Weekend of walks, Bright : March 12-14

The weekend of March 12th to 14th enabled walkers to participate in a weekend at Bright, staying at Camp Crusty. The planned walks involved the serene Wandiligong Walk, the suitably titled Canyon Walk, the questionably named Cherry Walk, and the moderate ascent to Apex Lookout. The following account of the weekend may include alternative facts.

Friday was the usual arrival at various times, followed by happy hour drinks in the evening. Accommodation ranged from members staying in cabins, camper trailers or, in the case of Anne and Trevor, a mobile Taj Mahal (which some call a Winnebago).

Liz, however, did say, “I am not sleeping in that” and phoned a friend in town for a more suitable night’s sleep. New member Jane made herself popular by providing a fire pit for members to congregate, and chinwag around. Rob promised (or was possibly nominated) to provide a cooked breakfast in the morning, and soon it was off to bed for everyone.

Learning that Rob doesn’t keep his promises, it was a cold bowl of cereal for myself and Jeanette, before the group gathered for Saturday’s walk. The club welcomed two new members on this occasion, Jane and John. Today’s walk was possibly the latest start the club has ever endured, assembling at 10am, and then departing some fifteen minutes later. Jeanette would be leading the 23 walkers to Wandiligong, a walk which began on the doorstep of the caravan park.

It was a sunny day, with a temperature of about 28 degrees, however, as we would learn the increasing humidity made things a little uncomfortable. The walk along Morse’s Creek is beautiful, with surrounding native bush complimenting numerous water holes. The gentle pace of the group made for the latest morning tea ever, at about 11.30 in the Alpine Park at Wandi. This was possibly due to the fact that Peter was reminiscing about his favourite fishing spots along the way, and Trevor was constantly on the lookout for lunch.

After some welcomed refreshments, we departed. The group headed towards the Chinese Swing Bridge, where some practised our translation skills. From here we walked a little further before passing a historic digging, and then making a final short ascent to the Wandi Pub. A leisurely appetising lunch was appreciated by all. We proceeded to head back, this time following the main road, so that parts of the historic town walk could be included.

A brief stop at a craft gallery then saw the group separate somewhat. A little reminiscent of a group of brown cows heading in different directions. Rather than do the return walk, Helen and Ellen decided to wait at the Park to be picked up later. On this occasion, their knight in shining armour was not on a white stallion, but in a shiny white Subaru, and named Murray. All ended well, and the 10.5km hike and lunch was completed in five hours.

The Saturday night BBQ was held outdoors at the nearby sports ground where fun, fellowship and frivolities were undertaken. Although known as the Warby Range Bush Walking Club, there is a new sub-branch that many may be unaware of. Called the Hippies, its membership is limited to those walkers who have undergone hip replacements which has enabled them a new lease of walking life. Rod and Karen are among an ever-increasing membership, that may soon rival the general club population. As the sun began to set, a few drops of rain began to fall, and it was soon time for all to retire for the evening. This time there was no talk of a cooked breakfast in the morning.

During the night around 10pm, and oblivious to most, was the sound of a large tree branch crashing to the ground. I had trouble escaping from our cabin fast enough to investigate, as the interior lock proved child proof. My own car was near the fallen branch, and as Maxwell Smart would have said, “missed it by that much”. Next morning a fellow camper was heard to suggest to another camper – “it must’ve been a bloody heavy possum”.

Sunday morning’s assembly began 9am at Howitt Park, in town, next to the river. Anne led 16 remaining walkers on the Canyon Walk in cool, but sunny conditions. From our starting point, this trail passed all of the fun water activities for children towards the Star Bridge. From the bridge, the paved trail now evolved into the beginning of a walking track that gently meandered up and down through the canyon. Numerous water races were observed cut into the rock along the way, as we followed the river on our right-hand side. At times the walls of the canyon were quite some metres above the river that only the bravest of Tarzans would dive from.

The majority of the group continued a little further, to reach the Porepunkah rail trail bridge for views over the river. Whilst on the bridge more playful members (Sandra and Sonia), became a small cheer squad for local bike riders and runners, offering what you might call half-hearted encouragement.

Re-joining the other walkers, it was time to cross the swing bridge, and complete the return walk back to Howitt Park. One section of the track led us right down to the river’s edge, and it was obvious this was a popular spot for all visitors about today. From here the group once again did its best impersonation of brown cows, but somehow, as before, did all eventually end up at the original starting point.

It was 11.30pm before we commenced the Cherry Walk. Why is it called the Cherry Walk? Nothing to do with cherries as we discovered, but named after a local family that lived nearby. I am surprised we don’t have any walks named the Blackberry Walk. But then there couldn’t be just one.

This walk also followed the river closely, but without much deviation in elevation. We crossed the river shortly after commencing the walk to be walking on the northern side of the trail. The early morning chill had disappeared, and the blue skies and sunshine were most welcome. They were also welcomed by a red belly black snake, which half of the group ahead of me had passed only moments earlier. The tail-end walkers took some opportune photos of the snake, before continuing on to catch up to the first part of the group.

From this point we soon reached another bridge, to take us to the other side of the river, which would lead us back. As with the Canyon Walk, there are numerous story boards up for the inquisitive to read. Rob and Trevor were more interested in the no camping areas which they agreed would make great free overnight parking areas for their caravan or mobile Taj Mahal (which some call a Winnebago).

After a pleasant walk of some 3km we reached Howitt Park again. It was decided we would have lunch here before proceeding to the Apex Lookout. For this final walk of the weekend, we were down to seven participating walkers. However, what we lacked in sheer quantity, was made up for in superb quality. The Magnificent Seven.

Apex Lookout begins with a short drive along Mount Porepunkah Road to Quins Gap. Pat found navigating the deep ruts of the unsealed parking area problematic, but we would check for missing mufflers, punctured petrol tanks and dented undercarriage on our return.

Apex Lookout is a steady climb for most of the way. Through the trees at various points worthy views of Bright, and neighbouring forest plantations could be observed. Upon reaching the top we were rewarded with fantastic views of Mount Feathertop and Mount Bogong, with distant clear blue skies as their backdrop.

This return walk of 3km long, for which 1.5 hours is generally allowed, took us about an hour to reach the summit, and twenty minutes to return, while still enjoying a suitable break at the top. With the final walk concluded, it was time for this group of walkers to bid farewell.

The weekend walks at Bright were generally easy, and the complimentary weather during the days made it one of the most enjoyable weekends away. Thanks to Anne for her organising of the weekend, and to all who came and participated.

Michael Braendler

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