Today we set out to walk. Armed with a camera and 100-400mm lens, a couple of sandwiches, bottles of drink, a chocolate bar, sugar lollies and a pair of extra socks, we hit the tracks of the few thousand acres of the Wombat Forest south of Trentham in the Victorian Central Ranges. A pleasant day with no hint of a breeze when we left and a comfortable and sunny 19C.
Our path took us along the back of the cemetery which sported new signs warning of the need to be aware of the condition of the track during wet or windy weather in the first 175 metres of our walk…..had someone tried to take the Cemetery Trust to court for a slip in the mud or a clip to the head by an errant branch? We trod carefully. Past there we had the choice of paths…and choose the one to the right which took us along the edge of a local farm…this paddock inhabited by a dozen or so well covered and relaxed horned Hereford steers who took only a passing interest in us. A rising whine warned of a couple of dirt bikes coming down from the north on the other side of the paddock…and the steers, as one, took off along the fence line in pursuit of the noise makers. We walked east on Domino Road for perhaps 30 metres and turned into the bush on the south side…..the trees here were different to the ones nearer the cemetery….the ground is rockier and the trees are frequent but the trunks are thinner. We discovered what seemed to be an old diggings where a small valley had been dug out by hand to a depth of about 5 feet and where the vegetation had re-established over its base, then passed behind a new house going up in the middle of a patch of forest bordering a small pine plantation, and found ourselves back on the road between Trentham and Newbury.
We walked north for a short distance and turned down the Old Blackwood Road, past the seller or local honey and old clocks and along the well formed dirt road till we found Tower Track….we followed it till we got to Pronk Track which was named after the local who maintained the road for his customers and visitors as proclaimed by a sign nailed to a tree on the corner – a long time ago as suggested by the height of the sign on the tree well above our head height…..we poked up and down the occasional driveway disguised as a track and noted the number of properties secreted away in the forest…..continued along the road (still marked as a public road at that stage) and through a patch of remnant moist forest in the side of Blue Mountain….moss covering all of the tree stumps from way back and the trees that lay along the ground, the ferns that had taken over from the bracken of the drier parts, past straight trunked Manna Gums growing up from the hillside below us to way above us with Scrub Wrens flitting alongside through the lower storey plants. I paused and stood for a few minutes listening to the different bird calls in that more dense and cool forest. The track wound past a house surrounded by rhododendrons in full flower and 3 horses…and on over the rise, looking less and less like a public road the further we went.
As we climbed upward again around the side of Blue Mountain the track seemed newer and there were marks made by the tracks of a Caterpillar and newer foliage lying along the sides…not a good sign for our continued exploration…….and then we came to a gate…and the end of the track. So we found a fallen tree and had lunch…..sandwiches of salami, cheese and green tomato pickle on good Trentham bread, a couple of mouthfuls of coke. I took my shoes and socks off and sat dangling my bare feet like a kid, watching the birds around us and listening to the sounds of the forest…and the occasional chainsaw off in the distance.
Some time later with a new pair of socks on my feet, we set off for home…pausing on the way to chat to the horses at the house on the bend……the greeter of the 3 of them was a tall bay who marched down the paddock, straight up to me and put his head over mine to talk to Clye and get a good cheek scratch at the same time….the pale buckskin and the old palomino joined in the conversation and accepted a bit of sugar lolly for their politeness. We retraced our steps, and halfway up the Old Blackwood Road we heard the first car of the day come up behind us and slow to a stop….after introductions…..walkers are a little unusual out that way, the driver, Ron Thorpe from Trentham had been out visiting a friend and was on his way back to town..he offered us a lift but we were happy walking. We spent the next 20 or so minutes chatting to him about local people and doings and such and promised to drop in on him next time we were down his road in town, and with a cheerful wave he continued on into town.
We did the last 3km along the main road back to Trentham, surprising drivers who are more accustomed to seeing kangaroos on the side of the road rather than a couple of walkers, wandered through the front door 17kms and 4 hours after we left, and plonked down on the couch…..I’m allowed to have my feet on the coffee table after that!!