The latest walk I have published on Victoria Walks walkingmaps can be found here: https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/5279
See the latest walk I have published on Victoria Walks walking maps here: https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/5274
Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. When I first read about forest bathing the cynic in me scoffed, “Jeezus, how many gimmicky ideas can humanity come up with?” As curious as it may appear, I have reevaluated the matter. Why? Well, it was an accident really.
In reading the aforementioned book by Bill Bailey I learnt more. It was the Japanese Government that validated shinrin-yoku in the 1980s. After research confirmed the hypothesis that forest walkers experienced significantly less stress and anxiety than urban walkers, the idea became a public health policy. Hence the very real, legitimate and officially mandated practice of shinrin-yoku, forest bathing or put more simply absorbing the atmosphere of the forest.
I learnt this with a little embarrassment because I have clearly been a shinrin-yoku practitioner for years. Walking and cycling in the bush have long been favourite pastimes, as soothing to the mind and cleansing of the soul as anything I can imagine. I realise now I have practiced forest bathing and even refined the practice. My own specialised sub discipline will now be called forest basking. This is where I find myself paused, stationary, sometimes mid step, sometimes sitting, sometimes lying down looking either up, across or down, grinning, goggling or gasping or all three at once, in awe at nature’s beauty and evolutionary accomplishments.
I am no shirin-yoku guru or forest bathing shaman, but I am an advocate by default because I do my best to promote these wonderful activities publicly and widely. Why? Because if they are good for individual lifestyle and well-being they are good for societal wellbeing. If shinrin-yoku encourages people into positive low impact forest experiences those people become advocates for the forest and habitat gets improved as well. And who doesn’t want such a desirable set of outcomes from the simple act of taking some time out in the forest?
1. A Grey Shrike Thrush sang for us from the verandah as we ate breakfast while a Scrub Wren scoured the brickwork and window frames for its own breakfast.
2. Starting a new book and enjoying it from page 1. Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton.
3. Listening to a Late Night Live podcast while exercising.
4. Deciding not to walk amongst undulating hills of grazing land in the wind and rain.
5. Deciding to walk in the shelter of Strathbogie Forest instead. The rain stopped when we got there. It didn’t resume until we returned to the car. Adding to the pleasure of being in the forest, we observed many Greenhood Orchids.
What is so secret about Mt Wombat? You would think every local knows about it, most have driven up to the summit to take in the magnificent views and returned home again. Well, maybe the question should be rephrased. How many have really seen Mt Wombat? The views are only part of the story. When driving you miss so much. You have to either cycle or walk for the full forest, granite and wildlife experience. If you are used to time on a bike, a mountain bike or hybrid will do the job. The 16km return from Strathbogie Township is a great way to pass a rewarding half day of exploration. Granted it is a steady incline and the final approach may require some walking your bike. You will not be disappointed and it is all downhill on the way back.Otherwise, ebikes are perfect for this route. You will still get your workout, granted with more comfort. That final steep approach will be taken in your stride. Stopping along the way to soak up the forest experience will be hard to resist. If cycling isn’t an option or you want an even slower immersion in the landscape, walking is the way to go. Park at the intersection of Mt Wombat Rd and Mt Wombat Lookout Rd for a lovely 5.5km summit return. It is truly as pretty as can be.See what secrets you can discover in Mt Wombat Forest.No matter which method of transporting yourself you choose, make sure you are appropriately equipped for self reliant cycling or walking. Carry food, water, First Aid, nav aids and be SunSmart.
3km loop. Difficult terrain. Take food, water, first aid. Be SunSmart and equipped for self reliant hiking.
Opposite the gate to Waterhouse Reservoir is a small, outcrop seeking dirt track of a few hundred metres. There is plenty of room for parking at its beginning. Walking up is the best way to engage with the site. Despite the early stretch of track being partially littered with dumped rubbish and trees vandalised by illegal firewood cutters, walking is the best mode to discover the promise of this Reserve. Once you get to the rocky crown things change. The promise of natural world beauty and great views is kept.
Beyond the crown the track gives way to rocky open woodland. Follow the fence-line on your right to keep within the boundary of the Reserve. It will return you to the Euroa-Strathbogie Rd at the base of the hill. Take forays to the interior whenever you see something interesting to explore.
Once you get back to the road you have 3 options to return to your beginning point. 1. Return the way you came. 2. Clamber up the rocky slope on the eastern side of the road. 3. Walk up the road itself on the outside of the safety barrier.
Neglected Reserves can be subject to abuse. This little known Reserve is one of those. Infrequently visited by those with good intent, it has fallen victim to abuse by the unobserved. Rubbish dumpers, illegal tree fellers and firewood collectors, more recently those intent on damaging vegetation for dirt biking. On top of this, there is also a Prickly Pear infestation. What can be done?
One answer is to alert environmentally respectful observers and walkers to the natural world beauty of this place. Encourage visitation that promotes conservation, advocacy and discourages the minority who think these places exist only for them to covertly exploit and damage.
Walking anytime is great. Walking during lockdown is even better! As we continue our quest to walk all the roads, tracks and trails of the Tableland, we continue to enjoy the pleasures and surprises of the task. Hills Road made for another pleasant local walk.
A pleasing 5km return walk along a rural dirt road to an unexpected roadside tower and back.
An easy 7km rural lane return walk from Ankers Rd to the end of Palmers and back.
Another pretty Tableland walk with plenty of winter ambience. It was cold and wet with a constant misting rain. There was a low and heavy cloud cover. Everything around us was beautifully sodden. A perfect day for a winter walk on the Tableland. We did a 6km return from Harrys Creek Road. Next time we will come up from the Fern Hill Road end to further close the gap in our ongoing quest to walk all the roads of Strathbogie Tableland.
strathbogie walks #strathbogiewalks strathbogie photography #strathbogiephotography
This was a very cool thing to find in my in box. VicWalks does wonderful work promoting getting out and about on foot. If you don’t already, try it, you’ll love it!
This morning’s interview with presenter Matt Dowling regarding my work on tracks and trails promotion in the Strathbogie region. Commences at 43.30minutes.
Advertising seduces me into ever wanting more. Advertising leaves me wanting.
Nature arouses in me the need to belong, experience and explore. Nature fulfils these needs and more.
I recently read David Attenborough’s 2020 book, “A life on our planet: My witness statement and a vision for the future”. Ever since, I have been contemplating how on earth it will be possible to action the plans he outlines for preserving functional global climate systems, biodiversity, and saving ourselves from ourselves.
Rewilding is one solution Attenborough envisages. A small example may be when many urban neighbourhoods develop their own small forests and foster biolinks. The cumulative effect could be significant. Just as each relatively small piece of new built environment and mono cultural agribusiness diminishes our capacity to recover, each relatively small piece of new ecosytem and forest enhances it. See www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-56003562
As I head
toward the door
head my way
Where are you going?
It doesn’t matter, I say
a destination in its own right
the easiest way
we can fully engage
With the natural world
we place ourselves
at a new destination every minute
we escape ourselves
And we expose ourselves
to genuine experiences
of our surroundings
and the elements
on the human scale
What will you look for?
knowing whatever I look for
I will also find many things different
I don’t need to look
for anything in particular
because I will find
small parts of everything
Walking always takes me there
Mode of Transit: Walk
Distance from Melbourne: 150km
Location: Strathbogie Township & surrounds
GPS coordinates: Start and finish 35 51’ 13” S 145 44’ 45” E
Environmental status: 1km Main and Armstrong Streets, Strathbogie – built environment, golf course and pasture.
2.5km bushwalk in Sevens Creeks Wildlife and Bridge to Bridge Reserves – high quality habitat comprising healthy riparian zones.
Degree of difficulty: gradient some short steep rises, rocky outcrops, otherwise easy walking, but requires sure-footedness
Distance: 3.5km circuit
Facilities: General store open 7 days. Public toilets at local Recreation Ground 0.5km up Spring Creek Rd from Spring Creek Bridge
Take: hat, sunblock, sturdy walking shoes, water, camera, phone
1. Topography: modestly undulating, short steep slopes, rocky and earthen embankments
2. Surface: engineered gravel footpath to bitumen roadway to unmarked and absent dirt trails and rocky outcrops to grassy pathway with uneven ground
3. Waterways: Seven Creeks, turbid permanent water, meandering across flood plains or cascading through rocky terrain with sandy beaches and lazy pools
Spring Creek, clear, sandy or rock bottomed permanent water with cascades running under Spring Creek Bridge
4. Flora: open woodland including significant stands of established swamp, narrow leafed peppermint, manna gums with poa meadows. Extensive decade old Strathbogie Landcare plantings of indigenous trees and shrubs. Occasional, dispersed woody weed clumps (principally blackberry) along the Sevens, but severe around the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant (which they have agreed to correct). Bridge to Bridge is largely woody weed free.
5. Fauna: indigenous wildlife is common, including native fish, birds, koalas, echidnas, wombats, eastern greys, swamp wallabies, rakali, bobucks, snakes, lizards and platypus
6. Natural environment: healthy riparian zone
7. Built environment: Township zone and riparian bush zone with few nearby farmhouses
8. Safety: animal burrows, slippery surfaces, uneven ground, snake habitat, discarded wire
Comments: with the comfort of access to the Strathbogie Store, this short, beautiful walk can be undertaken with little in the way of carried provisions and much to see. Opportunities for candid wildlife image captures are likely.
Directions: Commence at the Spring Creek Bridge, walking up Main St until you reach the Strathbogie Memorial Hall at Armstrong St. Turn left and walk along Armstrong St, you will pass the town water tower on the right and golf course entrance on the left. Keep walking until you arrive at the the disused bridge (completely unsafe to cross). 10 metres before the bridge on the right is a gap in the fence between 2 large posts. Enter the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve here. The trail can disappear. You will best pick it up by keeping close to the fence line on the higher side of the slope, deviating to and returning from features that attract you. There is no need to cross the creek. Follow the trail until you get to the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant. Walk under Smith’s Bridge to enter the Bridge to Bridge Picnic Ground and Track. This end of the Bridge to Bridge is a short nature circuit. Either arm of the track will take you to a boardwalk from where you can continue your return to the Spring Creek Bridge via the confluence of Seven and Spring Creeks.
Nearby Tracks & Trails: Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve to Brookleigh Rd. Proposed Magiltan Project upstream of Spring Creek to Magiltan Creek.
Links to The Great Strathbogie Trail: along the length of the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve
Ideas for improvement: woody weed control, trail markers, directional and safety entry signs, some basic trail work to flatten angled slopes
I’m walking in the evening
Smelling all the sounds Continue reading
we took a walk down Hedgend Lane
squeezed it in ‘tween showers of rain
a short walk from the bogie road
walking to an end unknown
with us walking we took the whippet
keen as mustard leashed and at it
we set off into an icy grind
tempting fate against winter’s mind
the road was dirt puddles like scales
the wind was cold sharp as nails
the sky was grey and overcast
prophesising an arctic blast
we met two cockies one unwell
the other uted name of Neville
we chewed the fat for a moment or two
then nev went off to feed his ewes
he knew our house and seller’s name
said she fell victim to a scam
he asked about the other cock
down the road about a block
we said we saw its damaged wing
we couldn’t get close to do a thing
nev had been asked by his lovely wife
to mercy kill it take its life
as we waved farewell to nev and ute
we thought the man was quite astute
a life at bogie on a farm
a laconic style of rural charm
the next instalment was a procession of lambs
from biggest to smallest dashing for dams
such cute and playful snow white children
it’s quite a flock old nev’s a building
then we came to the farm homestead
work dogs wagging tethered to sheds
at the front gate there’s a dead bloated sheep
the one nev warned us about to go deep
onward we walked into more open space
where grazing occurs at a slow country pace
a hereford watched our brisk passage past
as it chewed on cud made of wet winter grass
at the end of the road there’s a pleasant surprise
a tableland drop off topped by glowering skies
the gap between hills is not very wide
but big enough to see down the hillside
it’s a break in the mountain to a view of great grace
we can see to the plains and expansive green space
to the base of the tableland looking down is a thrill
from our throne like position at the top of the hills
It isn’t the best shot of one of the local koalas, but it is the only one we saw on this evenings walk along Bridge to Bridge. There will be better shots to come. If you take your time, the wildlife exposure up here is something really special.
We stopped at the Seven Creeks site of the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant akong the way. I will be meeting GV Water reps there in a couple of weeks to show them the state of the area. Hopefully, I can recruit them to the clean up cause in cooperation with our Strathbogie Tableland Landcare Group. I have a vision for extending the Landcare managed Bridge to Bridge bushwalk into a celebrated 12 – 15km experience that encircles the town. So far, various agencies have been supportive and collaboration with GV Water at this site would be grand!
We are on a journey here. I mean, we are on all kinds of journeys of course, but this one is quite specific. This is a physical journey, one for travelling together. We have tasked ourselves with walking the roads, tracks and trails of the Strathbogie Tableland. Sometimes 4km, sometimes 15, every time something new to experience. Even when we repeat a path there will be a seasonal difference, something that has changed in the landscape surrounding us or something that has changed about ourselves that we take to each place.