AN EXCURSION TO THE UPPER YARRA FALLS.
We struck camp next morning at half-past nine. Just after starting we noticed a tree marked W. From this we understood that we had been encamped on the two mile water. This made our march of the previous day a little over 8 miIes, The height of our camp measured by the barometer was 1700
feet above McMahon's, We prooeeded along the south watershed of the Yarra in a general easterly direction. The prevailing charactor of the country was the same as on the evening before, The traok was often perceptible as a sort of avenue through the scrub, though in the clearest places knee deep in ferns and wire grass and obstructed by logs. We passed through several saddles separated by small rills, At about twelve o'clock we could see a great spur coming in to join the ridge we were following from the north - that is on our left, This could be nothing else than the right watershed of Alderman's Creek. We were, therefore, making good progress, and might hope to reach the Yarra that night. So we went on for another half hour, when our horse, in getting over a log, slipped and fell; he could not rise again with the pack and we had to unload him, but he was none the worse. As we began to ascend the hill we found the sides and top of it covered with huge logs hundreds of foot long, as if it had been cleared by a survey party, The interstices between them were filled with tall bracken and scrub with white flowers, and the track seemed altogether ob literated. We made our way very slowly round and over the logs, and presently the horse got another fall, and we had to unload and reload again, There was a good look out from many places down the valley of Alderman's Creek and of the ranges across the Yarra, We found the top of this mountain was 1200 feet above our camp of the previous night, or about 4000 feet above the sea level. It ls unnamed on the maps. We christened it Mount Horsefall. The fallen logs gave It a pre vailing white appearance, but it contrasted with the pale green which had hitherto characterised the crest of'the range. At about four o'clock we began to descend a little, and get into a forest, in which the beech tree was the prevail ing timber, though largely mixed with tall gums and messmates. But little vegetation grows under a beech tree; what there was was the blue gum fern with the crimped frond I have noticed before. Moreover, the beeoh tree is seldom uprooted. It slowly decays as It stands and falls piecemeal, The ground in a beech forest is therefore encumbered by but little fallen timber. As soon as we got under the beech trees the track improved very much. They were mingled, however, with very tall messmates, from which large quantities of dry bark in strips 4 or 5 inches aoross and 30 or 40 feet long or more had fallen to the ground, and lay in large colis. These continually tangled our feet, and it was difficult to get free of them, One would continually find one was dragging a tail behind many feet long. On getting under the beech trees the prevailing tints again changed. The black earth was bare, and varied shades of brown or dark green met the eye In every direction. Towards the south and east the slope was so steep that we got a look out over Gippsland as far as the ranges in the neighborhood of Baw Baw. The earth seemed everywhere moist; in plaoes one could hear the water under one's feet. The traok oontinued slowly to descend, and our view became shut in on all sides. About s!x o'clook we found ourselves in a saddle. This we identified upon our tracing as about 6 miles from our camp of the night before And 4 milos from the Yarra. It seemed a likely place to find water. There were a few beech trees and messmates on the saddle, and a forest of white gums, tall, slender poles like the mast of a ship, 300 feet high at the least, with a tuft of foliage at the top. There was a fern tree gully coming up to the saddle on each side. The earth was black and moist, and for the most part bare. R. found a good stream of water a llttle way down on the south side
of the saddle, so we determined to camp. We pitched the tent under two beech trees, whose thick foliage would protect us from any sticks that might be blown off from the gums, and made our bed of fronds cut from the ferns. When we got up the next morning a strong north wind was blowing, shaking the tall, white ferns like oorn stalks, bending them as if to break with a great roaring noise. We did not make a start until about half-past ten, when we at once began to ascend out of the saddle, and soon came out into the sunshine on to a hill covered with fallen timber and sword grass, and from which there was a good view of the opposite ranges. The logs had rotted and broken into fragments, and were therefore not the obstacle they had been on Mount Horsefall. After a little we again descended into a beech forest. Here the track was clearer than we had yet found it. It was obstructed by little else than small sticks. There was a little of the usual green fern, but except for that the ground wes clear of undelrgrowth on all sides. The dark foliage of the beech trees over head shut out the sky. In order to keep the track it was necessary to keep a sharp look out for blazes. After about
a couple of miles gum trees again ap- , peared mixed with the beeoh trees, and we were again troubled by fallen tlmber. About the same time we found growing in the track tall solitary stalks of grass like oats which shot up with a stem as thick as one's finger, seven or eight feet high. Finding the horse would eat the two gathered bundles of it, as we went along. A little after twelve o'clock the horse got another fall getting over a log. We had to unload, and determined to have lunch, When we again made a start we found it had been raining heavily, and that the scrub was very wet. In a little while we got out of the beech forest, and began to ascend a hill covered with tall standing gums and thick bracken up to our shoulders. Through this we pushed our way, getting drenched through. When we gained the top of the hill we found our track ap peared to leave the rldge, and turn down the sideling to the north-east. After turnlng down on the sideling we were soon again in a beech forest, and out of the high wet braoken. In about half a mlle we came to tho creek, whloh was broad and shallow, scarcely covering the ground. It crossed the track from left to right- not from right to left, as marked in our tracing. The descent from the ridge to this creek was not more than 200 or 300 feet, and not at all steep, consldering it was on a sideling. We crossed the creek and ascended to tho ridge on the oppo-site side. Crossing it we descended on a slde-ling to the Yarra, which we at onoe passed over. It was a much smaller stream than that we have left at M'Mahon's, being about 30 feet wide and about up to our ankles, with, how-ever, a good current. The scene was a peculiar one. It was still raining hard. Heavy clouds rested on the tops of the beech trees from 50 to 70 feet above us, whlch lined the river banks and covered the slopes, and hung in festoons between them, but below it was clear. We had no tlme to stand and watch it, however, being wet through. We had to get to work and camp at once. In about twenty minutes we had a flre big enough to roast an ox. Having pitched our tent we looked about for something to make a bed of, and the best thing we could find was a heap of bark at the foot of a neighboring messmate. This we dragged in front of the fire and dried, after which we had our evening meal round the fire. We stood up round it for some tlme drying clothes, while the horse stood warming his nose on the opposite side of the fire. Finally we turned in. We were up at six the next morning. There was still a slight rain, We had breakfast, and at half-past eight we started in search of the falls. Our camp was shown by the barometer to be 2100 foot above M'Mahon's or only 500 feet lower than the top of Mount Horsefall. It was ; dlstant from Reefton by the road wa had come just 20 miles, or in a straight line about 15. Now, the Yarra did not change its level to any great extent between M'Mahon's and Reefton, or for some mlles above the latter place. The dlfference in elevation therefore gave room for a high fall. Moreover, the country we were in appeared to be an elevated plateau, to which we had ascended abruptly at Mount Horsefall, and whioh would probably come to an abrupt termination. Wo accordingly started down stream, cross ing a conslderablo tributary on tho right bank just below our oamp, Tho rivor ran through a booch forest, and as nothing will grow under the beech trees, its banks were without that fringo of peculiar vegetation which is usually such a marked feature in an Australian river or creek. After a little we went over to the left bank, and crossed a small creek whioh joined the river on that bank, we then came upon a series of small hills, perhaps altogether fifty or sixty, There was, however, a good indi-cation of something better. We could see a light through the trees ahead as from a largo clear ing. This appearance oould only bo occasioned by the edge of an abrupt decllvity. We pushed on and soon began to get glimpses of a valley a long way below us, and to hear tho roar of a great fall. The beech forest ceased with the edgo of tha declivity, and the slopes below, when not too steep and bare for anything either to grow or stand on, were covered with undergrowth, mostly ti-tree. To see the fall wo must got below it. We accordingly descended as rapidly as a regard for our necks would permit several hundred feot, and made our way on to a Iedge down to the water. From this point we oould see the water fa!ling
above and below us over a faoe of dark rocks in a series of steps. The fall was shaded by ti-tree, with occasional tree ferns on the ledges. The spray fell like rain. We were too close to the face of the fall, and tho ledge we were on would not permit us getting further out. We were not the first persons who had viewed the Yarra falls from this spot, for we saw a tree wilh a blaze on it, on whioh was a name, partly overgrown with bark, whioh wo mado out to bo A. Burns. We then crossed over, scrambled along the face of the cliff and made our way down an other hundred feet or two, and got another vlew of tho falls, with, however, the dis-advantage that we were too close to see far up or down. This point was by the barometer 550 feet below the top of tho fall. We could see the fall for about 50 feet bolow it. It was a continuous fall all the way, interrupted only by small ledges. There is, however, no reason to suppose that the lowest point to which we oould see was anywhere near the bottom of the fall. Judging from the appearance of the valley it was far from being so. The total height of the fall therefore, can scarcely be less than 700 feet or 900 feet; it fs probably 1000 feet.
We had not seen by any means as much of the falls as wo should have liked, but we were compelled to return. It was Tuesday, and R. had to be In a distant part of Victoria by the following Monday morning for this purpose It was necessary that, he should be in Melbourne by Saturday. Wo could scarcely do this unless we moved on that day. Moreover, our oats were running out, and there was not a scrap of feed at our present camp, while our tracing showed that on the Thompson, 4 miles on, there was grass. We accordingly turned back towards our camp. In returning we got a vlew of a great cascade, forming the top-most rip on the fall, which we had not seen going down. By half-past one we had regained our camp. We then bathed in the Yarra, had lunch, struck our camp, and started for the Thompson, where we hoped to camp that night. It was shown by our tracing to be 4 miles distant. The track in the first instance followed the ridge of the very low spur between the main arm of the Yarra and tho tributary that joined it just below our camp. After a little the track forked; we took, the left fork, which took us down to the tribu-tary at a point where two creeks united to form it; beyond this the track was not apparent. After a little we found a place where a tent bad been pitched, with a rude platform of round tim-ber to raise it off the ground. We had evldently come upon an old surveyor's camp. That explained how it was that the track ran out. We accordingly returned and took tho right hand fork of the track. After we had gone about three quarters of a mile the track turned down to and crossed the oreek on our left, and shortly afterwards began to ascend a ridge on a sideling. The top of this ridge was not. more than 100 feet or so above our camp. On it we found white gum timber. The rldge was narrow, and the track imme-diately descended on a sideling on the other side, about 300 feet Into a narrow valley con-taining a fine stream of water. The sides of the valley were lined with beech trees, with a few tree ferns. This creek must form the right fork of the Yarra as laid down on the maps; and as its level appeared lower than the top of the falls, must join, the left fork below them. Crossing the creek we ascended on a steep sideling on the other side to a height somewhat greater than that from whioh we had descended, and found ourselves in a forest of white gums mixed with beech trees, with a good deal of undergrowth. The creek, however, continued tolerably clear. We were now upon the crest of the dividing range, between the waters of the Yarra and the Thompson, marked on the maps as Wright's range. A little before seven o'clock the track began to descend gently, and we reached a fine stream of water crossing the track from north to south, spanned by a good log bridge. This stream, which was much larger than either fork of the Yarra, or, I should say, than both of them to-gether, we made out to be the Thompson. Here we determined to camp. A little way up from the river, to the right of the track we had come by we found an open glade carpeted with good grass. On this were the remains of an old survey camp, consisting of log plat-forms, similar to that we had noticed on the Yarra. There appeared to be a succession of rich glades along the river, divided only by low scrub, tall timber not being found till some little way up the slopes on either side. There was, therefore, a ciear view up and down tho river for some way over the top of the scrub. We could see the sky, too, over-head and in front of us. All this was a change after the dense grass through whioh we had been travelling for the last four days, The edge of the other valley was lined with large white gums, say 100 foot high, with straight, thick limbs tapering to the top, and wide spreading arms a little more than half way up. The slopes behind were covered with a mass of plants of different kinds. Every here and there above this rose to a great height huge logs, white with age and black with flre, without limbs, broken at the top. Though generally impressed by the view, there was a feeling of solitude connected with this camp not ex-perienced elsewhere in the course of this trip. The height of this camp was 2300 feet above M'Mahon's, or only 100 feet lower than our camp on the Yarra. We were still, however, above a high plateau, as high or higher than the top of Mount Macedon. We were now about 23 miles from Reefton, and about 14 from Mount Lookout.