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A one day walk of a lifetime – Mueller Hut route, New Zealand

Our new treasurer’s favourite day walk:

Distance: 5.2km one way return via same track

Duration: 4hr one way

Grade: Advanced

 

Located in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park it is possibly one of the best one-day hikes in NZ.  At 1800 meters, the Mueller Hut provides a 360-degree panoramaview of glaciers, ice cliffs, vertical rock faces and New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook.  Overnight stays are possible but due to its popularity, advancebookings are recommended.


On the day I planned to hike, it was indeed booked out, so I
did the day hike instead. It was a tough uphill slog with an ascent of over 1000 meters in just over 5 kilometres. The path starts well-formed with lots of stairs, but then turns rougher and rockier, with larger boulders to jump across and a steep slope of scree to scramble up.

 

A line of poles every 200 metres guides you along the way.These were a god send as it became increasingly cloudy and foggy with visibility decreasing as I got climbed higher. Just as I thought it was too dangerous to continue,I suddenly cleared the cloud line. It felt like magic, being bathed in bright, warm sunlight, clear blue skies above and surrounded by jaw dropping mountain peaks. It was spectacular.


Because of the short distance and its steepness, the views var
ieddramatically.  At the top you were rewarded with beautiful views of Mount Cook and numerous other peaks, lakes and glaciers, which I enjoyed for several hours before heading back down. A great hike, one which I highly recommend.

 


Day of the Dead on the Goldfields trail

Habitually I travelled and hiked alone. My boyfriend liked to read books on astronomy in bed, but I was sucked like a balloon towards a blue sky, and tethered by heart strings to our room, roamed on a wide radius. Then we got mobile phones: “Hello little cabbage!” “Where are you, Bibiche?

 

Then my darling-heart died and some years went by.

 

Having put my age back by 10 years, I got a casual job with a promotions company, giving colour advice in the paint departments of hardware stores, offering salami samples in supermarkets and so on. I took jobs anywhere, as I like to travel, even in my own town.

 

One day they got very cheeky and proposed a job in Bendigo, 2 hours away, that no one else wanted to do for $25 an hour. But that was fine; I had lived in the beautiful gold city of Bendigo for three years as a child, walking in the quartz gravel beside the road to One Tree Hill with a Dick Wittington bundle over my shoulder, going with Dad in the Holden to find wax flowers in the Whipstick. I loved Bendigo and the mullock heap and mine shaft studded dry bush that surrounded it. I hadn’t been there for years.

I spoke French right, so I must’ve heard of Mandarin Napoleon? Yeah, special Day of the Dead Margarita promotion with it at the Mexican restaurant Saturday night. Mystery shopper – you have to drink one and check everything – all right?? Actually, I did like Margaritas and Mandarin Napoleon, though there was rarely the opportunity, and also had a Seniors Card free rail pass that would expire in a month, but I kept my jubilation at a beautiful expenses paid Saturday outing to Bendigo to myself.

 

Waking to a perfect blue sky day, I started to look for bush walks near Bendigo on my phone. There was something called the Goldfields trail. I put fruit, snacks and water in my backpack, with some makeup and a clean shirt for my job later at the Hacienda.

After a nostalgic stroll along historic View St, and an amble through the old grey walled, 60’s decor Myers store, where Sydney Myer had actually started his emporium empire, I called into the tourist office, located in a beautiful gold money public building beside the well-tended gardens.

 

A volunteer guide gave me a brochure of the trail, with a map of the Bendigo section, and advised me of the bus to catch to Kangaroo Flat. Kangaroo Flat – I did love that old name, but wasn’t a woman murdered there recently? From the service station at Kangaroo Flat I could catch a taxi to the gates of a reservoir where the track passed, and I could then walk back to Bendigo on it. So perfect, so overjoyed!

I suppose I’m a still a thrill seeker, an adventurer with a death wish. Though I relish the excitement of discovering an unknown track somewhere on my own, there is also fear. An ear is cocked for danger: is someone following me? What was that shadow? Could I die of snake bite out here?

 

The taxi driver took me over hill and dale down a lonely road to the metal mesh north gate of the reservoir. Mid-day already, with hot sun overhead, I turned right at the gate as instructed and followed the weedy wire fence along till a narrow path appeared. Soon afterwards there was a yellow post – “Goldfieds Trail”, and the path widened, in a woven tunnel of shade, till I’d arrived at the water channel shown on the little map.

I crunched along boldly now, to scare monsters but also to keep up the pace, because I had to be back in Bendigo in time to get ready for my job in the evening. Singing and taking photos, listening to the humming bush, with the glistening water of the fast flowing channel beside the track cool and reassuring, its speed accentuated by its opposite direction to my strides. Where was it going to? I had forgotten the towns in this area. Away from Bendigo at least.

 

How beautiful the colors of the unchanging bush – with small white clouds in the big blue sky, black textured Ironbark trunks with crimson sap, quartz scattered orange gravel veined with the shadows of branches, subtle grey- green foliage, pink and yellow spring wildflowers and graceful seed- laden grasses. An echidna. A blue tongued lizard on the track with its stubby, black-scaled ancient form. Pink mouth snaps open, shhhhaaaa, blue tongue. “Don’t move dear, I love you, I’ll go around.”

 

It was hot, almost 3 pm and I was feeling a little parched, so I sat on the rim of the water channel to eat my banana and catch my breath. I checked the map again – hadn’t come to the first stage yet, there was supposed to be a kind of clearing and a sign. Had I missed it with all my musings and photos? There was a small hill ahead, maybe I’d see it from there. No, must have missed it, continue on.

The soft sound of cracking branches nearby – I turn around. Two black wallabies, with their rich black and russet fur, hop quickly away and disappear into the bush.
It is now 4.35. I must have missed something and gone too far. The track has diverged from the water channel. Where are the pylons I was supposed to see? Maybe I have already skirted Bendigo, and am on a further section of the track. Feeling a little tired now. No water left in my bottle and finished my snacks. I turned back, looking carefully for the features the map had described, couldn’t spot them, then unsure turned around again and continued onward.

 

The track had crossed an unmade road a while back, I had heard a car on a highway in the distance, and there was an dusty caravan with a TV antenna and two old cars parked up an overgrown dirt driveway off the track to the left. Would it be dangerous to ask in there? No, better work it out myself. Continue on. Stay on the track. Remember the old mines shafts in the area.

 

I’d taken so many photos my phone battery was on red. It was now 4.50 and the Bendigo Tourist Office would close soon, so I rang them to ask for help. However the kindly volunteer I had originally spoken to had left, and this person wasn’t sure what I was talking about. She went to find the booklet, but couldn’t help me.
It is getting quite late now, and I am thirsty, very tired and slowing. I must get back soon so I won’t be late for the job at 8. It surely can’t be far. I look up at the fading sky. Why is the sun there, on the wrong side?

 

Yes, I have walked 19km in the wrong direction and am now – somewhere, more than 30 km from Bendigo! Don’t panic! Stay on the path; remember the mine shafts!

 

Making my way back for the second time, I finally come to the rough unmade road crossing the track, walk down it in the direction I had heard a car long ago, and come to a sealed road, that I walk along. No car comes by, as the light fades.

 

Then I see a driveway and a farm house. I walk up the dusty drive. Two cars parked outside the house, and a big dog. The dog approaches. An old labrador with his tail wagging ambles up and snuggles into my side. We walk together to the house, but no-one opens, though I knock and knock, call and call. The old dog accepts my loving pats trustfully, because I have been lonely and scared on the track, and I google Bendigo Police Station on my red-battery phone to call for help. The number plate of one of the cars matches the house on the road to a particular address with the same street number as the number on the front gate post, so I call a taxi as the old dog and I amble back to the road.

 

Hearing my story the taxi driver only charges $40 and soon I arrive at the Mexican Hacienda. I ask for the Ladies and swish past, emerging minutes later combed and lightly perfumed, with a fresh top and glossy lipstick to match my glowing sunburned nose. I go up to the bar.

 

Do you have the special Margarita with, what’s it called…Mandarin Napoleon, tonight? Oh you do -great! No, just one; I’ll be sitting over there. But can I just watch as you make it – fascinating! And I love all your decorations for the Day of the Dead!

 

By Angela 6/2/19


Our new committee member’s Ethiopian adventure

Simien National park – up close and personal with a Gelada baboon

 

The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia had long held a fascination for me, both as a seemingly exotic destination and as the unique home of the Gelada baboon.

 

In 2014 I joined a 15-day hiking trip in the Simien Mountain National Park, which I look back on as one of the most fantastic hikes I have ever done.

 

Declared a world heritage site in 1918, the landscape in the park is a spectacular combination of soaring cliffs, deep canyons and gentle highland ridges dotted with giant Lobelias, making for varied and often challenging walking and breathtaking views.

 

Along the way we were fortunate to encounter large families of grazing Geladas, with their magnificent, thick coats and bright red chests; Walya ibex negotiating their precipitous cliff homes with graceful ease; and even a rare Simien wolf, hoping to snatch a baby Gelada for dinner.

 

Camping conditions were pretty basic (not at all like a Nepalese experience), but the group was a lot of fun and every day our efforts were rewarded with some awesome panorama or wildlife encounter.

 

At altitudes over 3600m, there were days that sapped our energy and called on all our reserves and willpower to get us to the next camp, but every step was worth it.

 

For anyone looking for an adventure on a “road less travelled”, I would highly recommend this ancient land, with its gentle, welcoming people, extraordinary history and natural wonders.

 

Simien Mountain National Park – world heritage site, challenging walking, breathtaking views


Jann


Our walk secretary’s toughest trip ever

 Our group of 24 adventurers with two instructors. I am standing at the far left.

 

Long before I joined YHA Bushwalking, I attended an Outward Bound Course in the A.C.T. consisting of four days at the Outward Bound School in Tharwa, south of Canberra, followed by a three-week expedition through the nearby ranges. I was one of 24 guys from around Australia, none of whom I had met before. For the expedition, we were divided into two groups of 12, each with an instructor.  We were required to keep a journal of our experiences, so here are the edited highlights (and low-lights) of my trip:

 

Days 1-4: We were transported from Canberra to the Outward Bound School (in something resembling a cattle truck) where our days were filled with preliminary training and preparation for our expedition and various other activities such as running, swimming in the Murrumbidgee River and ropes confidence courses (it felt a bit like being in the army).

 

Days 5-9: Our long “expedition” began with a hike from the school to Perkins Flat on the Goodradigbee River, camping overnight in the bush under a large bivvy (a plastic sheet tied to trees or the ground, instead of a tent). Along the way, we gained further training in navigation, first aid, communications and climbing the rope ladders we would use caving in a few days.

 

Day 10: Canoeing and Cascading down the Goodradigbee: While our gear was transported to our next campsite, we travelled there via the river, canoeing in the morning and cascading in the afternoon. I enjoyed canoeing but cascading was my worst experience of this course.  “Cascading” involved paddling down the river on a lilo using our arms and hands as paddles. We were fully clothed, chest down, which meant we were partially submerged much of the time. The theory was that by wearing predominantly woolen clothing, wool when wet still keeps you warm, however in practice, I wore an old footy jumper and it didn’t do the trick. I’ve never felt so cold in all my life. We were on the river for several hours and the longer I paddled the weaker my muscles felt until I was coming off my lilo after every rapid.  Finally, after I came off yet again, I really struggled to fight my way back to the surface – for a few seconds I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but somehow I managed to get myself over to a large rock.  By now, I was so cold that I was breathing heavily as though I had just completed a hard run. In no uncertain terms, I informed our instructor that there was absolutely no way I was getting back on that lilo, so the whole group had to deflate our lilos and walk the remaining distance to our campsite interestingly, I heard no complaints from the others about this.   Tonight, one guy became sick and was driven back to Tharwa to recover.

 

 View from Mt Coree, near my “Solo” campsite

 

Day 11: Another guy woke up sick (should anyone be surprised?), so we lost a lot of time waiting for him to be collected by the Outward Bound staff, before hiking as far as we could to our next campsite.

 

Day 12: Cascading down the Goodradigbee with packs: We spent the whole day cascading downstream to our next campsite, 15-20 kms away. This time, I wasn’t as cold because we paddled chest-down on our waterproofed packs placed on top of the lilo, so we were mostly out of the water. It also helped that I wore a warmer woolen jumper hand-knitted by my Mum (unfortunately it was ruined after a full day wet with river water, much to her distress when I returned home). Although it was better than my previous cascading experience, my journal states that I was nevertheless damn glad to get off my lilo at the end of the day, however I was better off than another guy whose pack sank to the bottom of the river and couldn’t be found.

 

Days 13-14: Caving at Wee Jasper. Our instructors had some interesting challenges in store for us through three caves. The largest began with a 60-80 foot descent down a caving ladder, followed by an extensive tour including various obstacles to climb over and narrow holes to squeeze through. However, the most daunting was a smaller cramped cave, where our instructor took us some distance inside then left with our torches, requiring us to crawl much of the way back in the dark, feeling the cave walls, looking for light and calling out to each other until we eventually found the way out.

 

 My home during three days on “Solo”

 

Day 15: A long hike from Wee Jasper to Mt Coree.

 

Day 16: Rock-climbing and Abseiling at Mt Coree.

 

Days 17-19: Our “Solo” experience, consisting of three days and nights on our own in the bush around Mt Coree with its commanding views towards Canberra. We had only our camping gear, food rations, notepad and pen.  We had to make do without a watch, any reading material or alcohol (in fact, that was banned for the entire course). Worse than that, we had to survive without our addictive mobile devices (actually there was no such thing in those days but why let the truth get in the way of a good story).  We weren’t permitted to roam any further than 50 metres from our campsite, and we didn’t speak to anyone except for saying ‘yep’ to our instructor on his daily walk by to check we were OK. Yes, this was self-isolation and social distancing on steroids (we were way ahead of our time).

 

Days 20-24: Our “Final Expedition”, a five-day pack-carry (to use YHA Bushwalking-speak) from Mt Coree to Angle Crossing on the Murrumbidgee River. We were now in groups of six without our instructor so we had to use all our training and team work to navigate our way using map and compass (there were no luxuries like mobile devices with GPS!). From my journal, it looks like this was mostly cross-country, other than using a few roads to make up time. My journal also says I was glad when this final expedition was over!

 

Abseiling

 Abseiling

 

Day 25: A 12 km run from Angle Crossing back to the Outward Bound School. A run of this distance would normally have been easy for me, but I struggled – I must have been exhausted by this stage. Tonight we enjoyed our final dinner, which we prepared ourselves of course (after all, this was ‘outward bound’, not a tour group!).

 

Day 26: All 24 of us were trucked back to civilization in Canberra (yay!). We indulged in a pub lunch, alcohol and ice-cream before flying home.

 

According to my journal, I enjoyed most of the course, except for certain activities such as the cascading and the more grueling parts of the hiking when my pack felt so heavy that I wondered what on earth possessed me to decide to do this course (could this explain why I don’t attempt pack-carries these days?).

A few weeks after coming home, I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever and was off work for a month.  My GP concluded that I must have contracted it on the Outward Bound Course. Apparently we weren’t vigilant enough with the good hygiene practices that we all follow today!

 

Our quarters at the Outward Bound School

 


Covid-19 update 11 April, 2020

Club nights

Physical club nights have  been cancelled until further notice. However we recognise it’s important to maintain connections during these strange and unusual times.  So we will be starting virtual club nights using zoom technology, commencing from 5 May, 2020. Further details will be on the current walks program.

 

Membership fees

Given the current circumstances, all members as at, or joining after, 1 March, 2020,  will receive an additional free 6 months membership.  Your membership expiry date will be extended under your membership profile.

 

Please note we no longer use physical membership cards.

 

Covid-19 updates

Updates on the impact of covid-19 on our activities will be posted on the dedicated web page under the Activities tab.

 

Virtual walking

Whilst we currently are not able to physically walk together, we encourage you to share your favourite walking stories and photos as a way to brighten the day for those of us who are isolated and looking for ways to connect with others.

 

We are looking for your:

– favourite walk in Australia

– favourite walk in Victoria

– favourite walk Internationally

– most embarrassing moment on a walk,

– most inspiring moment on a walk, etc

Please send these to president@yhabush.org.au.

 

If you have any other suggestions for managing through Covid-19 please let me know.

 

On behalf of the Committee, i wish you a happy and safe Easter.

Kris Peach

President


First aid training course held

Our recent first aid training day was a great success. Feedback from the leaders, members and YHA ski club members was overwhelmingly positive –


It was definitely worthwhile and given that we as leaders have a duty of care, an excellent opportunity to be current with this knowledge and certification.

The location was fine, program and materials well structured and Peter, our presenter very professional. He kept us entertained with some very interesting anecdotes from his many years of work!

Yes, it is definitely highly recommended.


 

Thank you to First Aid Management for running an excellent tailored course for us!

Once we are through Covid-19 we will look to run another course at the end of the year.


COVID-19 Update 22 March 2020 – Suspension of walks program

As a result of the Victorian and a Federal government announcements today, our current walk program has been suspended until further notice.The Victorian Government has cancelled all non-essential activities including sporting events. All non-essential travel is to be avoided.  Bushwalking does not qualify as essential travel.

 

The safety and welfare of our leaders, members, walkers and the community is paramount.  We hope you can stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will resume walking as soon as it is safe to do so.

Please refer to the Victorian and Federal websites for further advice and support services.

 

 

Walking spots that are closed

    • Accommodation and camping at Tidal River within Wilsons Promontory National Park will be closed from Sunday 22 March.
    • 1000 steps/Kokoda Memorial Walk and Lyrebird Track in the Dandenong Ranges National Park have been closed until further notice.
    • The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden and William Ricketts Sanctuary have been closed until further notice.
    • The penguin viewing platform at St Kilda Pier has been closed until further notice – fencing is now in place along the breakwater preventing access to the penguin viewing platform. The pier remains open.
    • Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians National Park will be closed for the duration of term two school holiday period (28 March – 13 April 2020).
    • For more Parks Victoria information click here.

 

 

Staying connected

Whilst we may not be able to walk together for the moment we can still stay connected and supportive.  So, if you have any great walking stories, reflections or photos you want to share, please send them to me at President, and I will share them via this site.

 

Kris Peach

President


Covid-19 Update 19 March, 2020

To maintain the health of all walkers and leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic we are instigating the following protocols with immediate effect.

 

Should you participate?

Leaders and car pooling drivers will be asking all walkers the following questions at the start of the walk/before getting in the car:


    1. Have you travelled overseas in the past 14 days, or have been in close contact with anyone who has travelled overseas?
    2. Are you or have you been in contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
    3. Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms:
        • fever
        • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
        • shortness of breath?
    4. Are you in a high risk category, including being elderly or have a pre-existing medical condition?

 


If so, unfortunately you will not be able to participate in the walk and you should refer to the Victorian and Federal websites for advice as to whether you should seek medical attention immediately and/or self isolate until given the all clear.  See also community sports guidelines.

 

If you feel sick in any way,  please cancel. If you become unwell during the walk please notify your Leader immediately.

Leaders will also ask the group to confirm the night before, including themselves, that nobody meets any of the criteria that would prevent them from walking.

 

Maximum of 10 walkers, including Sunday walks

There will be a maximum of 10 people, including the leader on all walks – including Sunday walks.  At the leader’s discretion there may be less. The smaller size will help with social distancing and management of risk.

 

Sunday walks now booked – Sunday 22 March cancelled

For the time being, Sunday walks will now become booked walks, with a maximum of 10.
As we are not able to convert the Sunday walk on 22nd March, to a booked walk, it has been cancelled.

 

Accommodated and hut walks, public transport walks

Until further notice, accommodated walks, hut walks and public transport walks after Monday 23 March are suspended.  Walks involving use of own tents will proceed subject to leaders agreeing to continue and the other protocols outlined here.

 

Good hygiene

During the walk please practice good hygiene to minimise the risk of infection. Maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between yourself and your fellow walkers. Do not share food or water or shake hands. Use tissues and do not dispose of these in the bush. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Wash hands or use sanitiser after contact with petrol pumps etc.

 

Car pooling and public transport

We encourage you to think carefully before using public transport to get to the walk meeting points.

 

Carpooling will be subject to the leader’s discretion. To comply with social distancing recommendations there should be no more than 2 persons per car, unless walkers specifically organise/request to have more in the car.  Following the government’s advice regarding taxis and ubers, it’s recommended the passenger is in the back seat. Accordingly,  there is a higher likelihood that if you need transport to the start of the walk that we may not be able to provide it. If carpooling occurs all occupants should confirm the night before that they do not meet any of the criteria above that would prevent participation.

 

If you have your own transport and wish to go direct to the meeting point, please contact your Leader via the “enquiry” button on the website.

 

Before and After walk activities

Please consider carefully all before and after walk activities, such as coffee, cake, dinner etc and ensure you can comply with the social distancing and good hygiene recommendations.

 

Club nights

The April Club night has been cancelled.

 

Cancellation of walks at short notice

Walks maybe cancelled if Leaders no longer feel comfortable leading or the Committee considers the risks too high.  The number of participants will also be closely monitored.

We are continually monitoring the situation, and expert advice is changing rapidly, so please monitor the website and your emails the evening before, and morning of, your walk.  We may need to cancel events at short notice.

 

Safe and happy walking!

Kris Peach

President


Jonas Lea Award, Leader awards, AGM

Jonas Lea Memorial Award 2019

Congratulations to David Sale, the very deserving winner of our 2019 Jonas Lea memorial award.  Jonas Lea’s mother, Judy Koch, was present to make the presentation and to meet our inaugural winner, Andrew Francis, ensuring it was a special night for all. Read the full citations for David and Andrew.

Leader awards

Congratulations to our 2019 leaders who led the most walks:

Sonya R – Sunday walks

Craig B – Saturday walks

Ken S – weekend and extended walks

 

Annual General Meeting update

We had a very successful AGM and clubnight, with more than 30 members attending a great slide show from Bruce M reminiscing about walking in the 60s to celebrate our first 80 years of walking and checking out the latest in gear and food with Andrew S and Bruce M. Highlights included new stoves, portable lights, water filters and coffee machines.

 

Many thanks to our outgoing treasurer, Jon, for four years of dedicated service.  Our financial position is very sound as set out in the Treasurer’s report.  The committee has agreed we should donate $5,000 to bushfire relief and the AGM members indicated we should split this between track maintenance and wildlife recovery.

 

The 2020 committee consists of our new Treasurer Joanne, new committee member representing walkers Jan, and continuing President Kris, walk secretary Doug, secretary Tanveer, Communications manager Sonya, and committee members Ken and Jen.

 

2019 was a very successful year for the Club, as set out in the President’s report. We’ve seen tremendous growth in our membership, from 70 trip card holders to 200 members, which is particularly pleasing. Many thanks to all our committee members, leaders, members and walkers who have made this possible.

Happy and safe walking!

 

 


Bushfire update

We have been monitoring Bushwalking Victoria’s recommendations about how to best assist with bushfire recovery.  They are encouraging walks near the affected towns, so we will start to look at this as part of future programs.

 

We have also decided to donate $5,000 to appropriate recovery funds.  We will be asking for members’ preferences regarding which funds at the AGM and Clubnight on 3 March, 2020, another good reason to come along to a very interesting night.  Andrew Stevenson and Bruce Meincke are giving an update on the latest and greatest bushwalking gear – with samples to try.

 

We will also be assisting with track recovery programs – the Bushwalking VICTORIA standing committee, Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation (BTAC) has been in contact with Parks Vuctorua and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) land managers and is awaiting their advice on where and when we can assist them. If you would like to help in the meantime, please have a look at options here.