Sunday, 20 January 2013

An Awesome Weekend Hiking The Lerderderg Scenic Rim

I'd love to be a park ranger, so l can scare hikers by telling them stories about the number of people who have been hiking in my area have been bitten by snakes, and watch them squirm. Sounds somewhat fun, yet evil at the same time.

I'm sure the ranger meant well though, as he told me that the number of Tiger and Brown snakes sighted in the area has been much higher than usual. He even told me of his colleague who was bitten just the other day. Scary stuff!

I'm (generally) not one to be scared of snakes though. I respect that they could probably kill me if I am a fool, however I know that on most hikes, I walk past hundreds of them a day, and they are all gone before I have a chance to see them.

So... After climbing the Spur Track at Lerderderg National Park this weekend, part way through the Scenic Rim (which I was doing over two days this weekend), I felt a little relieved that I had cleared what may have been the worse of the so called "Snake Country".

Speaking of which, I actually found the Spur Track to be nowhere near as bad as people say. I mean, it's steep, it's fairly long, but its actually enjoyable.

And I'm not being evil in saying that.

Or am I?

Here's a pic so you can judge for yourself.

The pleasant grade of the Spur Track

To cut a long story short, I got to the top, I had a nice lunch, and made it to the Long Point Weir. I had a spot picked out for camp. I didn't have much to go on, but I'd heard that there was a bit of a gem downriver that was nothing short of pristine.

To make things a bit more fun (in a good way), I ran into someone I know from my local supermarket, and his girlfriend, and they were looking for somewhere to camp too. Instant company!!

Now, I spoke about snakes before, so you're probably wondering where this is going, right?


What your fellow author forgot was that snakes love to bathe on rocks, and as this is summer, and the Lerderderg River is quite dry, it was going to be a haven for snakes.

This I realised when I saw a... Ahem... Rather large Red Belly Black Snake standing up not even a foot in front of me, ready to attack. No... I correct myself. The bloody thing was airborne!

In fact... I can't think of any other example in human history of both a snake and human both causing each other to simultaneously soil their (proverbial in the case of the snake) pants.

Not only had I just provided my accomplices with their first glimpse of a snake in the wild, but I'd also just demonstrated my ability to soil myself whilst running backwards at the same time.

The backwards man would be proud.

Now that I have owned up to my first Gone Bush Mad embarrassing moment, lets move on.

Turns out the camp site was a doozy. Hidden slightly off river in a flat, situated beside a picture perfect swimming hole, unbelievably flat camp sites... Just the perfect camp site.

And no, I'm not going to spoil it by sharing the location, however for those who have their smarts, there is one hint in the photo that will give an idea of what direction to head from the weir to find it.

Oh, and lets not forget dinner. I had been meaning to trail test Strive Foods for some time now, and finally got the chance tonight with a Pasta Bolognese.

As you can see, I went a little too heavy on the water, however my Pasta Bolognese Soup was amazing. Will have again, with less water. My hat goes off to you Strive Food for providing tasty and wholesome single serve meals that are utterly huge!

The new Optimus Hiker Plus performed pretty well too when it wasn't windy. Turns out, when its even slightly windy, these things become a real pain to prime. And I'm sure they'd start a bushfire or two as well...

Lets move on.

Following the riverbed back to the weir, I made sure to keep a very close eye out for my red bellied friend this time, but made it to the rather abrupt start to the Long Point Spur without sight of him.

The cliff to the left of the weir, that's the start of the spur. 

A note: you will regret a decision to descend this spur. Or Link Track 2, but that is a different story for a different day.

Steep scrambling up Long Point Spur. Was fun stuff!

See, Long Point Spur is basically a near vertical scramble, followed by another near vertical scramble, then an incredibly painful uphill slog that doesn't seem to end, and then when it does seem to end, it throws a few sharp up-hills at you for final measure. You know, just in case you weren't completely stuffed already.

It has some very nice views though.

You're gonna have to ignore the bungled panorama shot. I left the SD card at home by accident, and had to rely on my iPhone for photos.

Anyway, got to the top. Saw one snake on the way, but word must have spread from his friend in the gorge, as he did the right thing and was out of my way before I had a change to nearly accidentally step on his face. Good thinking 99.

One of the two spots on the Blackwood Range track that actually had views
Then there was the Blackwood Ranges. From anywhere else in the park, it looks like a nice flat stroll. No. It's up and down, the entire five kilometres to the start of the first link track, so after walking 4km, and learning that its only about an hour until we get to Graham's Dam, we quickly decided that it would be best to eat now, so we will be ok to swim an an hours time when we get to Graham's Dam.

Heading down Link Track 1. 

Or was that thirty minutes? Or was that drinking before swimming? Oh now I'm lost...

Speaking of swimming, just a heads up. If you don't swim in Graham's Dam at the end of a day, or multi day hike at Lerderderg, you are missing out in a big way. There must be something in the water. Ten minutes in, and the pain of a day on your feet is gone. True story.

Grahams Dam. Perfect way to end a hike. 

Anyway, to it a long story short, that's what we did. We went for a swim. And it was indeed the best way to cap off an unexpectedly awesome weekend.

So... some lessons learned:

#1: Slight wind turns an Optimus Hiker Plus into a potential bushfire machine
#2: I will never hike without my Helinox Chair One. It is now an essential piece of gear. I'll write about this soon.
#3: Deep down, snakes are just as scared as we pretend not to be of them.

Wait... Did that last point even make any sense?


  1. Thanks for the post, I love this place. Am thinking of going from MacKenzies Flat to O'briens Crossing over the Australia day break.

    Amazing how the water at the weir is meters deep in winter and a puddle in summer.

    Interesting fact, the don't swim after eating rule is a myth... unless you've been eating rocks I suppose...

    1. No probs Pongo! Its a great place, and happy to have it literally at my back door.

  2. I did the East walk this week end (walk n°8 in Chapman's Melbourne walks, starting at O'Briens crossing), and the scenery was quite disappointing (at least compared to the Brisbane Ranges the next day). I think it wasn't the best part of the park. The river was pretty much dry, the track full of shrub and flood damage, and there were no views. What made it worthwhile was that I was alone and managed to see some wildlife (a wallaby, a kangaroo, a couple of goats and an echidna).

    1. It's definitely less eventful than other areas, like the high country and down in Tassie. That said, each to their own. I enjoy the feeling of isolation that you get in Lerderderg.

      Even though it's still fairly close to civilization, some of the camp sites along the river are rarely used, and can almost guarantee that any weekend, you will get your own personal spot on the river to just relax.

      Nothing better than getting to the High Country though. :)

  3. Hi Ryan
    Thanks for your posts on Lerderderg.
    I'm planning to take my 6 yr old son on a mini hike this weekend starting at MacKenzies Flat and just walking in to Graham's Dam. I confirmed with Parks that it's ok to camp from Graham's Dam onward though was wondering if there are reasonable spots there or nearby as I think this would be enough for his little legs.
    Any advice welcome
    Cheers Bruce

    1. Hi Bruce,

      Sorry about the late reply! Just past Grahams Dam, as you cross the river after the beach, there is an area immediately to the right of the track. Once you reach the opposite side of the river, take a few steps immediately up the grassy rise to the right, and you will see a large grassy area that would be suitable for camping.

      This spot looks well used, and very flat, although it may get a little noisy there with the popularity of the Dam on warmer days.

      I think there are a few more spots up along the track, although past the turnoff for the spur track, the track deteriorates significantly.

      Although a little late, hope that helps! :)

  4. Ryan,
    Thank you for the photos and trek notes.
    I really want information on how you went up the initial part of the Long Spur from the dam.
    I have previously always gone on the upstream side and up the rocky scramble, there are cables and such to help at the start. However that direction always involves getting very wet and smelly as the bed is mud.
    From the photo that you posted, it looks like you crossed downstream and up the rock face on that side.Have I got that correct?