Archive for November 2007

Walk of the Month: Wilsons Promontory (Victoria) – South/East circuit

Sealers Cove (Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit)

“In wild splendour the high granite peninsula of Wilsons Promontory pushes into the cold waters of Bass Strait to form the most southerly point of the Australian mainland, 225 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. In a relatively small area this national park protects an extraordinarily diverse range of environments: wild heathlands and swamps, moist pockets of rainforest, granite mountain tops, and dunes and seashores.”

Jocelyn Burt, “The World of Wilsons Promontory”

Wilsons Promontory (or just ‘the Prom’) is probably the most popular national park in Victoria and one of the most beautiful. A circuit around the southern part of the prom is one of Victoria’s classic bushwalks.

The walk begins at the Telegraph Saddle carpark below Mt Oberon. Generally you can park here, but on busy spring and summer weekends the road to the carpark may be closed in which case you will need to take the (free) courtesy bus from the Norman Bay carpark at Tidal River (leaves every 30 minutes). The circuit takes in Waterloo bay, Refuge Cove and Sealers Cove, and can be completed in 1, 2 (camping at Refuge Cove) or 3 (camping at Little Waterloo Bay and Sealers Cove) days, clockwise or anti-clockwise. I once did the walk in a day, but don’t recommend this unless you are in training for something else, as at 37km it is a long and tough day and you will have no time to rest and enjoy the many sights and locations along the way. My recommendation is to make it an overnight 2 day walk, camping at the lovely Refuge Cove, and travelling anti-clockwise to get the road bash (along Telegraph Track) over with at the start of the walk. Note that you need a permit if you intend to camp overnight – these can be obtained from the park office on the day you start, but to avoid disappointment if the campsites are already booked up, the permits can also be booked in advance by calling Parks Victoria (if you do this, you can also pick up the permits at the office at the park entrance).

From Telegraph Saddle carpark, take the 4wd Telegraph Track southwards. The track descends briefly and then stays relatively flat for the 6.5km to the junction with the Waterloo Bay walking track. Take this track almost due East to Waterloo Bay and its magnificent white sands. At Waterloo Bay the track turns north and continues just to the left of the beach before joining the beach just south of Freshwater creek. To continue along the track, cross the creek (this can usually done without getting your feet wet by hopping across the rocks) and then locate the track, fairly well hidden amongst the boulders at the northern tip of the beach. The track climbs steeply initially but soon descends into Little Waterloo Bay camping area. From here the track continues to hug the coast and proceeds east and then north-east to North Waterloo Bay.

From here, the track moves inland and climbs towards Kersop Peak (accessed from a track that branches south-east from the main track). The track continues northwards and descends into Refuge Cove, and the overnight camping area.

Telegraph Track Waterloo Bay On the trail from Waterloo Bay to Refuge Cove Cove Creek at Refuge Cove

From the overnight hikers camping area drop down to the beach and continue to the northernmost point where the track ascends inland and climbs northwards to a lookout near Horn Point. From here the track turns westwards providing a superb view of five mile beach to the north, before descending into Sealers Cove. Passing through the overnight camping area, the path descends to the beach where it is necessary to ford Sealers Creek. It is wise to try and avoid arriving here at high-tide as the creek will be very deep at this time (the park offices at the entrance and at Tidal River have a list of low and high-tide times) and potentially very difficult to cross. We arrived a couple of hours after low-tide at which time it was still only calf-deep (but very cold!).

After crossing the creek, the path is along the beach for a kilometre or so, before a signpost is reached (just before the remains of an old jetty) pointing to the track inland. The track continues west through Sealers Swamp (this whole section is now along boardwalks), an attractive area where occasional shafts of sunlight break through the dense foliage. Eventually, the boardwalks stop and the track then ascends moderately but relentlessly to Windy Saddle, a small grassy area and a great spot for a final break before that last section of the walk back to Telegraph Saddle.

Looking towards Five Mile Beach Track through Sealers Swamp Path between Sealers Cove and Windy Saddle Windy Saddle

Walk date: Nov 10/11, 2007
Time/level: 2 days moderate (around 5 hours each day)
Map: VICMAP Wilsons Promontory Special (1:50,000), Parks Victoria Parks Notes
My rating: A+, One of Victoria’s best

Cathedral Range (North Circuit)

South Jawbone

The Cathedral Range rises up from the Acheron Valley about an hour and a half outside Melbourne and provides some excellent walks in rugged bushland. The range is encapsulated in the Cathedral Range State Park and can be reached from Melbourne by following the Maroondah Highway through Buxton. About 9km after passing through Buxton there is a turn-off on the right (east) along Cathedral Lane, a narrow bitumen road; a couple of kilometres further and another right turn (south) takes you into the park along a rather rough gravel road (accessible by 2WD vehicles with care).

This walk takes in the northern section of the park, including the North and South Jawbones and The Cathedral. The walk commences at Neds Gully car park, which is the first car park reached if approaching from Cathedral Lane. Cross the gravel road to a track (Little River Track) that continues south alongside the Little River. This track eventually reaches the extensive Cooks Mill camping area. From here the track continues east up to the Jawbones Carpark, where it descends briefly before climbing steeply to The Farmyard (passing a junction with a sign to the North Jawbone) a pleasant grassed area where camping is permitted. At the Farmyard follow a signed path westwards up to the South Jawbone for excellent views westwards.

From the South Jawbone, descend back to The Farmyard and then retrace your steps towards the Jawbones Carpark and the aforementioned path junction, taking the signed path north to the North Jawbone, shortly thereafter there is another sign pointing eastwards along the short track that leads to the North Jawbone summit – also with good views, but somewhat more obscured by trees and vegetation.

Descend back to the main track and continue northwards. After following the track for another kilometre or so a Y junction is reached and a decision needs to be made. To the right a well formed path descends to Neds Saddle, to the left a track climbs onto the ridge. The ridge trail traverses the rocky ridge and requires a fair bit of scrambling with steep drops to the east; in many places there is no clear path and in wet weather this way could be quite slippery and treacherous. It also provides a challenging walk and magnificent views. If the weather is good and you feel confident with some rock scrambling, take the ridge path, otherwise the path to Neds Saddle provides an easy route back to the start.

The ridge trail continues for about a kilometre or so north to The Cathedral. Once The Cathedral is reached, retrace steps south to a track junction with a path east that drops very steeply into Neds Saddle. From here follow the clear and well made Neds Gully Track back to Neds Gully.

Walk date: Nov 6, 2007
Time/level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow 5 hours or so)
Map: Cathedral Range Outdoor Leisure Map, Parks Victoria Parks Notes (nb: these seem to have disappeared from the Parks Victoria site)
My rating: A

Little River Track Approaching South Jawbone North Jawbone view from The Cathedral

Updates soon

For a change the lack of posts in the last week or so is due to me being too busy walking, rather than working. Just returned from a superb weekend hike down at Wilsons Prom, and visited Cathedral Range last week. Walk descriptions to be added soon.

Fellwalking – Haystacks

Summit of Haystacks

“If mountains had fan clubs, Haystacks would have a legion of members. And I would be the first to enrol.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

We started this walk from Buttermere on a lovely, sunny summer’s day, following the bridleway that passes through Burtness Wood on the south side of Buttermere. After passing the end of Buttermere the path turns eastwards towards Gatesgarth and then south to Warnscale Bottom. We took the footpath that diverges south from the bridleway and then decided in our wisdom to scramble up by Black Beck which allows entrance to the higher ground through a small breach in the crags, but is not really recommended (better to keep following the footpath that rises to the east of Green Crag).

From here it was an easy walk westwards along the tops, past the beautiful Innominate Tarn, to the summit of Haystacks (Hay Stacks on the OS map). Continuing on we reached Scarth Gap Pass, which we followed northwards back to Buttermere and a beer.

My rating: A+
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Western Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Seven (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Warnscale Bottom and Buttermere Innominate Tarn Burtness Wood Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks

Haystacks was Wainwright’s favourite mountain and his ashes were scattered by Innominate Tarn.

“…a last long resting place by the side of Innominate Tarn, on Haystacks, where the water gently laps the gravelly shore and the heather blooms and Pillar and Gable keep unfailing watch. A quiet place, a lonely place. I shall go to it, for the last time, and be carried: someone who knew me in life will take me and empty me out of a little box and leave me there alone.”

Wainwright, “Fellwanderer”