Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

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Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 5:25 pm

Major Mitchell Plateau Scratchedlegsanigans

Day One

On the weekend of 26th and 27th of September, our team of three did the Major Mitchell Plateau as an overnight walk, excluding the third day of the walk from our plans. We organized a car shuffle between Jimmy Creek and the high carpark at Mount William. I was very happy to cut out the first section of the walk from Sheep Hills, having done it before. The mentality to this decision was ‘why walk where you can drive?’ This is the beauty of the Major Mitchell Plateau; the only way to travel beyond the Mount William carpark is by your own steam.

The carpark is connected to the summit of Mount William via a steep asphalt road for walkers only. Right from the start we joked that we were spent and that we were going to walk back to the car and head home. In all seriousness though, it is very steep and tiring, especially with full packs on. As we walked past many people on the popular track, everybody greeted us with “great day for it”, and it was. 20 degrees and sunny, barely a cloud in the sky. We met a couple on the way up who noticed our packs and after finding out where we were heading, notified us of a group of ‘oldies’ doing the same walk.

When we got to our turnoff onto the Major Mitchell Plateau walk, we dropped our packs and continued on a hundred metres or so to the top of Mount William, where we enjoyed the views briefly before recollecting our packs and starting the proper walk. From here we wouldn’t see another person until we got to camp in the evening. Note the pack one of our team members is carrying, it was his first proper overnight walk and he didn’t have a proper rucksack, much to the amusement of me and our other overnight savvy bushwalker.

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Ascending Mount William


The next section of the walk saw us descend off Mount William and back into the tree line at Boundary Gap. I forgot to mention, the vegetation for most of the plateau is low, alpine scrub and small Grampians Gum trees. Wherever there were taller trees, they were Eucalypts and Banksias, such as in Boundary Gap. When we got to ‘the bottom’ (which was still 900m in elevation), we found that a small stream seemed to run along the track, so we took the opportunity to have a drink and fill up water bottles. We took enough water to get by had the creeks been dry, but hoped to supplement our supplies with water we would find along the way, which we were able to do.

It was time to ascend Boundary Gap and onto the plateau. I remembered having a lot of fun scrambling this section the first time I did the walk. At first it was just a steep trail, but soon it turns into a steep rocky outcrop, which required some pack hauling. It was very basic scrambling, definitely no need for ropes as they were very short sections with plenty of foot and handholds. We sent our strongest member up first to haul our packs up as we passed them up to him. Part way up, we were treated to a nice view of Mount William’s southern face, which you can see below.

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Mount William from Boundary Gap


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Ascending Boundary Gap


When we got out of Boundary Gap, the gateway to the plateau, we were annoyed to be back into the sunlight which had been causing us to sweat like pigs all day. Immediately we noticed cliffs to our left and headed over to clamber over the boulders in search of good photo opportunities. We tried yelling things out to see how our voices would echo, and I want to note that there are some awesome echoes up there! I yelled out at the top of my lungs, “I bought a Jeep”, which is ironic because no Jeep could ever ascend Boundary Gap, no way.

We walked past a helipad and soon into camp, where we were pleasantly surprised to see 1st Wannon Creek flowing nicely. The only amenity at this camp was a drop toilet which was chockers full of excrement, yummo. The ‘oldies’ had beaten us to camp well and truly, and were all set up. We said a quick hello, and they firstly pointed out that we cheated by starting from the high carpark at Mount William instead of from Sheep Hills where they started, and secondly had a laugh at my mate’s schoolbag rucksack, and joked that us other two must be good friends, to carry all his gear for him. They were lovely people.

After setting up our tents, we got some gear together and headed back to the helipad to view the sunset over a hot chocolate, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Note that two of our team members with Telstra, me included, were able to get two bars of phone reception from here, whereas our other member, with Optus, couldn’t get any. We joked that the tower on Mount William was the Telstra tower, and the smaller, more run-down looking tower nearby was the Optus tower. The sunset was beautiful, and the photo below doesn’t do it justice.

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Sunset at the helipad


For tea we had dehydrated beef and vegetable wraps, which I was testing out as a potential food for the Overland Track which two of us were using this walk as training for. It worked very nicely, although we would need to add spices next time. One thing my friends are good at is bringing ridiculously heavy and excessive amounts of food on overnight bushwalks, for example five tomatoes, twenty five pieces of bacon, twelve bread rolls, six eggs and a full tub of cream, which they amusingly pinned to the side of the creek with rocks, in order to keep it cool. We celebrated the days walk by eating lollies and chocolate and heading off to bed.

Day Two

Sleep was patchy, and at 6:30am we woke up and got breakfast cooking. Bacon, tomato, scrambled egg and cheese rolls were on the menu. The cream was for the scrambled eggs, but we only used a small portion of it, the rest would be mixed with chocolate powder and drank later on. We packed up all our gear and broke camp by about 9:30. We filled empty water bottles from the creek, intending to boil it later, but we had some fresh from the creek which wasn’t smart in hindsight, but we are all okay so far, and symptoms would probably have come on by now if they were going to. We hope that the yellowish colour in the water is just tannin… see the photo below for an idea of what it was like.

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Water from 1st Wannon Creek


We walked solidly for around an hour and a half along exposed cliffs, with great views to smaller peaks below, and out onto the expansive plains. Finally, after many ‘false summits’ we were happy to reach Durd-Durd, the equal highest point in the Grampians (with Mount William) at 1167m, marked by a cairn. We took this opportunity to boil some of the creek water we collected earlier, for a cup of tea now and for drinking straight later.

From here it was off the plateau and up Banksia Hill. As we approached the top of Banksia Hill 45 minutes after leaving Durd-Durd, we were amazed at how much distance we had appeared to cover in such a short time. We enjoyed a snack and lots of photos on the boulders at the top. We took a few team photos by sitting a phone on a tripod we constructed out of a dead branch crammed into a rock crevice. From here there are great views back to the Plateau and Mount William in the distance, which gives everyone a sense of achievement when they see how far they have come.

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On top of Banskia Hill


When we continued on, descending Banksia Hill, we soon realised that we had lost the track. We stopped and got out the map, compass and GPS to try to find the track again. As we searched, every ten minutes a member of our team would exclaim “I found the track”, and every time he was wrong. The last time he was “one hundred percent sure this is the track”, but still no track. “Surely those rocks are man-made”, he would say and I agreed, but nature does some pretty cool things with rocks, especially in the Grampians. Through the trees we noticed Stockyard Gap in the distance, and soon the ‘oldies’ who had started earlier than us that morning. For a bit of fun we began coo-eeing them and got replies. As I would later discover when I signed our trip off at Brambuk, they had reported that they thought we were lost, due to the coo-eeing, which I then explained was for fun, but they were also correct… embarrassing. Note that the ladies at Brambuk told me others had been lost in the same spot recently, as it isn’t very well marked currently.

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Temporarily misplaced


Anyway, back to getting unlost. We finally made the hard decision to head back up to the Banksia Hill summit to find the right track. After slogging uphill for a while and seeing that we still had a long way to go, we stumbled upon the track. We thought we were getting so close to the top, and when we realised it was so far away, we were demoralized for approximately two seconds before finding the track. Morale restored, we continued on towards Stockyard Gap.

We walked through shady forest and reached Stockyard Gap pretty quickly. The forest opens out into a grassy clearing, which could be a nice spot to pitch a tent were it not on such a slope. Back into the forest, walking on what looks to be a vehicle track. We came across a Brown Snake, but no one photographed it, presumably because we were all contemplating how we would react if it decided to give chase. Apart from this snake, other wildlife we saw on the walk were small skink lizards, wallabies and a large, lone kangaroo.

We soon came to a sign indicating we had 6 kilometres until our ending point at Jimmy Creek. In all honesty, the next six kilometres were the least exciting of the walk, and we ticked them off pretty quickly, only stopping once or twice. The track was very rocky, and there were some nice pink, white and yellow Spring wildflowers beside it. There were some nice views to the Serra Range at times, adventurous minds working overtime as we pondered future endeavours. Finally we made it to the highway, and from there it was only a 400 metre walk to Jimmy Creek Campground, and the end of our walk.

I just want to note my displeasure at having to pay $10 each to book an uneven patch of ground at 1st Wannon Hiker Camp for our overnight stay. Firstly, logically, there is one chockers-full toilet and a few clear areas, is that really worth $10? Is it because there is competition for sites? The Major Mitchell Plateau is remote and very rarely will there be a full campsite, often it will be empty. Is there really any need?

Carry plenty of water, in case the creek isn’t running when you go. Also take warm gear all year round, because the nights will always be cold at that altitude.

Lastly, some will be curious as to why I called the report “Major Mitchell Plateau Scratchedlegsanigans”. One day we called our Facebook group conversation “Shenanigans” as we were planning a day trip up Mount Abrupt. We eventually decided to climb Signal Peak as well and got very scratched legs, and thus renamed the conversation “Scratchedlegsanigans” upon arriving home. This was, I suppose our second adventure, and we once again got very scratched (and sunburned) legs on the plateau. I guess from now on we are the Scratchedlegsanigans team. We are pictured below with celebratory ice creams in Halls Gap after the walk, minus one of our members who couldn’t make it. I look forward to many more opportunities to get our legs scratched up in the future!

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Scratchedlegsanigans team


Thanks,
Sam.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby neilmny » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 5:48 pm

Nice report Sam.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:03 pm

neilmny wrote:Nice report Sam.


Thanks Neil!
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Tortoise » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:16 pm

Hey Sam,

Yes, thanks for posting the report. It brought back lots of good memories. I love the view of the Serra Range from up there. Didn't cost $10 bucks last century, though. :wink:
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:30 pm

Tortoise wrote:Hey Sam,

Yes, thanks for posting the report. It brought back lots of good memories. I love the view of the Serra Range from up there. Didn't cost $10 bucks last century, though. :wink:


Hey Tortoise,

Thank you for reading! Yes, it is beautiful, definitely lots of leg-scratching inspiration for us. Haha, it didn't cost $10 even two years ago. Oh well, Parks will do what they want :P
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Eremophila » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 11:46 pm

Thanks Sam, great report and such enthusiasm!

Another one not far from home for me and on the list.... just that pesky "work" thing that gets in the way all the time :x
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby walkerchris77 » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 7:48 am

Yeah parks need their beer money. Dont dare ask for a receipt .
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby aloftas » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 9:46 am

I may be an "oldie", but I would wear gaiters.

Remember this, the next time a big black snake is looking at you.

But, thank you for the report and laughs. :)

Cheers.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 10:30 am

Eremophila wrote:Thanks Sam, great report and such enthusiasm!

Another one not far from home for me and on the list.... just that pesky "work" thing that gets in the way all the time :x


Thank you Eremophila, you will love it when you can get around to it. Gotta love it when that "work" thing gets in the way of things :P
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 10:37 am

aloftas wrote:I may be an "oldie", but I would wear gaiters.

Remember this, the next time a big black snake is looking at you.

But, thank you for the report and laughs. :)

Cheers.


I was wearing ankle gaiters, but they were too small to stop me from being scratched, or probably even bitten by a snake...
Good advice aloftas, thank you. I will need to get some full length gaiters, and get the rest of the Scratchedlegsanigans team to do the same, just our legs won't get as scratched anymore ;)

Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed!
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby aloftas » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 10:54 am

Great to hear.
You will probably walk with each other for a lifetime.
Good habits are easy to carry.
Again, thanks for the laughs and enthusiasm!
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 12:18 pm

Sam, nice writing and pics. I agree that the pics often do not do justice to the actual - you have to be there with the cool evening breeze, the fresh scent of the flowers, and the feeling that only comes when you've walked to a summit or remote campsite. My remedy for the camping fee is to stop elsewhere, even if it means carting water a short distance. I'm unsure if this is permitted. I have long gaiters and long pants; don't like scratchies, or snakes.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby MeanderingFlyFisher » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 8:51 pm

Very good report and interesting read.
Nice to hear there is still some water in the small streams as I was up that way a couple of weeks back and it is very dry for this time of year :(
As for paying to camp in the area I think it was way overpriced(as well as the car camps) and all you have to do is get the appropriate park notes with map and it shows where and how you can camp for free.
And to finish off with an ice cream at Halls Gap is superb.I always get one from the corner ice cream store overlooking stoney creek.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby neilmny » Thu 01 Oct, 2015 8:06 am

MeanderingFlyFisher wrote:...........And to finish off with an ice cream at Halls Gap is superb.I always get one from the corner ice cream store overlooking stoney creek.


Don't forget a Vanilla Slice from the bakery to go with it.....not to mention a coffee from one of the cafes on Stony Creek :D
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Kainas » Thu 01 Oct, 2015 9:29 am

Nice report, makes me wish I lived closer to that area.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Fri 02 Oct, 2015 6:39 pm

Lophophaps wrote:Sam, nice writing and pics. I agree that the pics often do not do justice to the actual - you have to be there with the cool evening breeze, the fresh scent of the flowers, and the feeling that only comes when you've walked to a summit or remote campsite. My remedy for the camping fee is to stop elsewhere, even if it means carting water a short distance. I'm unsure if this is permitted. I have long gaiters and long pants; don't like scratchies, or snakes.


Couldn't have said it better Lophophaps! That is a good enough remedy for me. Thanks for the advice! :D
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Explorer_Sam » Fri 02 Oct, 2015 6:42 pm

MeanderingFlyFisher wrote:Very good report and interesting read.
Nice to hear there is still some water in the small streams as I was up that way a couple of weeks back and it is very dry for this time of year :(
As for paying to camp in the area I think it was way overpriced(as well as the car camps) and all you have to do is get the appropriate park notes with map and it shows where and how you can camp for free.
And to finish off with an ice cream at Halls Gap is superb.I always get one from the corner ice cream store overlooking stoney creek.


Yes, we were nervous about whether 1st Wannon Creek would be flowing or not, because there would have been no luxury hot chocolates had it not been.
So it is still possible to camp for free in the Grampians, excluding wild camping?
Yes, terrific ice creams in Halls Gap, from either of the ice cream shops.
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Re: Major Mitchell Scratchedlegsanigans

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 02 Oct, 2015 6:45 pm

Explorer_Sam wrote:Yes, we were nervous about whether 1st Wannon Creek would be flowing or not, because there would have been no luxury hot chocolates had it not been.
So it is still possible to camp for free in the Grampians, excluding wild camping?
Yes, terrific ice creams in Halls Gap, from either of the ice cream shops.


Combine, avoid commuting, camp in the ice cream shop. Minimise your travelling environmental footprint. Save the earth!

I think one can camp anywhere for no cost if you go out far enough. I've never paid anything, and hope not to.
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