Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Trip reports, stories, track notes. Multiple/large photos are OK in this forum.
Forum rules
Posting large/multiple images in this forum is OK. Please start topic titles with the name of the location or track.

For topics focussed on photos rather than the trip, please consider posting in the 'Gallery' forum instead.

This forum is for posting information about trips you have done, not for requesting information about a track or area.

Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby dinna89 » Fri 12 Jun, 2015 4:43 pm

Headed up to the Little Desert NP for the long weekend to give the Desert Discovery trail a go. We were only out for two days, hiking from Kiata to Yellowgums on day 1 and back to Kiata via the Wallaby track on day two.

Just some general observations for people heading out that way
  • Hiking in sand is hard. I know it's desert, but I was expecting more gravelly tracks, it is very sandy. It's also not a very inspiring walk, there's very little in the way of highlights, although there is a raised platform with decent 360 degree views of the Wimmera Plains/Arapiles about 5ks from Kiata.
  • I reckon Yellowgums sees very few overnight visitors, the log book had 6 entries for the past 12 months, and I've never had an easier time finding firewood.
  • I would recommend sand pegs for camping at Yellowgums. We got away with using tubular Easton pegs that come with Tarptents, but we very lightly tensioned our tents. Regular pegs are fine for Kiata.
  • The water in the Yellowgums tank isn't amazing, it's pretty clear but it smells like a sewer. Filtering it removed the smell, although that didn't stop us UV-ing and boiling it before use. The tank was near empty.
  • Kiata has a massive tank with good quality water.
  • We had originally planned to do the trip via Horseshoe Bend. We attempted to access this campsite via 'West Wail Rd and the 'River Track' or the 'Charcoal Flat Track' which are marked on VicMaps as unsealed roads, but the River and Charcoal Flats Tracks are definitely only accessible to 4WDs. Horseshoe Flat is accessed via a good quality unsealed road from Dimboola.
  • There were heaps of dirtbikers near the river, but we didn't see/hear any on our hike.
dinna89
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon 01 Jul, 2013 3:31 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Hallu » Fri 12 Jun, 2015 7:56 pm

Yeah Horseshoe Bend is bigtime bogan territory. Power boats, dirtbikes, beer and clear 4WD tracks next to sign forbidding it... This park deserves better. Personnally I love Little Desert, but yeah I don't know if I wouldn't be bored spending 3 days there. Did you go to the salt lake (eagle swamp it's called I think) ? It's only one of the few highlights. But the 2 main things about little desert is its flora and fauna, you need to camp there, observe nocturnal mammals, check out the plants etc...
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1808
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby dinna89 » Mon 15 Jun, 2015 2:22 pm

We passed a 'Salt Lake' about 15ks in to our first day, but it was fairly unremarkable, very dry, but I didn't see it called "Eagle Swamp" anywhere so it may be a different lake. The lake did have a weird buried box there, it had a thin galvanised steel lid covering a circular enclosure about 50m deep and 30cm-ish wide, with nothing in it. I've got no idea what it was for, but it was very conspicuous, I should have grabbed a photo of it.
dinna89
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon 01 Jul, 2013 3:31 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Hallu » Mon 15 Jun, 2015 6:53 pm

Yeah it was definitely Eagle Swamp. It is indeed a salt lake. Did you check out the Desert Lodge too ? They're very knowledgeable about the area, and can organize dropoffs/pickups for the desert walk. They also take care of a lot of wildlife. I always urge people to stop there.
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1808
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Drummo62 » Mon 13 Jul, 2015 1:12 pm

Parks Vic website indicates that there is a separate brochure for the 84km Desert Discovery walk. I've emailed them but does anyone know where I can obtain a copy? Thank you.
User avatar
Drummo62
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed 12 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby juz » Mon 13 Jul, 2015 1:45 pm

Drummo62,
A quick search revealed what you are after.
Download and unzip the attachment of the last post of the linked thread.
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=11280&p=150843&hilit=desert+discovery#p150843
juz
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue 10 Jan, 2012 8:04 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Drummo62 » Mon 13 Jul, 2015 2:01 pm

Thanks for the prompt reply Juz. I had found those notes (thanks Hallu) but assumed, perhaps wrongly, that there might be a brochure with more detail than the map from April 2002.
User avatar
Drummo62
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed 12 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Hallu » Mon 13 Jul, 2015 5:58 pm

Yes it's a rather poor document, you expect more from a 4 day walk in a national park. Parks VIC usually has great brochures but for this walk not only is it not online, but it's a poorly made Word document... That being said, the track is easy to follow as there is an aluminium pole every 20 m or so. Nevertheless I wouldn't go without a GPS. For more up to date infos, call here : http://littledesertlodge.com.au/. They know as much as any ranger, and are more easily reached.
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1808
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Drummo62 » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 10:18 am

After searching for information on the Little Desert Discovery walk a couple of months ago I finally managed to get up there to do the entire walk over 4 days. Information on this walk is as scarce as a mallee fowl but Parks Vic assure me they are in the process of updating their brochures etc. I was unable to find any detailed maps and given the Vic Topo maps looked like I would need 4 maps to cover the whole walk I ended up relying on a Parks sketch map from 2002 (previously mentioned in this thread) and a GPS. The track is well maintained, marked and easy to follow so even without detailed maps there were no concerns. The entire walk is 75kms (not 84kms as listed in the information)

Day1
Horseshoe Bend to Yellow Gums Camp - 21km
We drove to Dimboola and parked the car at Horseshoe Bend about 7kms out of town. This camping area is on the banks of the Wimmera River and the walk initially follows the river for about 5 km meandering through the river redgums. The track then turns south west heading towards Eagle Swamp which is 11km from our start at Horseshoe Bend.
Track leading away from Wimmera river.JPG
Track leading away from Wimmera river.JPG (70.91 KiB) Viewed 10704 times

We stopped for lunch, then continued on the sandy tracks toward our overnight stop at YellowGums Camp. The track was well defined and with very little recent rain extremely dry. Plenty of birdlife including mobs of emus and a few wildflowers. Yellowgums offers a good campsite (take sand pegs), shelter, fire pit (fires only permitted April to October inclusive) and water tank. The tank was half full of fairly foul smelling water but was ok after boiling.

Day2
Yellow Gums Camp to Kiata Campground - 21km
With temps down to 1 degree overnight I was really happy with my new Malachowski Climber 600 sleeping bag. Its first outing and I was toasty warm all night. I had taken along my Tarptent Moment DW to save weight and while it was cramped with two it was ok with the wife as a walking partner.

We packed and headed off on a very sandy track. Unfortunately the walking track resembled a dirt bike track with huge ruts and loose sand. Despite signs everywhere for no motorbikes some people have no care or respect. This made walking fairly slow going and my better half was struggling by the time we walked the 9km to Salt Lake. Thankfully the track improved after Salt Lake and some steady climbing to Trig Point (6km from Salt Lake) gave us chance to break for lunch and enjoy the 360 degree views from the viewing platform.
View Sth from Trig point.JPG
View Sth from Trig point.JPG (51.36 KiB) Viewed 10704 times

A further 6km to Kiata campground saw us finished by mid afternoon for some down time. While the Kiata campsite had quite a few car campers the area is huge at it was easy to find a spot of our own. Emus wandering around the camp, and good facilities this spot is worth a visit even if not hiking. There are numerous tanks at Kiata so plenty of water.
Kiata campsite.JPG
Kiata campsite.JPG (85.33 KiB) Viewed 10704 times


Day 3
Kiata to Mallee Camp - 20km
Great weather again greeted us as we made our way south then south west toward Pumpjack Dam. The track in the northern part of the walk was firmer than the first couple of days so walking was more comfortable. A quick stop at Pumpjack Dam (10km from Kiata) and we pushed on. The day was getting warmer and although only in the low 20s with virtually no shade it had started to feel hot. This would be a much tougher and less enjoyable walk in hot conditions. We reached the intersection of the Discovery walk with the Wallaby track (15kms from Kiata) stopped for lunch then meandered into Mallee camp. Again a good camp setup with hut, tank, fireplace and drop toilets. The campsite is next to a dam and plenty of birds were coming in for a drink on dusk including a huge emu. We just settled for a drink of red wine!
Mallee camp.JPG
Mallee camp.JPG (59.22 KiB) Viewed 10704 times


Day4
Mallee Camp to Horseshoe Bend
Shorter day today with only 13km back to Horseshoe Bend. Even so with the promise of higher temperatures we made an early start to be finished before the heat arrived. The well maintained track took on its now very familiar look of firm sand, in very low scrubby and dry vegetation. About 5km from Mallee Camp we bumped into a mountain biker who had headed out from Horseshoe Bend. We strolled the rest of the way back to where we started.

I don't think this walk sees too much traffic. The visitors book at both Yellow Gums and Mallee Camp hadn't been updated for 2 months. Parks Vic (and/or volunteers) have maintained the track well and it is very easy to follow. My concerns of not having detailed maps were unnecessary. At times the walk can be a bit monotonous and it would not be at the top of my best multi day hikes. That said, it was good to visit a different terrain (it is the desert and its meant to be flat, sandy and dry) and the campsites were all excellent. I'm happy to answer any queries about the hike or if you would like GPX files send me a PM.
User avatar
Drummo62
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed 12 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby peregrinator » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 1:02 pm

Drummo62, thanks for the report and the invitation. I've walked most sections of the circuit at various times, but not the bit west of Yellow Gums camp to Salt Lake. I gather from what you wrote that the sand is churned up there much more severely than elsewhere. I've seen such damage by moronic motorbike riders mostly on some of the other tracks in the park and so far only intermittently on the walking track. A great pity that keeping these fools away is so difficult to organise.
peregrinator
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 972
Joined: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:50 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Drummo62 » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 1:25 pm

peregrinator wrote:Drummo62, thanks for the report and the invitation. I've walked most sections of the circuit at various times, but not the bit west of Yellow Gums camp to Salt Lake. I gather from what you wrote that the sand is churned up there much more severely than elsewhere. I've seen such damage by moronic motorbike riders mostly on some of the other tracks in the park and so far only intermittently on the walking track. A great pity that keeping these fools away is so difficult to organise.


The 9km from YGC to Salt Lake was the worst we encountered.
CIMG2588.JPG
CIMG2588.JPG (110.29 KiB) Viewed 10681 times

Once past Salt Lake the track was better and the area around Trig Point and onto Kiata was well worth the effort. I emailed Parks Vic my thoughts but it would be virtually impossible to block the bikes from the walking track due to the open terrain.
User avatar
Drummo62
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed 12 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Eremophila » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 11:38 pm

Thanks Drummo62, planning to get up there at some stage - probably the best time of year about now. Perhaps next year!
User avatar
Eremophila
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon 24 Oct, 2011 5:15 pm
Location: SW Vic
Region: Victoria

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby StuBarry » Mon 21 Aug, 2017 10:51 pm

Drummo62 - how can I get that GPX file you offered - am heading out there this w/e?
My email is sbarry@bigpond.net.au
Cheers
SB
StuBarry
Nothofagus cunninghamii
Nothofagus cunninghamii
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon 25 Aug, 2014 1:16 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Drummo62 » Tue 22 Aug, 2017 8:56 am

StuBarry wrote:Drummo62 - how can I get that GPX file you offered - am heading out there this w/e?
My email is sbarry@bigpond.net.au
Cheers
SB


PM sent
User avatar
Drummo62
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed 12 Mar, 2014 12:05 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Explorer_Sam » Thu 24 Aug, 2017 5:23 pm

Where is the best 2WD access to start the DDW?

Planning to go during the next uni break.
My Blog- Adventure and Nature Writing- www.sambochristie.wordpress.com
Explorer_Sam
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 300
Joined: Thu 01 Mar, 2012 8:33 pm
Location: Maryborough
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby peregrinator » Thu 24 Aug, 2017 8:38 pm

Explorer_Sam wrote:Where is the best 2WD access to start the DDW?

Planning to go during the next uni break.


Sam, it obviously depends on where your journey commences. Lacking that detail, my suggestion would be to start and end at Horseshoe Bend, but not to camp at that location. As Hallu noted in 2015, there are reasons to avoid that camp which is easily accessed by fools. (But equally, as it is so close to Dimboola, it is also easily accessed by you.) So if you were able to start walking from there in the afternoon, you could camp on the first night at Yellow Gum or Mallee Camp, then continue the loop in a way to ensure you got back to the starting point early enough to perhaps return home on the final day.

Kiata is also easily reached via 2WD, but as Drummo62 correctly noted, the camping area there is "huge", so it's probable you would be less likely to be annoyed by fools there than at H Bend. Therefore you might want to choose that as an overnight stop.
peregrinator
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 972
Joined: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:50 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby bigkev » Thu 24 Aug, 2017 8:43 pm

Hi Sam, Kiata and Horsehoe Bend are both fine for a 2WD. I normally start at Kiata and combine days 2 and 3 therefore not having to share a vehicle based campsite. Kiata is a little further away though. Check with the rangers regarding water at Yellowgum as last time I was there the tank was out of action - that was over a year ago though.
User avatar
bigkev
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 267
Joined: Sat 30 Jun, 2012 6:44 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Little Desert - Partial Desert Discovery Walk

Postby Kubepau » Fri 25 Aug, 2017 8:29 am

I was dropped at Kiata in a VW Golf (have family with property a couple k's up the road, so made sense to start there). Any 2WD willbe fine there, or at Horseshoe Bend.

Stayed at Ackles rather than Horseshoe Bend. Had the site to myself at first, but had a group of 4WD's arrive around 11pm (Friday night). Apart from the setting up camp lights and noise, I didn't hear a peep from them, luckily.

A few weeks ago, tanks at Yellowgum and Mallee camps were overflowing, and the water was fine (filtered/boiled). Parks Vic said they had no idea about the water situation when I called to check.

Sent from my SM-T815Y using Tapatalk
Kubepau
Nothofagus cunninghamii
Nothofagus cunninghamii
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri 21 Jul, 2017 5:45 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male


Return to VIC Trip Reports & Track Notes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest