Friday, May 25, 2007


Exploring the High Country

Way back in April - the 7-8 - I went for a long drive up to the Alpine Country of Victoria. This trip was to check out the area as well as do a little bit of camping. I've had a bit of trouble finding trailheads when I go hiking and maps are difficult to find or do not exist and when they do they aren't very helpful but that didn't stop me from heading up to the Mt Buller area to try some hikes.

Mt Buller (1804m) is the closest large ski area to Melbourne and there's a road that goes almost to the summit so I decided to take a drive to the top before I made my way to the base to do some hiking. I wasn't interested in climbing the mountain, I just wanted to get out in the bush to get away from everything. There was a small village at the top and there was some views but not too much to speak of. BTW - Mt Buller recieved 7cm (2.75in) of snow the other day - time to sharpen the board!

It was tough finding a trail at the base of the mountain and when I did it was impossible to figure out where it went but I started out on a trail that didn't seem to climb too much and followed a small creek but soon it went straight up a hill but the trail was almost impossible to follow. There was no sign of a trail under my feet and I had to rely on the sporadic blazes on the trees. Finally, I said 'stuff this' and decided to do some off-trail hiking instead - I wasn't going far anyway. The forest that I was in was recently burnt by bushfires and the ground was covered in ash that, when disturbed by my walking, got into my nose when I breathed and got onto my gear.

I only went in a few k's and set up camp on a flat surface without much ash butthere also wasn't much of a view but there's no need for that when you're sleeping. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading. One of the things that I wanted to see while I was out there were the stars - I'm not sure what it is but people always seem to be drawn to the stars and the ocean; neither of which can be fully grasped as you're standing on a small planet looking up towards the little specks of light or standing on the shore gazing out at the large blue expanse. The stars did come out eventually that night and the sky was clear of clouds and the moon was no where to be seen and without the light pollution of the city I was able to see a huge number twinkling above me. Without the moon it was so dark that I could only see around the campsite using my headlamp, otherwise it was I couldn't see my hand in front of me. After I got my fill of looking at the stars I went off to sleep in my little one-person tent.

I awoke to what must have been a pretty large tree branch breaking off in the distance. But it wasn't the sound of a branch that was still part of a tree, it was as if it was stepped on. And then I heard it off in the distance. It wasn't making any animal-like noises like barking or grunting but I could hear it move across the ground, or, to be more specific, hop across the ground. Kangaroos have to be the loudest animals around here - they don't have any natural enemies here so there's no reason for them to be quiet as they bounce through the forest. I think I heard this one coming from half-a-mile away and then he suddenly stopped.. crap, he saw me, or at least saw the tent that I was in. Just as I was thinking that he's going to want to come over to see what this bright orange dome is in the middle of his forest I heard him move cautiosly closer until he was what sounded to be 3 feet away - I couldn't tell because I had the rain-fly over the tent. My food was up in a tree so I wasn't concerned about that but I didn't really want him to hang around and start clawing at my tent so I just rolled over and it frightened him enough and he scampered off.

After my visitor left I saw that it was quite bright outside so I figured that the sun is coming up and it's about time to pack up and walk out of the woods. But when I got out of my tent I saw that the moon had come up and lit up the entire area and I was able to see about 100ft around the site. But with it still being night I had to go back to the tent and try to sleep through the rest of the night.

Now as the sun came up it was time to make the short walk back to the car. I easilly found my way back and it was still early in the morning so I pulled out the road map to see where else I could go. I could get back to Melbourne by doing a big loop along the Great Alpine Road, which wound its way through the rest of the alpine area. This road brought me by Mt Feathertop and over Mt Hotham then down through the towns of Omeo, Bairnsdale - where I had lunch, through Sale, and finally my route emptied into the very boring drive west towards Melbourne arriving 10 hours after I popped out of the bush that morning.

My mountain goat

From the top of Mt Hotham

Still the top of Mt Hotham

I only took pictures from the top of Mt Hotham

Any guesses?

Hikers on the ridge trail to Mt Feathertop

Even with the comment earlier in this post about riding the board on snow, Sunday I'll be riding a different board on the water when a few of us head down to Torquay for some surfing. Hopefully I'll have some stories from that on Monday.

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