Hike – Cathedral Range State Park – Victoria
I have been down in Melbourne for the last couple of days for work. I ended up having some meetings on Monday, so I have stayed down here for the weekend. Rather than just hanging around mum and dads doing nothing, I thought I would get out and do something interesting.
When this trip to Melbourne was planned, I thought about doing a 2 day hike somewhere. The first place that came to mind was the Cathedral Ranges, which are about 100km NE of Melbourne. I used to go there a lot when I was at Uni, because we used to go climbing there. Plus it was the location of 2 of the Big Bush Bashes, which were camping trips I used to run for my friends who did not normally go camping.
I read a couple of blogs about the 2 day work in the Cathedrals and decided quickly that it was not a great idea. The blogs described the pain and awkwardness of lugging gear up to the top of the range and the scrambling over rocks with a full pack. It also was going to be a hassle to organise the gear, so I decided a day walk would do.
The plan was to do one of the legs of the 2 day hike which goes from Neds Gully (at the north end of the park) and hike up to the top of the ridge to the Cathedral Peak and to Little Cathedral. The guide book “120 Walks in Victoria” and the various signs said the entire walk was 4 hours.
The climb to the top of the ridge is brutal. It is just constant up. I don’t think my heals touched the ground for about an hour. The video below sums it up.
On the way to Little Cathedral I had my first encounter with a horrible little plant. The area looked like it had been burnt in the bad bush fires a couple of years back. This plant seems to have taken over the undergrowth and has horrible little spikes. My legs got really scratched up, plus because of my hay fever they got really puffy and itchy. It ended up that half the walk had the path surrounded by this plant.
The view from the top of Little Cathedral was stunning. There was absolutely no wind and I remembered that I had always had an ambition to fly over the range in a balloon…one day.
I then hiked up to the top of the Cathedral Peak, which was meant to be the turning point of the walk. Another spectacular spot to sit and contemplate the view.
I had only been walking for a couple of hours and I was not ready to head down yet. Plus it was only about 11am and it was such a nice day, so I decided to extend the walk along the ridge to Jawbone. This basically meant I was embarking on the 2 day walk in just one day.
The walk along the ridge is spectacular. You have to basically scramble along the top of the angled rocks that make up the knife edge ridge. I eventually passed a couple of other walkers along the ridge.
Unfortunately the path ended up getting very overgrown with the prickle plant and made it a bit difficult. So as soon as I got to the Jawbone Creek track I headed down the 100s of steps down the hill. On the way down I passed the North Jawbone cliffs on which I basically learnt how to climb with the RMIT climbing club in 1993. It was a very nostalgic moment.
The Jawbone Creek track meets up with St Bernard track that takes you down, through the forest, to Cooks Mill camp site. This was where the Big Bush Bash was in 1993 & 1995. It hasn’t changed much. It was nice to get down to the river and cool off. I was pretty low on water at this point.
The final leg of the walk was along a relatively flat track along the river. My feet had developed some blisters on the way down the hill. Fortunately I had stopped off at the supermarket in Ringwood on the way and built up a basic first aid kit. So a few Band Aids later and I was on my way.
Four and half hours later I was back at Neds Gully. I promptly stripped off my shoes and socks and stuck them in the river. It was freezing but a refreshing way to end the walk.
I had basically done a 7 hour walk in 4.5 hours. So it was good to see I am fitter than I thought. I do have a niggle in my left knee’s tendon, but I normally get that after long walks. Hopefully it is something that a beer will fix.
All in all it was a fantastic day. I really needed to get out and do something like this. Lots of things on my mind and it definitely help having some time to go through my thoughts.