Tuesday, 19 April 2016
It's currently school holidays, and with the prospect of not getting much time off between now and November when my project finishes, my boss encouraged me to take a few days now, while I still could.
I had originally intended to take Clare with me and go and help at the Junior Orienteering Camp in St Helens that Zali was going to. But it turned out Jett was too young to participate as well so I decided to leave her to it, and do something just with him instead. During the week we had made a plan together to tackle some of the 60 Short Walks that we hadn't got to yet.
So on Saturday morning we packed the car for 3 nights of car camping and headed off up the Great Lakes Road. Our first walk, conveniently right off the Highway, was the Pine Lake Walk:
This walk was fully board walked and a great break from the driving:
We had planned to do 3 walks on our first day, which looked close on the 60 Walks site, but in reality were a reasonable amount of driving & tricky navigation away from each other. To make matters more difficult, the google maps lady seemed to have taken the weekend off to go binge drinking, so she wasn't responding to my requests for help - leaving Jett and I to manage with a paper map we bought from Miena in the central highlands.
As the day was getting on, we decided to skip the closer but shorter walk, and tackle the longest one of our trip - Meander Falls. It was still over an hours driving away (still with no help from Mrs Google, who by now was no doubt catatonic outside some bar), and we finally arrived at the car park at about 12:30pm. I was a bit concerned that the web site had said this would take 4.5 hours of walking - so with the short autumn days (it's dark at 6pm), I was worried we wouldn't get back to our campsite (near the walk we were skipping), before it was dark. However as we drove into the car park we were presented with signs telling us it would take up to 6.5 hours to do this 10k walk - uh oh ! I added a head torch to our backpack and we headed off as quickly as possible.
This walk was pretty rugged underfoot - and very steep - in fact it was a bit like Mt Strezlecki which was relentless in its climbing. The rugged trail went some way to explain why some of the signs warned we'd be walking at a slower pace than 2 kms an hour. Not Jett and I though - we walked at a fast clip and made it to the waterfall after about 90 minutes. I must admit that my quads are still sore from the effort!
The waterfall was nice - I can imagine that on a hotter day you'd enjoy a swim there (and in some of the beautiful waterholes we passed on the way)- as it was Jett and I got cold very quickly sitting at the base of it. It was an unusual waterfall - it reminded me of the Hammersly Ranges in WA.
Without much time to spare we headed back down the trail, and headed back to the Lakes Highway and the Liffey Falls camping ground. Through some miracle of navigation and instinct we found our way to the (pretty much un-signposted) lower carpark and access point where you are allowed to camp. It was a fantastic camp ground - pretty and grassy and we were allowed to have a fire! There was even a fancy new flushing toilet - luxury. We quickly set ourselves up next to a quaint stream and settled in for the night - a great first day done!