Daylesford Weekend : Sept 2019

On the weekend of Friday Sept 13 to Sunday Sept 15th twenty Warby Walkers booked for a weekend of walks in the Daylesford region. The club’s motto might be fun, fitness and friendship, but it’s more like fantabulous frivolities and foolishness. To the suggestion of what happens on a weekend walk stays on a weekend walk, I say read on.

Most of the group arrived during Friday afternoon. Passengers in our car took advantage of this, and visited some tourist attractions – the Chocolate Factory, Overwrought Garden Art Gallery and the Stony Creek Art Gallery. This art gallery offers a complimentary glass of bubbles as you peruse the arts works. Jeanette doesn’t need to be asked twice. In fact, Jeanette will do almost anything for a glass of bubbles that I am going to change my name to Michael Bubbles. Not to be confused with the crooner Michael Bublé.

Accommodation for the majority of walkers was at the Daylesford Holiday Park. Grey and Jenny’s alternative choice however, had a number of group members intrigued. From my understanding it may have been somewhere between an animal barn, and how your great, great, great grandparents lived in the 1800’s.

There was one major incident during the weekend. Apparently, Adrian was having some trouble operating the holiday park’s automated gate entrance. An unknown vehicle approached from behind and drove up uncomfortably close to Adrian’s car, and then blasted their car horn. Well Adrian got out of his car, more flustered than ever and a deep shade of burnt purple. Helen too got out of their car, rather red faced – fire engine red. Both were determined to give this inconsiderate driver a piece of their minds only to find that it was fellow Warby Walker and general all round sh*t stirrer, Bob. This event is now known as the “Daylesford Boom-Gate incident of 2019”.

The main walk of the weekend, Saturday’s Lost Children’s Walk retraces what is believed to be the fateful steps of three young children in 1867. Aged only 4, 5 & 6 they perished in the surrounding bush. The walk begins at a commemorative reserve for the children near the Mill Market.

The first few hundred metres is along town road, but then quickly descends to the start of the bush track. This first section, also part of the Great Dividing Trail, is in the Hepburn Regional Park. This area was once home to active goldfields, and remnants of gold mines, water races and tramways can still be seen today.

Most of the park supports a fairly open box, peppermint and stringybark eucalypt forest. The damper southern areas carry a taller forest of Messmate, Candlebarks and Manna gums (thankyou Parknotes). The main creek we were following was the Sailors Creek. The surrounding bush has wattle, and there was the early arrival of a couple of native spring wildflowers for those who were looking closely enough. Several Crimson Rosellas were amongst the variety of birds observed.

Today’s weather could not be more perfect for bush walking, and we had morning tea at a large clearing. The group proceeded on towards Sailors Falls, which was a last-minute inclusion from the briefing the night before. A fact-check from Ann B – apparently at this briefing I mentioned there were bridges (plural) for the creek crossings. This ended up being incorrect. So, our walk had several minor, I repeat, minor, water crossings to be navigated. One of which Irene involuntarily tested the aquatic features of with?? her socks and shoes.

Picturesque Sailors Falls was a deserving spot for lunch, with picnic tables, shelters and toilets. Previous rainfall had been enough to permit a suitable amount of water cascading over the edge to a drop of about 20m. This was the exit point for Jenny, who had completed a pleasant 8km section of the walk.

After safely crossing the road, we proceeded along a lane, which led us to the 70,000-hectare Wombat State Forest for the second half of this walk. The forest was heavily logged during the mid 1800’s gold rush period, and in 1871 it was established as a state forest.

There were a number of steep sections, that were most unexpected. Everything looks nice and easy on a map with no contours! Fortunately, a family size pack of juicy snakes were more than enough encouragement for the two steepest sections.

Helen, who is practicing for her Three Capes Walk with Adrian, had that fire engine red in her cheeks appear again.

This was then made worse when she lost the crown of her tooth due to a snake bite (think about it).

Up till this point our trail in the Wombat State Forest was on vehicle tracks, many which had been turned into deep ruts from tyres during obvious muddy conditions. The final section, a slight descent towards the cars, was along a serene bush trail, which was a most fitting conclusion to todays walk. A final offering of another snake for everyone not getting lost was appreciated before returning by our cars. The distance for the day was approximately 16.5kms.

Afternoon tea was taken at the Mill Market. A cozy coffee shop is located here; at what is a huge undercover shed full of collectables that no one in their right mind should be collecting. Bob however, might rue his missed opportunity at not purchasing a gift for Judy. The distinctive stuffed foxed sporting a pair of sunnies, was a sure dinner conversation starter. The Mill Market proved the greatest geographical challenge for the day as husbands first searched for wives, who in turn searched for husbands, who then decided to search for the nearest exit.

Most of the group met around 6pm for drinks and to admire Bob’s wonderfully warm fire in the lodge. It was here that we welcomed Glenda, who had driven this afternoon to join us, after having watched her grandson win their footy grand final. Saturday evening dinner was at the Daylesford Hotel, where numerous exploits were no doubt shared.

Sunday’s morning walks began from Lake Daylesford, with walkers choosing the Tipperary Walk. Adrian was quick with his grandpa joke of ‘it’s a long way to Tipperary’. In fact, it would be about 7km return. Rainfall during the night made the track muddy and slippery in places, and sure footing was the order of the morning. The trail following alongside Wombat Creek was a delightful experience, and some great views were presented. As we marched down towards the picnic area, I assisted the mood with a rendition of “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” courtesy of my phone.

Morning tea was taken at this delightful setting. As we departed, we encountered another walking group from Melbourne who were on their way to Bryces Flat, the next continuing section of walking trail in this area.
Our return to Lake Daylesford was on the other side of the creek over a sturdy bridge, which suitably impressed Ann B.

We approached the lake near lunchtime, and group members made individual plans. Some chose a walk around the lake, and we could see Glenda, Cheryl and Irene on the far side of the lake taking their lunch break. One would assume with bubbles in hand. My group chose lunch near the boathouse, where we could watch who would prevail over lunch crumbs between the ducks, coots and moorhens.

During the weekend, sampling the water from numerous mineral springs was given several descriptions, from pleasant to palatable to putrid. Personally, I prefer mine with a dash of lemon & lime juice.

The final walking destination was some 40 minutes away at Hanging Rock – a walk that is less than 2kms, but for some mysterious reason it takes well over an hour. Even arriving at Hanging Rock from Daylesford proved baffling for some as Trevor and Anne took the more scenic route as directed by their GPS. Love technology.

There were now eight of us who began our adventure in the café while waiting for a passing shower. A leisurely stroll along a sealed walking track enabled good views of the former volcano. It is located 718m above sea level, but a little over 100m above the surrounding plain. The estimated age is 6.25 million years and its mountain type are known as Mamelon (thanks Wikipedia).

Whilst at the summit of Hanging Rock assembling everyone for a group photo was impossible. When I thought I had everyone assembled someone would disappear. First it was “Where’s Brigette?” I would locate her and then Greg was gone? Anne T was just here a moment ago. Trevor? Jeanette? Damn. Marita, where are you? Marita? MARITAAAAAA?

Trevor was the most adventurous of the group, scaling a large and slightly dangerous rock, and standing high and mighty upon it after his conquest. I couldn’t hear well enough to tell if he was shouting, “I’m king of the world” or “I must have rocks in my head”. Our descent was via “the stairs” which enables you to pass under the “hanging rock”. We were fortunate to get down, and on our way home before the more heavily forecast rain.

Someone in the group pointed out that the weekend walks had a general uniting theme – The Lost Children’s Walk, followed by Hanging Rock and the mayhem of the Mill Market. Yes, this was not a weekend for the “geographically challenged” or as the Welsh say “wedi’i herio’n ddaearyddol”. And we know that being geographically challenged in Wales is the least of their worries. Have you seen their language? When they play the game of letters and numbers it goes something like this. “I’ll have eight consonants please, and give us a vowel for a bit of fun, although I won’t be using it”.

Thanks to everyone who participated on the first of my weekend walks.

Michael Braendler
(arweinydd teithiau cerdded)

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