31 December 2010


almost exactly a month ago we went out o healesville for a couple of nights. we went to the sanctuary for an afternoon (it was fab) and walked down to our b&b (rescuing a poor, orphaned blackbird chick on the way), then the next day did a 26km walk up to the top of mt st leonard and back via the reservoir. this post is just our walk in photos, not much commentary. you can see all the photos from the day here and a map here. it was a great day, and i'd totally go up the mountain again, despite how steep and exhausting it was in places!

j & d start walking!
us at the start!

b&b view, morning
morning view from the b&b

view of mt st leonard from healesville
the mountain we're heading towards

d at the ford
db crossing an unexpected ford!

there was lots of evidence of the fires

Thysanotus uberosus
thysanotus uberosus or common fringe-lily

path, shadow and regrowth

slashing ahead!
alas, it was only men with heavy machinery. but we shipped them anyway!

it never looks as steep in photos! #2
it got very steep towards the end, but it doesn't translate in the photo!

sudden change
at one point, near the top of the hill, the vegetation suddenly changed, with long green grasses and ferns suddenly springing up below the trees.

view from mt st leonard 2

view from mt st leonard 1
the view towards the city!

d flakes out
time for lunch and a nap

omg, db is the cutest thing i have EVER SEEN. :O :O :O

scone cart here?
heading back down - this was the fire access road/firebreak along the ridge

ridge end road
more of the track

creepy baby in a tree

thumbs up
back at donnelly's weir - i'm in ur water supply, melbs!

bicentennial national trail map and info board
map of the bicentennial national trail (mainly for horses) - we've walked the first 8km of it! ;)

aqueduct and path
so random - an aqueduct in the middle of the bush

maroondah dam from the lookout
maroondah reservoir and dam from the lookout

maroondah reservoir reflections
from the dam wall

rose stairs at maroondah reservoir
the reservoir park would be lovely for a picnic

valve houses, maroondah dam
valve houses (or SO THEY SAY) with boobs on top.

d and the dam wall
d contemplates the dam wall

crimson rosella (juvenile)
juvenile crimson rosella, coming to steal your nuts!

b&b view, sunset
sunset from the b&b

the climb up mt st leonard was much steeper and much slower than we expected, and as a result we had to ration our water (we are usually much more careful bringing extra water, and this was a timely reminder to continue being careful!) until we got back to civilisation. the views from the top were totally worth the climb, though. when we were up the lookout tower, a couple of walkers joined us having done part of a circular walk from down near the ford. maybe we'll try it next time we're out there, if we're feeling fit (they said it was quite a scramble in places). maroondah reservoir park also seems like a lovely place for a picnic and some short walks for those less keen on spending a day out getting sweaty and exhausted!

2010 IN 2010: COMPLETE!

some readers may remember that i had a plan to walk 2010km this year - and i hit that target three days ahead of schedule! yay! as a reward i went and bought myself a new pair of boots as the old ones are well and truly worn out! (and they were on sale, so they cost me about $300 instead of $350!)

anyway, i have written up a discussion of my experiences with the 2010 project below - feel free to skip this if it is of no interest to you!

WHAT WAS THE AIM? to walk 2010km in 2010

WHY A DISTANCE CHALLENGE? because, unlike the few years prior to 2010, i knew that i wouldn't be going on any major multi-day hikes. spending a fortnight walking 250km of the southwest coast path (swcp) in cornwall in 2009 gave me a great sense of achievement, and i wanted something to aspire to for 2010. i also vaguely thought that it might keep my walking fitness up, though not to the standard i was immediately post-swcp!

WHY THAT DISTANCE? i wanted a total that was a challenge, but doable. in the months leading up to doing the swcp, i kept a record of how many kilometres i walked every week. when i did a long walk during the week i could walk up to 48kms, while some weeks i only managed 20km. mostly, however, i seemed to walk around 30km a week. i figured, then, that i would probably easily walk 1500km in a year, so i'd need a bit more for it to be a challenge. 2500km seemed a bit too challenging (almost 7km per day!), so 2000km it was . . . plus 10km to make it match the year! approximately 5.5km per day seemed manageable.

FACTORS I CONSIDERED: i knew it was likely that the shop i worked for would close this year, and that my scholarship was going to run out, so i didn't actually know if i'd have the financial ability, time or energy to complete this project. i intended to see how i was going around july, and not be too concerned if i couldn't keep up. i was also quite concerned about summer heat and a little less concerned about winter rain keeping me off the path - both had an impact, heat more so than rain. fortunately things worked out ok in the end!

HOW I KEPT TRACK: made me a google doc spreadsheet, yay! i mapped distances using mapmyhike.com, and averaged daily totals to the closest half k (when in doubt i tended to round down, but if i did that a few days in a row i would then round up for a couple of days). i didn't use a pedometer or a GPS tracker or anything fancy like that, so my distances aren't 100% accurate, but they're good enough for me. here is the graph generated by google docs:

ON THE DAILY AVERAGE: 5.5km a day is probably a little over an hour of walking for me - provided it's on flat ground, a fairly smooth surface, i know where i'm going and i'm not stopping to take lots of photos! however, i am not in the habit of going for an hour-long stroll in the evenings/mornings for no reason: my walking tends to be commuting or a full-day leisure activity with . one thing i noticed was that there's pretty much nowhere i go that's 5.5km (or 2.75km one way, 5.5km return) from my house! two areas i frequent (one with my doctor, a supermarket, several cafes and my counsellor; the other with my chiropractor, some cafes and a library) are around 4km from home, uni is about 6-8km depending on the way i go, three of my favourite cafes are a bit under 2km away. my usual tram stop is 800m! and of course, my kitchen is 0km away, so there were many days when i did nada. i guess i'm trying to say that i actually did have to work on keeping on target, it didn't 'naturally' average out.

PROGRESS THROUGH THE YEAR: as noted, where and how much i was working and what else i was doing had an impact on my progress. so did the weather! looking at my spreadsheet, i was only ever under target in february (though i did get right down to the line on a couple of other occasions), when the heat made it difficult to get out for long walks. when i was working in retail, i didn't walk into work because (a) i didn't want to be sticky, (b) i didn't want to carry a change of clothes and (c) i had to stand up all day anyway, which is quite hard enough on ones feet! when i was doing more work at uni, i was able to walk there a couple of times a week. when i was working in november, my workplace was just under 2.5km from home, so walking there and back every day kept my average fairly consistent for the month. db and i went on two overnight walks in june and july, which helped boost my totals mid-year when rain and extra retail shifts (= very little walking for a number of days each week) threatened to put an end to my dreeeeeams (ok, it wasn't so dramatic as that). i am pleased with how on-target i stayed throughout the year.

WAS IT A CHALLENGE? yes! but, just as i'd hoped, it wasn't overly difficult and i didn't have to (nor did i want to) put a lot of pressure on myself to do it - i already had enough on my plate doing uni stuff, trying to find jobs, etc. i didn't let this become yet another thing i felt obliged to do; it was mostly just an enjoyable challenge. i could have done more, but i think anything more than 2200-2300km would have been . . . too much of an intrusion on my life. it was pretty cool and very satisfying to see the little red line on the graph creep slowly up!

WHAT I GOT OUT OF IT: although i've been walking for a few years, doing this definitely encouraged me choose to walk instead of taking public transport when the option was there (we don't have a car, i sold my bike). i feel like i'm more likely to walk now than i was a year ago, and that the decision to walk is a lot easier to make. (not that i didn't walk a lot anyway!)

i'm not sure how to describe the grounded connection i feel to the places i've walked consistently throughout the year without sounding a bit . . . romantic (as in romanticism)? and, again, many of these things were happening for me before this year, but spending so much time outside is certainly one effect of doing this project. there's a great feeling of meeting the land (or the city, or the earth, or the environment) at a one-to-one ratio when i walk rather than take a tram/bus/train/car - there's a different understanding the slope of that hill or the curve of this road, the crack in this concrete or the colours of that tree. it feels like a more considered approach. knowing the physical distances between the places where i live, work, study, play (and in fact making that distance one of the spaces in which i live my life) is like: carrying a map of the city in my body, putting myself in the map, mapping that city with my feet, mapping my body into the city, carrying the city in myself. idk. i feel . . . privileged to have seen the full year cycle in parks and gardens, to have watched houses getting built or renovated, to have seen kittens and puppies grow bigger in front yards, to have smelt the creek almost dry and in flood, to have experienced the seasons changing against my skin. i feel like i'm learning to slow down and listen to or feel for different rhythms, to be in and of the environment. (i was trying to explain this to a friend who said it sounded a bit like some buddhist practices of mindfulness, but i have no real knowledge of these things so i can't assess that call!)

i have also discovered many new places with various walking companions this year - walking from our house all the way out to warburton on six separate days, discovering darebin parklands, finally going for a(nother) walk on the maribyrnong river, doing two overnight walks in the dandenongs, figuring out a couple of new back ways through alleys and parks around town, walking from here down to st kilda, climbing mt st leonard near healesville . . . and also walking in yorkshire and london when we were in the uk in march. these are things that i might have done anyway, but having a target definitely encouraged me not to put these things off for another week or two, but to get out and do them now (or at least soon)!

2011KM IN 2011? many people have asked me this, but i think i'll have to say no! the coming year just has too many unknowns for me to set myself another target like this. i have many other projects to plan for in 2011, so i will focus on them. however, i would definitely do something like this again in the future - and if anyone is interested in doing something like it themselves, i'm more than happy to chat with you and help you set a goal!

i think i will still track my progress on a spreadsheet just for fun next year, and i will absolutely try to keep walking most days. maybe i'll do 2012 in 2012?!

13 December 2010


on the 27th of october, we headed out for an impromptu walk along the maribyrnong river. it was about 15km from the bus drop off point on buckley st back to the 510 bus at essendon station. you can see the map by clicking here. you can see all the photos of the day by clicking here. all in all it was a really lovely walk along a stretch of the river we hadn't seen before. given that it's one of the two major city rivers in melbourne, it's odd that we've only walked on it twice (once on the way down to williamstown). again, i don't have time to write this up in detail, so i offer you photos instead! hope you enjoy and are inspired to go for a walk there yourself.

this cat ran along the fence tops beside us for half a block or so as we headed towards the river.
curious cat

note the maribyrnong river viaduct/quarter mile bridge in the background, and the ring road beyond.
maribyrnong valley

you don't really get a proper sense of the scale of this valley from photos. it's lovely that it's undeveloped, but we think that there will be a nasty housing development going up on the opposite bank sometime soon.
maribyrnong valley near keilor

solomon's ford, historic river crossing out to the gold fields.
solomon's ford

j at the ford.
j at solomon's ford

at the vietnamese quang minh buddhist temple in braybrook. i love this cheerful buddha statue sitting high on the valley wall, smiling out over the river.
Buddha on the Maribyrnong

river reflections.
maribyrnong river reflections

at the tea gardens. it was a lovely place for a bite to eat. i imagined what it might have been like in the early 1900s or in the 1920s with gentlefolk picnickers!
d&j at the tea gardens

"Originally installed in 1909, The White Lady was an icon of the Riverview Tea Gardens. Following her disappearance more than a decade ago, her whereabouts remain unknown. The White Lady standing here today is a replica and has been produced from turn of the century photographs taken by the original Riverview Tea Gardens owners, the Hicks family."
the white lady (maribyrnong riverview tea gardens)

enjoying the sunshine!
j and the day!

view of the city across the river. i think this was from the lookout near prospect st? ammo/explosives manufacturing plant (iirc) in the middle ground.
maribyrnong river and city 1

footbridge over the maribyrnong.
blue white black 1

tea and biscuits before heading back up to the bus.
tea and biscuits!

9 December 2010


A few weeks ago we walked from our place to the St Kilda Botanic Gardens to meet J's sister. Our route took us down the Merri Creek, onto the North Fitzroy branch of the old Inner Circle Railway, through Edinburgh Gardens, down Napier St to Fitzroy Gardens, through Treasury Gardens, over the Yarra and into the Royal Botanic Gardens, down through Fawkner Park, along St Kilda Rd and Barkly St to St Kilda Botanic Gardens. It was really nice - we had brunch in Fitzroy North (Julio) and a thermos of tea overlooking the lakes in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the sun was shining but it wasn't too hot, and we saw lots of STUFF. Here are some photos of things we saw!

Spring foliage on Merri Creek (mostly near CERES):

new growth: merri creek

creek nest

merri creek trail near ceres

new leaves in the sun

Street art in North Fiztroy:


moorhen street art

On or near Napier St:

community foodgarden (yes, for you too)

ghost tree, napier st

surreal storybook streetart, nr napier st


window box

old tram

Fitzroy Gardens:

australian wood ducklings / maned goslings

fitzroy gardens conservatory

Arts Centre and Federation Square:

arts centre tower in knots

feddo abstract (stairs)

In and near the Royal Botanic Gardens:

some king. should check my other photos for a plaque.

chained unicorn

the witchety grub soccer stadium from the botanic gardens

Fawkner Park:

inside the tree

d & j under the tree

St Kilda Botanic Gardens:

palms at st kilda botanic gardens