Yesterday I went for a wander around Ada Valley, which is in between Warburton and Powelltown.
It’s a decent drive along some rough gravel roads from Warburton along Smyth Creek Rd that’s fun to test your car’s handling.
I started at Starlings Gap and headed along an old tramline. It’s a pleasant enough walk, although in the distance I could hear machinery and trees falling down, so not quite the nature trail you expect. There are a few old mill sites along the way, although you don’t really notice any remnants until about 8km in at Ada No 2 Mill Site. Here there is a lot of old milling equipment to be explored.
From there you head north. It’s supposed to be a loop around about 13km. My book says at some point the trail kind of disappears, and the trail doesn’t exist on other maps, but you just continue along, avoiding logging roads, and you’ll end up on the road back to your car. There was some mention about maybe having to change your route if there’s logging in the area, but I took that as more of an afterthought. I mean, why would they be logging an area that even the DSE say you can walk around?
I was pretty excited to see a sign pointing towards Big Creek Road, which is the road back to the start. I thought it was pretty good that it was a legit track for walkers, so there’d be no problems with logging.
As I got closer to the road, I heard a big logging truck slowly make its way around the corners.
I got to Big Creek Road, and was happy to know it’s all downhill and hopefully just about 3km or so to the car.
Then I came across a sign that said “Public Safety Zone.” I thought this was great, because I would be safe here and there wouldn’t be any chance of trees being chopped down. Because it’s safe for the public and stuff.
But I read the sign properly, and it really meant that it was a public unsafe zone, and everyone should stay away. The sign was stuck to a tree though, with some bark covering it, so I pretended I didn’t see it and continued on.
Then I passed a couple of these signs:
And when I spotted some machinery around the corner, and remembered that earlier I heard trees being chopped down, I decided I didn’t want to come across any angry loggers telling me to get the hell out of there. Are loggers angry people? I don’t know, but I imagine them to be. Especially if you’re not supposed to be there.
Well, there was nothing I could do really. I had passed multiple signs telling me to go away, and that trees were being felled across the road. All I could do was turn around and go back the way I came.
By then of course, my stupid ankle was hurting, so I couldn’t go very fast. And I really wanted to get off that road quickly, or at least get passed all the danger signs I had ignored in case a truck drove past and an angry person told me off.
There was no apparent short cut to take. I was walking/hobbling as fast as I could. I swear the last 3km took forever. I was increasing my pace in an effort to get back to the car by 4pm. I wasn’t in a real hurry, but I do like to get home by dinner time so I’m not starving.
I made it back at 4 on the dot – my watch said I did 22km in 5 hours. Driving back along Smyth Creek Rd, I saw another Public Safety Zone sign. No way was I going to find another way out of there. I drove that way in, so I presumed they could not have started chopping down trees along that road in the space of a few hours!
Looking at the map, you can see how wildly inaccurate GPSs are under tree cover. Mine has never been so bad before, but it is getting old and slowly dying. Before the turnaround, I was on the road you can see, although the route recorded is quite off. Google took the photo in 2010, and you can see patches of new plantations.
I’m happy to note that my endurance hasn’t suffered, even though I no longer do any endurance racing. If it wasn’t for my stupid ankle, I could’ve run the whole thing. I’m hoping to get a mountain bike at some point so I can cover more ground faster 😀