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Posts Tagged ‘kangaroos’

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View from Arthurs Seat ridge, south-west to Sorrento and Port Phillip Bay (c) JP Mundy 2013

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.

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Eastern Greys on the ‘Kangaroo Super Highways’ near Bushrangers Bay (C) JP Mundy 2013

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.

ImageBeyond 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!

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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.Image

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!

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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!

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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.

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A welcome sight at journey’s end: Cape Schanck Light Station (c) JP Mundy 2013

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.

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View at the end of the day – back at Arthur’s Seat – Sunset across Port Phillip Bay (c) JP Mundy 2013

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Late autumn afternoon, Island Track, Brisbane Ranges National Park.

Well, having finally resolved my technology inadequacies, yesterday I managed to persuade my daughter to come for a wander in the Brisbane Ranges, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne to the south-west of Bacchus Marsh.  I have no idea how this absolute gem of a place has stayed so ‘undiscovered’ for so long.  In just minutes, you can be walking out in pristine bush, with not another person in sight and nothing but the sounds and smells of the bush.  We headed up to the Boar Gully campsite, the location for the start of the 3 day Burchell Trail, which traverses a good length of the Brisbane Ranges National Park on it’s way to Fridays Campground. From there, we walked back across Reids Road, along Farm Track and then joined  Spring Creek Track in the very North West tip of the Park, and did a series of loops following the contours of the creek below.  It was a gentle wander, with just the occasional eastern grey kangaroo thumping through the bush, groves of towering grass trees – some over 2 metres in height – and some impressive bushfire regeneration in the ironbark woodlands. I can’t wait to go back in the spring to see all the wildflowers.  Just what I needed to get my mojo back!

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Sugarloaf Reservoir – before the hailstorm!

Having spent years walking in the most dire weather in Scotland and England, the thought of a bit of rain and cold wasn’t going to deter me from my planned walk around Sugarloaf Reservoir, Christmas Hills (north-east of Melbourne), yesterday.  More fool me! – at 6C and with hailstones bouncing off me, the bemused mobs of kangaroos I disturbed were clearly questioning my sanity!!  I had the place to myself (unsurprisingly!) & flocks of Eastern Rosellas, but the sunshine found me for 10 minutes, drenching everything is a wonderful saturated colour.  It’s a great walk for the family and will definitely be in the Melbourne’s Best Walks book – but perhaps aim for a kinder weather forecast when you do it!!!  Off to Churchill National Park tomorrow, hoping for a break in the weather…. (ever the optimist!!!). 

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos at Woodlands

 

Well, only 6 of the 42 Melbourne walks left to do, with the book due to Woodslane publishers at the end of this month.  Lots to write up and map, but will almost be sad to finish them – as what a great excuse to get out for the day without feeling guilty!  Have found some wonderful hidden treasures and surprises over the last year in developing these walks – areas I would never have come across in Melbourne otherwise. Did a lovely walk around Woodlands Historic Park last week with my son, catching the last of the autumn sunshine before the weather closed in.  Encountered huge mobs of eastern grey kangaroos – literally hundreds of them – and amazingly all within coo-ee of Tullamarine airport!!

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