2 April 2009


Last Sunday, G joined the usual HAWT* crew for a walk up the Moonee Ponds Creek, along the bike trail. You can see the pics I took on G’s camera (forgot my own) here. Our aim was to walk along the creek to Gellibrand Hill in Woodlands Park, as per this post.

We met at 9am where Moreland Road crosses the creek. For future reference, the first bus heading west on Moreland Rd on a Sunday leaves from Sydney Rd and gets to the Creek at about 9:30, and if you want to go from High St, you have to wait longer. D and I booked a taxi instead, which cost us about $10.

After doing a few stretches, we headed off up the creek, G wheeling his bike (he was unsure if he would be able to walk the 20km carrying a pack, although he is super-fit, because of his back). We almost immediately went off track, but found our way back to the creek easily.

g, sj & d: merry gang of walkers
G, SJ & D on the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. Photo by J.

The day started off with a chill in the air, but quickly warmed up, and those of us (me) who hadn’t put sunscreen on called a halt beneath some trees to slather up. Very interesting, I know. More interesting was this ‘Low Clearance’ sign near Bell St and Citylink. It is there for very tall walkers and cyclists.

D & J duck under the ‘Low Clearance’ sign. Photo by SJ.

We stopped for morning tea in a lovely shady spot, where the main path lies further up the hill, but you can walk along the grass on the creek bank. We set up in the middle of the path, thus forcing a number of joggers to go around us. They were all very envious of our tea and the delicious Afghan Biscuits (later renamed ‘Catastrophe Cookies’) made by our resident chef, SJ.

J with Catastrophe Cookie and tea. Photo by SJ.

We pressed on as the day grew warmer (I think it peaked at 25 degrees, but there was no cloud cover or cool breeze at all), and eventually the trestle railway bridge came into view. Now, you might remember that I am a bit of a bridge-fancier, and I’d been excited about seeing this bridge for a couple of weeks in the lead-up to this walk. We stopped and admired it, took a few photos, and G had a bit of a play on it. For other bridge fanciers, you can find it crossing the Merri Creek between what Google Maps tells me is Gowanbrae and Glenroy.

Trestle bridge across Moonee Ponds Creek
The trestle bridge over the Moonee Ponds Creek at Jacana Retarding Basin. Photo by J.

g swinging from the trestle bridge
G swinging on the bridge. Photo by J.

abstract: negative geometry
Abstract geometric negative shapes. Photo by J.

We walked past the estate homes and mocked them gently, but also agreed that as far as housing estates go, this wasn’t such a bad location (it’s near the awesome bridge! What more could you want?!). On the opposite side of the creek from the estate, we happened upon an interesting sight – the suburbs sprouting a multitude of antennae.

suburbab antennae
“Do you think they might have some reception issues?” Photo by J.

We strolled onwards, and eventually passed under the Western Ring Road, noting the signs for the bike path towards Merri Creek. On the other side of the freeway we continued past the Jacana Wetlands, and were surprised by a kestrel (thanks G, for your knowledge of fauna!) bursting from the grass near the path and taking off to glide above the valley. This part of the walk was quite open and sparse, and we all really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, our map told us that a new section of freeway has been proposed, running parallel to the path.

moonee reflections
Looking South-ish, just before Western Ring Road

We were getting pretty ready for lunch by this stage (almost 1pm), but we pressed on until we found some shade, picnic benches and the promised toilets off Raleigh St in Westmedows. We luncheoned like royalty on roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary, and sweet potato, tomato and feta salad (both made by D), and amazing vegetarian sushi rolls made by G (oh my word, they were delicious). The toilets happened to be out the back of a church hall, so we were serenaded by the churchgoers’ singing as we ate.

Roast spuds. Food by D. Photo by SJ.

Sweet potato, cherry tomato and feta salad with basil and red wine vinegar. Food by D. Photo by SJ.

Veg sushi rolls, with picked ginger and various dressings. Food by G. Photo by SJ.

Feeling well rested and satisfied with ourselves, we set off for the last half a dozen kms to Gellibrand Hill. Little did we know, we would not make it that far. DUM DUM DUUUMMMMMM!!!

Just as we were leaving civilisation (well, we were about to walk into CFA territory rather than MFB territory), our map failed us somewhat by not matching up with what was on the ground. G kindly offered to ride up ahead to see whether one part of the path ended where we thought it did, and the rest of us asked ourselves why we didn’t bring a cyclist all the time. Our question was soon answered as G came off his bike, and we rushed to see what had happened. His elbow was well and truly grazed up, with one significant gouge expelling large amounts of blood. I emptied my waterbottle over his wound to wash as much of the gravel out as I could, then tied a hanky around it. We all walked to the nearest houses and knocked on doors until someone was home and let us use his bathroom. We cleaned G’s elbow a bit more and applied some Dettol cream (thank you, random man), and I cleaned the hanky and reattached it.

SJ called E, and she came with a first aid kit, cleaned the wound with saline, and attached a better dressing than my hanky! As we were waiting for her, we drank the rest of our tea and ate more delicious biscuits. It was at this point that we renamed them Catastrophe Cookies, because they were pretty much the ideal thing to eat at this stage of a catastrophe. E drove G and me to RMH emergency room, where we waited for a couple of hours before G was anaesthetised, cleaned up properly, stitched up, and given a tetnus booster. D and SJ called a taxi and took G’s bike back into SJ & E’s place.

Anyway, you can read more about it here, and here is a pic of G’s elbow a day later:

Photo by G.

It was our first real emergency on one of our walks, and although we weren’t too badly off, it really brought a few things home. First, we need to make sure to have adequate first aid for things like this, especially if we’re not going to be close to houses or roads. Bandaids and painkillers aren’t going to cut it! I have been a bit lazy WRT bringing my first aid stuff over the last few walks (mainly because I know we’re close to houses), but I will start bringing my better stocked first aid pack with me. Second, I am keen to do a first aid course. I haven’t done an official course, and while I know some basics (EAR but not really CPR, theoretically how to dress different wounds, how to splint limbs, and [my biggest fear, really] how to bandage a snake bite) I would like to know more – and especially about how to make the injured person feel safe, what to feed/not feed them, etc. Maybe it’s time for HAWT* to take our walking commitment to the next level by doing a first aid course!?

In conclusion, it was a great walk up until disaster struck! We had walked about 16km, and had about 5 to go, and we were making good time. We have decided to attempt the same walk again on Good Friday (WE WILL GET YOU YET, GELLIBRAND HILL), so if anyone would like to join us, we will be meeting where Moreland Rd crosses the Moonee Ponds Creek at 9:30am. Pretty much the same things apply as this post, so please read it over.

Maybe we will see you there, if this hasn’t put you off. WE ARE SO HARDCORE!

* HAWT = Handy Acronym Walking Team = J, D & SJ.


  1. Oooh!! I've been waiting to read this story! That would definitely convince me to bring a better assorted first aid kit. Also, you just made me crave potatoes :Q_ *sets off to buy some*

  2. That photo of G. swinging?! What is he doing, TEMPTING FATE LIKE THAT?! It was never going to end well. :( And now I am afraid to walk with you guys. ;)

  3. @ nicholas: yeah, totally. i am going to muster all my first aid supplies today and start making a proper kit. also, OM NOM NOM POTATOES OF JOY! roast spuds are a bit of a staple in our walking picnics.

    @ esthervonjohnson: haha, did you also notice in the shot of G, SJ & D that G is scooting on his bike with one foot on the pedal? ALSO DANGEROUS! i hope you are not really afraid to walk with us . . . we could take the coast home?

  4. Hm, i'm sure that there was a photo of me somewhere with my feet actually on the ground...! ;) That bridge photo in particular makes me look a fair way from terra firma... it certainly didn't feel as far as that.

    Actually, i have a stack of melanine patches and hypoallergenic tape now (courtesy of my doc) if you want some for the first aid kit? :)

  5. ooh, that might be good, thank you.

    did you get my email about attempting the walk again? would you like to come on friday?