Strathbogie Surprise : October 7

On Sunday Oct 7th, nine walkers participated in my Strathbogies Surprise. The first surprise was that everyone who was due to meet at Rotary Park by 8am was on time, despite daylight saving beginning. Would the loss of an hour’s sleep play havoc with this group? Only time would tell, with the estimated 14km hike on good dirt roads and four wheel drive tracks.

Two cars left Wangaratta, and Cecily who was driving all of the ladies, went via Warby Range Road to collect Anne. This is all part of the new pickup from your door courtesy service being offered by the club. I continued to drive the blokes to Benalla, where we were meeting Rob, and new casual member Deb, a friend of Anne’s.

This was Rob’s first walk with the club since the Mount Buller weekend early in the year. On that occasion Rob tried to get his ankle to perform feats that require double joints, youthful agility and the flexibility that only a circus performer possesses.

We reached the start of the walk, which commenced at the junction of Golden Mountain Track and Ferrari Link Track. Any keen eye would observe that the Strathbogies is not the place for your Ferrari. We were underway a little after 10am and heading towards Mount Strathbogie.

This was part of the surprise as Jeanette and I had not yet checked this component of the walk. Like me, do you ever wonder how the names of roads and tracks originate? I thought more about this after leading the group along Harpers Number 4 Track, when we should have been on Harpers Number 3 Track. Surprise! This slight detour added a kilometre to our hike.

Fortunately Harpers Number Two and One tracks were not on our list of things to do. Now I am not sure who Harper was, but someone here is a little too greedy for my liking, or lacking in imagination.

The correct track to Mount Strathbogie was welcomed in more ways than one, as this was the chosen place for morning tea. Although we were at an elevation of about 1045m the views were obscured by the surrounding trees. After consuming something scrumptious, and failing to keep Andy in a strong hold box, we all headed towards Golden Mountain for lunch.

The Strathbogies have some interesting history. Some of which follows. Gold was found in the early 1850’s at Hells Hole Creek, and there was a gold rush in 1860 which lasted about two years. The largest hand cut crystal in the world was mined here – the “Crystal King” at 1.7kg. There are still two mines in operation.

The amount of birds was most noticeable in the forest, and they could be heard all along our hike. The absence of huge numbers of rev heads; I mean four wheel drivers and dirt bikers, was also most noticeable. Thank you Bathurst.

This next section of walking was some of the most demanding to face the group. From Clear Creek Track we could see the ridge to where we needed to be, and it looked rather daunting as we continued to descend rather than climb.

From the top of Mount Strathbogie we descended down to about 850m, and then climbed up to about 1020m at Golden Mountain. The last few metres along Golden Mountain Track were especially steep, and I do believe I witnessed Pat on all fours as she approached the summit.

Here the views on such a clear day were marvellous. It was apparent that all of the daylight saved during winter was used to fine effect at this moment, with clear views well into the horizon. Lake Eildon, and a number of inlets, could be clearly seen.

After absorbing the views, devouring lunch, and partaking in a customary group photo opportunity, it was time to continue. Andy chose the short cut, straight down the other side of the mountain, to the cars less than a kilometre away.

The rest of the group persisted down the other side of Golden Mountain Track towards Hells Hole. Small creeks were still flowing, despite little rainfall over winter. The roads we were walking on had all become considerably dry, and hard, over the past weeks.

During our walk we were fortunate to have the ever informative Trevor, who was able to decipher animal marks on trees and unusual markings on the dirt roads (deer, kangaroo, snake, goanna or yowie – at times it was difficult to tell even for him).

This section of the walk took us to our lowest point at about 750 metres. On arrival at Hells Hole we caught our collective breaths, and read some of the information board facts about this area and Dry Creek.

The cars were just twenty minutes away, with a slight incline ahead of us. Faster than you could say Strathbodgie (not a spelling error for those who were issued a map) and we were soon welcoming Pat’s afternoon tea as accustomed, but presented proficiently by Andy.

The total walk, according to my GPS, ended up being 16.4km, completed in 5 hours and 20 minutes. SURPRISE!

Michael Braendler

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