If you’re not a Melburnian, or at least familiar with the place, receiving instructions to “meet up at Docklands – Cow Up A Tree” could lead to some understandable confusion. But it’s pretty straight forward. We were to meet where there’s a cow up a tree.
Ta-da! “Cow Up A Tree”
It was looking a bit touch and go in the lead-up to this ride. Not for the cow – it’s been stuck up there for years. Rather it was the weather forecast that was looking decidedly iffy, and it didn’t improve as the scheduled time drew closer. Given the bay-side location of our destination – Williamstown – concerns about storm surges were quite valid if the weather were to turn ugly.
Satelite photo forecasting bad weather for our ride, via Victorian Storm Chasers
Thankfully the weather dawned clear and not too cold, though it was a bit breezy in places. Nothing to stop the ride going ahead, so it was off to the rendezvous point.
A fine, if cool, morning – perfect for a ride.
Approaching corner of Latrobe St & Harbour Esplanade
Riding our Bromptons along Swanston Street, mid Sunday morning
The glow of a yellow high-vis top waiting up ahead made me think we weren’t the first ones there – and indeed, we were not, but as I pulled up I realised that although the cyclists were waiting for us, they weren’t on Bromptons themselves. What’s more, there turned out to be a whole group of riders waiting for the Melbourne Brompton Club to turn up!
Cyclists gathering at Cow Up A Tree
As it turned, out riders with the Go Cycling Melbourne group had come to ride to Williamstown with us. Escorts or windbreaks? Take your pick! (as someone quipped). Either way, our group of five had just grown to 13! Six Bromptons, a mountain bike, an e-touring bike, and road bikes made up our motley crew for today’s ride. Fluro tops were trending, but on the whole our clothing was as assorted as our bikes. Once introductions had been made we were finally underway!
Getting ready for the ride at Cow Up A Tree
Mixing it up – Melbourne Brompton Club meet Go Cycling group
Once we left Docklands and crossed over Railway Canal, Stephen and I were breaking new ground on this ride. It was probably a familiar route for the others. We’ve certainly seen plenty of riders take this path before, and no wonder it’s popular. The design is very good; no tangling with traffic, no being left to wait for traffic lights without a button to press to ask them to change for you.
We’re underway, and doing well so far
We’re underway, and doing well so far
The path follows Whitehall Street
Passing under the West Gate freeway
The wind was coming directly at us for most of it, but that couldn’t be helped. At least it wasn’t raining! Given the forecast, the weather was certainly cooperating very nicely! There are long stretches of flat straight road, and a few small rises, but on the whole it’s a pretty comfortably ride especially once you reach Stony Creek Reserve – from there you follow the waterfront right around to the main street of Williamstown.
Approaching the mouth of the Yarra River
Passing the easily recognisable stack at the refinery
There were a few people fishing along here too
We’re getting close now!
Williamstown didn’t seem quite as packed today as it has on previous occasions we’ve visited. (Maybe that’s because we weren’t looking for a carpark this time…) After another re-group we headed down to Gem Pier and the shelter of the HMAS Castlemaine. I have to say it made a pretty good wind-break – pity it isn’t particularly portable. I was already feeling the start of windburn on my face.
Approaching Gem Pier, HMAS Castlemaine is docked on the left – Williamstown
Melbourne Brompton Club and Go Cycling Melbourne gather next to HMAS Castlemaine on Gem Pier
We’ve all made it! Time for a photo then off for a hot cup of something
The Williamstown riders – photo by Cory (@baudman)
By now it was definitely time to choose a cafe that could accommodate our group and enjoy a nice warn beverage. I’m not much of a coffee drinker; a hot chocolate is my preferred brew in the cooler months! Despite the heart-sinkingly long queue inside we didn’t end up waiting too long for our orders – just long enough to chat to a passer-by who stopped to ask about our bikes. They are pretty striking, especially in a group.
Bromptons are just so neat! Cafe Cirino was a good place to stop for brunch – Melbourne Brompton Club & Go Cycling Melbourne
With everyone fed and watered, we stood up to leave just in time to surrendered our places to a motorcycle group who had just parked their rides across the street. Another audience to impress with the convenience of the Brompton design, though I’m not sure we have any converts from their mob.
Departing Williamstown the wind was once again in our faces and riding along the foreshore was a slog. Conditions improved as we neared Newport Park and continued into Riverside Park where there are a few more trees beside the track.
Opposite the old Pumping Station behind Science Works is the Spotswood Jetty where the Westgate Punt collects passengers who wish to cross the Yarra River to Port Melbourne. Stanley, Elsie, Stephen and I bid farewell to the other riders here as we’d decided to take the shorter (and easier) route back to Docklands. Cory farewelled us from the jetty, but didn’t cross the river as it would have been the longer way home for him.
We passed the Pumping Station – also a location for one of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV shows in the first series
There’s plenty on room onboard for bikes and pedestrians
And then there was one – via Cory (@baudman)
In a somewhat surprising move, the punt operator offered me the wheel. I thought it was for maybe a minute or two – time enough to get a photo – but he didn’t move me on so I got to steer the punt the whole way across (it’s not that far). Docking was a different story – quite understandably so, though I was happy to give it a shot!
Dayna piloting The Westgate Punt across the Yarra River (photo by Stanley Tan)
Returning to Docklands once on the other side is as easy as turning left and following Lorimer Street all the way back to Webb Bridge, though we did take the water side path in front of South Wharf Drive. The gardens along here are really quite lovely. (Thanks to a shower of rain that came through then I don’t have any photos of this section though.) As we came off Webb Bridge and turned onto Harbour Esplanade, who should we see approaching but the Go Cycling Melbourne group who we left at Spotswood Jetty! We weren’t quite back at Cow Up A Tree, but this was where the riders truly spilt up, after a really enjoyable day’s ride – to try to beat the rain home!
Back on firm groud, it’s straight up Lorimer St to get back to the city
The Punt departing Port Melbourne jetty to cross the Yarra Rover to return to the Spotswood jetty
There wasn’t much traffic around, and the tree-lined street made a pleasant ride
The plan was to meet at Green Park (near Velo, Carlton North) at 8am on Sunday, 3 May 2015, for a group ride into and around Melbourne/Southbank/Docklands.
After an initial wince at the thought of an 8am start, I told myself it wouldn’t be any worse than a usual workday, and to grow a spine. But honestly, Stephen and I have been really looking forward to this ride, so there weren’t any grumbles when the alarm when off this morning – I even got an extra half an hour’s sleep compared to a weekday!
The ride started conveniently close to where we live, so we rode to the meeting point and found Stanley and Elsie waiting for us.
Meeting Stanley (left) and Elsie (centre) at the meeting point. Stephen is in blue on the right.
Our ‘maybes’ for the ride didn’t turn up, so with just the four of us making up the group and the whole day pretty much at our disposal, it was decided to follow the Capital City Trail (the bike path we were on – which used to be Melbourne’s Inner Circle Railway Line) west towards Royal Park where it skirts around Melbourne Zoo.
Heading off – rail trails make for a pretty cruisey ride
Crossing over the tracks at Royal Park Station, Capital City Trail then crosses Poplar Road within about 20 metres to continue following the railway line along to Flemington Bridge Station.
Shortly after crossing the tracks at Royal Park Station, Capital City Trail crosses Poplar Road
A beautiful morning for a ride!
I lingered to enjoy the moment, though railway tracks aren’t usually my thing
Heading towards Flemington Bridge Station
Regrouping means a chance for a photo at Flemington Bridge Station
Here the cycle path does a sharp zigzag and drops down to street level. Capital Trail continues along beside Railway Canal, providing views of Citylink, old bridges and wildlife that the traffic rushing overhead won’t get to enjoy. Or possibly even suspect is there.
In addition to the very common Pacific Black Ducks and Australian Wood Ducks, I’m sure I saw some Chestnut Teals a pair of Black Swans, a few Great Egret’s last week, a pair of Purple Swamp Hens this week. Eurasian Coots are also fairly common. And they were just the obvious species! I’d love to take a pair of binoculars and stop around Royal Park to try to identify more of the passerines (perching birds) heard as we cycled by.
Following Railway Canal under Citylink, we get to see plenty that motorists miss
Better weather means more cyclists on the trail
Black Swans in Railway Canal along the Capital City Trail
I enjoy riding under here, seeing the ‘bones’ of the infrastructure
The wheel is in sight – means we’re getting closer to Docklands
By the time we reached the intersection where Capital City Trail crosses Footscray Road we had been joined by quite a number of other cyclists. The previous weekend when Stephen and I had come this way we’d had it all to ourselves! I admit, both the rain and the fact that it was ANZAC day may have had something to do with that… Today, on the other hand, was a great day for riding.
We’ve got quite a crowd with us now
After a quick photo with the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (still working!) we headed around to the pier.
Bromptons of the inaugural ride in front of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Naturally we couldn’t pass up a photo at the pier. Or with the colourful buildings and strange – or should I say, ‘artistic’ – mountain-things around us.
Stephen and I with Bromptons and Docklands
Elsie and Stanley with Bromptons at Docklands
Where would we be without accessories? And front bags are fantastic
Both Elsie and Stanley have some snazzie accessories and stickers on thier bikes
Bromptons with artwork in front of buildings at Docklands – all very colourful (photo by Elsie)
Not much further along Elsie spotted a bike. Well, a bike-shaped bike rack, to be precise, so naturally that called for another photo. I was quite enjoying this ‘see and stop’ style of riding. The guys came back to check we were ok; reassured all was fine (our respective partners understand and have learnt to cope with our frequent stopping for a photo habits, it would seem) we set off again.
A bike-shaped bike rack. Neat!
Leaving Docklands, we used the lovely Jim Stynes Bridge to connect with the distinctive Seafarers Bridge, where we crossed the Yarra River.
One from the front, just for a change
Crossing the Seafarers Bridge toward the Melbourne Convention Centre
Crossing the Seafarers Bridge
Thoughtful, elegant, practical, stylish… and the bridge is ok too!
We’re smiling in anticipation of breakfast, I think
We stopped for breakfast at the shed across the walkway in the photo
Although Stephen and I had eaten a light breakfast before setting off this morning, it turned out that Stanley and Elsie hadn’t eaten at all, so we stopped at The Boatbuilders Yard, right next to the Polly Woodside for breakfast. It seems to be a popular stop for cyclists and pedestrians. I was pretty happy with my toast; finally – somewhere that gives you sweet and savoury spreads!
Enjoying breakfast at The Boatbuilders Yard
Making our way up Southbank after breakfast was fun. There weren’t crowds of people (yet) so even though we were riding at a considerately slow pace, we could enjoy the plane trees, whose leaves are turning colour and falling at the moment, the artworks and easy ride along the smooth dark pavers.
Reflections of Bromptons
Riding outside the Melbourne Exhibition Centre
Riding along the smooth, shady river side walk of Southbank
Not having to negotiate crowds was a relief
Handlebar view of Southbank
We crossed the Yarra River again at Sandridge Bridge, continued under Princes Bridge (St Kilda Road), then road back up to the main street level using Princes Walk, after briefly stopping to greet some quite large, but very lovely, fluffy dogs (a Malamute and an Akita) and their owner.
Crossing Sandridge Bridge back to the north bank of the Yarra River
Flinders Street Station is very distinctive – whatever the angle of your approach
Autumn leaves provide plenty of colour to the city
Outside the Transport Hotel, Federation Square
This close to Flinders Station, it would have been ridiculous to pass up the opportunity to stop for a photo beneath the clocks at the main entrance. Lucky it wasn’t peak hour – it was hard enough getting a clear shot as it was!
Melbourne Brompton Club at one of Melbourne’s best-known icons – Flinders Street Station (photo by Stephen Powell)
From here we were more or less on the homeward leg… with a small diversion to the Queen Victoria Markets. Setting off along Swanson Street, I was incredibly thankful for the bike lane. City riding is tricky enough at the best of times, what with trams, horse and carriages (for tourists), and – worst of all – pedestrians!
Riding along Swanston Street
But we made it through; all intact and without incident, only to be laughed at – laughed at!! – by some bloke at the QV Markets when he saw me and my Brompton! That’s not the usual reaction I’ve had to-date, and my first thought was ‘Wait until you see there are three more following me!’ but he reportedly laughed at the sight of the rest of them, too! I’m not sure what he found so mirthful. Maybe we took him by surprise? Maybe he was delighted? I have to agree with Elsie, though – he did seem to be a bear-ish kind of a bloke.
Laughing bear-like men aside, we’d reached the donut van. Stanley and Elsie declined, but Stephen and I treated ourselves to a bag (shared) of piping hot, jam donuts. Oooh what a treat!
Stanley posing in front of the doughnut van – Queen Victoria Market
The MELBOURNE sign is very near the donut van, in the middle of the market. It would have been nice to have a fifth Brompton along for ideal spacing, but… maybe next time. Stanley’s shared a great panoramic photo of the bike from today on the club’s Facebook page.
Bromptons in front of the Melbourne sign at Queen Victoria Market
Leaving the market, we rode one block up Elizabeth Street, then followed the green bike lane along Queensberry Street to the Carlton Gardens. Yep, you guessed it. Another group photo! This time in front of the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.
Bromptons in a line before the Melbourne Museum (left) and Royal Exhibition Building (right)
These bikes are so much more appealing than the RACV share bikes…. but I suppose there are many good reasons for that!
The Carlton Gardens are one of my favourite places in Melbourne. Maybe because they’re so familiar – I walk through them each weekday and see the changes in every season. It could be that Melbourne gardens are just lovely. Riding your bike through the gardens is not allowed though, so we set off along the shared footpath on Rathdowne Street, then rode down the (slightly) steep and leafy Barkly Street to meet up with Canning Street, which would take us all the way back to Green Park and our starting point.
The leafy Barkly Street leads to Canning Street
I believe we all enjoyed today’s ride. We were out for about 4 hours, but that included a lengthy breakfast stop, numerous photo stops and a riding pace that I would describe (overall) as ‘unhurried’. Estimated distance travelled was 18km (~11 miles).
I hope the success of this first ride bodes well for many future rides.
A challenging hike for walkers unused to much rock scrambling, and not one I’d recommend in wet or hot weather, but good views and a real sense of accomplishment at the finish make this a worthwhile day hike.
Start/Finish: Jawbone Car Park, Cathedral Range State Park Distance: Approx 9km Time: Approx 4h 50m (included a 20min lunch break). Moving time was 2h 30m. Difficulty: Hard
Melbourne Cup weekend provides a fantastic opportunity (for those of us living in Victoria) to enjoy a 4 day weekend late in the year. Since no one else in my team at work was taking the day off, it fell to me to uphold this time-honoured tradition. Ignoring anything and everything to do with the spring racing carnival, Stephen and I followed our own tradition and decided to go for a walk somewhere away from the maddening crowd…
So, why this walk?
We first attempted this circuit in September 2010, having picked it out of John Chapman’s “Day Walks Melbourne“, probably because it looked interesting and slightly adventurous. Or possibly because it was located near Marysville, where I’d never been, and Stephen hadn’t been since the devastating Black Saturday Fires in February 2009. Or maybe we were simply enticed by the photo of two hikers looking over the range from Sugarloaf Peak featured on the books’ cover, which belies the challenges and amount of effort required to get to that point.
Me atop Mt Sugarloaf. The view in this shot is similar to that on the cover of Day Walks Melbourne; there’s little indication of the challenges faced to get to this point – from either direction.
In our first attempt, we drove up Cerberus Road to Sugarloaf Saddle (apologising to the MINI as usual for asking it to be a 4wd) and walked up Canyon Track. John Chapman’s brief description of Wells Cave Track was enough to make us think the ‘easy’ option was more our level. We followed his advice and ‘scrambled carefully’ up the steep hillside, the gullies and terraces proving not overly challenging until we came to what I believe he refers to as “a short climb to the right lead[ing] to the summit of Mt Sugarloaf”. Which is where we got stuck. And this is how it looked.
Sep 2010 – The sticking point on our first attempt at this walk
Now, we’re not the only ones to have fun here. I’ve just read Greg of Hiking Fiasco’s account of his ascent (with a full backpack containing camping gear, mind you!) and he ratchets the difficulty rating of this walk to a level above merely ‘hard’. No wonder!
So, finding ourselves somewhat confounded – we’d never had to abort a walk before! – we retraced our steps, drove back to Jawbone Car Park back down the road and walked up to South Jawbone Peak instead. At that time it was only a year and a half after the Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt; it was very clear the greening bush still had a long road ’til anything near ‘full’ recovery.
Sep 2010 – The afternoon sunlight makes the ferns and new green growth glow
Sep 2010 – At the top of Jawbone Creek, it’s very green and even the trees are starting to green up
Sep 2010 – Spring blooms after the devastating Marysville-Kinglake fires the previous summer
Sep 2010 – Climbing up South Jawbone
Sep 2010 – The view north from South Jawbone Peak
Sep 2010 – Atop South Jawbone Peak, North Jawbone and Cathedral North in the background (left)
Sep 2010 – Heading back down from The Farmyard to Jawbone Car Park
For the last four years the memory of this failed walk has been at the back of our minds, nagging away. Almost every time one of us (ok, usually Stephen) suggests we go for a bushwalk, more often than not Cathedral Range has been offered up. Like that thing you borrowed and have been meaning to return to whatshername for yonks, you almost get used to living with the guilt of still having it hang over you.
This weekend was finally it. The conditions were pretty prefect – not raining, not too hot, not too cold, fire risk seemed reasonably low. When it came to it, there was just one fly in the ointment… my legs.
More specifically, the huge amounts of lactic acid in them from a PT gym session two days prior, rather impeding my ability to walk. Now, I usually go to the gym on a Wednesday night, but due to a couple of re-scheduling issues it was changed to Saturday. Never again, people! Certainly not if I’m planning to do a walk that weekend! Despite stretching after the session, it was coming back home and blogging for the next ~8hrs that probably didn’t help matters much. Had I but known how sore I was going to be, I would have continued to stretch through the day. (Ok, point made, enough complaining.)
Despite the legs, I felt that this was our chance to get this walk knocked over, struck off the list – and I didn’t want to be the one providing the excuse not to go yet again. Especially after I’d told everyone that this is what we were doing this weekend! So Monday morning we made lunch, packed the car and off we headed.
It’s a lovely 2hr drive from our place through the Yarra Valley to Cathedral Range State Park. I used the time to try to warm up my stiff and aching legs (and gluteals) – the benefits of being the passenger. Unsurprisingly, we found Cathedral Range right where we left it; tall, long and distinctive, though a bit tricky to photograph well from the road due both to the length of the range and the trees growing along the roadside.
From the road, the top of Cathedral Range looks pretty flat and easy to walk…
The turn into Cathedral Lane from Maroondah Highway is at the northern end of the range and is marked with the usual brown sign for places of interest. The graded dirt Little River Road (that runs alongside Little River) is reasonably well graded – but mind the potholes.
The road sign for Cathedral Lane is dwarfed by the Park sign, it’s pretty easy to spot
Dirt road start here. Watch for potholes.
The Cathedral, North Cathedral & Little Cathedral – all peaks yet to be conquered on the Northern Cathedral Range Circuit
(Of course, the middle of a State Park is the best place for the state government/Vic Forests to put a pine plantation…)
Nov 2014 – Tomorrow’s copy paper? A young pine plantation in the middle of the State Park
Nov 2014 – Yesterday’s copy paper. The environment takes a while to recover
Sep 2010 – Logging coupe in the middle of Cathedral Range State Park
We were somewhat surprised to see the large number of cars parked at Neds Gully car park (we didn’t realise at the time that there is a camping ground across the creek) and there were also plenty of people parked and camping around Cooks Mill. Apparently it’s a popular weekend for coming to the park! Navigating solely by memory (naturally the book was in a backpack in the back of the car) we turned right at the campsite and headed uphill to Jawbone Car Park.
We were astounded by how many people were at Neds Gully car park
By now it was almost noon – despite my crossed fingers, we weren’t the only there. Given the numbers of people we’d passed, it wasn’t really a shock. The Mini blended in perfectly with the other cars.
The Mini really blends in amongst the 4wd’s
Slowly changing shoes for hiking boots (while at the same time, going as fast as I could manage) I heard three or four groups come and go – mostly young families. Concerns about how busy the walk was going to be started to fill my mind – was the car park just an indication of the traffic on the track? Yikes!
Backpacks on, we set off – slowly – down the steps to cross the creek at the bottom of MacLennans Gully. In 2010 we crossed the creek on stepping-stones. Today there’s a nice, shiny new bridge…which you’ll just have to take my word for since I neglected to take a photograph of it…
Nov 2014 – First challenge – walking down MacLennan’s Gully to cross Jawbone Creek
Sep 2010 – Crossing the creek in MacLennans Gully – today there’s a nice shiny bridge
The bridge marks the last downhill section for a good while. Although the climb up to the Farmyard is step, the path is very well made and if you take your time it is a very pleasant walk. I’m afraid I didn’t take too many photo’s along this section. On countless occasions Stephen has probably wished that I’d stop taking photos and hurry up. Well I’ve found what will limit my compulsion to stop and click: pain. Unfortunately that also meant my average speed wasn’t any faster than usual!
Stephen’s already leaving me behind as we head up to the Farmyard
Greener than 4 years ago, but the scars are still visible with the presence of numerous dead trees along the range
The path climbs steadily upwards
Nearly at the top
Near the head of Jawbone Creek the path noticeably starts leveling out somewhat
Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops)
There was so much I didn’t stop for, too. November is a good time to see lots of flowers in bloom. The walk up to the Farmyard probably has the best number and variety across the whole walk, since it’s quite a damp and sheltered gully,with Jawbone Creek even supporting tree ferns to grow near the top.
Button Everlasting (?), Helichrysum scorpioides
A daisy species
Common Billy Button, Craspedia variabilis
This is a common bush along the Cathedral Range State Park, but I’m not sure of the name
A native pea species
Possibly a Common Apple-berry, Billardiera scandens
A sign at the top of the gully directs you to turn left here to continue on to The Farmyard. Another walker had caught up to us at this point. He looked like he’d taken a wrong turn to a running race and somehow ended up on the mountain with only his drink bottle, but when we got to the next clearing and he ducked into his tent that blended in so nicely with the surrounding vegetation I completely failed to see it on approach, I began to think maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Our companion leaves us for his tent at the first Farmyard clearing
Starting down the Razorback Track
You are allowed to camp here, and if you want a bit of quiet and/or privacy and don’t mind lugging your gear all the way up here it’s certainly the way to go. He was the only person camping in this first clearing where there is another track leading to The Cathedral. In the next clearing there was also a single tent.
If you’re interested in climbing South Jawbone Peak, the track starts at this second clearing. When you enter the clearing from the north there are three tracks to chose from. On the left is South Jawbone Peak (sign posted), the middle one is The Razorback (also sign posted) – not, as I initially thought, an alternate route to South Jawbone – and the track on the right (which is roughly straight ahead as you approach) is actually the track to the latrines. No, not long drops, the unofficial latrine area used by campers. It wasn’t the smell that gave it away (at least, I didn’t smell anything); the tell-tale signs were toiletpaper and other non-biodegradable rubbish lying around. Goodness people! Dig deeper holes! Ladies – take liners and packaging home with you to dispose of, please!
Beating a hasty retreat we tried again, taking the middle path this time.
The Razorback Track undulates relatively gently at first (lulling you into a false sense of security) as it follows the ridge line south through fairly dense young trees and shrubs regrowing on the ridge after the fire. By now my legs had warmed up a little, but still seemed reluctant to handle anything but an incline with anything nearing a modicum of comfort.
Occasional glimpses down into the valley are obscured by burnt, dead trees; in the five years since the fire their charcoaled limbs haven’t yet fallen to the ground and they remain reaching, stark and barren toward the bright blue sky.
A glimpse into the valley to the west of Cathedral Range
It’s quite clear that the path is well used and it’s simple to follow for the most part, but there are numerous orange triangle track markers along the way to ensure walkers don’t get lost. Indeed, it’s easy to think that Parks Victoria have put a whole year’s allocation of these markers just in this one park. (Maybe that’s why they’ve had to resort to carving blobby arrows into the signs at Wilsons Prom?) However, the further we walked, the more reliant on these arrows we became.
Track marker on a tree
Track marker on the rock
I lost count of the number of walkers that passed us going the other direction – young and old, all evidently following the generally recommended route. How had they climbed up the section that defeated us four years ago? Had we missed something – was there a way around that bit that meant retirees were seemingly able to do this circuit yet we couldn’t? What was going on? As with almost all our walks where we pass lots of people, the general state of attire seems to be ‘casual’; limited water, basic footwear, and no extra clothing discernible. How do people go for a bush walk so unprepared?
This couple are typical of people we see out walking, to whom we must appear completely over equipped
Walking along the ridge you really appreciate why the range is described as ‘sharply upturnedsedimentary rock’. In fact, it reminded me of crunchy sand at the beach – the type that fragments into pieces as you break the crust. Only these rocks were formed from sand/silt in the Devonian period, a few hundred million years ago. No wonder they’re a bit harder than the crusty sand bits on the beach.
Razorback Track runs right next to the sharply upturned sedimentary rocks that form Cathedral Range State Park
The slabs of sloping sedimentary rock lining the ridge are impressive
Don’t get too excited at the sneak peaks you get back over the ridge – soon enough you’ll have plenty of opportunity for looking around as you really start climbing. And there’s still plenty to see around you.
Flowers peek out of sheltered spots, spring is a lovely time of year
Looking back (north) along the Razorback Track – we haven’t climbed very far yet
Plants take advantage of the sheltered ledges on the ridge line to take root and grow
Yellow daisy common along the Razorback Track
A small white flower, also quite common along the Razorback Track
A brief hiatus in the rocky path – the calm before the climbing begings in earnest
Above the treeline now, looking down to the Maroondah Highway from Razorback Track
Following the track markers through the boulders along Razorback Track
Razorback Track, Cathedral Range State Park
The views were getting pretty good now, but still much higher to climb yet
Looking across to Lake Mountain, also severly burnt in the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires
Looking back the Razorback Track seems lost in the trees
More rocks to negotiate along the Razorback Tack
This track marker has seen better days
Nodding Blue-lily I think. I see these plants in median strips along St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Their flowers are very distinctive.
I thought this plant was more commonly found in alpine areas, although it would get pretty cold up here in winter
Small white clustering flowers on a bush or small tree near the higher parts of the Razorback Track
These mint-bushes with their distinctive purple flowers were also very common on the higher slopes of the range
The rocks remind me of how I used to image dinosaur skin to look like
Sugarloaf Peak, being the highest point along the ridge, is tall and narrow and sticks out like a sore thumb. But we were too busy looking at the view behind us to pay much attention at first of what was ahead. I had in my mind that the ridge was pretty flat – that’s certainly how it looks from the main road – and the real challenge would be getting down that tricky bit from last time. But as we kept climbing and clambering over increasingly large rocks along the ridge line, the peak in front loomed ever higher. It even got to the point where I put my camera away so I could focus on climbing properly instead of worrying what it might be banging against as I held the strap between my teeth. That may be fine for short diversions, but when you’re combing what is essentially a rock wall – it’s better to keep the camera somewhere safe.
Our first proper look at Sugarloaf Peak. No, where Stephen’s looking, there, ahead in the photo
The rocks are encroaching from both sides here
For most of its’ length the Razorback Track is a jumble of rocks to clamber over
Razorback Track was starting to get a little tricky in places now
Bigger than it looks, this was possibly the most challenging part pf the climb up to Sugarloaf Peak
I’m not sure I’d like to climb back down there; up was tricky enough
One ascent achieved, one more to go
You’ve got to be kidding me! Sugarloaf Peak from most of the way up
We didn’t re-read the track notes or anyone else’s blog posts about the walk before setting out (at least, I didn’t) and on reflection I’m really glad we didn’t. Although John Chapman certainly doesn’t make it sound scary, had I read Greg’s Hiking Fiasco post or Neil’s Bushwalking Blog (plus the mention in his Northern Circuit post) post on this walk, there’s a very high probability that we’d never have tackled this walk. Putting something in the ‘Too Hard’ basket is a very convenient excuse not to accept a challenge. As it was, I’m left to reflect the marvellous ways we try to kid and talk ourselves out of something we don’t really want to contemplate even when it’s right in our face.
“I wonder what mountain that is?” became, “Is that part of this ridge?” which lead to, “Surely we don’t have to climb that?!”. Inevitably, the reality of the situation is accepted and you admit to yourself that yes, indeed, that shark’s fin of some “Sharply upturned sedimentary rock” IS part of the track, and what’s more, “Yep, the track goes straight up”. Don’t forget to follow the orange triangles! There’s one place where it looks like the path leads down, but as far as I could see from the ‘junction’ it doesn’t go anywhere. Keep following the markers straight up.
I knew we were almost there when I saw someone else at the top. We knew had made it when we got our cameras back out. Wooo!
Made it! Sugarloaf Peak – Cathedral Range State Park
Other people at the top of Sugarloaf Peak who climbed up from the saddle car park
Now, about this down bit….
Once you’ve had the freedom of two hands (or maybe it’s just that the path down quickly requires both hands again) the camera was soon back in the top pouch of my backpack, only withdrawn for a quick photo here and there. The people we saw at the top were a group of three young hikers, who started back down shortly after us. I have to say I welcomed their company on this section because they clearly managed to get up – maybe they knew a better way down, or at the least, if we got stuck it was more people around to help out.
On the whole, Canyon Track is much easier to negotiate than Razorback Track
The descent was not so bad, considering
Spring time beauty in the Cathedral Range State Park
About to follow the track markers over to the steep side of the ridge
Follow the arrows. Uh-huh. In the end the ‘tricky bit’ wasn’t as scary as I had worried it might be, but thank goodness the day and been a warm and dry day. There was no chance of slipping on these lovely rocks that are pretty good to hang on to without getting torn to bits. I went first, and just like climbing up the peak, the one thing running through my mind was to keep at least three points of contact on the rock at any one time. The hand and footholds are there, you just need to find them – and trust your hiking boots. Now, having made it down, I found the step we both missed the first time. So obvious now…
Heading down the tricky bit that stumped us the last time
With four track markers pointing the way, you are left in no doubt where to go, but I’m glad this time we were coming down this section
Unexpectedly, getting down the next rock was almost the trickiest of the day! It’s a bit of a drop to the next level, and I have only vague memories of climbing up there last time. I tried to feel for a place to put my foot as I held onto a rock on the side and a tree root, but instead I ended up sliding down on my belly. It was only a drop of about 20cm – if that. I ended up with a tear in my shirt where it got caught between buckle and rock, but the others chose to slide down on the bums. Could be the better option.
From there it’s more or less plain sailing. My legs were still not properly programmed for descent, but otherwise hiking as usual. It took us about 4 hours to get to the rest area at Sugarloaf Saddle where there is a pretty fancy new covered picnic area where we ate lunch. There are toilets nearby (best to take your own toilet paper) and a car park.
It’s a little steep and rocky, but if our legs weren’t so tired it wouldn’t have been hard at all
Nov 2014 – Shelter and toilet block at Sugarloaf Saddle Car Park
Sep 2010 – Sugarloaf Saddle Car Park. The toilets were just being built.
Backpacks on again, Stephen took off and I hobbled after him, my legs quickly seizing up in our relatively short (but late) lunch break. (Why people chose to walk up Cerberus Road instead of down it is beyond me.) Downhill was not much fun, but by the time we made it back to Jawbone Car Park (a couple of kilometres later) I felt I might be loosening up a bit. Just in time for a 2hr drive home.
Stephen powering on ahead as I struggle to get my legs to work again
Sugarloaf Peak from Cerberus Road
North and South Jawbone Peaks are in sight and I’m slowly catching up to Stephen
In all it was a really good, if challenging walk, and we’ve both come away with a sense of accomplishment. I’m glad it wasn’t any more challenging as there were a couple of sections there that we only just found a way to climb up or around.
We’re not in a hurry to do the Southern Circuit again. Other bloggers seem to rate the Norther Circuit as about the same but without a slightly lesser degree of rock climbing/scrambling. One day we might even pluck up the courage (or have forgotten enough details about this one) to go and check it out.