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Macedon Ranges

24 October, 2011

by Oanh

The next week, we took on a more ambitious walk: The Macedon Ranges Walking Trail, which is a 20km path taking in all the highlights of Macedon Ranges park, including three peaks, Mt Macedon, the Camel’s Hump and Mt Towrong.

The walk started from the township of Mt Macedon (not to be mistaken with the township of Macedon), where our instructions were to leave our car outside the Mountain Inn, now sadly closed.  It did look like it was undergoing renovations, so hopefully there will be a place to pop into post walk.  After a short walk along the road, admiring the large houses with rather English gardens (oaks and bluebells!), we entered the park itself and started climbing, quite steeply, almost straight up to the top.  Many people were coming down while we were going up, so there were plenty of opportunities to rest as we stepped aside to let them past on the “one person at a time only” path.  The side of the hill was fairly well covered in spindly snow gums, the hill being just high enough (1,000m) for them to flourish.  There were also plenty of very prehistoric-looking ferns in amongst all the gums and, rather surprisingly, lots of bright blue forget-me-nots.  I think they’re an invader, but at least they don’t smell as terrible as lantana!

At the top, we joined up with a paved path to the memorial cross that marks the top of Mt Macedon.  Near here there is a car park and a tea room as the road actually goes all the way to the summit, so it was kind of strange to emerge huffing and puffing with our back packs to find people in brogues or high heels walking about.  Probably they thought we were a bit strange too.

At the cross, it started to drizzle.  Supposedly, one gets a view all the way to Port Philip Bay and Melbourne from the cross but we were not to be favoured with such delights.  We pretended to admire the view for a bit and then continued on our walk, stopping into another lookout about 500m from the cross, where we saw a flame robin and learned from a plaque that Mt Macedon, the ranges and some of the area was named for Philip of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father and in my version of Ancient History a much more impressive character than Al) by Matthew Flinders.  I mean, I should have realised but it nevertheless came as a surprise.

Once past the tea room, we returned to spindly gum forests, where the walk took us past a few signs to picnic grounds and then through a large one, with barbecue spots.  Noted: place to take visitors!  From here, we descended ever so slightly to then climb to the highest point of the walk: The Camel’s Hump.  We passed through another carpark, before turning onto a steep gravelled path heading straight up.  Shortly before the summit there was a sign: to the left – Dangerous Cliff Edge; straight ahead: Summit Viewing Platform.  Now, I would have blithely kept on straight ahead had it not been for that sign, so we set off left to explore the Dangerous Cliff Edge.

A short stroll brought us to some big rocks messily lumped together and a view towards farmland and Hanging Rock.  The rocks in the Macedon Ranges are of the same stuff as Hanging Rock (formed by volcanic action a really, really long time ago).  We’ll get to Hanging Rock one of these days, maybe even have a picnic there.  I promise not to disappear.

Our bellies suggested this might be a perfect place for lunch, so we found a comfortable rock.  The sun stayed out but, oddly, it started to hail.  Teeny tiny hail stones pinged off the rocks and our lunch.  It quickly passed (that is, before we’d even finished our sandwiches).

From the Camel's Hump.

Snow Gums on the Camel's Hump.

Shortly after lunch, we had a minor mishap.  I announced that I was going to explore, “over that way,” which Nic mistook as a euphemism for something else.  When I returned from my exploration, Nic was nowhere in sight and I called his name a few times but got no answer.  Allegedly, he did answer but I just didn’t hear him.  I then struck off back to the main path, thinking he’d headed off to the summit viewing platform, while he watched me disappear up the path in the distance, ignoring his responses.  When I got to the summit, Nic wasn’t there so I turned around and headed back to our lunch spot.  Thankfully, Nic was just then walking to the summit himself.

From the Camel’s Hump, we retraced our steps down the steep hill towards Sanatorium Lake.  Amusingly, right after Nic announced, “This path is very well signposted,” we spent a few frustrating minutes trying to find where the path restarted after we’d been ejected into another large, lovely barbecue spot.  Sanatorium Lake was tiny.  We circled it, as the walk notes suggested we should.  Nic made some of his well-loved reflection photos and we continued on towards the Zig-Zag path which was true to its name but not as exciting as I had hoped.  It was only a series of hairpin turns and the path was wide enough for a car, and obviously used by trail bikers and horse-riders (signs told us so and the same signs told us the path was closed.  I don’t think it meant for walkers.)

Reflections of snow gums in Sanatorium Lake.

Our final hill for the day was Mt Towrong, which Nic, to deflect any hopes I might have of a view informed me was on an entirely wooded hill.  There wasn’t much of a climb to it as the walk had been mostly downhill after the Camel’s Hump.  Shortly before Mt Towrong, however, we spotted this weird creature:

Bright Yellow Worm, Possibly a turbellarian. I'm sure this colour isn't good for long term survival.

The summit was a rock cairn, indeed surrounded by view-blocking trees.  But the descent was wonderful: it was steep, exposed and had great views down to Mt Macedon township and across the valley to the memorial cross, marking where we had walked from.  I always love seeing how far I’ve walked.

But best of all, as last week, we caught sight of an echidna on the steep side of Mt Towrong, busily hunting out ants.  They’re usually such elusive creatures, it was a real treat to see another up close.

Echidna does "Salute the Sun".

After that, it was a fairly boring walk along the road, back to our car.  We passed some more grand houses and rather a lot of “For Sale” signs, leaving me to muse about how I would go with the commute into Melbourne if we lived out here…  I mean, it’s only an hour and a half by car.  And there’s even a train. Imagine all the books I could read on the commute!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 October, 2011 8:44 am

    It looks like this walk has it all! Sun, hail, crazy yellow worms and an echidna. Not a bad collection for a day walk! Great photos of a very familiar place 🙂

    • 25 October, 2011 10:43 am

      Hi Greg! Yes, it did seem like a very eventful walk. Reckon we’ll get familiar with this area, too…

  2. Helen permalink
    27 October, 2011 2:03 am

    Such a lovely walk – must remember the next time we come to Melbourne. The photos are fantastic.

    • 27 October, 2011 8:58 am

      These are all Nic’s photos, Helen 🙂 We’ll definitely take you to the Macedon Ranges, though we might not require you to walk 20ish kms … (unless you want to, of course!)

  3. Helen permalink
    12 November, 2011 11:35 pm

    Mmmmm might pass on the 20klm – 10 is about my limit lol

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