Last Sunday Karen and I teamed up with friend Stuart Imer to check out yet another circuit walk in the Lerderderg State Park. Joining us were NZ couple Nic Learmonth and her partner Chris, who have just recently moved to Melbourne. Right now the river is flowing so it was a good opportunity to see just how difficult walking along the river was going to be in these conditions. Usually, when the river is dry, walking down the middle of the riverbed is fairly straightforward. We followed Razorback Track down into the gorge and was surprised to discover that it is possibly the easiest and most enjoyable access spur into what is regarded as the most remote central section of the gorge. Walking down the river was also easier than I expected as good foot pads existed along the rivers occasionally vegetated banks. Rocky bluffs forced us to cross and recross the river at least a dozen times but it was all very manageable (and a lot of fun). The only drawback was the gorse, a prickly introduced bush which has unfortunately invaded the length of the gorge. A gourmet lunch at McKenzies Campsite was followed by another hour walking downstream. At Ah Kow Ruin we left the river and climbed up the very steep Ah Kow Track. It was a big climb – a direct contrast to the gentle Razorback Track. Eventually we reached Blackwood Ranges Track on top of the range, crossed under Mt Blackwood and made our way up to its grassy summit area. We soaked up the last views of the day and walked on down Mt Blackwood Road back to our car at the start of Square Bottle Track. My GPS indicated a total distance of 13.5km.
The terrible Victorian bushfires that started over the weekend of Sat 7th and Sun 8th February mean that some walks described in Daywalks Around Melbourne (Tempest), Weekend Walks Around Melbourne (Tempest) and Day Walks Melbourne (Chapman) have been completely destroyed. The main areas affected include Marysville, Kinglake, Murrindindi, Bunyip State Park, Healesville, Warburton and the Cathedral Range State Park. Fire affected areas also include Lake Mountain and Camberville. We recommend that all bushwalkers (and other bush users) stay well clear of any destroyed and threatened areas until the Parks Victoria and DSE can assess and eventually reopen the affected locations. Locations such as Murrindindi, Kinglake and Marysville are probably not going to open to the public any time soon (at least for 2009 and early 2010). It is hoped that the Cathedral State Park and its popular walks will be gradually reopened from November onwards. Walkers are advised to visit Parks Victoria for further information relating to walking trail closures.
Bushwalkers should also be aware that many State and National Parks are closed or have restricted access on high fire danger days. Check with Parks Victoria for daily updates.