Hiking Victorian Alps Traverse (Day 1-3)

After almost seven weeks in the land of milk and honey, I left Arapiles on Wednesday 13th April 2022. The long Easter weekend was approaching, and the campsite got packed. Most of the other “residents” also left. I had my best time in the weeks prior, and could extend my skills on trad climbing. Will was going to drive the same day to Sydney to pick-up some friends to do some rock climbing, and we wanted to meet on the intersection of our drives in Benalla or Wangaratta. But his friends contracted Covid-19, and he wasn’t driving to Sydney. Thus, we also didn’t meet. It took another 6 months, until we saw each other again in Arapiles.

On Maundy Thursday morning, I drove to Bright, in order to prepare my hike. I got a map, did my walker registration, and stocked up on food. In the morning the town was calm, but in the afternoon it was bustling, and full of tourists. Just right in time to escape into the mountains. Not that I expected to be completely alone, but at least much less.

In the late afternoon I drove over the Tawonga Gap to Mount Beauty. This settlement was built for the workers of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme, and serves nowadays as base for the Falls Creek ski resort in winter. I parked my car and started my hike. It seemed to be a bit unusual to start hiking at the base of the mountain, because some elderly blokes looked at me. I asked them, if it was safe to park my car there until Monday or Tuesday. They said yes for sure, as I told them that I’m heading off to Mount Hotham.

Mount Bogan my first destination can be clearly seen from Mount Beauty
Those barns with chimney are very common in the area of the Victorian Alps. Later I found out they’re used to dry for example.

I walked out of town along Rock Pool Road and then forded the Kiewa River East Branch. I was actually happy that the gate was locked, so there would be no high-clearance 4WD on the Fire Trails. After a few hundred metres I turned right into the East Kiewa Fire Track. I joined the fire trail for the next 12km or so. It was continuously winding up its way. My original plan was to stay at the Cairn Creek Hut at the Big River, but from my research I gathered that the access is quite hard, and I would have needed to ford the Big River twice. Thus, we such a late start, I stayed at a campground next to a small creek (can’t recall the name). There were definitely signs from car based camping, but tonight I was surprisingly at my own. On my way up I cam across at least two deer. They’re big animals. One time, I just made a break, and didn’t make any additional noise on purpose, and once I sat off again this massive deer was maybe 5m in front of me. Once, he realised me, he run off into the bush. In the evening, after I just pitched up my tent, a deer wanted to come out of the forest into the opening of the campground. Then he saw me with my light in and around the tent, and then started roaring. I thought fuck, that’s not nice. He continued for about 15min, and then went away. Those deer were introduced by the British settlers, because they thought it’s a good idea to have something to hunt. The only problem is, that there were no animals with hooves in Australia prior to the white occupation. Now we not only have deer, but also e.g. horses, cattle, sheep, camel. The deer, but also horses, destroy the fragile alpine soil with their hooves. This is why a deer reduction programme is in use, and some parts of the national park are closed intermittently for active deer shooting.

Big River Firetail can’t be missed

Good Friday I continued my hike along the Big River Fire Track. There’s a small creek at the turnoff of the Quartz Ridge Track, and I could see evidence that several people camped at nearby Bogong Creek Saddle overnight. I saw the campsite on the map, but was unsure about the water supply. Thus, I opted for the safe option. I took the Quartz Ridge Track to the summit of Mount Bogong. The beginning was cut free from windfall, and easy to follow. I also saw the turnoff to Cairn Creek Hut. But this looked already quite overgrown. I was happy, to not have bush bashed there. Also it would be an additional 200m elevation loss to get down to the hut (and up again at the other day). The Quartz Ridge is actually more like a mountain spine. There’s not a single exposed section. It was just an easy walk. Shortly before the summit some people came towards me, and the summit itself was even a bit more busy (and shrouded in clouds, when I was there).

Large forests cover the mountains
That’s the way to Cairn Creek Hut
The white stags, seen from Quartz Ridge Track, are the leftover from the last bushfire
View back to Mount Beauty

Mount Bogong has a prominence of 1233m, the sixth highest prominence in Australia. Hence, depending on your cutoff criteria Mount Bogong could be even considered as second highest mountain in Australia, as the other mountains around Mount Kosciuszko only have prominences below 200m: Mount Townsend (189m), Mount Twynham (155m), Rams Head (110m). Thus, it’s up to the definition (100m-300m are quite common) what is considered as an independent mountain. After the summit I walked to Cleve Cole Hut. This is a private, well maintained hut. There was even a guy, with his girlfriend, from the ski club, who maintains the hut. He told me, I could stay in the hut, and don’t need to pitch up my tent. I like that idea. Several other bush walkers pitched up their tent around the hut.

On top of Mount Bogong
View Back to Quartz Ridge Track and the summit of Mount Bogong…
…as well as to the other side of the mountain spine on the way to Cleve Cole Hut

Saturday morning, 16th April 2022, I continued my walk along the Long Spur before turning into the T-Spur and heading down to the Big River. Again the track was well maintained, easy to follow, no windfall or scrubs. Maybe a few short steepish sections. After fording the Big River, I needed to gain some elevation again. With a big backpack on such an easy track I still could do 400m an hour, and still it’s not running. After a few metres some bushwalkers had their break and were sitting next to the track, commenting on how slow I was. Well, I couldn’t resist to tell them that this is an easy walk, without any exposure, just going a bit uphill. Then they shut their fuck up. After the ascent I had my lunch break in front of Ropers Hut. It’s a small, rebuilt (as the original one burnt down in a bushfire in 2003) hut, and should be only used in emergency (which I don’t understand, are you worried the hut could get some scratches, while using it, before it’s burnt down in the next bushfire?). The track after the hut widens and after a few minutes I joined the Big River firetrail again. Then I “climbed” Mount Nelse, and its two “pre” peaks. It’s not really clear which peak is the highest. So, I walked to all three. Nevertheless, one of them is Victorias third highest. The maps suggest it’s Mount Nelse West, but I had my highest GPS reading on Mount Nelse itself (but only walking out, not walking in, there was a difference of 10m). None, of the summit is in particular interesting, also their views are not breathtaking, but they were on my way anyway. I met a few other people on the summits, most of them doing day walks from the nearby Falls Creek Ski Resort. On the way “down” I passed two huts: Edmonsons Hut and Johnstons Hut. I could’ve camped there, but I continued, as it was easy terrain.

Crossing Camp Creek Valley along Long Spur
It’s part of the Australian Alps Walking Track
View from T-Spur to Mount Nelse
A red parrot sat calmly on this branch above me
View Back to Mount Bogong shortly after lunch
Approaching Mount Nelse West
It was quite sweaty at this day on top of Mount Nelse West with Mount Nelse North (centre) and Mount Nelse (right) in the backdrop
Mount Feathertop with Falls Creek Ski Resort in the foreground
Trig Point at Mount Nelse North…
…and on Mount Nelse…
…as well as its summit cairn.

I turned into Marum Point Track and walked down to the Langford East Aqueduct. This was actually a nice change to the kilometres of firetrail before. The Langford East Aqueduct is already part of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme. I followed the scheme for a few kilometre, and also passed a revegetation side, which was destroyed by deer before. Just before Langford Gap is an old hut from the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV). It’s open and not locked, and in really bad weather you could find shelter there. I instead opted to pitch up my tent next to it. Nevertheless, the hut at provided at least shelter from wind for cooking, and eating dinner and breakfast. And the Langford East Aqueduct is a reliable freshwater source.

Looking down a valley from the high plains
Rockey Valley Storage from the Marum Point Track (at least back on a track for a short time)
Plenty of money at the SECV…they even built a covered bridge…
…over the Langford East Aqueduct.

Hiking The Great North Walk (Two Parts)

The Great North Walk is a long distance multi-day walk from Sydney Cove to Newcastle. In total it comprises 245 km, and starts in Circular Quay. Man plan, since 2019, was actually to do the Lindeman Pass in the Blue Mountains. But the weather in the Blue Mountains was always very unstable last year. There was a record in rain in Sydney due to the La Niña effect (in combination with the negative Indian Ocean Dipole). One landslide in the Blue Mountains even killed two tourists. Thus, I found the conditions for Lindeman Pass not suitable enough, as it’s a very rarely done track, you need good stable weather. Instead I opted for something more easy, which could be also done in changing weather environments. Hence, on Saturday 5th February 2022 I went to Circular Quay in order to take the ferry to Woolwich. I just missed the direct ferry, and needed had a connection on Cockatoo Island. I used the time to explore the small island in the middle of Sydney harbour. Cockatoo Island was used as a shipyard, and once this business shifted out of Sydney harbour, steam turbines for coal fired power plants were manufactured and serviced here. Some of the old heavy machinery is still preserved. After 45min or so, I got my 5min connecting ferry to Woolwich and finally could start my hike.

Sydney CBD from Cockatoo Island
Still Preserved Big Lathe in one of the machine shops
Old dock is nowadays used for recreational boating
One of the old draft rooms
Leftovers from an Indigenous Sit In
There were extensive caves excavated

The first few kilometres lead through the suburbs of Woolwich and Hunter Hill. One of the most expensive in Sydney. At one point you actually almost go through their backyard, but it’s still council land, and you’re free to room. Even if it’s a 20 million $ property behind. The only annoying thing is the aircraft noise, because Hunters Hill is in the direct approach path of the 16R runway of Sydney airport, and the airplanes are already quite low here. The track actually passes directly the former Manson of Eddie Obeid, just another convicted corrupt NSW politician (Labour Party). Not to be confused with Daryl Maguire, the Ex-Boyfriend of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal Party).

Let The Walk Begin
Woolwich Dock with the supermaxi yacht LawConnect in the back
One of the backyards of the big mansions
St. Peter Chanel Church

The track basically follows the Lane Cove River. In the beginning due to the tides, it’s brackish water lead to the development of swamps and small mangrove forest. Also in the beginning you can still sail on the river, and beside the typical sailing boats, there was also a party boat present. The only purpose was to get the shit-faced. I mean what else are you going to do on a Saturday arvo in Sydney. After a while the gorge of the Lane Cove River gets bigger and greener. This lengthy green oasis meanders through Sydney in North-Easterly direction. But still the you always can hear the M2 Hill Motorway on the western slopes, or the A3 over the De Burghs Bridge. Thus, don’t expect a quiet experience. On the Eastern slopes of the Lane Cove River in Riverview is the private Saint Ignatius’ College, where pupils are taught the benefits of neoliberalism. The school has notable alumni like Tony Abbott (former Prime Minister – now does something else) and Barnaby Joyce (former Deputy Prime Minister – is still shagging his former communications staffer).

Mangrove Forest in the brackish water
Let’s go party people
One of the industrial sites, while crossing the Lane Cove River

In the evening the weather shifted as forecasted, and it started to drizzle. I still had a few kilometres to go, before I finished at Macquarie Park. I needed to hurry up a bit, to catch the last direct bus back. In the end everything worked out flawlessly. Sure in the worst case, I could have used another connection, but that would’ve taken much more time.

The further upstream, the greener it got
GPX Track

On Saturday 22nd January 2022, Heidelies, Bruce and I drove to Hornsby, as Bruce was visiting his friend John. Heidelies and I took the train to Cowan. The plan was to do the section of the Great North Walk from Cowan to Berowra. It was a warm and sunny Saturday. The track was also easy to follow, and also started easy with a firetrail. Then we got into the Eucalyptus bush, and a few ups over the sandstone outcrops, and then downs into small creek gorges. The creeks had actually quite some water due to the recent rain. After a while we were far enough away, so that we no longer heard the Pacific Motorway. After about 2h we reached the lookout above Berowra Waters. Then a steepish downclimb followed, and we had our lunch at the ferry at Berowra Waters, which was quite busy with all the scenic drivers on a Saturday afternoon.

Eucalyptus Forest on the sandstone outcrops
Heidelies and I at the beginning of the walk
Down at the creeks it was actually quite nice to escape from the heat
Why go to Komodo Island, if you can see them here (that was actually a big one)
Berowra Waters Lookout

So far so good. Then the drama started. Shortly after lunch we needed to cross a small creek. It was a bit slippery over the rocks. But that wasn’t everything. Heidelies thought she required a photo of her next to the waterfall. I’m mean it was not even a waterfall, it was a small drop of this trickle. I was already 20m away, so I needed to return over this slippery rocks. After the Instashot was done, I turned around and continued walking, when I heard a dull impact just a few seconds later. Heidelies slipped and crashed into a small waterhole. We continued walking, but she was in pain, and we didn’t had any pain killers. The closest bus station was in Berowra Heights. Thus, we needed to continue to walk at least to there. But it still was about 200m elevation gain. Originally, we wanted to walk all the way to the train station, but we skipped that. After taking the bus to the train station, and the train back to Asquith, we needed to collect the car from Bruce. Well, he was not amused to say the least, as he wanted to stay overnight at John’s place. Anyway, I drove back and dropped Heidelies off at the hospital, and then back home. The result: broken wrist and four weeks sick leave. You’ve to know in the neoliberal Australia you only get 2 weeks paid sick leave per year, the rest you can take paid or unpaid leave. That’s up to you, as employee, and not your employers problem. Maybe I’m just too spoiled from getting up to 78 weeks paid sick leave (within a 3 years time frame).

Here everything was still fine
GPX Track

Getting to Sydney via East Gippsland (Part 2)

Thursday morning I continued driving North. After a few kilometres I arrived in Eden, back in civilisation. That’s nothing compared to the little bit of adventure I had the day before in East Gippsland. The whole south coast was packed with Sydneysiders on Christmas holidays, doing their usual thing, boating, camping, fishing, and tanning to get a bit of melanoma. It seemed that all Melburnians stopped in Lakes Entrance, or at least in East Gippsland, whereas als Syndeysiders didn’t go further than Eden, and for sure not across the border. What a great local patriotism in Australia. My first stop was in Tathra at the Pig and Whistle Lookout in the Mist. I had a walk around the headland. At the Tathra Warf you could get expensive coffee in single use cups, and the holidayers queued up for it.

Pig and Whistle Lookout in Tathra

My next stop was Aragunnu Camping, and again I took the boardwalk to Mimosa Rocks, where the Paddle Steamer Mimosa was wrecked in 1863 after running onto rocks at the northern end. There is also a grassy mound which is a midden. It contains the shells of seafood that Indigenous people ate over millennia. They showed the people what the last visitors ate and helped so in managing food resources. Middens also provide a well drained area to camp in wet weather.

Mimosa Rocks
Midden

In Bermagui I had lunch at Dickinson Park. I pitched up my table behind my car and turned on my kettle to have my own coffee, critically observed by the holidayers – like why can’t you just buy a coffee in a single use cup and support local businesses. Because it’s my fucking money, and I decide what I’m doing with it – like not spending 5$ for a coffee, if I can have it for 30cents in my Bialetti Moka Express.

Waterfront in Bermagui

Afterwards I headed towards Murunna Point. There I did a short walk. Directly from the carpark you can see Camel Rock. The walk along the cliff is actually quite nice. You’ve the nice coloured rocks at Murunna Point, and some rocks in the water in front of the cliff. If you turn around, one looks like a Horse and thus is called Horse Head. Must be a European name, as there were no horses in Australia 250 years ago. Now the feral brumbies are even protected in NSW, even they’re a pest to the local wildlife. Go figure. Murunna Point is a very important place for indigenous people, as you’ve the best view to Guluga (Mount Dromedary as named by Captain James Cook – but it had already a name for millennia, there was no reason to give it another one), was shrouded in clouds at this day.

Camel Rock
Cliff Walk towards Murunna Point
Horse Head
Murunna Point
Today Guluga was shrouded in clouds (and only the Little Dromedary Mountain to the right was visible)

I made a detour to Central Tilba. It’s a small gentrified village, it was packed with tourists, which slurp expensive coffee or gulp some beer, in one of the small local businesses. I couldn’t stand the vibe. I just had a short walk to the granite lookout, but it was also nothing special. Hence, I just drove off. In Narooma I stopped at the Bar Rock Lookout, from here you could get a glimpse to Montague Island. The clouds still had a low ceiling, so it wasn’t easy to see. The I had stroll to Australia Rock. Well, it’s a hole in a rock which resembles loosely the shape of Australia. You could queue up for a long time to get your holiday photo with you standing inside the hole, or you just couldn’t care less. Along the pier Australian Fur Seals were relaxing on the rocks, just a few metres from the walkway. When I drove out of Narooma, I gave an indigenous man a lift. Yes, he was already drunk – like so mane Australians at the same time at the same day – and there were literally hundreds of cars driving past him, but do you think one of those shiny soccer mum SUV’s would have stopped for him?!?

Granite Rocks in Clouds in Central Tilba
Montague Island in the Mist
Australia Rock
Australian Fur Seals Relaxing on the Rocks

My last stop was Mullimburra Point just before Moruya where I spotted big grey kangaroos, and had a short walk through the mist along the cliffs in the late afternoon. I camped just behind Moruya next to the road at an official carpark. On Friday morning 24th December 2021 I drove to Sydney. I already did the section of the Princes Highway south from Sydney to Batemans Bay in 2008, but in reverse direction.

Big Grey Kangaroos staring at me…
…at Mullimburra Point

My first stop was Jervis Bay Territory. It was my last mainland territory to visit. Jervis Bay Territory belongs sort of to the ACT, but still has their own car number plates – must be one of the rarest in whole Australia. Murray Beach was the location for the only proposed Nuclear Power Station in Australia. The project was officially abandoned in the early 1970’s, but the super wide paved road across Jervis Bay is one relict of it, as well as the super big flat carpark. As this area was already bulldozed for the power plant construction site. Nevertheless, upon entry you still need to pay National Park entrance fees. I had a walk to Governor Head Lookout, where you can see Bowen Island directly in front of you. Apart from that Jervis Bay is well know for its shark fishing competition.

Welcome to Jervis Bay Territory
Bowen Island from Governor Head Lookout

In Nowra I stopped at the Hanging Rock and did the short Bens Walk around and down to the Shoalhaven River. It’s a nice area, and there’s even some rock climbing possible as Will told me later. I was a bit in a hurry because of Christmas Eve. After Nowra you’re basically already in the Greater Sydney area and the road has at least double lane. After Wollongong I had my last stop at the Bulli Lookout. It’s a great view above Wollongong, but also already a bit run down. A few hiking tracks around are already closed, because they’re no longer maintained and unsafe. From here I drove straight back to Sydney, which still took me about 2h due to traffic on Christmas Eve. I was just right in time, to leave for Church Service in downtown (well, once a year I can go into church, as I pay my church tax). At least this time Heidelies was not as drunk as two years ago.

Hanging Rock above Shoalhaven River
…and the sandstone cliff below…
…with a local spectator.
The Steelworks Town Wollongong from Bulli Lookout…
…as well as the cliffs towards Panorama House.
Yes, there’s a lot of Hope needed here.
GPX Track

Getting to Sydney via East Gippsland (Part 1)

Tuesday morning, 21st December 2021, I arrived at the old Station Pier with the Spirit of Tasmania 2 hours late. The bottleneck was the drive out, because the first few hundred metres are just single lane, and there’s a roundabout which was packed, when the ferry arrives. I was also super hungry, as I left my food in the car, and that wasn’t accessible, during the voyage. Thus, after reaching Beaconsfield Parade, towards St. Kilda, I stopped a convenient place and had a quick breakfast in my car. I already visited St. Kilda in 2008, and didn’t had the patience to make another stop there. Hence, I was just driving out of the city on the easiest way, without paying any tolls. For the main part I haven’t been driving the Princes highway, along the coast from Melbourne to Sydney, so far. Throughout Melbourne I used the multi-lane Princes Freeway, which is Toll Free, as I couldn’t be bothered to stop at traffic lights every few hundred metres on the Princes Highway. After Pakenham you’ve basically left Melbourne behind. The traffic eases off, and driving becomes much more relaxed. The road follows more or less the railway line to Bairnsdale. In Yarragon I finally stopped, put on my kettle and had a relaxing coffee. I’ve already driven the section from Sale to Bairnsdale, in opposite direction, in 2008, when we drove from Tallangatta to Forest via Omeo (and then even visited the Wilsons Promontory NP the same day at late afternoon). In Bairnsdale I wanted to go into the library, but they refused entry, as in their opinion, I had the wrong vaccination certificate. I told them, that this is what I got in Tasmania. But they said, they can’t accept this, and I need to go to Services Australia, and get another one. I thought what. You’re one country, and you don’t accept the certificate from one state in another. Well then I sat outside the library, it was warm anyway, and they had also a power plug and WiFi for my laptop.

In Johnsonville I had a nice free hot shower, before I arrived in Lakes Entrance in the late afternoon. Lakes Entrance is a tourist destination. In particular now, during summer holidays, 3 days before Christmas. All the people from Melbourne were finally free, and escaped the big city. I stopped at Jemmie’s Point Lookout. From here you’ve a direct view onto the artificial Lakes Entrance. The opening need to be continuously dredged, otherwise it’s no longer usable for the (fishing) boats. They even built a pipeline to get the sand out onto the beach again. The lakes are no longer freshwater, but partly brackish water due to the man-made opening. In the distance on the ocean, you could actually also see the big oil platforms. These are Australians only offshore oil and gas platforms. But luckily this dirty business is hardly visible from the beach. I also had a walk around the beach in the evening. Most beach goers already went back to have lunch. I followed the 90 miles beach maybe for a kilometre. I could see one of those sand transfer pipes, but I didn’t go all the way to the Flagstaff Lookout. Instead I took one of the tracks through the dunes and returned by the Lakes Foreshore Walk. I saw even a red parrot at the birds lookout, but not that I would become a twitcher because of that.

Lakes Entrance
Reeves channel
Local shipping fleet in Lakes Entrance
Ninety Miles Beach with the Sand Discharge Pipeline (left)
GPX Track

I just camped a few kilometres behind Lakes Entrance. Once you’re out of Lakes Entrance, you’re directly away from the tourist masses and entering into the large forest areas of East Gippsland. Also the 2020 bushfires were devastating in this area. You still could see burnt trees along the whole way. The area which burnt down is beyond comprehension. Still nature strikes back, and most of the forest is already quite green. Wednesday morning I continued my drive, and my first stop was the Stony Creek Trestle bridge, which was actually quite close. It’s built of red ironbark and grey box timber and is the largest standing bridge of its kind in Victoria. The bridge was damaged by a bushfire in 1980, and the railway line from Bairnsdale to Orbost was closed in 1987. Since then the bridge is no longer maintained, and in constant decline. My next stop was the O’Gradys bridge, or well at least what’s left from it. Because half of the bridge, over the small road, was already demolished. The rails of the Gippsland railway line were dismantled in 1994, and it’s track is now used as the East Gippsland Rail Trail.

Stony Creek Trestle bridge
O’Gradys bridge

Shortly before Orbost I stopped at the Snowy River, which is flowing all the way from Jindabyne. The clouds had a low ceiling and I couldn’t see much, except the old railway bridge before the old railway station in Orbost. Despite that the railway was closed in 1987, there’s not much left from the former railway station in Orbost. The terminus of Gippsland railway line. There were plans to have a connection to Bombala railway in NSW. But this never eventuated, partly because of the two different gauges. Victoria uses broad gauges, whereas in NSW the standard gauge is used. Partly because of the rugged terrain, and finally the constant threat of bushfires. Nevertheless, in terms of reliability, it would’ve been beneficial, if there’s more than one railway link between Victoria and NSW, except the one in Albury/Wodonga. I had a also a brief look at the Snowy River, but this was just a brown sludge. White settlers cut off most of the vegetation along the banks, which led to faster water flow, but also increased erosion. Nowadays a revegetation programme is in place, to slow down the river flow and eventually the vegetation. Mount Raymond was in clouds and nothing to be seen from there.

Snowy River Lookout
Orbost viaduct next to the Princes highway
Remains of the Orbost train station
Snowy River in Orbost
Mount Raymond in clouds

In Cann River I turned right and drove towards Mueller Inlet. The Point Hicks Road was locked after the junction of the Bald Hills Track. I parked my car there, and had lunch before I headed off to Point Hicks. This is a very remote area. Don’t except any mobile phone coverage. Also it’s snake area, and yes I saw 2 brown snakes along my way. Not certain, if I’ve worn my gaiters, but I better should’ve. The hike to Point Hicks is actually quite easy. The obstacle is, that the trestle bridge across the Thurra River collapsed during the last bushfire. This is why the track is officially close. I didn’t want to get wet feet, so I climbed on the railings over the collapsed bridge. Later, on my way back I had lower tide, and could see that the railing grid was actually supported by cut off trunks, and hence it should be strong enough to just step on them (what I did on my way out). Also the Thurra River Campground burnt down. Some campers must have left in a hurry. It’s a be creepy to walk through that area, as there are still caravans, a car, bicycles, tables, and even some wine bottles actually survived the blast. It feels a bit like Pripyat. But there’s evidence that the fire ravaged through parts of the campground. Afterwards you just follow the wide track. On the way back the brown snakes were sunning on the way. And that’s actually quite dangerous, as you can walk quite fast across the branches. But if one of those “branches” starts to move, you’d better stop immediately. There is some windfall along the way, but nothing you wouldn’t be be able to overcome. Before you arrive at the lighthouse, there’s additional warning signs about snakes, and that it’s closed. There’s CCTV around the lighthouse, but I’m not certain if this is actually active, maybe it is. The lighthouse at Point Hicks just feels like dormant. The cars from the rangers are still in the garage, and the cabins are just locked. There’s no evidence the fire came close here.

Now I understood, why the road was closed
The wooden poles below the grid gives you enough support to cross with dry feet
Abandoned Caravans…
…and picnic tables all over the campground
Heavy rainfalls afterwards caused erosion of the track, maybe favoured by the previously burnt trees
This just looks like the ranger has a lunch break

Here’s where all the trouble started. Point Hicks is supposed to be the first land of Australia Captain James Cook saw back in 1770. The coordinates he wrote down, doesn’t exists, but this seem to be closed they came up with. There are two memorials in front of the lighthouse, which celebrate this achievement, or should I say luck. If he would’ve sailed just a few kilometres south, he just would sailed through the Bass Strait towards South Africa. And who knows what would’ve happened to Terra Nullius, without being occupied by the British Empire. I went through thick shrub along the Saros track. I was a bit scared because of the snakes, even if I know they’re not hiding where it’s cold and dark, but in the sun. The steam ship Saros run aground here in 1937, and the shipwreck can be seen directly ashore from the viewing platform.

Point Hicks lighthouse with lighthouse cabins
Two Memorials…
…recognising the first sight of Australia (the dates differ, as they crossed the date line, coming from the East)
Here the trouble started for the inhabitants of this land, which lived here since up to 60,000 years
Point Hicks Lighthouse and Memorials from Saros lookout…
…and the rusty remains of SS Saros ashore.
On the way back along the beach…either from marine traffic, or escaped from the nearby campsite
GPX Track

I had a coffee in Cann River, after this short adventure. They wanted me to register with the Victoria whatever app, but I told them I just came from Tasmania yesterday and will be out of the state by this evening. Thus, I’m not installing an extra app to drink a coffee, as this would be my last stop in Victoria anyway. So somehow, we managed this, and I could sit down for a coffee in the afternoon. Business didn’t seem to be too good at the end of Victoria, as they wanted to sell their shop.

I made a short stop beside the road and walked the Drummer Rainforest Walk. This was nothing special, as I already had seen tempered rainforest, and no comparison to the Tarkine for example. Also the Genoa Hotel Motel had seen better days. Since they built the new bridge, the traffic is no longer driving directly through this small village, and even the fuel station on the other side of the road closed. Genoa is the last settlement in Victoria, and after two days, I finally crossed the border into NSW. I was quite astonished about the vast forest area I was driving through here in East Gippsland.

Drummer Rainforest Walk
Genoa Hotel Motel
Well, this time I was relieved to have left

Tasmania

On Monday 20th December 2021 my time in Tasmania came to an end. What was only intended as a short summer trip for a few weeks, ended up in being more than 11 months on the island. Due to several lockdowns and their restrictions on the main land, there was no point of going back. And also I’ve had always great company throughout my time here. In hindsight it was a great year, and I actually did much more (hikes) than I thought of. Nevertheless, there was not much more for me to explore on that island. For me bushwalking is just a cheap replacement for mountaineering.

The real beauty of Tasmania lies in their natural landscapes. And in the North-West Mount Roland in the South and the Dial Range to the West are the prominent landmarks. I saw Mount Roland on my first day in Tasmania, had my best adventure on its Rysavy Ridge, and each morning when I was driving to the Devonport Library. I went there several days, as it’s a very modern library, maybe one of the best in whole Australia. You’ve a small kitchen with hot water to make your own coffee/tea, and a great view to the port with the ferry from Melbourne, The Spirit of Tasmania, directly anchoring in sight. Here I met Adam, a unique person, but everyone just called him Mr. Chipps. He turned 80 at the end of 2021, and immigrated to Australia at the beginning of the 1950’s with his father from Germany at the age of 13. The family didn’t had the money for his mother and sister, so they needed to leave them behind near Frankfurt. He still spoke a bit of German, and told me about his eventful life. First in Sydney, later in Tasmania at various locations, and he settled down in Devonport. He was always carrying a feather in his hut, and was an almost daily visitor in the library to read his newspaper and play his online games at the PC’s. Unfortunately, we never made a photo together.

Mount Roland from Sheffield (© Kristy)
Dial Range (© Kristy)

There’s also a new “development” across the road. In Australia, when they talk about “developments”, they actually mean digging a hole and pouring concrete into it. They’re not referring to any sophisticated high-tech developments, but rather simply to real estate. This is manageable, and intellectually easy for everyone to grasp. Anyway, during my several months during my stay I could observe the “progress” of this development, or should I say the lack of it. It looked more like a job creation measure, instead any active work. Don’t get me wrong the workers were present on the work site, but emphasis here must be on present. But who cares, as long as its only tax payers money. That’s somehow anonymous, and can be freely used by politicians. When I returned 12 months later (yes, I know spoiler alarm), it didn’t really surprise me, that they weren’t finished with the building.

Present At Work (opposite Devonport Library)…
…does this look somehow familiar 😅

For most of the time I stayed in Tasmanias notorious North-West with Kristy. This area is far from being well-know as progressive. Here, you find ordinary blokes, driving (lifted-up) high-clearance 4WD, and doing ordinary jobs…like excavation. If you’re a bit smarter, you’re going across the Bass Strait and study in Melbourne, and stay there. Thus, the rest who stays, has an ordinary life. It’s nothing we could associate with, and thus, we didn’t really mingle with the locals. Maybe they have a shiny 4WD, a big house (without any insulation), a big TV, but they’re still bogans, maybe upper class bogans. But still not my value system. They admire the Bass Strait (in particular during Covid-19), and are proud of not being part of (mainland) Australia. The locals also like to do whatever they want in their backyard, and will tell you that: “They” (council, state government, federal government) don’t tell me what I can do on my 8 acres (or how many you might have). That laws and rules should be made for the common good, and not for the individual benefit has not yet reached the bogans (or has never been conveyed to them). The voting patterns of the general public are more in favour of voting for $200 more in their own pockets. If you don’t know how bogans look like, look for a person wearing a mullet and shorts. That’s the best indication. Will even told me, that he didn’t talk to his brother, because he was wearing a mullet. And yes, Tasmanians have a fetish for shorts. They always wear shorts: during Summer, during Winter, at school (yes, it’s part of their official school uniform for boys – and short skirts for girls; yes, that’s still happening in the 21st century in Australia, the female sexualization as societal expectation is indoctrinated at school each day for years; if you’re a girl and not wearing a skirt, then you must be either a Dyke or Muslim…looks like a lot of peer pressure to me), at work, during bush walking (sometimes in combination with Long Johns and gaiters, which renders wearing shorts obsolete anyway), and during all other activities.

“Good Onya”…official language from the state government (© Kristy)

Nevertheless, most of the people living in Hobart and Launceston, and here you might be able to find some alternative vibes. In particular downtown Hobart offers various opportunities for music, food, and culture. You’ve the famous Salamanca market, MONA, Dark Mofo, and then you have cricket (wasn’t that last Test game against the pommy gits nice…5 days game with the red ball, and then…you get a draw…I enjoyed each second of it, in particular when Marnus “I chew chewing gum like ruminant” Labuschagne is gone). On the other hand, you’ve also the working class suburb of Glenorchy, which has the highest level of poker machines losses in the state. And the pub with the highest poker machine losses in the state is the Elwick Hotel, where the poker machine room is open from 8:00am until 4:00am (they must be really desperate, I guess). You don’t seem to find as many poker machine venues in the wealthier areas. It’s in the poorer areas where people need hope, and the lure of winning sucks them in. That’s easy business, but bad for the local community which looses $20 million…per year. In a former state election the Labour opposition proposed to change gambling laws…and lost. This was a voters decision, as I said earlier, they’re looking for the hope to get 200$ more in their own pocket, rather than the $20 million loss in total. That’s perfect for The Federal Group, because they hold the monopoly for pokie licences in Tasmania. Yes, it’s a monopoly held by a private company, not even the government.

In the afternoon I got my car ready packed (except I forgot one T-Shirt), and said goodbye to Kristy and Paul. It was a bittersweet goodbye. Kristy and I were actually looking forward to meet in Sydney for NYE, but due to then Covid-19 restrictions in Tasmania, that never eventuated. The night ferry left Devonport 2h late. I stood aft during the departure, and had a final look back at Devonport, its library, which I visited so often in the previous months, and even a handful of people were waiving goodbye with their torches/phones at the quay from the other side of the Mersey river. That’s it, we were sailing into the night.