Monday, 1 March 2010

Cathedral Ranges: Just a hike over a few boulders

We took a day trip out to Cathedral Ranges on Sunday, with my friend Jocelyn. It's about 100 km north east of Melbourne, between Taggerty and Buxton, near Marysville. It's been just over a year since the Black Saturday bushfires, so it was a fascinating trip out to the area. Everything is a contrast of charred black with new bright green growth.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them!

Hues of green and black

I spoke to Jocelyn on Friday night and let her know we were thinking of heading out to do some hiking at Cathedral Ranges, and she said she knew of this great walk out that way, she'd been there only a few weeks ago. Her words were: "Oh, the track isn't too bad, but you need to climb over a few boulders along the way". By "climbing over a few boulders" she actually meant "do a near-vertical ascent up the entire rockface right the way to the top". Not that we minded at all, it was heaps of fun... just not quite what she'd described!

We started at Sugarload Saddle, took the Wells Cave track to Sugarloaf Peak, then along the Razorback to The Farmyard, with a detour to the South Jawbone Peak, to the Jawbone carpark and around back to the Sugarloaf Saddle carpark via the road (refer to this map). It took the three of us almost exactly 6 hours to complete, with breaks and time to take photos. Much of the track has had to be re-marked recently, as many of the rocks have shattered due to the fire and there is a lot of debris along the track. Apparently (I've only just read this then!) the track is for experienced hikers only... and that was before the fires.

The ascent to Wells Caves is very steep from the outset, and in some parts you need to throw your pack up first and then pull yourself up.

Near vertical

"Just climbing over a few boulders" says Jocelyn

The cave itself is steep but great fun. However I wouldn't recommend this track if you are overweight or claustrophobic. Wells Cave is quite narrow, fine for little runts like me, but Gib found it to be a bit squeezy (he's not overweight, but tall and broad). Again, you can't do this with your pack on, there isn't the room.

Wills Cave: a bit squeezy

The view after the cave is fantastic and well worth it.

The next section up to Sugarloaf Peak is a bit hairy in some spots, but there are lots of solid hand holds and solid foot places. It's more of a mind thing than anything.

View from Sugarloaf Peak along the Razorback

We made our way from Sugarloaf Peak along the Razorback, where we stopped part way for lunch. The Razorback is a fairly comfortable walk for most of the way. There is a made walking track in some parts, and only a small amount of awkward climbing with narrow ledges, and some parts of the flatter track are quite sandy and with a lot of loose rubble. Most of it is fine though. There are some great views along the way.

While making our way to The Farmyard (so named because there are lyrebirds that live nearby that make farmyard noises! We didn't spot any though) we stumbled across the most amazing patch of cherry tomatoes. Maybe someone dropped a tomato there one day and now there is this huge patch? The smell of it was absolutely divine, and we rummaged through and picked all the ripe ones. They were super sweet. I would love to go back there in a week or so I can gorge myself silly on all the hundreds of now-green tomatoes.

Like kids in a candy store: The enormous patch of tomatoes

The walk up from The Farmyard to South Jawbone Peak is relatively easy and offers lovely views. I didn't sit out on the edge like the other dudes I was with, and thankfully they didn't tell me what a long drop it was below until after we'd walked down the hill a bit.

The view from South Jawbone Peak

We took the track from South Jawbone Creek back to the Jawbone carpark, which is a pleasant descent via a creek and through cool ferny forest.

We then walked along the main driving track (uphill most of the way) back to the car.

Aftermath of Black Saturday, just over 12 months ago

Uphill home


Roberts Hiking Journey said...

Nice pics, you've now inspired me to hike there, this w/e!


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