I know, I know, it’s been a long time, well, Oscar was sick for about a month from Anzac Day until his birthday, and we’ve spent the past month recovering from that really. Plus, it’s been really, really cold lately, so getting this post in the darkest, coldest period of Winter, you should consider yourselves very, very lucky. I decided to take a day off and head to this state park northeast of Melbourne, just past the Yarra Ranges National Park, I’d read about it on a bushwalking blog that I occasionally visit, and it looked good, but because this was a “spur of the moment” type deal, I didn’t really check what it was going to be like and just hoped that it was going to be clear and beautiful. Well, it wasn’t, it was misty at the top, and the view was a white-out, when I was up there anyway. It might have cleared up later, but I doubt it. The terrain reminds me a bit of the Grampians, but it’s a bit closer to where I live, but also, the good views here seem probably a bit more challenging to get to.
Driving there takes about two hours from my place, and then it’s ten kilometres (past a lot of curious kangaroos) up to Sugarloaf Saddle Carpark where you can do a number of pretty hairy trails. Considering my lack of experience and preparation, I went with the shortest, yet still quite challenging Canyon Track which is basically from the carpark to the peak of Sugarloaf Peak, 40 minutes one way, and involves some scrambling/climbing (or I just went the wrong way!). I was planning on climbing up to the peak and then walking along the Razorback track for a bit, but the view was completely obscured by cloud/mist so I decided just to head back down and look for a track that might give me some running water shots. Also, the rocks were a bit wet, and considering how dangerous climbing up and down that one little bit seemed, I thought better not risk any more in those conditions.
So I made my way back down to the car and then drove back down to Cooks Mill, where there is a Little River Track, which you would think, would meander along a river side. You can certainly hear the river, as you start the trail, but after only about 50m or so, it veers onto a track that just looks like unsealed road, there is a clearing to the left, and basically a muddy walk for about a kilometre or so before the road joins back to the track. This is a nice track with greenery everywhere and the sound of water running, as well as the occasional kookaburra sighting and constant kookaburra calls.
This track was also meant to be 40 minutes to it’s end point, Ned’s Gully, but after about 50 minutes I didn’t seem to be getting any closer, so I decided to head back, I didn’t have any food or water, it was probably only about five more minutes, as the walk back only took about 35-40 minutes with a brief stop for pictures by the river. I then stopped just past the bridge leading in and out of Cooks Mill to take a couple more pictures of the river before heading home. All in all, it was a worthwhile trip, if for nothing more than scouting, also got to drive through the Yarra Ranges National Park which is a treat in itself (no pictures though unfortunately), but I’m not sure I’ll be taking the little one there for a while, just seems a bit too challenging for him, but maybe I’m being over protective. So maybe I will head back out there in Spring time or something, at least the tracks seem easy to follow, even for me!
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After the underwhelming experience that was Kangaroo Island, we were pretty much ready to make our way back to Melbourne, but we had a few stops to get through before that. First was to visit emmy’s friends in Adelaide, the city of churches. Originally we were only going to spend one night there but due to my accident we had to spend three nights there and had no idea what to do. We ended up just trying to catch back up on as much rest as possible, that’s not to say that we did absolutely nothing there, we had a couple of outings, one to Hahndorf, and the other to Glenelg, unfortunately we didn’t have the inclination to venture out to the Barossa Valley or Mount Lofty despite neither being particularly far, just a lot of effort with the baby.
First, we visited Hahndorf on emmy’s advice as she loved it the last time she was there, it is a quaint town on the outskirts of Adelaide, the theme is Germany, well, it’s where the first German settlers settled near Adelaide and now it is a tourist destination. It’s pretty nice, and well established, with a few German restaurants, but the main attraction really is its good looks, with the main road lined with big trees. There’s also the Beerenberg strawberry farm where there are many things – not just strawberries – to dig your teeth into, mostly sauces, jams, and the like. A street full of artisan stores selling all kinds of trinkets and fashions, emmy says Yes Please!
The following day we went to Glenelg for brunch, a visit to the beach and a wander down the main street. This beach kicks arse, a pier where the kids can jump off like crazy teenagers that they are and crystal clear turquoise waters and soft, fine, white sand. A strip of shops with some nice iced creameries along the way (recommend the Danish Andersens one), beats any beach near Melbourne as far as I’m aware. We also paid a visit to the xmas decorations at night (even though it was freezing and smelly as hell) which were quite comical. The next day we left for Naracoorte quite early.
Naracoorte is famous for its caves, heritage listed and all that, as well as being relatively close to a bunch of other Limestone coast attractions (mainly wineries), but we didn’t bother leaving our accommodation because it was hot and we were tired, the bed and breakfast we stayed at was quite lovely as well. We left for the Grampians nice and early the next day.
The Grampians are a beautiful place, and there are so many walks to do there, short and long, too bad that it’s too hard (for me) to carry a little one around them all. We settled for those that were really close to car parks and staying inside mostly (again, really hot). I wanted to have a go at one of the easy big hikes, like Mount William or The Pinnacle, but it was just going to be hot and not great light for my photography, so I settled for night shots of The Pinnacle from our accommodation (not bad, I will probably do another post with some HDR shots that I took on the trip).
So all in all, we didn’t do much, I got to the Balconies lookout (would’ve been good for sunrise), Mackenzie Falls (just before all the other people arrived) but without enough time to nail the shot that I wanted, and a quick look at Boroka Lookout for a sunrise (it’s not really a sunrise spot). Oh well, another time, maybe I’ll take Oscar camping there and we can do all the things that I missed or stuffed up here.
In Adelaide, we had one home made meal, one bbq, one Vietnamese restaurant meal, traditional German at the Hahndorf Inn (massive portions, for two means, for 3-4), a brunch at Zest Cafe in Glenelg (nice), iced cream at Andersens (yum), we’ll need to try some more places to get a better feel for the quality of Adelaide’s restaurants though.In Naracoorte, we just cooked up our own steaks at the bed and breakfast, it was okay, but I’ve done better.
In the Grampians, we didn’t venture out of Halls Gap for food, we had burgers at Basecamp Eatery (would’ve been good except the burgers were a bit dry, where’s the sauce!?!?!), the Spirit of Punjab, lol, was okay, would’ve been good if we had spoons or even forks (our room had neither), and also at the Livefast cafe, nothing special, neither was Coolas ice creamery, but that might’ve been too dependent on the flavours we chose.
As I said, in Naracoorte we stayed at Carolynn’s Cottages, and they were by far the best accommodation that we stayed at for the whole trip, comfortable bed, nice decor, and comfortable chairs, very accommodating, beautiful property with a serene garden.
We stayed at the Grampians View Motel in Halls Gap, it’s at the southern end of Halls Gap and has a very nice view of the Pinnacle, also, there are a million kangaroos there in the late afternoon. The room though lacks a kitchenette, and is a bit dated, we stayed in the deluxe spa room which is a bit like a love motel with the black and red decor. There is a small swimming pool which we didn’t use, but it looked clean enough
That’s it for the road trip, I’m not sure what comes next, we haven’t been doing much lately and I’m not sure that I can plan much in this daze that I’m in, any way, I’ll have some more pictures from the road trip once I get through processing them.
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