With plenty of work going on at the Cathedral Ranges, thought it would be good idea to get the information around. Not only are there major works going on with tracks, the new shelter and toilet facility is being built in the Sugarloaf area along with an Information Board to give visitors a little background of the area.
The Jawbones track will be closed for major track works Monday to Friday from November the 29th until Christmas . This means the only access to the Farmyard and the Jawbone climbing areas is via Ned’s Gully or Sugarloaf Saddle. During this time period the track will reopen on weekends.
Also, please take note of the logging information below. As soon as PV have firm dates for when this work will actually begin we will let you know. St Bernards Track will most likely remain open for sometime yet. However Little River Track will close as soon as any works begin.
Logging of the pines at Cooks Mill will be recommencing this summer. At some stage in the near future machinery will be forming an access track through the central Cooks Mill campground and down the Little River Tr. Then the cutting of pines will begin. Over the Christmas holiday period the only logging activity taking place will be pine cutting from the 10th Jan, and log carting from the 17th Jan – all logging works will cease over the Australia Day weekend Friday, Saturday Sunday and Monday
The impacts logging will have on visitors are:
– Restricted camping around the central Cooks Mill area (Tweed Spur will remain open
– Closures to both Little River walking tr and St Bernards tr
– Sharing the road with logging trucks (after the 17th Jan, and possibly before Christmas)
– Machinery noise after the 10th of Jan and before Christmas.
After the Beechworth walk didn’t muster up to expectations I decided to check out the walking potential of the Walhalla region instead. I only had one more walk to include in our soon to be published Daywalks Around Victoria and Walhalla’s historic tramwaysd seemed to tick all of the necessary boxes for possible inclusion. Just to be sure I called Andy Gillham, Senior Ranger for Baw Baw National Park. He was really helpful and indicated that the Old Steel Bridge spanning the Thomson River was to be reopened this week. This was perfect timing as the bridge had been closed since the 2009 fires and was integral to our proposed circuit.
Karen and I set off from Thomson Station on the banks of the Thomson River. It was a perfect day, hundreds of wildflowers lined the path and the river sparkled in the sunshine. Parks Victoria have done a great job maintaining the old tramway which the walk follows. We walked up to the Old Steel Bridge, crossed over and walked along the tramway around Mormon Town Spur and up Stringers Gorge to reach Walhalla in the early afternoon. Named after the glorious place where slain Vikings would go to after death, Walhalla is one of the most celebrated gold towns in Victoria. Gold was discovered here in 1863 on Stringers Creek and between 1880 and 1885 Walhalla grew to a population of more than 4000 people. At that time there were 10 hotels, 3 breweries, 7 churches and even a newspaper. I can’t imagine how this frontier town survived with almost no level spaces. We had a great lunch in the cafe attached to the Star Hotel and walked on down to Walhalla Station. We bought our tickets ($12 each) and caught the 3pm Walhalla Goldfields train back to Thomson Station and our car. The walk was a winner.
Ollantaytambo is approximately 2 hours from Cuzco, which is where most people land when visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Many people in fact use this as their base. Cameron and I chose to be a little further out. While Ollantaytambo certainly has its fair share of tourists, (this is one of two main stations that service the Machu Picchu station at Agua Calientes and also a common start of the Inca Trail) the town itself still manages to retain a certain village feel to it. With its Incan buildings, cobbled streets and gushing waterways, it is quite a cruisy place once the tourists have headed off to Machu Picchu for the day. It’s a great place to do day trips from and if you want to truly experience the local transport, forget about the tourist coaches and Peru Rail. Jump into a collectivo(or should I say squeeze). These are basically combi minibuses that besides a couple of main stops, pick people up all the way along. When there are no seats left, the fun is in the squeezing. Personal space is not a consideration. We made sure that we jumped on at the first main stop ensuring a seat. They are cheap and simple but depending on what road you are travelling on – not for the faint hearted.
The town of Ollantaytambo is also home to some major ruins of the Incan Empire and is a key point in the Sacred Valley. As with most of the ruins, some of the stonework is so incredibly perfect – you can’t begin to imagine how long it took to shape it to fit like it does. Even more amazing are the huge blocks that were quarried 5 kms else away and moved into place. Pink Rhyolite blocks were used for many of the Temple structures whereas fieldstones were predominantly used in basic buildings. On the hills surrounding the town, there are also storehouses which were built to store all the grains and dried produce. Making use of the higher altitude and colder temperatures ensured longer life for their produce.
Cam and I also made a point of sampling quite a few of the local cafes although the Heart Café saw us visit more than a few times. Run as a not for profit , all monies it does make go towards the highland villages into a variety of projects from medicine, clothing, education and childrens health. Being a lover of all things textile made this also a choice pick. Various items created by the women of the villages is for sale with all monies going directly to them. The Chaskawasi hostel where we stayed also contributes to the villages. Whilst not a not for profit, Katey the owner works with the villagers and also asks all hostel customers to donate a kilo of rice or sugar. These are some of the main ingredients that villagers must come down the mountain for ,which is difficult and expensive.
If you are wanting to base yourselves somewhere for a few days and are looking for somewhere a little less of the hustle and bustle of Cuzco(as great as it is) Ollantaytambo could be the place you are looking for.