Rick Farlow reports:
The group met at the McKenzie Reserve, Yarra Glen at 10.00 am and after the normal heart starters, headed off up the Melba Highway. It wasn’t long before we turned right off the highway on to the Old Toolangi Road. A few years ago, this was quite a rough and rocky road. It is now an easy gravel road which climbs up to meet the Healesville/Kinglake Road. It did however, provide excellent views of the mountain ranges and their recovery from the bush fires. I travelled through this area a few weeks after the fires and everything was burnt out. It was just grey ash. It’s amazing how different it is now, although because of the fierceness of the fire, there are many trees which will not recover.
Upon reaching the Healesville Road, I took the group up to the Forest Discovery Centre (not open on weekends) and pointed out the Yea River walk. This is a very pleasant walk along the river and through the forest. Along this route was the home of C.J. Dennis of Sentimental Bloke fame, from 1908 until his death in 1938. The house burned down in the 1960s, but his “Singing Gardens” remain and now feature tearooms.
We headed back to Spraggs Road, which leads into the Toolangi Forest and stopped at the turnoff to Victoria Range Road to lower tyre pressures. Continuing on, we passed Rocky Track, which, from experience a few years ago, was fairly hairy. I was tempted to go down and check while doing the pre-trip, however we were pressed for time. I think it’s a track which would be handy to have another vehicle present in case you needed assistance. A right turn took us up Wee Creek Track and its large “whoopsi dos”. A left turn took us on to Flat Rock Track (a new orange posted sign named it Flat Track) for numerous bog holes and lots of new growth of young gums and “Dusty Miller” plants.
All of this lush growth provided just enough room for one vehicle for over five kilometres. I did wonder what would happen if we met vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Fortunately, we didn’t. The only obstruction was branches from a large tree, which we had managed to clear enough to get through on the pre-trip. On leaving Flat Rock Track, we were back on Victoria Range Road and heading towards an intersection of a few tracks when we were flagged down by a chap in a Patrol. He wanted to know how to get out of the forest! After providing him with directions, we headed down Downies Road, Starlight Flats Track, Blowhard Road to the Mt. Tanglefoot car park.
Here we had lunch and were entertained by a pair of Flame Robins. There are walking tracks from this car park right up to Mt. St. Leonard, from memory, a six hour return walk. But we didn’t do it and, after cleaning up from lunch, headed off through Siberia Junction and on to the Murrundindi Road. At Xylophone Bridge, we crossed the Murrundindi River and continued up to the Cascades car park. This car park was destroyed in the bush fires but has since been reconstructed. A benefit of the fires is that you can now see the Cascades from the road. A new steel bridge is nearing construction across the Cascades.
Heading north past the camping sites, we turned into Falls Creek Road, then Black Range Road. Then it was time to engage low range and descend McClure Break.
McClure Break is a very steep and rocky descent, with great views of the Black Range. It drops 330 metres in a very short distance to the SEC Track with its high tension lines. It was then on to Ginten Road, past the old Stanley Homestead site, which had a large group of campers.
We were heading for Limestone and the historic Cheviot Railway tunnel when we came across a group of young people in four small hatchbacks who were unsuccessfully trying to find their way to a party using a Melways. They were amazed to find they had nearly driven to Yea. I pointed them in the right direction, although I was kind enough not to tell them to take the McClure Break.
We arrived at the Cheviot Tunnel, read about its history and then proceeded to travel through this 201 metre beautifully constructed brick tunnel. After airing up tyres and enjoying afternoon tea, we headed up Frogponds Road and back onto the Melba Highway.
The group then turned right into Kinglake Road and then travelled 14kms down the winding gravel Mt. Slide Road with its beautiful views.
This brought us to Jan and Michael’s newly refurbished home where we were given a cook’s tour before indulging in a BBQ dinner. Jan and Michael’s property has great views of the Yarra Ranges and Jan pointed out Mt. Tanglefoot and Mt. St. Leonard. I and I’m sure all of our party, were amazed at the transformation of the forty year old house into a modern day home. Jan and Michael could not be anything but extremely pleased at the outcome.
Harry and Jill, who could not come on the trip, arrived, determined not to miss a BBQ, a house inspection and some vino. The evening settled into a companionable chat and proved a great way to finish the day.
Thank you to Jan and Michael for opening up their home and providing an excellent way to finish our day out.
- Jan & Michael Martin – Jackaroo
- Gayle & Graeme Mitchell – Prado
- Gillian & Ray Jones – Hilux
- Glenda & Rick Farlow – Pathfinder