Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), Wednesday 20 January 1909, page 5
OVER THE BAW BAW MOUNTAINS.
A diary of a pedestrian trip from Warburton to Walhalla by Mr. L. F,. Apperley.
Wednesday, : 16/12/08.-Woke up at 6 o'clock this morning and got dressed, and started off by 7.37 train to .Warburton. Six of us started, and we formed a merry, but untidy looking, party. We all had big swags on our backs, and carried them as we went. Arrived in Warburton 11.30, and sent our swags by coach to Mc'Veigh's hotel, on the Wood's Point-road, 20 miles away. We met two 'Varsity (Trinity) men, who had a house at Warburton, and they invited us to have tea with them, and they fed us up at about 12.30, after which we started off. The road was a coach road and very dusty, _ but; passes through high mountain ranges -and beautiful scenery. The Yarra here a beautiful and swift river, dashes down the valley and foams and falls over rocks;- : The water is as clear, as crystal, and beautiful to drink, and HoadIey (who has a camera) took a snap of the river at a lovely spot where we had rested. Arrived 7 at Mc'Mahon's hotel at' 4.30, and had a real good tea. There "was a grand bit-of- the river-here, and we enjoyed a good drink in it. After tea we moved on to Mc'Veigh's hotel, seven miles away, and 20 from' Warburton. We were very tired, but livened up on getting near the hotel, where' we arrived, at dark, and saw our swags piled up on the verandah, for we had been fortunate, enough to get the coach to carry them on. At the hotel we filled up the baths ladies and gentlemen's, and plunged in. It -was great and cold after our dusty travel, and after a smoke all round we turned into warm comfortable beds, and didn't we enjoy them, too!
Thursday, 17/52/08.-We -woke up late, and had breakfast at 8 a.m., belted on our leggings, which we were told were necessary on account of the snakes. The previous afternoon we killed one on the' road, and two more today on the mountain.Today we had a big load to carry each swag containing a sleeping bag and blanket, three loaves of bread, tins of jam and meat and other odds and ends, the whole weighing about 20 to 22 lb. The road led away up the Yarra Valley, and towering mountain's covered with giant blue gums rose high up on each side. The track was cut out in the mountain side, and the mountain rose sheer up on the right, and fell away almost clear down to the left to the river running several hundred feet below. I could see the stream only in places , since it 'was covered-in by a'roof of beech and fern trees, the dark and light greens which looked fine and blended beautifully.The glimpse we did catch of the river were beautiful, clear crystal water, bubbling over round, smooth stones.and rocks. We crossed many tributaries coming down the mountain side on our side of this magnificent valley, and all these were likewise clothed in beech and tree fern. Our camera friend; (usually called camera, fiend) snapped us several times among the ferns, , but the light was bad. This was a most tiring journey over loose stones, and our swags were very, heavy and the straps cut-into our shoulders, and so we were ' anxiously counting the miles as we went. Our hips and heels were rather sore also I from, the previous day. We had one rather exciting experience. There were several bush- fires sweeping up the valley, but they were mostly below us, and as. the vegetation between was green we were safe, but in one part the fire came right up to our path and up the mountainside, and we had no choice out to rush through it. We were about. half-way through, . and quite enveloped in smoke, when a small tree about- 9in diameter, came crashing down and fell across our path yards in front of our leader. However, we hopped over, and went on our way. Several very big trees had fallen across in one or two other places, and care had to be exercised in getting across, because a fall down the side might have been disaster. We gave a cheer at the 14th mile, and knew there was only 66 chains to go. .Another cheer on coming into sight of the shelter hut, and we entered and threw down our bundles and lay down. After a- little rest we got tea going, and we did enjoy it. We had rice and apricots, and ate until filled to the brim with this and tea. The. shelter shed is a. grand little place with two rooms. There are four stretchers in one and a table, fireplace, and two stretchers in the other. After tea we got a wood fire going, and played cards, read and told yarns, and generally enjoyed ourselves till about 9.15, when we all turned in, thoroughly tired out.
Friday 18/12/08 We spent one of the coldest nights we have ever experienced, and piled on our clothes. Humphreys and I had waterproof sleeping-bag., and .so were better off than the others. Inside this was a blanket, and we simply slid into all whole bat, dressed in our own clothes, being minus only our boots. We kept a good big fire, that biased up the chimney, going, all night, and this helped to keep us warm. Woke up after a rather sleepless night, and the fern gully in which we were situated looked beautiful [ The water was icy cold, too. and we all funked our dip, comforting ourselves with a wash only. Today was an easy day and we did the falls. Shifted off at about 9 a.m. and went along a very narrow and difficult path. cut right into the side of one of the steepest mountains I have seen Then a zig-zag to the bottom, and we heard the roar of the first fall.The falls are not really on the Yarra but on Falls Creek, a tributary of the river. The falls, are 750 ft. high, broken here and there into six falls, one above the other. The first, or bottom fall is over 70 ft., and comes down with a mighty roar. It comes down into a deep split between gigantic rock::, and we climbed down there, and got wet. in the spray, and splashed when climbing over rocks to get up near to it. The great beauty of this spot is impossible to describe. The evergreen mountains are up almost perpendicularly on each side, and the rest of the 750 ft. of falls was almost above us, and we pad to climb up by zig-zag paths to get to the top about 800 ft. above. It was the
most difficult climb I ever tackled. Sticks were useless and we went on hands and knees in places, and at the higher parts we had to climb up the sheer face of the rock hand over hand almost but I do not think anybody noticed the danger of it until it was done. On throwing stones down this part they went down with terrible velocity, crashing through trees arid the undergrowth until they landed with, a boom at the bottom. All the other falls were magnificent and we snapped them all. About midday we got to the top and sought out a pretty spot for lunch. right on the very edge of the top fall and shaded with trees. Our little rest and hot tea did us good, and warmed us up. for it was very cold at this height, and after this we made a short cut across to the track, and mostly slipped and rolled down it, till we got back to our camp. As soon as we arrived home we had another good square meal and read and rested for the rest, of the day. A real good fire was roaring up the chimney, and round this some of us gathered and warmed, and others played cards till bedtime.
Saturday, 13/12/08. Slept last night like old Harry, and did not fancy crawling out of our warm bunks. We kept the fire going all night, or at least one of our number who was rather sleepless. We woke early, had breakfast, and got off the mark with a long day's journey in front of us,15 miles to the next shelter-shed Fifteen mile is not far but it is another matter with a 20 lb. swag and a lot of climbing.We climbed 1000 ft. in the first few miles and got a wonderful view of the falls across the gorge.After that the walk was more level being along the tops of the mountains. This part of the plateau is'covered with long slippery grass, which makes walking difficult. Also the track was overgrown in places and we had to find our way by means of the "blazes" on the trees. We passed through two very fine and pretty forests of beech and myrtle. These wore the-prettiest forests I' have ever seen and we enjoyed them greatly. We now began to leave the Yarra watershed, and passed across on to the Gippsland side, and had lunch on the Thompson river bridge. The Thompson is very small river and shallow and the bottom shone with mica and other
minerals, all of which our geologist (Hoadley) explained to us. After about 10 links we began ascending again, and got into quite new country above the snow line, and it gives one the most weird impression. A good view of the surrounding peaks is here obtained, all covered with snow gums. For miles and miles these snow gums stand, quite dead, and simply skeletons, stretching out their limbs to the sky. There is no live vegetation at all except the tough grass, al around cam be seen the white or greyish-while peaks, covered with forests of these dead trees, and largc granite rocks mingled in here and there. The trees are small and stunted in growth and all bent up into tangles, probably by the weight of the winter's snow, and form quite a contrast to the giant towering forest gums seen lower down in the gullies. These gully gums averaged quite 200ft., whilst many were well over 300ft. There were several observation
places along tho plateau, from which we could see rows and rows of mountain rangers, covered with forests of gums and getting lighter and lighter in the'r shades of blue until they reached the horizon. The chief peak is Mount Whitelaw, and_on this is the second shelter, 29 miles from McVeigh's, or 50 from Warburton.
hut is :n the dreariest and most weird
ccun'ery 1 ever saw. Surrounded by peaks clothed iu their dead timber, and marshy bogs between the/mountains, it stands alone, almost awful iii the silence and dradness of the place. These bogs are shallow .depressions between l«he mountains, and overtlow at tli'e lowest outlet, and form the. source of some river, and thus we have chains ot ljogs linked together. They are very marshy, but the water was quite drinkable, and - was-obtained from wells dug near the hut. One large bog near the hut looked so weird and dreary, being covered with while rotting timber, and surrounded oy
these hills of white tree skeletons that v.e named it. "The Valley of Dry Bones," or "Dead Man's Ciuliy." The utter weirdness arid absolute silence is impossible to -describe. The second hilt' is very rudely built, with 110 tiooring, and ventilation is plentiful, if unpleasant. There are four bed-stretchers. This night was bitterly csig, and so we built up ail immense lire with huge ' log,, in the large op-en fireplace, and sat round telling yarns or singing, . and spent a short but pleasant evening. As thy sKy was clear, we. expected a sharp frost, and put out some water, which wa.s quite frozen iu the morning. AVc brought the strctehet-s into the room containing the lireplace, and placed them round in such a way that our feet were near the tire, an 1 then turned in early, keeping a roaring lire ooing all night. it. was queer to read round the walls where different oceupiei-s 01 the hut had recorded tiieir cxperiouecs. Many of them had been completely snowed up in December and early January, and we cottld quite believe it.
. (To be Continued.')
Where aro von going to, my pretty maid? "With canned tw'.lu Iroin \c=tio'?, j.r/