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Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges

Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges

Hi everyone

Just a quick post to let you know that the 2nd print run of Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges is now available and in stock at Woodslane Press, so your local bookseller should be able to order it. Yay!  Also, at the upcoming Melbourne Dog Lovers Show, on the first weekend in May, you’ll be able to pick up ‘Melbourne for Dogs’ at the show’s book shop, run by Avenue Bookstore. Amidst all that excitement, time for me to focus on the final write up of Best Walks of the Great Ocean Road, before my long-suffering co-author, Neil Fahey, over at Bushwalking Blog, falls asleep in disgust!  Should be out mid year.

Meantime, I am excited about my forthcoming birthday walk – 6 days on the Larapinta Trail – in central Australia. I love, love, LOVE deserts and one of my all time favourite travel moments was 4 days in the deserts of Wadi Rum in Jordan when I was doing that backpacker thang.

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The peaceful waters of Lake Elizabeth in the Otway Ranges.

The circuit walk around Lake Elizabeth, just outside of Forrest, is like descending into some forgotten prehistoric forest. Formed in 1952 after a massive landslide dammed the East Barwon River, this newly-formed natural lake was undiscovered until an expeditionary team was sent in to find out why the river had stopped flowing.  It is estimated that the lake originally held more than 1000 million litres of water, and those living downstream were understandably a little nervous! The dirt road down to the start of the walk takes you through towering eucalypt forests and then descends into wet tree-fern lined gullies.  From the car park, you climb steadily beside the river and then down into the valley that hides this peaceful lake, which is home to shy platypus. The circuit walk takes you along the shoreline, past a small ‘beach’, underneath towering tree ferns and extravagant mosses, across duckboards through the reeds at the northern end and back again, with wonderful views across the pristine lake along the way. Dogs are allowed, as long as they remain on lead, though if you want a chance of spotting a platypus, I’d suggest leaving them at home, and timing your walk for dawn or just before dusk – you can also take guided canoe trips on the lake to get up close and personal with the wildlife.  Regardless of the time of day though, and whether you decide to walk or paddle, it’s a very special place.

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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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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?

‘This is how happy walking makes me!’ (Pt Addis in the background).

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Sweeping views back to Point Addis from the Jarosite Headland

Well, I am down to my last two walks for the Geelong, Bellarine & Brisbane Ranges book, which brought me back to Point Addis along the Surf Coast.  I couldn’t believe how quiet it is out here – even in the middle of school holidays we only passed one or two walkers along the Ironbark and Jarosite tracks.  The views really are stunning, with the rich reds of the jarosite in the soil absolutely glowing in the afternoon sun,despite the cloud cover.

Tracks are reasonably well sign posted, though the map on the information board at the car park was woefully inadequate and there don’t seem to be any Parks Victoria parknotes or maps to download online either.  Hopefully the two walks I will include in the book will help close that gap.  While walking here, it is important to stay away from the high cliff edges, as the soft sandstone and jarosite is rapidly and unpredictably eroding and crumbling away.

Seacliff erosion at Pt Addis

We took our two dogs along (both on leads) and it is critical that dogs (and walkers) keep on made tracks and are diligent about using the cinnamon fungus boot wash stations on entering and leaving the park to help prevent the spread of this devastating disease which is destroying large tracts of our beautiful grass trees.  A big unexpected bonus at the end of the walk was this fearless Peregrine Falcon, sitting right on the edge of the clifftop, surveying his territory.

I am heading off to Point Danger at the end of the week to complete the walks, then it will be head down and walking boots hung up for a while, to get the walks all written up for the publishers, hopefully with a view to the book being published by August.  I have posted the list of planned walks for the new book on its dedicated page.

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View North from Point Addis Clifftop boardwalk

Just past Torquay, and an easy day trip from Melbourne, is a wonderful pocket of bushland which boasts some stunning views from its sea-cliffs.  For some reason, which I can’t fathom, Point Addis seems to miss out on most of the tourist traffic, who are focussed on either Bells Beach or heading to Anglesea, Lorne and the Great Ocean Road beyond.  However, Pt Addis is a wonderful wild destination in its own right.  There is an excellent short Koori Cultural walk with interpretive information boards along the way, or a more challenging Ironbark Basin walk – you can see the distinctive slip of the basin from the main car park – which also allows access to an old jarosite mine site.  Finally, there is a great short cliff-top board walk from the main car-park which allows for fantastic views up and down the coast, as well as access down to the beach itself – though take great care even if it is low tide.  Despite it being part of the Great Otways Park, dogs are fine as long as they are on leads.  An added attraction (depending on your viewpoint!) is that the northern end of the beach is one of Victoria’s only four legal ‘clothing optional’ beaches – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Bell's Beach, via the Jan Juc Clifftop Walk (part of the Surfcoast Walk)

Well, how beautiful is this early autumn weather?! 26C and blue skies meant I packed up and headed for the coast, along with 52 million other long-weekenders, but it wasn’t long before I found my stride away from the crowds.  The rightly popular cliff top walk from Jan Juc Beach near Torquay through to the world famous surfing mecca, Bell’s Beach, is an easy 8km return along a well made track.  There are stunning views from the top of the 35 metre high sandstone sea cliffs, and numerous opportunities to head down vertiginous stairways to the beaches to watch the surfers close up. The walk along the top is through beautiful fragile coastal heathlands, with grevilleas in full flower, and I was lucky to spot another echidna, right beside the track. Can it get better than that?  Dogs are welcome, on leads, though they are restricted on the beaches at certain times of the year, so check the signs before heading onto the sand with your dog.

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