Category Archives: Bushwalking


So it looks like I only manage to write something on my blog when it’s in the form of a list of disjointed items… Rather than doing that, however, I think this time I’ll write a series of shorter, separate items instead.

Gresswell Forest: early in February I participated in a guided tour of the Gresswell Forest Nature Conservation Reserve, in Watsonia; this was part of the Sustainability Festival that happened in and around Melbourne during that month; the guided tour was very interesting, and the guide made a point of stressing how much work they need to do to try to prevent invasive species (of animals and plants) from taking over; they have lots of problems with regular garden herbs (mint, oregano, rosemary etc.) coming into the reserve with the rain water, and while the fences manage to keep most dogs out, cats are much harder to control.

We also had some close encounters with the local population of kangaroos, including a mommy-kangaroo with the joey in the bag. See photos below (click for larger versions):

Bushwalking – Dandenong Ranges’ Western Trail

Last weekend I decided to “go for a walk” in the Dandenong Ranges; after studying the map for a while I decided to follow the Western Trail, which connects the Mount Dandenong Observatory to the Upper Ferntree Gully picnic grounds. This decision was based mostly on the fact that there is public transport within easy reach from both ends of the trail…

The Western Trail is a “notional” trail… you won’t actually find any signs using this name anywhere in the park. It is just a series of connecting tracks and roads that, properly followed, will take you from one end to the other (there are a few signposts with large “W” signs and arrows, but not enough that one would be able to use them as a guide) through a scenic and enjoyable path — not necessarily the most direct one.

I started by taking the train from the city to Croydon, then a bus to Mount Dandenong (line 688, Croydon to Olinda via Ridge Road). The bus dropped me by the track that leads up to the observatory; it’s a 1.5km walk, heading mostly up, through the Kyeema Track (named after the DC-2 “Kyeema” plane that crashed there almost exactly 70 years ago, on 25/10/1938). I stayed on the top for some 15 minutes, then headed back the way I came, following the same track back to the starting point and continuing south following the signs to Burke’s Lookout, then continuing on the same track after the lookout. That connects to Zig-Zag Track (so named for reasons that will be obvious to anyone following it) near a TV transmitter, and then to Channel 10 Track, which soon after becomes Dandenong Creek Track. This will take you through a very “ferny” area, humid and dark in places, a bit slippery in others and heading very steeply down in many others. If it has rained recently, use shoes with a good grip.

Track junctions and connections are not usually signed, nor is it always all that obvious which way to go; a map is required, a compass helps a lot and a GPS receiver helps even more… I suggest picking up the “Walking and Driving Tracks” map at the Observatory, although if you’re planning on doing this walk you should have it already by the time you get there.

Dandenong Creek Track ends in a T-junction with Basin-Olinda Road, and at this point it’s not clear what is the right way to go; the map indicates that one should simply cross the road and continue straight ahead, but there is no obvious track there. There is a narrow track starting to the right of one of those “W” signposts, and that is what I followed, but I’m not sure it was the right thing to do: the map shows the correct track connecting to School Track at Range Road, and the one I took did not. I ended up diverging from the map indication at this point by following Range Road west to Bradley Track (there is no sign there; it’s the last track on the left before you hit a gate), following it to the end (careful at the junction with Basin-Olinda Road, you need to stay on the track and not take the road) and rejoining the Trail further south at Old Coach Road, a bit to the west from what is shown on the map. Old Coach Road is identified as Horse Trail on signs at this point; they change to Old Coach Road further down, where it widens and is open to traffic (not that you’re likely to see any cars, mind you).

From this point on the track is a bit simpler: from Old Coach Road you turn left at Ferndale Road (ignore the sign saying “Road Closed”), which ends at the Mountain Highway; follow the highway to the east for about 100m as it turns south, then cross it (carefully!) to follow Alpine Road to the south; it’s the first junction on that side of the road and it’s not open to cars. Follow Alpine Road all the way to Janesdell Ave. (no sign there either; it’s a sharp turn to the right in a place where you can’t continue ahead; it doesn’t look like an avenue at all, it’s just a track), then follow that all the way to Mt Erin Road and that will lead you naturally to the One Tree Hill picnic grounds, which is a good place for a long rest considering that in the last few kilometres you climbed almost two hundred metres. After that you will head down Kokoda Memorial Trail (follow the signs, it’s easy to find) and simply follow the track to the train station.

A full map of the trail I followed is here; you will notice a few places where I went back the way I came, or even did a full circle back to an earlier location, and all that was caused by the lack of signs on the tracks. It seems to me that this trail may be a bit easier to follow if you start from the south, as the signs are better if you’re going that way and you’re less likely to get lost. However, that involves starting with the Thousand Steps up to One Tree Hill, which will get you tired right away, and ending with a very steep ascent up Mount Dandenong at a time when you will definitely be tired…

Bushwalking – Sherbrooke Forest

This weekend I went for a walk in the Sherbrooke Forest, part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. I followed a track described in the book 150 Walks in Victoria, by Tyrone Thomas and Andrew Close, and everything went fairly well.

To get to the track, I took the train to Belgrave and, from the station, walked approximately 1km (uphill) on Old Monbulk Road to the gates of the park. From there, I followed the trail in a clockwise direction, first north up to Grant’s Picnic Grounds (close to Monbulk Rd and “infested” with cockatoos trying to get food from the families eating there), then approximately south-east on Lyrebird Walk, continuing south on Neumann Track then south, and later west, on Paddy’s Track leading to an apparently unnamed track going west from a clearing known as Jack the Miners back to the starting point. A map of this path is here, including some pictures I took on the way (more pictures at my Flickr page).

The length of the path is around 6.3km, with some significant vertical movement as well; the first leg of the track leads steadily up, while the southward leg goes a bit up and then steeply down. The final few hundred metres go steeply up and reduced my average speed significantly…

This was also the first “field test” of the GPS unit I bought (and mentioned here), a Magellan eXplorist 400. It did very well (as the map linked to above shows), but I did find a few things out:

  • the “trip odometer”, which should tell me how far I’ve moved, is either very inaccurate or using the wrong units; at the end of the track it was showing “4.0km”, while the recorded route was actually 6.31km long (which equals 3.92 miles…); this is definitely not good
  • when you turn the device on, it takes around 60 seconds to lock to the satellites and get your initial position; that’s normal and more or less unavoidable because of the way the satellites transmit data; however, if you are moving — however slowly —, it seems the device won’t reliably find the satellites after any amount of time; this is not very good, but I can live with that (after it finds your initial position, it can be moved with no problems; also, being inside a backpack is not a problem)
  • it won’t find the satellites from inside a train; I’m honestly curious about how it will perform inside a car
  • marking positions is a very easy and quick process, but “typing” using that on-screen keyboard and mini-joystick is a pain