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Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane Ranges’

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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Winter rainbow from the Brisbane Ranges

It just goes to show: just because the weather forecast is for hail, squally winds, thunder storms and all day showers, that’s no reason not to get out for a walk.  Deb and I decided to brave the elements today for the final 12km day of the 3 day Burchell Trail in the Brisbane Ranges, expecting flash floods and worse, only to be rewarded with sunshine, mild weather and no more than a 30 second shower all day. Mind you, the minute we hopped into the car at the end of the day, the heavens opened up and the hail came raining down.  But even after that we were rewarded with this spectacular rainbow. How lucky can you get!

Magnificent Australia Grass Trees along the Burchell Trail

Day 3 of the Burchell Trail starts from the peaceful walk-in Old Mill campground, and wanders for almost a full circuit through the southern part of the Brisbane Ranges, near the historic goldmining ghost-town of Steiglitz.  There is lots of evidence of the area’s former gold rush days. The banks of Yankee Gully, on the second half of the walk, are dotted with old mine shafts and earlier in the day you can detour to take in the very deep pit of the famous Century Mine.  There are a number of glorious picnic spots and camp grounds by the creek crossings, and most of the trail is single track, away from management tracks – it was incredibly peaceful.

Walking above the alluvial gold beds of Yankee Gully in the Brisbane Ranges

It’s relatively simple to turn this into a one day circular walk, which we did today, by leaving the car at Fridays Camping Ground and walking an extra 1.5km along the road at the start, making for a 13.5km total walk. The Burchell Trail markers are, as always, somewhat random and not at every track junction, so you do need the 1:30,000 Brisbane Ranges National Park (Meridien) map to keep you on the right trail. Don’t let this put you off a fantastic walk though. I can’t wait to come back in spring when all the native orchids are in bloom. I am writing the Burchell Trail up in more detail for the Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges book, so hope that more people will be able to enjoy this wonderful walk.

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Fed up with the poor official Burchell Trail markers, walkers have taken direction-setting into their own hands, with the occasional handy hint!

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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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Little River Gorge, Day 2 of the Burchell Trail (Brisbane Ranges)

Friday was just glorious in Melbourne – once the ice had melted off the windscreen!  The rest of the day was crystal blue skies and not a breath of wind: perfect winter walking weather.  My erstwhile walking buddy, Deb, volunteered to brave a car shuttle with me so we could do Day 2 of the 3 day Burchell Trail, which runs north to south for 39km through the little-visited Brisbane Ranges, south-west of Melbourne.  This is a fantastic walk for those wanting to get away from it all – we didn’t see another soul for the entire walk.  On this section, which runs for 15km from Little River Gorge camping ground to the Old Mill walk-in camping ground, the orange flash trail markers are a little erratic, especially where they have been washed away along Little River in recent flash flooding, so it does require a level of confidence and sound map reading to keep on track. However, the paths themselves are quite clear – a mix of management vehicle tracks and fantastic ridge climbs with big views.  The unexpected bonus of the day was Little River Gorge – every bit as spectacular as nearby Anakie Gorge. Really looking forward to going back and walking the other two sections, which I will be writing up for the new Geelong, the Bellarine and Brisbane Ranges book.

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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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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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Werribee River from Falcon's Lookout

Snatched a quick day out yesterday, under the cool cloudy skies, and headed for the edge of the Brisbane Ranges, out near Bacchus Marsh.  This lovely walk, while short, was so pretty and interesting – and smelt great after all the rainfall of the previous day.  Falcon’s Lookout is reached via some up and down through gullies and easy rock-hopping along Ironbark Gorge – named for all the stunted Ironbark gum trees which grow on the hillside around here.  The walk brings you out to the very edge of the red and orange rock cliffs of Falcon’s Lookout, named for the hunting falcons which ride the thermals above the cliffs – though you have a good chance of spotting wedge tailed eagles out here as well. The view down into ice-age, glaciated Werribee Gorge is nothing short of breathtaking, and the opportunity to walk down to the base of the cliffs to watch the rock climbers in action is an additional bonus. Dogs are also welcome in this part of the park, as long as they are on leads, so mighty Indie lead the way, leaping up and over the rocks with abandon while we huffed and puffed behind her!

Falcon's Lookout cliffs, Werribee Gorge

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