Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great South West Walk - western half

The Glenelg River in Victoria is gorgeous, a wide river meandering it's way through a gorge, limestone cliffs, surrounded by dense eucalypt forest and pine forest - and - barely a building or road in sight. It's here that we spent the Easter, walking the western half of the Great South West Walk.

Great South West Walk, Lower Glenelg National Park and Discovery Bay Conservation Park

Click on small map to view Google Map of the Great South West Walk hiking trailUPDATE January 2012

I've now completed the whole Great South West Walk hiking trail. Read the second blog entry about the eastern half from Mt Richmond to Portland and back to the Glenelg River.

I've paddled down the river three times before, I never imagined that dense eucalypt forest also held a walking trail and walker's campsites.

We walked from Moleside Picnic Area down to Murrells walk-in campsite, up, down, and along the meandering trail. The following day we pushed out the kilometres to reach Simsons walk-in campsite - not quite the isolated campsite that Moleside was, this one is only three kilometres from Nelson. People wandered past walking their dogs, a few 4WDs drove past on the dirt track. Dissapointingly - because I thought I had seen this campsite whilst paddling down the river before - there was no river view for this campsite.

The following day we divided into two groups, Graham and myself pushing out along the beach - after a stopover at the Nelson General Store - to Mo M Beong Lake campsite (also spent Mombeong, or Monibeong). Steve and Krystyna took a more leisurely pace, camping at a campsite midway along the beach. The beach walking was long but beautiful. The guidebook described the sand as "pleasurably hard" which sounds somewhat erotic - I can assure you it wasnt, erotic that is. We took the inland route into Mo M Beong Lake and the campsite, we really enjoyed that route and coming up to the lake. A swim was prevented by the lack of appropriate underwear or all the other car campers around (ok so that hiking underwear went in the bin after this walk).

We made the fourth day our final. We sat eating lunch at Swan Lake campsite, beside the lake, well we think, the location of the actual hike-in campsite was ambiguous, certainly of the campsites we had seen this one had the poorest facilities - all the others we had seen were very good. The nearby car based campsite and surrounding sand dunes were trashed by the tyres of dune buggies. Never have I seen this kinda of wanton damage to a national park from vehicles. We walked on, towards Mt Richmond. We were to camp somewhere ad hoc, to balance the days a little. As we decided to focus on the hours left to walk to the car at Mt Richmond, rather than the kilometres left, we were easily able to make it back to the car by around 4pm, and make that drive into Portland for a pub meal.

Someone asked how it compared with the Great Ocean Walk, well, it may not be a fair comparison. They are different environments. The Great Ocean Road didn't get that name by accident. I love the Glenelg River, but this walk comprises maybe four elements: river; beach; coastal cliffs; forest. In the western half of the trail we did, we walked the river and beach sections. The Great Ocean Walk passes through a more diverse range range of ecosystems, but Great South West Walk is still worth doing, perhaps just not something to rage about. It is much easier walking as the terrain is generally flatter. Despite being on my "To Do List" for a long time, we were only doing this walk now because we couldn't access Wilsons Promontory due to flooding. We met and camped with other walkers, they had intended to do some of the Grampians over Easter, but likewise, couldn't due to flooding. We will get back to finish the eastern half, but being so close to Adelaide I'm not sure when, Christmas maybe (being so close to home it isn't hard to organise a trip there, so I would prefer to use annual leave on trails further away.)

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Great South West Walk - western half
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
22/04/2011 23/04/2011 24/04/2011 25/04/2011
Moleside Creek Picnic Area to Murrells Hike-In Campsite Murrells Hike-In Campsite to Simsons Hike-In Campsite Simsons Hike-In Campsite to Lake Mo M Beong Campsite Lake Mo M Beong Campsite to Mt Richmond
Distance 25.15km 27.01km 25.62km 32.1km*
Start Time 9.16am 7.52am 7.43am 7.49am
End Time 3.52pm 2.55pm 2.53pm 4.13pm
Moving Duration 4h38m 5h10m 4h52m 6h08m
Stationary Duration 1h24m 1h22m 1h48m 1h52m
Moving Average 5.4km/h 5.3km/h 5.3km/h 5.2km/h
Overall Average 4.2km/h 4.1km/h 3.8km/h 4.0km/h
Oodometer 25.1km 52.2km 77.8km 109.9km*
*About 600m longer than actual trail, meadering around Swan Lake campsite looking for water


Alvin Cram said...

I've just read your blog and am disappointed that you felt let down. Its a shame you weren't able to experience the Coastal cliffs and Bays from Swan Lake on that lead back into Portland.
We have new camp shelters at 8 of the 16 campsites but the area that you were in, you would have missed them all. Our aim is to get shelters into Swan Lake, Monibeong and White Sands, however with only a hand full of volunteers and the princely sum of $10,000 per annum government agency grant, trying to keep a 250 km walking track maintained to a standard comparable to that of the 90 km Great Ocean Walk is a very arduous task.
I hope you will come back some day and walk the Eastern half.
Kind regards,
Alvin Cram. President of Friends of the GSWW

Jez said...

Thanks Alvin. I only just posted this entry a couple of days ago (it was backdated). For a while I wasn't sure what to write, and the day afterwards wondered if what I had written was a little ill-considered. I have made a few revisions to the post.

I quite enjoyed the walk, I didn't feel let down at all, it was much as I expected from paddling on the river, my research and what others had said. I was well aware when planning the walk that we would be camping at the campsites without the best facilities, I certainly enjoyed the facilities on the Great Ocean Walk, they seem similar to what you have mentioned and the photos I have seen of the new GSWW ones.

My friend who hiked with me absolutely *loved* the beaches (I have no objection to beach walking, I just didn't *love* it. Walking long stretches of WA's Cape-to-Cape Track seems a little too fresh is my memory.)

I will return to finish the Great South West Walk, but being so close to home (Adelaide) I have other more distant trails to use my annual leave with. I do look forward to the coastal cliffs, I have not visited that area before.

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