A Visit to the Yarra Falls. By F..G. A. BARNARD. To many the whereabouts of the Yarra Falls is almost as great an enigma as tle North Pole. They are said to exist at the sources of the Yarra, but what direction to take or how to get there is known to very few. Consequently a few notes from one who was fortunate enough to be one of a party of tourists, who starting out from Kew with the hope of reaching the much talked of Yarra Falls, succeeded in doing so may be of service to others who think of venturing into that almost untrodden part of Victoria. On looking at a map of Victoria it will be noticed that the County of Evelyn runs to a point towards the south-east. Now almost in the extremity of this point are situated the Yarra Falls. So far for locality; now, how to get there. Train to Warburton, coach to Yarra bridge, and thence horseback is certainly the most expeditious, but we decided to be independent of every body and so loaded a two-horse van with our camping equipment, provisions, etc., and took to the road. Leaving Kew about 8 a m. on a Wednesday morning, we bowled merrily along, two of the party ridingbicycles, bicycles, through Box Hill, Mitcham, Ringwood, etc., admiring the many views of distant mountains obtainable from the White Horse road, until about midday we reached a favorite camping ground, the ti-tree sheltered banks of Brushy Creek. Here we had our first meal in the open, and gave the horses a welcome rest. Two hours passed quickly by, and we were once more on the road. The steep hill at the Black Springs caused us to slacken our pace a bit, but only to give us more time to admire the surrounding country. As we passed through Lilydale the weekly half-holiday was being observed, so we had the Main street almost to onrselves. Here a pleasant word or two was passed with an old friend, the postmaster, and we were wished good luck on our journey. About two miles further the Warburton road was taken, and found to be in fair order. Everywhere were signs of the prevailing industry of the district-fruitgrowing-and as we approached Wandin station and the adjacent jam factory the pleasant odour of raspberries- filled the air. Our road led us up-hill and down dale through Seville, past the entrance to the Killara Estate, until the shades of evening told us it was time to think about a camping place for the night. The Woori Yallock Creek was close at hand, and having done some 30 miles for the day, we pulled up on the side of the road and soon had a fire lighted and the billy boiling. Our tents were barely fixed before the twilight departed, and then we devoted our attention to attempts to secure a few blackfish for our next morning's meal, but the result was not equal to the efforts made. The night passed slowly as most first nights in camp do, and we were up next morning- With the first sounds of the magpies and the jackasses. Breakfast despatched and our van repacked, we got under way and were soon climbing the hill past the Woori Yallock hotel and store, looking just the same as it did when I passed it in the old coaching days twenty years before. The roads were showing signs of wear, and it was not long before we were in trouble, and had to put our shoulders to the wheel in real earnest. However, a friendly teamster came to our assistance, and with the aid of his horse pulled us out of our first difficulty, and ere long IIoddle's Creek was crossed, and the singularly named hamlet of Launching Place came in view. Here the road, railway and river make a very picturesque combination, and crossing the bridge we pulled up under the shade of some trees for our midday lunch. This was our first acquaintance with the Yarra, and for the next fifty miles we were never many yards from its crystal waters. After lunch a start was made for Warburton, but the bad and dusty road through Yarra Junction warned us that we must have more horse power if we desired to get to our destination, and so much time was spent in hiring horses and buying a few necessary articles we found missing in our equipment, that we determined to make the Little Yarra bridge our camping place for the night, having done only eight miles for the day, a great falling off. The day had been warm, but not unpleasant, and as the sun departed the Warburton hills were tinted with a pale purple glow that in a picture would have been called unnatural. A few blackfish were tempted from their native stream by the efforts of our fishermen, and an additional member of our party arrived by the evening train. Early next morning the fresh horses arrived and we set off in great spirits through West Warburton, past Mill grove, where the extent of the timber traffic was to us quite a surprise. Passing along the picturesque bit of road between tha railway and river towards Warburton the dust was found to be terrible and quite destroyed the pleasure of the many beautiful glimpses of the river rush ing by. Sluicing on Scotchman's Creek was evidently not in progress, for the stream was clear as crystal as it gurgled over the stones to join the Yarra close by. Warburton (5 mile) was left about 10.30 a.m., after adding to our stores; the great mass of Donnabuang (4080 feet), the monarch of the Yarra mountains, showing signs of the timber getters' labors, and the Adventist Settlement near Wonwondah bridge soon left behind. A steep hill with trickling streams had to be negotiated, and then pleasantly situated "Sunny dale" came in sight. Just along the river bank, at a gushing stream, we decided to halt and boil the billy Our horses wanted a spell, and we were glad of the opportunity of washing the Warburton dust off our faces.
Two hours were pleasantly spent here and then we were once more on our way. Big Pat's Creek, with its tributary, the Mississippi, was passed, also the lonely East Warburton school. Settlement now began to get sparser; our road passed through much un conquered bush. Heading round gullies and crossing creeks, here and there tree ferns appeared, and finally, after about 13 miles' travelling, we reached Starvation Creek, and though the name was somewhat ominous, decided to camp for the night. The creek, a fine stream fringed with ferns, afforded great opportunities for bathing and fishing, which were soon availed of, and a passing traveller, giving us some information about the road for the morrow, made us hopefuL of finishing our drive that day. During the evening two teamsters, with loads of palings drawn by bullocks, arrived, and in the morning considerable interest was created in watching the methods of yoking up the beasts. Saturday morning broke fine and fair, and a couple of hours' drive brought us to Mahon's Creek, 61 miles from town, the last store and post office up the Yarra. On this stage we had passed over the so-called "peninsula," and had had some pretty glimpses of the Yarra as we.wound along its banks. The store was our last chance of replenishing supplies, and was made the most of. Another hour's drive took us to Reefton, now almost deserted, once a busy mining village. At a pretty bend of the river we pulled up for lunch. A bridge crosses the Yarra here, and a track leads up to the Yarra Track, or Marysville to Woodspoint road, some 12 miles distant. Around us were a number of the prickly box, in full flower, and full of insects of various kinds seeking for honey among the blossoms. As we were finishing lunch, a couple of cyclists came along and an offer of tea induced them to stop for a while, when it was found that they also were making for the Falls, so they were persuaded to join our party. Just as were starting again a snake incautiously put in an appearance, and was promptly despatched. We had now a five-mile drive before reaching our destination for the night, but it took us some time, as the road, though not hilly, was very rutty, and required careful driving. The country was very poor, the trees consequently being of only moderate size, while the native heath, pink and white, was still in bloom. At length, about 5 p.m., we crossed the Yarra Bridge and pulled up at M'Veigh's Upper Yarra Hotel, the sole building of the district. The river here was a rushing, shallow stream some 30ft. wide. We made our camp a few yards up the Woodspoint-road on the side of Walshe's Creek, some 66 miles from town. Enquiries were now made as to our chances of getting' to the Falls, still some 18 miles distant, and we were told that trees were down across the track, and there was little hope of getting through with horses. However, we were not to be put off, and next morning (Sunday), after several delays, we got away at 10.30 on the track to Contention Creek, which winds along the southern side of the Yarra, sometimes almost at the water's edge and at other times rising to several hundred feet as it rounds a jutting spur. This part of the journey was done on foot, with our horses carrying packs. Pretty glimpses of the river with its fringing of trees and shrubs were everywhere obtainable. We soon got over the three miles to Alderman's Creek, where another track branches off to the southeast over the ranges to Neerim, in Gippsland, but our route was to follow the Yarra. Fern scenes become frequent, some showing signs of last season's bush fires. At about 8 miles we reached Contention Greek, now the scene of the workings of Bromley's reef, a mine which at present is attracting some attention. A halt was called for lunch and a little time devoted to an inspection of the water wheel, battery, &c. But we had still a long way to go, and bidding the miners goodbye we plunged into the uninhabited country beyond, hoping to get to Falls Creek, eight miles further, that evening, but we were disappointed; the track is often blocked by fallen trees, and this day was no exception. After heading numerous beautiful fern gullies we came to a fine stream irushing down from Mount Horsfall, and saw the first myrtles, or more properly beeches. Perhaps half-a-mile further a fallen tree blocked the track, necessitating so much delay in cutting it through that we decided to camp at a creek close by for the night. And a memorable camp it was, for in the night one of the horses rolled into the creek, and, with great difficulty by the aid of candle light, rescued and got on its feet again, and next morning it had to be got up out to the track again. We still had some three miles to go to reach the junction of Falls Creek and the Yarra, and had barely made a start when the advance party reported another tree down across the track, in such a position as to render the passage of the horses impossible. There was nothing for it but to unpack everything, take on suffi clent provisions for the day, and leave one of the party in charge of the horses and camp equipment. About an hour later we reached the junction just at the level of the river and about 1000 feet above sea level. Here we found the initials of previous visitors cut in a fine sassafras tree, thus making us certain of our position. Leaving some of our baggage here, we started up the steep spur on the other side of the creek so as to get to the head of the falls. The track was very steep and indistinct, but after half an hour's hard work we were rewarded by seeing and hearing the Falls Creek dashing down into a rocky gorge on our right on its way to join the Yarra. Finally the top of the spur was reached at nearly 3000 feet above sea level; further on the track led to the Thompson River and Mt. Baw Baw. A detour to the right brought us to the topmost fall, and a pretty sight it was as the water came dashing down some fifty feet of sloping rock. Our photographers were soon at work and venturing down further into the gorge secured pictures of some of the
other leaps. Time would not permit a full exploration of the gorge, which is a mile or so long, the falls in six or seven leaps being about 750 ft. from top to bottom. On the spur we were about 2750 ft. above sea level, but, owing to the timber, could not get an extensive view. The Falls Creek was at one time thought to be the main source of the Yarra, hence the name Yarra Falls, but is now regarded as perhaps its largest tributary near the source. It starts in a high plateau on the northern aide of Mt. Baw Baw, and, as we saw it, is a fine stream, some eight or ten feet wide and a foot deep. Who first saw these falls I have not been able to ascertain, but they were visited by Prof. Kernet in the eighties, and a small party from the Field Naturalists Club reached them via Marysville and the Yarra Track in November, 1801, and secured perhaps the first photographs taken. Since that time few tourists seem to have visited them until Mr. A. J. Campbell, the well-known ornithologist, spent a week there with some friends in December, 1904, and took an extensive series ef views. The first ladies to see the the falls had only been there this Christ mas, while our party of ten claims the record of being the largest party which has yet attempted the trip. The spot will probably be a difficult one to get at for many years to come owing to its distance from main roads, but should the Warburton railway be extended to Yarra Bridge, as is fondly hoped, and a narrow guage line run over the divide to Woods point, then the Falls can be approached along the divide through much better scenery than by the track along theYarra Valley. At any rate the Lands department is now about to improve the present track, and join it to the track to Mt. Baw Baw from Neerim so that visitors can make the round trip if so desired, Baw Baw itself being worth visiting owing to its elevation and striking difference to the surrounding country. After lunch close by the foaming cataract, we retraced our steps, some by the way we had come, others descended still further into the gorge, and picked up the track lower down, and by four o'clock were once more at the junction. Eight miles lay between us and Bromley's Reef, where we intended to camp for the night, as there was no feed for the horses at any other part, so no time was lost in getting back to the horses and packing up for the final stage. Bromley's Reef was reached in time to allow us to put up the tents by daylight, and the miners very hospitably added to the resources of our larder which had become somewhat depleted during the trip. Next morning (Tuesday) the manager of the mine showed the party the underground workings before leaving for Yarra Bridge. Three of the party elected to climb the steep spur on the opposite aide of the river, down which the machinery for the mine had been lowered, and in two miles reached the Woodspoint road about 10 miles from M'Veigh'a, and returned by it to the camp. They were loud in their praises of the fine views obtained from this road, and, though the climb of about 2,500 ft was rather stiff, considered they were amply repaid by the grand outlook over mountain, valley and creek obtainable in every direction. The afternoon was spent in fishing and pre paring for the return journey towards Warburton on the morrow. Wednesday afternoon saw us once more on the road, and, bidding good-bye to the McVeighs, who had been extremely kind to us, we soon left the peaceful locality of Yarra Bridge. A short halt was again made at Reefton, also at McMahon's Creek, and our former camp at Starvation Creek was reached in time for a late lunch. Getting under way again we reached Big Pat's Creek, about 16 miles, at sunset, and .. in the midst of some thick ti-tree pitched our camp for the night. Laaving early in the morning,Warburton was soon reached. Here letters and telegrams awaited some of the party, determining some to return by rail, but as there was no train till the afternoon we kept together until reaching another former camp at the Little Yarra Bridge, where, after lunch, some of us bade good bye for the present to our companions of the past week, and returned by train from Yarra Junction. The others decided to spend a day or two longer In the Cockatoo Creek district and try and improve their fishing records. Taken as a whole the outing was a most interesting one, and though there were certain discomforts in the way of dusty roads, still afterall that is better than rain, of which we had none during the nine days we were travelling. However, for prefer, ence I would advise visitors to make the trip in November, for then, though the roads may be a bit soft, the bush would be gay with wild flowers, and present a better appearance than it does in January. The scenery does not equal that of the Black Spur and Yarra'Track, still there are many beatiful bits of the Yarra as it rushes merrily along between high ranges clothed with trees to the water's edge. Large trees are fairly numerous, and some of the fern scenes passed would be hard to beat, while everywhere there is an abundance of running streams of beautiful water at the service of the traveller or his horses. On a first visit to such a district one is naturally anxious about his travelling capabilities, and whether he is following the right track, so that a second trip with more time at ones disposal would probably reveal many picturesque parts unnoticed on the present journey.