Greens Hill Walk, Winton Wetlands

I am currently mapping walks in the extensive Winton Wetlands. Greens Hill is one of my favourites. See the full Victoria Walks walkingmaps version here: Greens Hill Walk

Heron Loop Walk, Winton Wetlands

The most recent walk from my work for Winton Wetlands. For the full Victoria Walks version use this link: Heron Loop Walk

Woodland Walk, Winton Wetlands

The most recent walk I have mapped in Winton Wetlands. View the full version on Victoria Walks walkingmaps here: Woodland Walk

Yorta Yorta Yarning and Gathering Pathway (Sculpture Walk), Winton Wetlands

A special walk that adds to the wonderful outdoor public art collection at Winton Wetlands. You can view the full version and artist details here: Lotjpatj Natjan Danak

Pioneer Mine Walk, Mitta Mitta

I loved this walk through an ancient revegetating open cut gold mine near Mitta Mitta. The atmosphere was one of enchantment.

You can find the map and descriptions here: Pioneer Mine Walk

Lake Benalla walk

Another recent publication on walkingmaps is Lake Benalla walk. I have walked this 5k circuit several times and always find it pleasing and interesting. The diversity of experiences and observations is very impressive. You will find the link to the map of the walk and descriptions after the gallery.

Click the link to visit the walk: Lake Benalla walk

Benalla Botanical Gardens walk

My new walkingmaps project is Benalla Rural City and surrounds. Benalla Botanical Gardens walk has something for everyone. I often stop by the Art Gallery to enjoy some of the wonderful exhibitions. The playground is great fun for kids. The gardens are a pleasure to stroll. I took the photographs in autumn and winter.

From now, I will start by including a gallery of my favourite images taken on each walk, followed by a link to the published map and details.

You can find the walking map here: Benalla Botanical Gardens walk

Mitta River to Old Tallangatta walk

I have published this walk on VictoriaWalks walkingmaps. It adopts a section of the High Country Rail Trail in Towong Shire. Here is the link: Mitta River to Old Tallangatta walk

Good Things Only #15

River Red Gum Forest at Shire Dam Swamp

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?

5 Good Things Only #01

Greenhood Orchids in Strathbogie 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.

Strathbogie – Mt Wombat Cycling Return

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.

Garden Range Pocket Flora & Fauna Reserve, Euroa

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.