expect some urban and parkland walking posts over the new couple of weeks.  Today, Indie (the co-author of Melbourne Dogs!) and I took in the relaxing stroll which is the Sri Chimoy Peace Mile circuit, around Geelong’s Eastern Park, which is right in the city centre. This loop beneath ancient cypruses runs around the gorgeous Geelong Botanic Gardens and is very popular with runners, walkers and their dogs.  There are views across Corio Bay, a chance to visit one of a series of global geoglyphs (huge rock sculptures, designed to be seen from the air) and a huge colony of screeching grey flying foxes!

Best of all, the walk ends up at the Geelong Botanic gardens – Australia’s 4th oldest – which may be small at only 5 hectares, but which is perfectly formed.  There is an exciting 21st century garden which you walk through before heading into the original heritage gardens with its iconic Chilean Wine Palm, edible gardens, bunya pine lawns, ferneries, a glass conservatory and wonderful Tea Rooms set on the sweeping green lawns. Unusually, dogs are allowed into the gardens as long as they are on lead and well behaved. A genuine urban oasis.

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Succulent display, 21st Century Gardens - Geelong Botanic Gardens

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Buckley Falls, Geelong

Well, my publishers, Woodslane Press, have kindly sent me through a very impressive Garmin exTrex GPS to use on all the new walks, as we ‘go digital’ and get ready for e-books, apps and all things digital. So I headed back out to Steiglitz with my trusty assistants: my son and our dog, Indie, to re-walk the path I had just done, as I needed to check a bit of it where the track was indistinct – and it was a beautiful day, so gave us a great excuse to get out.  On the plus side, the GPS was ridiculously easy to use (even for me) so allowed for lots of enjoyment of the rock-hopping through the Sutherland Creek gorge along Deadman’s Loop and the continuing display of monarch butterflies.  On the negative side, I am not sure I like the idea of being tracked by 4 different satellites to within 4 metres – felt a bit creepy!  Isn’t the point of getting out in the bush being about getting away from it all?! Well, the Luddite in me will have to embrace the technology so that the walk waypoints are as accurate as possible for you, and available to you in a variety of formats – but yes, I still use old fashioned paper maps to cross-check at the same time!  On the way back, we took a quick peek at Buckley Falls on the outskirts of Geelong, which I am also writing up for the Geelong book – after all the recent rain, it was looking spectacular, as you can see! And a bonus for dog-owners – both walks are OK for dogs on leads.

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A friendly echidna beside Branding Yard Track, You Yangs Regional Park, near Geelong

On Sunday afternoon we took off to the You Yang mountains, just north of Geelong.  Seemingly plonked in the middle of the plain, these knobbly hills of huge granite boulders and quiet bush are really worth a visit.  We started with the short 3km Big Rock walk, which takes in – no surprise here – some REALLY BIG rocks and sweeping views across Port Phillip Bay.  We then headed up the mountain to join the 5km Branding Yard Track, which dips to a quiet part of the park, out of the westerly wind, and passes by beautiful and varied bushland, the enormous Bunjil Geoglyph rock sculpture and extensive waterholes.  The highlight though, was most definitely this wonderful echidna, which was feasting on ants beside the track and seemed not at all bothered by us – walking right up to just a few feet from us before eventually losing interest and heading off in search of more tucker!

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Samphire grasses on the salt marshes at Kirk Point, near Geelong

Well, I have just had a huge and fantastic weekend of intensive walking for the Geelong and Bellarine book  – the cloud cover and warm-but-not-hot weather we are experiencing at the moment is just perfect for getting out in the summer. On Saturday, I explored the saltmarshes and inter-tidal mud flats on the bay around Geelong.  My first, early-morning walk took me to tiny Kirk Point, near the bird-watching mecca of Pt Wilson, for a really out of the way short stroll along the shoreline with views straight across to the Mornington Peninsula – a perfect stretch out for walkers with dogs, though they need to stay on-lead.

Next I went for a drive past the quirky beach shack community on Avalon Beach, behind Avalon airport.  The newly born mosquito population (which numbered in the trillion billions at least!) kept me at bay there, but with plans to secure a permit to walk through the extensive salt pans managed by Cheetham Salt ….. in the non-mosquito season!

I then headed out to the Hovell Creek walking track in North Geelong.  This well-made combined bike/walking path goes all the way from the northern tip of Corio Bay, which is known as Limeburner’s Bay, through to the small town of Lara, and has the height to provide good views back across Corio Bay to Geelong.  While very exposed, there is a treed picnic rest point from where you walk down onto the Conservation Area saltmarshes via a delightful boardwalk, which takes you right out into the mangroves at water’s edge.  The track is not signposted from the main trail, so it was a real delight to stumble upon. I continued on to Lara and lucked onto the lovely Lara Lakelands Reserve – which is an absolute oasis for waterbirds in the middle of the harsh plain landscape: there were Royal Spoonbills, purple swamp-hens, coots and even two huge nesting herons – right in the middle of the town!

Inspired by the Limeburner’s Bay name, I finally drove into Geelong and past Eastern Beach to Limeburner’s Point to try and find the elusive Limeburner’s Kilns. Luckily, it was low tide, and a passing gent walking his dog helped me find them (thanks, Peter!), buried in under the cliffs beneath the golf club.  They are such an important national heritage treasure, and still in excellent condition, so I do hope the City of Geelong will get involved in upgrading access to them. Off to the You Yangs tomorrow!

Boardwalk into Limeburner's Bay Conservation Area, via Hovell's Creek Trail, near Geelong

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