Friday, December 28, 2007

Old Beechy Rail Trail

A rail trail follows a former railway, so the track is always reasonably flat or has slight inclines or declines. And there's the trap for newcomers, ride the slight decline for 28km - barely even noticing the decline, then turn around and ride back - uphill all the way.

Old Beechy Rail Trail, the Otways, Victoria

Remants of an old timber bridge

I spent two days whilst travelling along the Great Ocean Road in the cool shady forest. It was high 30's out there in the sun, but very cool riding in the forest. On the first day, I left my car in Colac and rode from the start of the rail trail, at the railway station, to Gelibrand, which is approximately half way along the track. It is uphill riding to Barongarook, which to be honest was quite tough. All of this section is along roads and not along the original railway alignment (the former railway did start in Colac, and the rail trail follows roads adjacent to the former railway). It was a very hot day to be out in the sun riding uphill on dirt roads, but after lots of rests and puffs of my ventolin, I made it to the start of the former railway just beyond Barongarook. Here the riding became very easy, being a steady decline to Gelibrand, with just a few off-the-former-railway-alignment sections. If I rode this trail again, I would start beyond Barongarook, the railway alignment starts at the 103 mile railway marker on Maggios Road. Part of the rail trail, just before Barongarook is on a bitumen road for several kilometres, could be a bit scary for the kiddies.

103 mile marker

Gelibrand was a welcome sight, enjoyed a nice lunch on the verandah of the general store. The ride home was quite a bit more difficult, mainly because it is uphill, and I didn't realise just how easy I had it riding downhill from Barongarook to Gelibrand. It's just that the incline is unrelenting, but you can see in the stats below that although it took me the same time to ride, I didn't need to rest for as long. I put that down to the uphill section being in the shady forest rather than the open sun, and being high on ventolin. The ridge from Barongarook downhill to Colac was easy.

The following day, having learnt something from the previous day, I left my car in Gelibrand. Gelibrand lies at the bottom of the valley, with the Colac at one end of the rail trail, and Beech Forest at the other end, both being at the tops of the ranges either side of Gelibrand.

Old steam locomotive boiler at Dinmont

So I rode uphill towards to Beech Forest. I enjoyed this day much more than the first day, it was easier, and I was mentally prepared for it this time. The forest seemed much nicer, lots more bends, and much more riding along the former railway alignment rather than dirt roads. I stopped at Dinmont though, rather than the end of the rail trail at Beech Forest. From Dinmont to Beech Forest is entirely on dirt roads, so I didn't really see the point. No shops at Dinmont either, just a pub. I think future plans for the trail include the rail trail following the former railway from Dinmont to Beech Forest, and perhaps an extension to Lavers Hill and Crowes where the former railway terminated.

The ride back from Dinmont to Gelibrand was a lot quicker than the ride there. I did however fall for one trap... riding uphill from Gelibrand I came across a fallen tree which blocked the path. Trees in forests can be a bit difficult to move, I looked at trying to move it, but a chainsaw would really be needed. So anyway, you'd think I would remember it was there when I was riding back along that way later - because this time I would be riding much faster, being a long downhill run. I've got to say, in the dappled light of a forest, it is very difficult to see a single fallen log across the path when you are riding fast. I had to jump off my fast moving bike to save myself, and somehow I managed to get off and not take a tumble, although my bike got some damage from hitting the log and ground at such speed. It all happened slow enough though, as accidents do, for me to recall the log and realise how stupid I was. So I tried to mark the log a bit, to draw attention to it, but really, is there anyone else out there as stupid as me?

Old steam locomotive boiler near Triplet Falls

When I finished the ride, I enjoyed lunch again at the Gelibrand general store, and spent the afternoon wandering around some local sights - via car this time - like the town of Beech Forest and Triplet Falls. At Triplet Falls there was an old steam locomotive boiler hidden in the forest, amazing to think that all this area was completely cleared by the over-zealous settlers thanks to the railway, and that now you would have no idea that the land had been completely cleared at the start of last century.

I visited the Otway Fly, meh, it wasn't so great. $20 to get in, so not worth it. Although on the way out a couple of backpackers approached me for some tips as to how to avoid the entrance fee, ie in which direction to head to climb the fence. So I guess if they were successful it wasn't quite so expensive on a per-person basis.

Visit official Old Beechy Rail Trail webpage and download map and brochure.

View photos as full screen slideshow

27 December
  • Distance: 26.4km
  • Moving duration: 1h 43m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 14m
  • Moving average: 15.2km/h
  • Overall average: 8.9km/h
  • Max speed: 49km/h

  • Distance: 26.4km
  • Moving duration: 1h 45m
  • Stationary duration: 39m
  • Moving average: 15.1km/h
  • Overall average: 10.9km/h
  • Max speed: 56.2km/h
28 December
  • Distance: 14.1km
  • Moving duration: 1h 13m
  • Stationary duration: 45m
  • Moving average: 11.4km/h
  • Overall average: 7.1km/h
  • Max speed: 35.4km/h

  • Distance: 15.2km
  • Moving duration: 44h 59m
  • Stationary duration: 6m
  • Moving average: 20.3km/h
  • Overall average: 17.7km/h
  • Max speed: 36.3km/h

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Worth That 5 Minutes of Planning

Take the time to measure your planned hike on the map. No really, it's worth that 5 minutes of planning. And always have a spanner to remove your car tyre, a spare tyre is no use without the spanner.

3 hikes in Deep Creek Conservation Park

Blowhole Beach

Yes, really, just measuring how many finger-widths a hike is on a map just doesn't cut it. So really, should I have been surprised a hike was twice the distance I thought it would be? I mean really, could I be that stupid. Mmm... let's ponder a moment. Apparently the answer is yes.

Also, one needs a serviceable spare tyre, I had that, just no the spanner to remove the wheel with. Mmm. Damn it, obviously the first flat tyre since I got this car. So I had to walk 10km to get help, an unplanned hike. Thank goodness for daylight saving hey.

Tapanappa Hill

I camped at Trigg Campground for 3 days before Christmas, and did 3 hikes. The first was Deep Creek Circuit Hike, and despite the miserable weather I set out in, it soon cleared up to be a nice day. A really nice hike, this circuit is, going via Deep Creek Cove, Tapanappa Hill and Deep Creek Waterfall.

The second day I measure the day's hike with my finger on a map. We don't need to go there again. I hiked west along the Heysen Trail, past Eagle Waterhole campsite to Aaron Creek, then followed the creek to the coast. The creek trail was very overgrown, and the closer I got the coast the scratchier it became. I never quite made it to the end, but the coast was spectacular. I walked a different way home, via the flatter roads north of the Heysen Trail, longer, but quicker (although not as interesting either).

On the third day I did a short loop walk down to Blowhole Beach from Cobbler Hill Campsite. Beautiful, I love the beach and the rugged coastline immediately below Cobbler Hill. Lucky I did a short hike though, really, because driving back to the campsite I got a flat tyre. Pity I had no spanner. Mmm. So I had to walk 10km to get help, there was absolutely no-one around this day, perhaps cos it was Christmas Eve.

View photos as full screen slideshow

Deep Creek Circuit Hike
  • Distance: 11.8km
  • Moving duration: 2h 51m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 17m
  • Moving average: 4.1km/h
  • Overall average: 2.8km/h
Aaron Creek Hike
  • Distance: 8.53km 1st leg (9.98 return leg)
  • Moving duration: 2h 01m 1st leg (1h 49m return leg)
  • Stationary duration: 1h 15m 1st leg (18m return leg)
  • Moving average: 4.2km/h 1st leg (5.5km/h return leg)
  • Overall average: 2.6km/h 1st leg (4.7km/h return leg)
Blowhole Beach - Cobbler Hill - Marrano Creek Hike
  • Distance: 6.43km
  • Moving duration: 1h 34m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 09m
  • Moving average: 4.1km/h
  • Overall average: 2.4km/h

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Encounter Bikeway

I got a nice sun tan today. I set off early, but then lost track of time. Yep, that sunnies mark on the side of my face. And one better, nice arms - but what's with the white hands? Riding gloves. Not a good look.

Hugging the coast from Goolwa to Victor Harbor, the 31km Encounter Bikeway follows bike paths, back roads and foot paths. A brochure is available from the Victor Harbor website.

I had ridden the bikeway before, but only from the bridge at Goolwa to the causeway at Victor Harbor. Today I rode the whole trail, some 7-8km longer, and then I rode back as well - last time I only rode one way. I rode 63km.

The trail is well sign-posted, except for in Port Elliot. I got lost going both ways, even with a map, there are a few signs missing at critical junctions in the town. The bike paths are the best bits to ride on, I think, and on the roads along the coast. Some of the roads inland are just houses and more houses, both old and crusty and contemporary new homes.

Riding back was quicker, because I didn't stop much except for 10 minutes to each some lunch, and I had a tail wind. Also, no photos on the way back.

View photos as full screen slideshow

Goolwa to Victor Return ride
Distance: 32.2km Distance: 31.2km
Start time: 8:50am Start time: 11:25am
End time: 11:25am End time: 1:20pm
Moving duration: 2h 05m Moving duration: 1h 35m
Stationary duration: 30m Stationary duration: 20m
Moving average: 15.4km/h Moving average: 19.6km/h
Overall average: 12.7km/h Overall average: 16.2km/h
Max speed: 35.7km/h Max speed: 41.6km/h

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nurragi Rail Trail

It was easy: 12km along the former railway from Sandergrove to Milang, beside Lake Alexandrina. A conservation reserve: no motorbikes, no horses, no dogs, oh, and no cyclists.

Well, not entirely true. There was no sign forbidding cyclists, but there were signs for the others, or it is just always the case in conservation areas. Cyclists were ok, I guess, however bear in mind that at every road crossing there are two fences to cross. There is a vehicle access gate - locked, so you have to carry your bike over the stile or throw your bike over the fence. I knew this though, I read about this rail trail on the Rail Trails website beforehand.

The railway was opened in 1884 as a branch line, and closed in 1970. The former railway was declared a conservation reserve in 1991, more information about the reserve can be found on the National Trust website.

I parked near Sandergrove railway station, then headed back to the station - not that there is much more than a sign to see adjacent the Steamranger tourist railway from Mt Barker to Goolwa and Victor Harbor. From here, I traced the former railway to Tucker Road, where the Nurragi Conservation Reserve began.

From Tucker Road to Dry Plains Road the trail is tough. It is not well clearly defined - although the former railway is, the walking path is not. It is overgrown in this area, and I started to have second thoughts about my plans, but this is the most overgrown section, and a relatively short section too. Be careful of a former bridge, marked on the google map below (as in be careful of the bridge that isn't there - could give you some nasty scars).

The stonework dates from the 1880's

From Dry Plains Road to the Finnis - Milang Road the path is much easier to ride or walk as it is a vehicle maintenance track. The only other bridge on the former railway, albeit smaller, has been remedied to allow vehicles to cross it.

There is plenty of birdlife to be seen, and kangaroos, and I'm sure snakes too.

It's a surprise to come across the former Nurragi Railway Station - from where the conservation reserve takes its name.

From an unnamed track crossing the trail, about half way between Nurragi Railway Station and the bitumen Finnis - Milang Road, to that bitumen road, the trail is quite overgrown. Returning on my ride from Milang, I chose to ride along the vehicle track which follows south-western fence.

From the bitumen road to the end of the conservation reserve the trail is a single width foot track. It is here, and back at Sandergrove Railway Station, where it is clear that motor bikes have been using the conservation reserve. Here too you can see evidence of horses and dogs (well, friendly people walking past with dogs).

The trail and conservation reserve ends at Landseer Road, on the outskirts of Milang. I think it would be quite possible to continue walking or riding along the former railway reserve straight into Milang - the land is still clearly fenced and looks to be used only for horse something or other. Whatever horses do. Eat grass I guess. The fact that the fencing remains on both sides would suggest it is still crown land and not private farmland. However, I was glad to ride faster and easier on a real road now.

I rode onwards to Milang Railway Station. It's a cute timber building with some rollingstock beside it. The building was sold to a local farmer when the railway was closed, but was returned and restored in the 90s.

From here I rode the short distance down to the lakeside. Despite the drought, the lake still seems relatively high, although it is presumably at a level below sea level.

Riding back to my car was easier, I took some shortcuts which were longer but easier to ride. I also didn't suffer from the must-stop-and-take-a-photo-syndrome on the return journey. A good ride, very flat too.

This ride has nothing to do with the Mawson Trail, I know that. But I haven't been able to ride any of the Mawson Trail this year. Winter for me is hiking, and summer cycling, so I will post my future cycling adventures here. I stayed overnight in Goolwa after this ride, riding the Encounter Bikeway from Goolwa to Victor Harbor the following day. I will post up some photos and stuff for that one later this week.

View photos as full screen slideshow

  • Distance: 29.6km
  • Start time: 1.35pm
  • End time: 4.50pm
  • Moving duration: 2h 22m
  • Stationary duration: 45m
  • Moving average: 12.4km/h
  • Overall average: 9.4km/h
  • Max speed: 29.3km/h

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Keeping my Trailblazer Fitness

Just a couple of quick evening loop hikes around Morialta to keep my Trailblazer fitness

Morialta Conservation Park

Second Falls Gorge Hike
Time 2.5 hr return
Distance 5.3 km loop

Trail Notes
This trail skirts the rim of the escarpment and offers outstanding views of the gorge from First Falls and Second Falls lookouts. Stretch your legs and ascend the steep slope to Deep View Lookout for a view of the city. The first 700 m is a heart starter! If you prefer an easier gradient, hike in an anti-clockwise direction.

Download brochure (website)

  • Distance: 6.8km
  • Moving duration: 1h 12m
  • Stationary duration: 18m
  • Moving average: 5.6km/h
  • Overall average: 4.5km/h

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I can't understand why we struggled through the last sections from Morialta, other teams did too. Oh yeah, we'd been hiking for the past 11 hours.

The Trailblazer Challenge
50km: Adelaide Oval to Mt Lofty summit

So I wouldn't say it was easy, but it certainly wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I got no blisters, and only a very minor but manageable - thanks to Jenny's fantastic Black Diamond trekking pole - knee injury.

Likewise, other team members did well. One of our members deserves the 'best on ground' award for continuing on the course after throwing up bile after Morialta. Determined to finish, they kept up their fluids, and with some good rests along the way we all managed to complete the event together at Mt Lofty summit.

We met at the start point at Pinky Flat, near Adelaide Oval/Next Gen on the banks of the River Torrens. As Tim and I waited for the girls arrive, we got to see all the serious joggers psyche up for their events (There were 4 options available: 18km, 34km, 50km or 100km). Think ridiculously short shorts, and tubs of Vaseline being shamelessly applied. Not a pretty sight.

Myself, Tim, Coleen and Jenny at the start point beside the River Torrens

The first 18km to Athelstone follows Linear Park along the River Torrens to the hills. It was a 3 hour walk, following the bitumen pathways, so it can be hard on the feet, but we were 'in the zone' so it was all good. The free Red Bull, fruit and water top-up was a welcome sight at Athelstone. John, Jenny's partner, soon turned up with an esky and made us some fresh rolls - yummo.

It was about 10.45am when we left, hiking up what I consider the hardest hill on the trail. Or what I did consider the hardest, little did I know, our training preparation had led us the wrong way through Morialta, so the Trailblazer challenge still had a surprise in store for us. Regardless, this hill out from Athelstone, Ambers Gully, is steep and hot in the full sun.

By 2pm, when we reached Morialta, officially the 34km mark, it was quite hot. Ok, 33 degrees might not normally be considered hot, but it certainly makes hiking up hills in the sun a lot tougher. There's good reason why the hiking season is considered to be from April to October and not over summer. We ate some lunch in the hot shade and saw plenty of 50km participants withdrawing, the heat or the hike proving too much for them. Leaving Morialta we soon came across the little surprise that was awaiting us. An incredibly steep hill that I have little or no recollection of ever seeing before. It was also here where things took a turn for the worse for one team member.

Deciding to stick true to the course, we set up the next ridiculous hill, a recent re-route due to flood damage along the creek between the second and third falls. We saw plenty of participants head off along the closed, but considerably easier, section.

Hiking out of Morialta, we came across a ute with some eskies in the back - a support crew waiting for their team. Oh, how could they? What I would have done for a nice cold drink! Thankfully, one of them offered us some ice - they must have seen our expressions I'm sure. I'm no ice eater normally, but this was just heaven munching on ice.

Hiking through Horsnell Gully was a relief, the hot sun was now behind trees and the cool tracks and pathways were a welcome relief. The koalas were up to their normal antics, I love this place. Hiking out of Horsnell Gully, our last major hill aside from the last 650m to Mt Lofty summit, we were treated to some spectacular colours from the setting sun, the orange light lighting the pine trees in a magical way.

John was a very welcome sight at Checkpoint 3, at a radar station on a dirt road near Summertown. Tim and I got stuck into our freshly made wraps and a nice cold Pepsi Max, I'm sure I've never eaten a better wrap before. In a moment of sadism, the event organisers had chosen to place the checkpoint tent at the top of the hill where the radar tower stood, rather than down beside the roadway. We checked in and asked about medical help for our worsening bile-throwing-up member. No help or advise was available, but whilst we sat and ate we asked everyone who walked by if they were a paramedic. A seemingly random question, but the volunteers had told us a paramedic was hiking in a team of 3, apparently coming along soon. When he came, he admitted he didn't really care, he was too exhausted, but if one didn't actually feel too sick, they could continue, it was only the body saying it wasn't coping with the heat. It was only 5-7km left to the end, and it was dark now, so with no persuasion our sick member decided to continue.

Head torches on, we hiked through the cool of the forests of Cleland, along the winding fire tracks that follow the contours of the hill. Easy hiking, and with a bright moon overhead much more pleasurable with the head torch turned off.

Just after 9pm we stumbled out of the bush onto the paved area that the white obelisk and cafe sit on at the summit of Mt Lofty.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trailblazer Training

33.3km. The most I have ever hiked in a single day. Not bad, in preparation for next weekend's 50km Trailblazer hike.

Ambers Gully, Athelstone, to Mt Lofty Summit

Just one week until the big event, the 50km Trailblazer hike (a fundraising challenge). We haven't done a lot of specific training for it, so Tim and I thought we would make this one last opportunity. I've been doing lots of regular hiking, and been swimming twice a week, but today we set out to do the entire 33.3km section in the hills. Next weekend, we do the same, but start 18km earlier at from Adelaide Oval, following Linear Park to Athelstone, before doing what we hiked today.

Pretty stoked that we saw an echidna in the Montacute Conservation Park, it was wandering along until it saw us and did the whole camo thing.

No, I didn't take this detail-photo of an echidna. No photos today.

It was tough, but we set a mean pace from the start. We had set out at 12 noon, we knew it was likely we would finish in the dark, but Tim had a prior engagement. I think I can safely say I have never hiked this fast before, after 4 hours of hiking we had only spent 21 minutes of that time resting. After 40 minutes for lunch at Norton Summit, yes it was 4pm by then, we had completed 19 of the anticipated 32km. Neither of us really felt any sorer after this point, although my knee started giving me grief in the last 5km (the next day though... woah, pretty sore hey).

We stayed true to the Trailblazer course, although because I had forgotten to bring the maps we strayed a little in Morialta. At Deep View Lookout we should have gone down to the carpark, then along the valley floor, whilst instead we maintained the same altitude and skirted around the edge. We didn't avoid the killer hill neither of us expected though, presumably a necessary re-route to avoid the bridge-less closed section of the Yurrebilla Trail.

Only during the last few kilometres did we put our head torches on, and the floodlit obelisk at the summit of Mt Lofty kept us going to the end. A nice look at the view was brought to a premature end as we started getting pretty cold. Wedges with a nice serving of sour cream and sweet chilli sauce worked a treat though in the cafe while we waited for Kate to come collect us.

  • Distance: 33.3km
  • Start time: 12noon
  • End time: 7.20pm
  • Moving duration: 6h 10m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 09m
  • Moving average: 5.5km/h
  • Overall average: 4.5km/h

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Shiraz Trail

I thought I would finish off the Coast to Vines Rail Trail, so on this sunny afternoon I set out from Pedlar Creek riding to McLaren Vale, and then onwards along the Shiraz Trail to Willunga.

McLaren Vale to Willunga

Will return to the Mawson Trail one day soon.

Tim, Kate and myself rode part of the Coast to Vines Rail Trail from Hallett Cove to McLaren Vale back on March 12 this year, but we were too exhausted to continue onwards the end of the trail at Willunga. Today, I started from Pedlar Creek, just east of Seaford. I had cycled this bit before, but from this point on the trail south it is definately country and not suburbs, so it was worth doing this short bit again.

Lots of vineyards with views to the hills beyond. Like my photographic expedition down to Second Valley yesterday, lots of hills coloured purple by Salvation Jane (also called Patterson's Curse). I was glad this time to be able to get a good photo.

I found a dismantled old railway crane at the end of the trail, at the former Willunga Railway Station. Pity it has been cast aside, too important to dump but too unimportant to be erected elsewhere. Perhaps later it will be.

Had lunch at a bakery in Willunga, yummo. From McLaren Vale to Willunga is pretty much a steady slight incline, so returning back to McLaren Vale was easy.

View photos as full screen slideshow

  • Distance: 13km (27km return)
  • Moving duration: 54m (40m on return trip)
  • Moving average: 14.7km/h (19km/h on return trip)
  • Max speed: 35.9km/h (36.9km/h on return trip)
Some stuff about the trails:
Coast to Vines Rail Trail - Pathway to Discovery The Coast to Vines Rail Trail offers a spectacular journey through Adelaide's south. Winding along the historic, former railway corridor between Marino Rocks and Willunga, the Trail is rich in beauty and history. From the magnificent cliffs of Hallett Cove to the natural beauty of the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park, the Trail offers scenic coast to hinterland views. Visit the heritage towns of Old Reynella and Old Noarlunga along the way and take in spectacular vineyard vistas as you travel through the renowned McLaren Vale wine district. The Coast to Vines Rail Trail: A journey through time and place.
The Shiraz Trail The Shiraz Trail links the historic towns of McLaren Vale and Willunga, situated at the base of the stunning Willunga Hills in the McLaren Vale wine region. The last (or first!) section of the Coast to Vines Rail Trail, the Shiraz Trail offers a gateway to the many riches the region has to offer, from quality wines and local fare to fascinating heritage.
View maps that appear at the trail head.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Should have packed the chocolate

A trial hike with our overnight packs - a first for Kate & Tim - in Innes National Park. Should have packed the chocolate, and another book.

A day hike on the Thomson-Pfitzner Plaster Trail Hike
and an overnight hike along the Gym Beach Hike

We left our car and big tent set up at Browns Beach, setting out on the 6-hour return (or 4-hour return depending on the sign or publication you read - it's 4-hours according to the park ranger) hike from near Browns Beach to Gym Beach. Only 5.5km, it took us 1h 06m to get there, and the following day 1h 09m to return. Our hike was 6km each way, a bloody easy hike, but fair go it was Kate & Tim's first pack hike. We could have hiked back along coast, over two headlands and Browns Beach, but we returned the way we came (hiking on sand with full packs can be hard!).

It wasn't particularly interesting, but then not much of Innes National Park is really that interesting for hiking. If you like bird-watching - perfect, that's what the park was created for, some bird that was believed extinct and discovered here in the 1960's. The hike was hot, with little shade, but what shade there was felt very cool. Gym Beach campsite was good, we set up camp on a site with close beach access, and near the nice non-smelly modern toilets with a rainwater tank. Better than our tent site was at Browns Beach - smelly, no STINKY, toilet, no rainwater, no shade, no separate tent sites, no close beach access, and no tree branch intent on scratching us all at least twice. Great if you love fishing though... wish I did :-/ No shade at Gyms Beach Campsite either, and a park table and bench like those in Lincoln NP wouldn't go astray, especially for hikers, but it was much better. Good beach, we sat upon some rocks as the waves crashed around us, watching the sun set and reading our books. Good fishing, and probably swimming and body surfing too. Funny how everyone empties off the beach for sunset, the best part of the beach day I think.

Should have packed chocolate, and another book. I finished reading my book too early... and Tim and Kate hadn't finished theirs yet, so we couldn't swap. After tea, Tim and I tried to find the Southern Cross in the night sky. I found the most convincing cross, then used the method in the "Dangerous Book for Boys" to find south... except it pointed in the direction where the sun set. Tim, using the sunset as a guide, found south, then determined to find the best cross to fit his 'south'. I don't think either of us actually found the 'Southern Cross'... but south we found.

On the Saturday - we arrived Friday night - we hiked the Thomson-Pfitzner Plaster Trail from Stenhouse Bay to Inneston, following an old railway alignment which transported gypsum from the mine at Inneston to the jetty at Stenhouse Bay. Not greatly interesting either. Followed a spur trail on the way there, which follows the contours of the land, this railway alignment being built later for steam locomotives (rather than the earlier horse-drawn trains). Inneston, a town built in the 1930's and abandoned in the 1970's, is little but ruins and some restored cottages, but quite interesting. Kate and Tim hadn't been to Innes before, but I had been here a couple of times before.

Also stopped by Ethel Beach, where the 1904 Ethel is wrecked on the beach, and the 1920's wreck of the Ferret lies off-shore.

A good weekend, we extended the long weekend by an extra day. It was Kate & Tim's first trip to Innes NP, my third I think. Pretty cool place, good fishing, surfing, camping and swimming. Swam at the rock pool on Shell Beach - was pretty cold. We were first there at high tide on Sunday, but watching the waves crash it we thought it might be too dangerous, as the waves sucked the water through the length of the rock pool. We returned Monday morning, having established when low tide was from my GPS unit's "Best fishing times" guide. We swam, well, Tim did, I just jumped in and got out I think - it was pretty cold. Afterwards, as we sat on the rocks in the sun, a huge voilent freak wave crashed through, much larger than the waves of the previous high-tide day, and washed right across the area we were sitting. Glad we weren't swimming at that time!

Missed a good hike opp though, Anne reckoned this was the pick of the Innes hikes - Royston Head. Saw a sign, planned to get there, but wasn't keen to go on a hike straight after our only weekend shower.

Royston Head Walk
4 km return, 2 hr return
Spectacular views of the rugged peninsula coast and blue ocean. There is a fantastic lookout point from the cliffs at Royston Head with a tranquil beach below.

Enjoyed the benefits of a long term investment. I think I was here last about 4 years ago, we had paid for shower tokens for Pondalowie, but some of them just gave us cold water. This time though, I don't know what we were thinking, we skipped the token purchase opting for cold shower by driving down to the Pondolowie campsite. After enduring a minute of cold water though, it was hot as, and without using a token! Yay!

View photos as full screen slideshow

Stats (Gyms Beach hike):
  • Hike distance: 6.0km
  • Trail distance: 5.5km
  • Moving duration: 1h 09m
  • Moving average: 5.2km/h
Untitled Document

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Ocean Walk

I've completed Victoria's Great Ocean Walk, which follows the coastline near the Great Ocean Road from Apollo Bay to just beyond Princetown.

It's a 91km hike, suggested as a 7-night, 8-day hike. I did it over 4-nights and 5-days, combining 2 suggested hiking days at the start, and 2 at the end.

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It was an amazing hike, I camped in the hike-in campsites - some very special places. Lots of coastal scenery, some quite dramatic, and also the forests of the Otways and coastal heaths, and yes a little, just a little, bit of farmland. I highly recommend the trail to those interested in multi-day hikes or trekking, or those who just want to pick out some of the best day hikes. Spectacular stuff.

The blog entries for my 5 days appear below, in reverse order, having been typed up from hand-written entries I made each night (start with Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay). They are presented here largely unedited which shows my hopes for the following day, and then you get to witness those hopes shattered. No sorry, probably being a bit dramatic.

For those of you who are impatient or just otherwise uninterested, above in this blog entry I have included the 12 very best photos here. Also find the Google Map (suggest view in full-screen mode).

Driving down to Princetown from Adelaide on Saturday, I took this one rather good photo at Port Fairy. Nice place, lots of old colonial buildings, nice holiday spot one day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The beach that inspired

It was a photo that I saw last year of an anchor from a shipwreck on Wreck Beach that inspired me to do this trail. Today I reached the Great Ocean Walk's iconic Wreck Beach.

Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

Rated 'hard', the hike from Ryans Den to Moonlight Head continues along the steep hills and high sea cliffs. Rated 'easy', the hike from Moonlight Head to The Gables Lookout heads inland along country roads, through Blue Gums and farmland. Rated as 'medium', the hike along Wreck Beach to the Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite passes the anchors of shipwrecks before climbing to the campsite. Rated as 'easy', the hike to Princetown follows an old coach road, a 4WD track through heathland and coastal scrub with fucking farms views to the north (ok I inserted the fuck bit).

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkIt rained hard last night, after I had come down from sitting on the grassy knoll looking over where I had hiked over the past two and half days. I took a nap, and heavy rains and a thunderstorm came over. Ryan's Den is a bit scary for that, quite isolated, and high on a headland. Thankfully, as with all the hike-in campsites, the tent sites are sheltered from the wind. I cooked dinner in the shelter - they are so good when it rains - with the families I have seen at the last two hike-in campsites I have stayed at. Turns out they work in Search & Rescue, nice to know they were following me each day and staying in the same campsites!

I set out early for my final day's hiking. I had booked to stay in Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite, but had decided it would be easy to hike the extra 7.7km beyond that to my car in Princetown - then I could enjoy a nice cold beer, a shower and a change of clothes, preferably in that order.

Hiking from Ryans Den to Moonlight Head was difficult, it was rated as hard, only the end of yesterday and this section amongst the whole trail was rated as hard. It was, perhaps it was in my head too. Having finally reached Moonlight Head, it was a pretty tedious hike to Wreck Beach through farmland along roads. I really don't like doing farmlands, thanks to the Heysen Trail, but it should be noted this is only the second day I have really seen any farmland and it is fairly minimal.

Climbing down the 350 steps onto Wreck Beach, I met up with some of the fellow hikers from the family I camped with the night before. A few had hiked for the first 3-4 days, until car access was no longer possible.

Wreck Beach was incredible, I got there about an hour after low tide, but I still found myself having to make some made dashes to avoid the waves. Would be a nasty place at high tide. It was a no-brainer that I wanted to go there, so I was pleased the tides were going to work out for me.

Ascending from Wreck Beach I had lunch at Devil's Kitchen hike-in campsite, where I would have stayed. I wrote a little note in the campsite logbook there.

Another hiker's logbook entry

The hike from there to Princetown was so boring, rated as easy, following an old coach road along the sand dunes. A long, straight sandy track. If it wasn't for the sound of the sea on one side, it didn't matter which direction one turned it all looked the same. I can't say I hiked this section, I trudged it. Knowing that the section from Princetown to Glenample Homestead - the end of the Great Ocean Walk - followed this same sandy coach road confirmed I wasn't going to tackle the remaining 6km tomorrow. Bugger that! Later, as I drove to Port Campbell to stay the night, I noticed that the trail ends at an information shelter beside the Great Ocean Road, the Glenample Homestead is no longer open to the public and the signs pointing it out have all been removed. What an anticlimax that would have been! I'm not sure why the trail doesn't end at the Twelve Apostles, they are only 3-4 km westwards beyond this point.

Despite finishing 6km prior to the end of the trail, I still hiked a total distance of 92.86km, so I was pleased I had hiked beyond the 91km figure the trail is meant to measure.


True to form, no, don't roll your eyes, my pack got heavier and heavier as I walked along the sandy track closer and closer to my car. But the sight of my car - such relief!

Showering later, I discovered a huge bruise and swelling on my ankle. Well that explained the pain I had been experiencing for the last day and a half - didn't realise it looked so dramatic though.

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I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overal average
Max speed

7h 35m
5h 03m
2h 32m

Total time

8h 0m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A magical den

A butterfly just landed at my feet - and it stayed long enough for me to get a photo. That proves beyond doubt that this place is magical.

Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den

Rated 'medium', the hike to Milanesia Beach features lush valley views and country roads through farmland and forest. Rated as 'hard', the hike through to Ryans Den starts on the beach the climbs steeply to the clifftops with sensational views, continuing through steep hills and coastal forests passing high sea cliffs.

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkI'm sitting in a grassy clearing, atop what can only be described as a huge, remarkable headland jutting out into the ocean. From my vantage point, I can see the beach were I had lunch today and the pine forest I walked through on the lands far above it. I can also see the campsite and beach at Johanna where I spent last night. Beyond that, I can see the outlet of Aire River - where I camped two nights ago. And in the hazy distance, quite distinctly, I can see Cape Otway Lighthouse, which I passed on my second day.

I'm on one of the two grassy clearings at the headland just metres from the Ryans Den hike-in campsite. Not only is this place magical - the views from my tent are amazing - but so too is the hike in from Milanesia Beach. It was a tough hike, the hardest section of the Great Ocean Walk - but this added to the magic. It was very isolated and the gullies seemed almost surreal - green moss covered rocks forming slab bridges and steps, all in the midst of an eeriely quite wet forest. All the time, the distinct headland of Ryans Den loomed far out in the ocean, it's shape like something out of a fantasy movie. The enchantment continued when I came upon a staircase that spiralled seemingly endlesslt upwards towards the campsite.

I left Johanna this morning a bit flat and tired. The wind had beem strong through the night, and the wind was unrelenting. THere was no sight og the sun as I hiked along an old coach road that winded through farmland. The rain came in fast and heavy, but eventually cleared. This part of the hike through farmland reminded me, perhaps a little too much, of the many farmland sections the Heysen Trail passes through. It was then I realised that I have a confession to make to you regular End-to-Enders on the Heysen Trail. It's quite a serious confession for a End-to-End hiker... no highlighter have been in my hand, or on my maps for this whole trek!

The farmland eventually gave way to pine forest, following what I think is the first car accessible road on the Great Ocean Walk. It then entered natural bush, thankfully, before descending to Milanesia Beach. In a stream that entered the sea here - finally - I had a refreshing wash. A swim would have been better, no doubt at all, but that sea had looked scary for days, and it was cooler now, and the sun not constant.

Tomorrow I will hike it home, along the Great Ocean Walk's iconic Wreck Beach, past my pre-booked hike-in campsite at Devils Kitchen back to my car - a beer, hot shower, a pub meal and a powered tent site. Perhaps Friday arvo I will complete the remaining 6km from Princetown to the Twelve Apostles.

View photos in full-screen mode

I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overall average
Max speed

6h 25m
3h 14m
2h 58m
29.3km/h ??

Total time

5h 30m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

Great Ocean Walk - Miscellaneous Ramblings

I think the 21k pack - although I'm sure it's much heavier than that - is too heavy for me. They say you can carry 25% of your body weight, thats 18kg for me - you do the math. It get heavier - I'm serious now - the closer one gets to the campsite, or a landmark location or feature you have been striving for. Don't look at me like that - have you overnight hiked before with a 20kg+ pack? Can you disprove me? I think not. So yeah, like I was saying, it gets heavier. That's a given. Conversely, first thing in the morning, it's much lighter - if you keep pulling faces like that I won't go on, I can lip read to you know, you potty mouth. The pack was definately the heaviest for the first 2km along the road from Apollo Bay. Evidently something rather heavy fell out after that point, although I can't seem to account for what was lost - oh for goodness sake stop rolling your eyes.

My shoulders and hips seemed quite bruised the first day - but not since. My feet are pretty sore at night - definately sorer than anything else. But the single-use hand warmers work a treat inside my socks next to my toes - insert product promo here. They are small sachets with iron and salt in them I think, you shake one and minutes later it is toasty warm. It says it will last up to six hours, but lasts more like twenty-four hours.

Overall though I'm not too sore, the body really does adapt to this multi-day hiking much better than just to one or two days of hiking. As I type up my hand-written notes now, on Friday, I can say I feel really stiff now. How did my body suddenly become stiff after five days of hiking, when I have finished, on the sixth day, and not on the fifth day when I was still hiking? Clever stuff those bodies.

I've only had one blister, on my heel. But a blister pack and some sports tape is keeping that in check, a pretty minor blister. Unthinkable of course to those of you that know me, that I would hike without my lamb's wool on my heels, works a treat to prevent the inevitable hot-spot blisters I get. This product is so cheap and simple, forget the fancy blister products, this wool shits all over them. Thanks Leonie, I was a slow on the uptake in believing and trusting in them, but now, nothing else for me!

My hiking boots are working a treat - so glad I didn't opt for my hiking shoes like I wanted to. Lots of mud and creek and sea rock platform crossings, and lots of sand from beaches and sandy tracks to fall into lower ankled footwear.

My knees are tops, thanks for asking - OMG, how '80s is 'tops' - no pain to report. Perhaps largely in thanks to the trekking poles that have never left my side, not even my arms are hurting from them. The trekking poles an absolute must for carrying a 21kg pack, otherwise I only ever use one when I hurt a knee.

Btw, the transfer service I used (highly recommended) is as follows:
GOR Shuttle
Cape Otway
Providing a personalised 4WD pick-up and drop-off service to and from your choice of accommodation along the Great Ocean Walk
Ph: (03) 52 379 278 / 0428 379 278
  • Food drops
  • Backpack forwarding
  • Car shuffling for clubs, larger groups
  • Bicycle forwarding
  • Local knowledge and experience with all credentials
  • Tours: Maits Rest, Otway Fly, Triplet Falls, 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge etc or tailormade tour
Weblink: ... / I paid $80 (I think?) for the transfer, very reasonable, esp when compared to competitors

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rest day - it's a trick of the mind

It was meant to be an easy half day, to rest up, take it easy and let the body recover.

Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach

Rated 'medium', the hike to Castle Cove features the Air River estuary, rocky escarpments and coastal views. Onwards to Johanna Beach, experience heathland, wildflowers, grass trees and clifftop views.

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkSo with that in mind, I slept in and left quite late. The past two days hiking have actually been double days - 2 suggested hiking legs per day. But today was to be by-the-book. Primarily it was to meet up with my transfer service guy, Abby , so I could swap my rubbish for a few extra days of food supplies and a cold beer. Seemed like a good opportunity to discipline myself and have a rest day.

But it took much longer that I expected, the sign said four hours, the map said five hours. It took me five and half hours, and as long as forty-five minutes to get from Johanna Beach to the hike-in campsite, some 800m beyond the beach (measured as 1.1km on my GPS though!).

Lots of coastal salt bush and heath, as they call it. The end of the day some 3km spent on the beach. I can see the beach now, and hear the waves crashing from the hike-in campsite on a ridge high above the beach. I can see where I walked today, and where I had lunch on the beach. It seems so close now...

Like I said, it was a rest day, so I was goign to take it easy, nice and slow. I realised I had forgotten there was a decision point on today's hike, a place to deivde whether to take the beach route, or in case of high tide, take the safe, reliable inland route. There are eleven such decision points along the trail, this was the ninth (most of the decision points are on the first hiking leg). The low tide was at 9.30am, and this was one of the three decision points for which there was no inland route. Again, it seemed like a fuss over nothing, but I can see how at high tide the beach would be narrow, but it would need to be a mighty tide or stormy to be inaccessible. Decision Point 9B (yes, they have mulptiple decision points on one beach sometimes) was a small headland on the beach. I had to wait for the waves to recede before rushing across to the nest beach.

When I finally made camp, I chose out a nice spot. When you book your campsites, you are allocated a particular tent site. Mine was one with a mountain view, but I preferred the coastal views on offer. I didn't set up camp yet though, I would wait and check with the family I had met last night which I knew were due in soon, as they would have booked three tent sites, and there were three such coastal view tent sites. They hogged the shelter last night, not that I minded, but perhaps they would feel a little guilty abou tthat - so they wouldn't mind swapping a tent site tonight.

Got a blister on my heel today, erwk.

Tomorrow I think I will set off early - to go for a quick swim - finally!

View photos in full-screen mode

I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overall average
Max speed

5h 32m
3h 18m
2h 14m

Total time

5h 0m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

Monday, September 17, 2007

Where is my shoe?
I mean, FUCK! Where is my shoe?!?

I was calm, why? This was a disaster. Fuck, where is my shoe? Either someone took it overnight, or an animal did so. I had left if outside my tent in the vestibule overnight, but now, as I was all packed, just putting on my shoes to discover one missing.

Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River

Rated 'easy', the route to Parker River Inlet is through dry coastal forests. Rated 'medium', the hike to Cape Otway is along clifftops, with Manna Gums inhabitated by koalas, then alongside a mown track to the lighthouse. Rated 'medium', the hike to Aire River follows wind sculpted slopes and clifftops, traversing a sandy track.

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkMadly, I looked around my tent - no shoe to be seen. It can't have been the other couple here - who does that anyway - if it was them surely they would leave it hanging from a tree. I had my ugg boats, so could go for help, but my 6-day hike would be over. Having just got up, I found a suitable spot to relieve myself. There was little I could do. Then as was doing my business, just beyond under a tree, was my upturned shoe, the red sole attracting my gaze. It was quite wet, but not inside because it was upturned. I don't care why an animal dragged it ten metres from my tent, or what they did with it, I was so relieved to find it, and as a bonus dry and intact. My chief suspect if the kangaroo - no, wallaby - no, numbat?? that I made friends with last night. It was not fussed by my presence, acting all cute and friendly. As I cooked dinner, it came closer and closer to forage. Lucky for me I had decided early on not to leave my pack in the tent vestibule, it needed to be inside to protect it from animals, I had learnt this elsewhere before, and my two man tent is large enough for my pack too. But leaving my shoes inside too? I hadn't thought of that!

A long hike today, again two suggested hiking legs in one day. Blanket Bay to Parker Inlet was cool, all foresty, and the view over Parket Inlet was fantastic, although no photos did it justice.

The scenery towards Cape Otway Lighthouse changed increasingly from forest to coastal salt bush. It was a tough getting to the lighthouse, but perhaps mainly because I saw it much sooner than I expected, then spent forever actually reaching it.

Came face-to-face with a koala. I was trying to duck down under a low hanging branch - this can be quite difficult with a 21kg pack - when I looked up to see a koala just inches from my face! After a few photos, I thought it best to head bush to go around the koala.

The lighthouse wasn't the landmark or photo opportunity I had hoped it would be. You couldn't see any of it from the carpark, the closest you could get without paying an entrance fee. You could see it by doing a self-guided tour, and I don't think the $13 entrance fee was too much, it just seemed too much like car-sightseeing, it was odd to be around all these old fat people who complained having to walk from their car. In the shop, I purchased an ice cream, and a couple came in. They asked how far it was to walk to the lighthouse, 440 metres they were told. Oh, that's too far, they replied. I had seen them park their car in the carpark, they didn't select the disabled carpark, and seemed fine to walk. I guess some people are just lazy. I took that as a sign to move on, maybe I would return on Friday arvo when I finished the trail.

I had lunch at the Cape Otway hike-in campsite, the end of the suggested hike leg. The shelters in the hike-in campsites are fantastic, they are well set up. Only Blanket Bay didn't have a shelter, it was still being built. As I was busy preparing lunch, two rangers stumbled in, in search of forty cows that had escaped a nearby farm. There was pleny of evidence of the cows, but they were no-where to be seen.

As I hiked on, I came across the lighthouse cemetary in the sand dunes. The sand dunes had been busy reclaiming their territory, but it was a cool spot.

From here to Aire River wasn't heaps interesting - lots of walking in sand dunes. I was too late to choose the beach route due to high tide. Aire River was a good sight for my sore feet and pained shoulders. All good though - no blisters. Bruises on my shoulders and hips, yes, and very sore feet, but all good.

I had been prepared for a wet day because it had rained all last day, but it was a warm sunny afternoon, yay.

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I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overall average
Max speed

8h 06m
4h 33m
3h 33m
22.2km/h ??

Total time

7h 30m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Perfect Timing

I arrived at my chosen campsite - Blanket Bay - at 1.30pm. Early, yes. Could I have hiked more? Probably, but my feet and shoulders were sore, and my knee had the slightest twinge in it - a good indicator of pain to come. So I was glad to set up camp. I selected a good posi, set up my tent and decided for a little nap. I was awoken minutes later to the sound of pouring rain, not the light showers of earlier in the day, but full and lasting rain.

Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay

Rated 'easy', a footpath leaving Apollo Bay alongside the Great Ocean Road leads to Marengo Caravan Park. Rated as 'medium/hard', the route to Elliot Ridge follows the coast on a walking track and beaches from farmland to tall wet forests along old forest tracks.

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkI had Apollo Bay early this morning, setting out at 7.30am (I thought it was 7.00am... but my clock was still set to CST). The previous night as I walked home from the pub & a good meal, I was glad of the calm, cool weather. Yesterday had been warm and sunny, but later that might I was awoken to tremendous winds - the kind in which I would not like to be camping in a dome tent. The winds would hae been strong enough to push a domie flat - not a nice camping experience. But hiking tents are much smaller and robust. By 6am the wind had thankfully gone, although there was no sign of the sun behind the clouds. There were some early showers as I hiked, but these were welcome relief from the warm weather.

I started hiking from Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve - a caravan park and footy oval combined - about 1km from the start of the trail. I would have walked that section the previous night on the way to the pub. If I were to hike the Great Ocean Walk again, I would stay in the Marengo Caravan Park and start from there, the hike from Apollo Bay to Marengo is just along a roadside path.

I was glad of choosing to wear my hiking boots rather than my hiking shoes - I got wet feet a few times today, but my hiking boots are fully waterproof, I could step into the sea or a creek and not get wet feet - I did both, the sea accidentally as I scrambled over some rocks, and the creek was just unavoidable. The advice to only do the beach walking during low tide seems sound - I hiked through a low tide and there were several spots where the waves came close. Having hiked through one decision point, electing to take the inland route over Bald Hill rather than the beach route - I decided in future to always favour the beach route. The beach was relatively wasy to hike on, even with my extra pack weight, and scrambling over the rocks was cool, albiet sometimes slippery - particularly between Decision Points 4 & 5.

I reached Elliot Ride hike-in campsite within two and a half hours, I was glad I decided to skip this suggested campsite and combine two suggested hiking legs. Hiking through the tall forests of blue gums was cool, following fire tracks. It was a little eerie hiking through the quiet forest alone. Hiking towards Blanket Bay it was quite an experience to see the ocean through the trees, and moments later to hear the crashing waves.

I accidentally deleted my map path from my GPS unit, so I have grabbed someone else's off of the internet for todays hike, although the three waypoints are accurate.

View photos in full-screen mode

I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overall average
Max speed

6h 36m
3h 54m
2h 42m

Total time

7h 45m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown