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Archive for the ‘Otway Ranges’ Category

OK, I have to admit to NOT being a fair weather bushwalker: my main disincentive there is getting up close and personal with Australia’s delightful and numerous collection of venomous snakes, but I also don’t like walking in the heat – as those who walked in the high 30’s with me on the day before the Kangaroo Island bushfires in December 2019 can attest (!!). But with the right kit, and plenty of layers, autumn and winter walking is my thang! Except for wind. High wind and tall trees are not a great mix in the bush as you can see on our recent winter walking along the Great Ocean Walk after a night of hail and high winds…

Apart from that fairly major consideration, cold mornings and wet conditions make for wonderful conditions for …. leeches (yes, yuk!) …. and also the most amazing funghi along the way, here’s a few from the last couple of stretches walking between Ryan’s Den and Wreck Beach, along the Otway Coast. I have no idea what most of them are, though am currently researching them, so I work on the assumption they are all poisonous (tragically, we’ve had a number of deaths in Victoria in the last decade from people misidentifying and eating mushrooms) and just admire them from a distance. They are always unexpected and quite magical, and a real treat of winter walking.

After all the fantastic funghi, Deb and I have now completed our walking research (the fun part!) for the Great Ocean Walk Guidebook now, though we’re following up on a fascinating lost shipwreck memorial with historian, Alan Maclean, as we pull together the book itself ready to send to our editors. From there it’s a good few months to go through editing, design, cartography before it gets to printing, so we’re aiming for a November release for this one. We’ve loved doing the Great Ocean Walk – it’s wild, woolly, wonderful …. and wet! Hope you’ll enjoy it too when it gets to the shelves.

Made it! Quite the end to an exceptional wander.

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New Port Philip Cycle Trail

New Port Philip Cycle Trail

While out walking in Melbourne’s western bayside suburbs today, I spotted these enterprising lads, who obviously decided to take the short cut from Altona across to St Kilda.  Hope they packed their snorkels! I opted for the longer route, and took in a fine 8km stretch of the Williamstown to Altona Foreshore Trail, a shared cycle/walk path which winds along the coastline from Williamstown Beach across to the fabulous off-leash PA Burns coastal reserve in Seaholme.  While the Foreshore Trail itself is on-leash for dogs,  (it runs parallel to the Jawbone Conservation area), the parks at either end of the walk are both off-leash, so plenty of exercise for everyone – particularly those whose dogs like a good run (or in the case of these kids, swim) beside the bike.

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Williamstown Wetlands, via the Foreshore Trail

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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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