As I was organising a hike with the Mad Keen Bushwalkers
near MoonDog’s Mt Franklin glamping weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to drop by on Friday evening. I didn’t have a clue what Moondog looked like, so I awkwardly asked each of the many campers “are you with the hiking group” until I came across the man himself.
I was warmly greeted with a few beers, met Cecile, and had a lesson in how to cook steak. Apparently, you need a cow that is at least two and a half years old and the meat should have been aged for one month. The cut needs to be 7cm thick. The outcome was fabulous, very tender and tasty steak. Add some blue cheese and crackers and what more could you want?
Saturday morning I faced the task of finding a spot to hide 30 liters of water for our evening water supply. After being cut off by a number of degraded 4WD tracks I eventually found a spot 20 minutes’ uphill walk from our campsite in the gorge. Not ideal but it would have to do.
The hike commenced at 10:30am and by 10:35am I was asking myself what I was doing here. It was hot and I was thinking we really should have gone to the Alps. Instead, we baked under oppressive conditions. I blame those conditions for the poor decision making that was to follow. We got lost in the first half-hour and a reckless bush bash had the plants tearing us to pieces in order to save 500 meters to find the track.
I was dreading the final part of the day, an apparent bush bash along Tarilta Creek but was surprised by the pastoral grassy flats that spanned the entire length of the valley. They were rich in wildlife with kangaroos and the odd deer scampering away as we went. The many possible campsites we passed were wonderfully isolated and picture-postcard perfect. It was one of the nicest valleys I have seen in Victoria.
After a long day in the sun, we pulled into the campsite at 4:30pm, climbed the walls of the gorge to get the 30 litres of water, and then I collapsed in my new Helinox Zero Chair. If you are considering getting one of these don’t even think about it, they are fantastic. All I had to drink was lukewarm water with Gatorade powder but it had the peculiar effect of being more delightful than Moet.
I was impressed that one of our walkers kept to the spirit of the trip’s name and carried in 4 lamb chops that he kept cool with ice all day long. These were grilled over coals to a perfectly cooked smokey result.
Sunday morning saw us walk through patches of forest that were filled with birdsong. Birdlife seemed to be rich in some places but not in others.
We came across the usual relics of mine shafts and remnants of miners' cottages before arriving sweat-drenched back at the cars and some still cold soda water in my boot. Bring on The Alps, this area is too hot for a summer overnight pack carry.