Nail Can Hill and WJ Steers Hike


Yesterday, Jesse (my 15 year old son) and I decided that it would be a good to spend some time outdoors instead of being inside and attending church. And so after some discussion we decided to do some hiking in an area with a very inviting name called Nail Can Hill (can you sense the sarcasm). Actually the Nail Can Hill reserve is a very pleasant area to hike in inspite of the name, and is very accessible from numerous roads in the Albury (New Wouth Wales) / Wodonga (Victoria) area. The reserve, and the WJ Steers tracks, basically follows a set of mountain ridges between a War Memorial monument that overlooks the Albury central business district to a location called the Jindera Gap.

War Monument Albury

War Monument Albury

The reserve is home to eucalyptus trees and various wildlife, the trees generally being quite short (20 feet or so). The ground is generally rocky. The main tracks themselves are quite well defined and are about wide enough to drive a car along although it is usually used by walkers, mountain bikers, joggers, and the like.

Walking Trail Nail Can Hill Reserve

Walking Trail Nail Can Hill Reserve

View of Albury from Nail Can Hill main trail

View of Albury and Airport from Nail Can Hill main trail

Rebecca dropped of Jesse and me at the Albury Botanic Gardens, and we proceeded to hike up to the monument between the houses and on the well defined asphalt paths leading up to the monument from the urban area. Then we hiked through a ‘wildlife corridor’ into the Nail Can Hill reserve proper. Some of the tracks we walked were quite steep and required considerable effort. But as we are both fairly fit we made it up each ascent without problems.

Along the way we found a side track to a lookout, and decided that as it was only a kilometre to the lookout that we would go and have a look.

View of Wodonga and Murray valley

View of Wodonga and Murray valley from lookout

View of Wodonga and Murray Valley

View of Wodonga and Murray valley from lookout

View of Wodonga and Murray Valley

View of Wodonga and Murray Valley from lookout

Lookout Summit

Lookout Summit Cairn

After that we continued on our way and eventually reached Centaur Road, one of the only about 3 roads that crosses through the reserves. I think at that point the reserve changed name to WJ Steers or Hamilton Range, according to the map I was using to navigate. North of Centaur Road the trail was quite different – it was not as well defined, and so was harder to follow in places, and more ‘wild’. The sounds of the city of Albury and it’s suburbs could no longer be heard either.

Steep trail north of Centaur Rd

Steep trail north of Centaur Rd

The plan was to try to go from the southern edge of the combination of reserves to it’s northern most extent, but along the way we must have taken a wrong turn because we ended up back at Centaur Rd after looping around somehow, and so we decided to have lunch there instead of Jindera Gap like we had planned. Then we hiked back to the Monument, where we had a well deserved rest while we waited for Rebecca and the girls to pick us up.

Fungus

Fungus? Around a tree root on the trail.

The weather was overcast for most of the hike, so the humidity was quote high and so the sweat didn’t dissipate but at least the cloud cover made the breeze on the hills quite pleasant! We really enjoyed the day and the suggestion that we set one Sabbath aside each month we we go for a hike or do something outdoors was well received!

Sweat

Sweat!

For GPS data for the hike, try the following links:

‘Tis Done


My cycling holiday holiday in southern Victoria, Australia, was due to end today, and I was due home this afternoon. But I decided on Monday to go home then rather than today. So all the rides I planned for days up to Thursday last week got completed, but then the itinerary ‘went out the window’. So the planned ride up Mt Dandenong or Mt Donna Buang, the ride to Queenscliff or Skipton, and the ride to Gembrook didn’t eventuate. But even still, it was a great holiday and I saw lots of places that I had never taken time to explore before, and saw lots of interesting things I had never seen before. And it was great to spend some time staying with my parents and go to a model train exhibition with my dad on Monday.

Over the cycling holiday I clocked up over 300km on the bicycle – a weekly total distance record for me!

So officially the cycling touring holiday ends today, and I need to slowly but surely get back into ‘work’ mode. That might not be easy, but as I sit here at home and look at the increasing number of emails (more than 600 now) I have the feeling the work mode is inevitable! One really big benefit of coming home early is that I got to see my family earlier – 8 days being away from them was just a little too long – I must keep that in mind next time I plan a cycling holiday by myself.

Mountains to the Bay


Today was the first real deviation from the planned cycling touring holiday itinerary. I completed the Great Southern Rail Trail like I planned although a little earlier. The original plan was to then ride the Grand Ridge Rail Trail (starting at Mirboo North), but as I was already back at my parents house I decided to do a bike ride from their house to somewhere instead.

While riding the Warby Rail Trail I met a fellow who said that the Blind Creek Trail went all the way from the Dandenong Ranges to Carrum, and on the strength of the information he gave me I decided to attempt to ride from my parents house to Carrum (or wherever else I might have arrived at) on Port Phillip Bay. The trail passes through various natural features.

Mt Dandenong

Mt Dandenong from near Knox City

Jells Lake / Park

Jells Lake / Park

Wetlands near Dandenong

Wetlands near Dandenong

Wetlands near Dandenong

Wetlands near Dandenong

The trails between Belgrave and Knox City were your fairly standard suburban bike or shared trails with housing estates surrounding it and various other public amenities, parklands, wetlands and sporting fields. Once on the Eastlink trail south of Knox City the scenery changed quite noticably with the trail right next to the Eastlink Tollway in some places, or not far from it. The scenery was also a lot more open from where I joined the Eastlink trail, the more so the closer to Carrum the trail got. The trails were beautiful to ride on, mostly of asphalt or concrete, with a 5km or so section approaching Carrum where the trail was small stones. The architecture and man-made features along the trails was interesting too, and so I have included some photos below.

Cycling art near Knox City

Cycling art near Knox City

Eastlink signature orange seperator

Eastlink signature orange seperator

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink visual features – A whopping big bird shaped sculpture!

What is it?

What is it?

There was an unknown element of ‘danger’ on all the rides I did so far this week and I only realised it today. I noticed that my front tyre was a little flatter than I liked, and so I got out the small tyre pump I brought along and noticed that it was broken. So all this time I was riding with a broken tyre pump! I’m sure thankful that I didn’t get a puncture on one of my rides, especially a long way from the car as I could have put a new tube in the rim ok, but would have had no way of pumping it up. So today I pumped up the tyre using Dad’s car tyre pump, and prayed for no punctures. I even figured that having 2 spare tyre tubes was fairly pointless too, so left one behind and added a windcheater into the pack instead.

Bridge between Dandenong and Carrum

Bridge between Dandenong and Carrum

Dandenong Creek near Patterson Lakes

Dandenong Creek near Patterson Lakes

Pelican in Dandenong Creek

Pelican in Dandenong Creek near Patterson Lakes

Patterson Lakes Marina

Patterson Lakes Marina

The ride was not only puncture free, but apart from a short stretch where I seemed to lose the trail, was totally problem free. So I got from Belgrave to the Bay, Port Phillip Bay that is, without incident. I got on the train at Carrum, and within an hour or two I was back at my parents house, just in time for a slightly late lunch.

Where the Creek meets the Bay

Where the Creek meets the Bay at Carrum

For GPS data for this ride, go here: http://www.strava.com/activities/118339181 .

Great Southern Rail Trail ride


In my previous post I stated that I was going to try and ride as much as I could of the Great Southern Rail Trail yesterday and today. Today I fulfilled that statement. I rode the Foster – Toora section, and the Buffalo – Koonwarra section. This means the only section of the GSRT that I didn’t ride was the Leongatha – Koonwarra section.

GSRT: Foster – Toora

This section of the GSRT can be described as flat(ish) and straight(ish). Most of the time the trail has trees along side it, and the views were somewhat limited as a result. I knew that Wilsons Promontory lurked over to the south, and that there were hills to the north, but most of the time I could only catch glimpses through the trees. Not that I am complaining! I have ridden all kinds of trails that have varying amounts of trees in hot weather and trees along the side of trails make a huge difference to the comfort level when riding them.

I started the ride fairly early, partly because I wanted to ride to Toora before I had to vacate the tent site at the caravan park, and partly because I was already awake and had breakfast so why not. It was a fairly crisp morning, around 14 degrees C or maybe less, when I started and I felt the coolness of the air for the whole ride to Toora and back. Toora is a small town with an interesting history. In the past it has had a tin mine, timber mills, a 700 feet long jetty, cheese factory, and dairy farming. Today dairy farming seems to be the main industry.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Wind turbines above Toora

Wind turbines above Toora

Factory at Toora

Factory at Toora

Toora station

Toora station

Toora main street

Toora main street

View from trail

View from trail

GSRT: Buffalo – Koonwarra (almost)

This section of the GSRT has been described as ‘undulating’, and it certainly was. It didn’t have the long steep climbs like the Foster – Buffalo section, but it still had some fairly long grades, but not as steep. Generally a much easier ride, although by the time I was within 5km of Buffalo on the way back to the car my legs were starting to feel fatigued. Maybe it wasn’t so much today’s rides as the accumulation of fatigue since Monday!

The biggest town on this section of the trail is Meeniyan. But the real highlight was the bridges that cross the Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra. The old railway trestle bridge is looking a bit dilapidated, but there is a new trail bridge which is very well engineered.

Trail bridge across Tarwin River

Trail bridge across Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Between the Tarwin River bridges and the end of the trail there was a rather large clearing which I am guessing was probably the site of a station at some point in the past as it had that look about it, and even some remnants of what looked like station platform, but I couldn’t be entirely sure. I couldn’t work out whether the clearing would have been the Koonwarra station (it seemed a bit far away to be the station for that location) or not. It could have been a station or platform and freight loading area not connected to a town. Between Stoney Creek and Buffalo there is such a platform, which is really out in the middle of no-where not even any houses nearby and seemingly no road or track to get to it. At least the one between Tarwin River and Koonwarra has really good access – it was not far from the main highway.

Platform remains in the middle of no-where

Platform remains in the middle of no-where a few kms from Stoney Creek

And then, 3km from Koonwarra, the trail abruptly ends. And trail users are directed up to the highway for the last 3km into Koonwarra. From Meeniyan to the end of the trail at this location I could hear the constant movement of traffic, and I really didn’t like the idea of venturing out on the South Gippsland Highway. So I turned around and headed back towards Buffalo and the car. Here are some pics of the ride.

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

End of trail near Koonwarra

End of trail near Koonwarra

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Along the GSRT over the last 2 days I have seen a variety of animals: a number of foxes, a cat which nearly jumped out of it’s skin when it realised I was behind it, some black cockatoos (the ones with white tips on the underside of the wings), white cockatoos, king parrots, some yellow green and purple parrots (not sure what they are called), a bird of prey hovering over it’s breakfast, kangaroos and wallabies, and evidence of wombats. The weather has been drizzly rain, strong winds, some sunny patches and blue skies, cold mornings, warm afternoons – a very mixed bag. Which has all made for a very interesting couple of days. For now, that’s all folks!

For GPS data for todays rides, try these: