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Tarilta Creek Gorge Burned by DSE

Tarilta Creek Gorge (Jan 2012) from Glenn Tempest on Vimeo.

Friends of the Box-Ironbarks Forests (FOBIF) have just posted a critical assessment of the recent DSE burning operations of Tarilta Creek Gorge in the Upper Loddon State Forest. You can read their blog and view some images at Tarilta Gorge: burned off, washed away. Essentially the DSE burn (CAS 0051, Limestone Track) was supposed to have created ‘a mosaic burn coverage appropriate to meet requirements of localised EVC’s [ecological vegetation classes] and to reduce the spread of fire.’ It’s in Zone 3 Ecological Management Zone (EMZ). According to FOBIF a DSE briefing last September indicated that in such a zone it would be expected that about one third of the area would be burned. This hasn’t been the case as it appears that a great deal of destruction has been inflicted upon this once beautiful location. There has also been a substantial loss of top-soils, which have washed into the creek and created large siltings (most of it ended up blocking Limestone Track Bridge).

Only a month ago my friends and I walked Tarilta Creek Gorge as we wanted to create a GPS of the route and take some new images. The walk is to be included in our forthcoming Goldfields Walks, which is due out in spring. You can read about our walk on my blog here. The short video (above) makes an interesting and disturbing comparison to the images shown at at Tarilta Gorge: burned off, washed away.


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Melbourne’s Western Gorges On Sale Now

Great news. Our newest title, Melbourne’s Western Gorges, arrived in our warehouse this morning and will be in the shops from tomorrow. Authored by Glenn Tempest, this is the first in a new A5 series of walking guides to regional areas around Victoria. Melbourne’s Western Gorges covers 20 walks in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, and Werribee Gorge and Lerderderg State Parks. Produced in full colour with 96 pages it retails for just 19.95. Like our last book, Daywalks Around Victoria, this guide also features free GPS downloads as well as regular updates. Melbourne’s Western Gorges is also available in our online bookshop.





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Jawbone Track Repairs Finished

Last week Greg and I walked up to the top of the North and South Jawbone Peaks in the Cathedral Range State Park. I was really keen to check out the new trail work on the Jawbone Track leading up to the Farmyard. The 2009 Black Saturday bushfires really hammered this part of the range and, while this trail has always suffered from erosion issues, the fires made things a whole lot worse.

The initial walk up from the Jawbone Carpark is nicely contoured and Parks Victoria have replaced the original bridge over MacLennans Gully with a new steel construction. Hopefully this bridge will withstand future low and medium intensity fires. Personally I can’t see the need for expensive bridges spanning minor water courses that for 98% of the year can be easily stepped over, although I’m sure most walkers will welcome the convenience.

The trail up to the first rocks was realigned quite a few years back and it is still in excellent condition. From the rocks the trail cuts across to Jawbone Creek, crosses it and then climbs steeply up to The Farmyard. This section and the trail has always suffered from bad erosion and the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires made things a whole lot worse. If you’ve hiked up to the Jawbone Peaks since the park was reopened after the fires you will know that work on this trail has been progressing for sometime. As it is Parks Victoria and their contractors have done an excellent job. The careful placement and seating of large blocks (and all without the use of cement) means that the trail will be far more resilient to heavy foot traffic and now blends in really well with the natural surroundings. Two thumbs up for a job well done.

From The Farmyard we continued up to the top of South Jawbone Peak. Essentially the trail to the summit is okay but is now so overgrown as to be difficult to follow. In fact I would say that the regrowth is far thicker now than it was before the 2009 fires. What a difference a couple of years makes! While the hazel pomaderris is especially thick, it is the kangaroo wattle (or prickly wattle, acacia paradoxa) that is making life difficult for walkers.

Most likely much of this regrowth will die off over the next few years as the forest re-establishes itself, but in the meantime it’s a real pain. Maybe Parks Victoria should send in a crew to re-cut the trail although I’m not sure exactly how long this would last. Luckily the trail up to North Jawbone Peak is much better, but there are still short sections of thick regrowth and the kangaroo wattle is growing strongly on the upper rocks near the summit.


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The Burchell Trail Update (Brisbane Ranges)

The Burchell Trail has seen some major realignments. These changes effect a number of walks in our Daywalks Around Melbourne and Weekend Walks Around Melbourne guides. These changes are indicated on the new 1:30,000 Brisbane Ranges National Park map by Meridian Maps. Anyone undertaking the Burchell Trail or walks utilising sections of this walk should consult this map. It is also important to note that the current Parks Victoria Brisbane Ranges National Park Visitor Guide PDF does NOT reflect these changes and should not be used by walkers. The following walks are affected.


Walk 18 (Three Creeks Walk): The Burchell trail now runs up next to Yankee Gully from the Crossing Picnic Area to Durdidwarrah Road. This means that you can walk on a trail linking the Crossing Picnic Area to Native Youth Track instead of walking up the creek bed.


The Burchell Trail (p44): From the 14km mark the walk now parallels Switch Road before dropping down to Stony Creek Picnic Ground. From Stony Creek Picnic Ground the trail now walks to Lower Stony Creek Reservoir (instead of following the Ted Errey Nature Circuit). From the dam wall the walk continues through what was once the Barwon Water Catchment Area (now incorporated into the National Park). This section of trail finishes on the Geelong – Ballan Road, crosses it and then follows Furze Track all the way to the Old Mill Walk-in Camping Ground. Probably the biggest change along the Burchell Trail is that it no longer finishes at Steiglitz. From the Crossing Picnic Area the new Burchell Trail runs up next to Yankee Gully to Durdidwarrah Road at the Pines Campground. The Burchell Trail then continues on to Fridays Track and through to finish at Fridays Picnic and Camping Ground.

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Parks Victoria Entry changes

Just reminding everyone using our walking guidebooks that entry to all Victorian parks (managed by Parks Victoria) is now free. This came into effect on the 01 July 2010 and marks a major policy shift for Parks Victoria.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Point Nepean National Park
Werribee Park
Mount Buffalo National Park
Baw Baw National Park (excluding the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort)
Mornington Peninsula National Park
Yarra Ranges (Mount Donna Buang)

If you hold a current annual pass you will be eligible to apply for a refund from Parks Victoria.

You can check out the following media release from the Premiers office for further details.

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Wilsons Promontory Southern Circuit Walk

Next to Arapiles and the Grampians, Wilsons Prom is also on my very favourite list of places to go. Although I have been there numerous times, it has always been on a day walk schedule, so the two day overnight walk was something I have had on my radar to do for quite a while. As I have mentioned before, being a climber tends to mean that every free weekend with passable weather sees me out on the rock. But I thought it was about time to lock it in. There was no going back – just had to hope that the weather would hold out for us. Cameron had done the walk before and kept encouraging me by saying “Welcome to a world of pain”. Such a kidder! When we bought our permits at the Rangers office, this comment drew a strange look from the girl who was organizing it. Laughing along but secretly making a note to send in backup helicopters.

While the air was crisp, the sun was shining and I walked both days in t-shirts only. What I especially liked about this walk (besides the fact that it was a coastal walk) was the constantly changing environment. I must have a short interest span as I can get a bit bored when walking through unchanging scenery. But this didn’t disappoint. The wild and wooly bits of the Prom, to the rainforest greenery to  scrubby tea tree.

As far as overnight walks go, I think this would be a good one for those unacustomed to the longer walk and camp option. Possibly, continuing as far as Sealers Cove campground and then doing the return journey – this portion of the walk definitely falls into the easy category in energy output and using the well travelled track.

We chose to travel onto Refuge Cove – arriving at dusk to set up camp and rest weary feet.

Next day had some great sections of walking on the beach to access the next section of track. I never tire of walking along the coast – the sounds, smells and the myriad of interesting things on and in the sand that interest my magpie eyes. After a quick lunch at Waterloo Bay, we headed off in order to finish the last couple of legs to the walk. We were not continuing on the Southern Circuit walk but following the trail that leads to the Telegraph Track, and back up to where we began at Mt Oberon Carpark. While the first part of the day tackled the moderate to hard walking, this trail is predominantly on flat ground travelling over boardwalk in many sections. Telegraph Track is unfortunately, not a highlight of the walk. It travels the management vehicle track and for me, didn’t offer much in the way of interest. Being the end of the day and a little weary(not to mention shin splints and aching feet) the mostly uphill trudge of approx 6 kms felt just like that – a trudge. It would be much nicer if it travelled upon a dedicated track

Dusk was again, almost upon us and by the time we reached the carpark, the moon was out.

I would thoroughly recommend this walk despite my criticism of the last section. The complete Southern Circuit Walk can be found in the Weekend Walks Around Melbourne guidebook, page 146.

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Southern Circuit Walk (p146)

Karen and I were down at the Prom last weekend and did part of the Southern Circuit Walk while researching a daywalk for our forthcoming Daywalks Around Victoria. It’s worth noting that during busy periods (such as the Christmas holidays, Easter and school breaks) you can leave your car at Tidal River as Parks Victoria run a shuttle bus runs between Tidal River and Telegraph Saddle (the start of the walk). There have also been some changes to the walk since the area was largely burned during the 2005 bushfres. Much of the old-growth dense tea tree has now vanished and in places the trail is much more exposed to the sun. One of the most affected sections is the trail linking Telegraph Junction to Oberon Bay Camp. This once a beautiful walking trail was shaded by dense old growth tea tree as it meandered through undulating sand dunes hugging Deer Flat and the swamp. Unfortunately the trail is now a wide sandy vehicle track. During the 2005 fires Parks Victoria decided to construct a wide fire break along much of its length. A great shame, especially as Parks are apparently going to maintain this fire break in the future and so greatly diminish the trails appeal to walkers. Walking trails should not have to follow fire breaks. By the way, the old toilets at Oberon Bay are no longer functioning as they are full. Parks have portable toilets in place and are currently constructing a new drop toilet facility.

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Cape Liptrap Coast Walk (p132)

Storm approaching Cape Liptrap. Karen, Alley and Stuart looking on.

An early low tide coincided with a fine Sunday so Stuart and Ally joined Karen and I to walk along the coast between Cape Liptrap and Five Mile Track. This is the first day of a two-day walk I wrote up in our Weekend Walks Around Melbourne some years ago and since then there have been a few changes. Because of its increasing popularity I’ve also decided to write it up and provide a free GPS download in our forthcoming Daywalks Around Victoria.

The walk around from Cape Liptrap is simply amazing. We scrambled along wave-cut platforms, over rocky points and wandered along broad pebbly beaches. It’s a genuinely wild place and is a photographers paradise. High cliffs tumbled into the the sea, which roared in conjunction with a strengthening southerly wind. We had a gourmet lunch in shelter of a small cove, the Sauvignon Blanc having been successfully chilled in a vacuum flask. The weather Gods obviously felt we were enjoying ourselves too much and by the time we reached Morgan Beach we could see the southern horizon darkening with heavy cloud. Finally the sun disappeared and the first squall hit us as we were crossing the limestone escarpment opposite Arch Rock. We were quickly engulfed in heavy winds and driving rain. After about 20 minutes the clouds parted and the final beach walk along to Five Mile Track saw us soaking up the warmth of the sun.

Continue reading Cape Liptrap Coast Walk (p132)

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Fire damage affecting information in several guidebooks

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.

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Lerderderg Gorge Emergency Markers

IMPORTANT UPDATE: All of the original EMERGENCY SIGNPOSTS in the gorge have been replaced with new EMERGENCY MARKERS by ESTA (Emergency Services and Telecommunications Authority). Of major concern, however, is that the original numbering has been changed. The old (original) numbering is still in use in a number of available publications, including two of our own books and in the very popular Lerderderg and Werribee Gorges Meridian map. Walkers using our guides and the Meridian map must not confuse the original numbering with the new numbering.

Please download the following PDF which spells out all of the changes and even includes the Emergency Markers GPS co-ordinates: