Category Archives: Hills

Lerderderg – Southern Gorge Walk

It’s been a while since I’ve done a new route, but I found someone who likes doing silly things, and who also happens to take most of Fridays off for silly things.

She’s training for a 250km race and wanted something on the longer side of my fat pregnant capabilities, yet she had to be at a certain place by 3pm. So I picked the shortest thing I could think of. The Southern Gorge Walk is marked as around 8km… but I told her it would feel like the 15 she wanted. I just knew that anything I chose would probably involve bush bashing, making up the way, an undetermined number of river crossings, and lead to running overtime.

So we started at Mackenzies Picnic area. It was pretty enough, and after 5 seconds we came to the first river crossing, with nice stepping stones laid out so we didn’t get our tootsies wet.

It was very pleasant going, with a little bit of running, and walking at the slightest incline.

I’d always avoided Lerderderg because all the walks seem to involve river crossings and hills that look like they go on forever. At this point, I decided I had no reason to avoid the area.

We made it to Graham’s Dam, and started heading along the east side of the river. But it got very steep and cliffy very suddenly, and I thought we should’ve just been following the river, but it was kind of deep. So we backtracked, and decided to do the loop in reverse. We crossed over to the west side, and after a little exploration, found Link Track Number 1.

This was a steep steep hill! This west side of the river was dry, rocky and sparse. The trees were short. It was the wild west!


Views near the top of Link Track No 1

We found our way to Link Tk No 2 and very slowly descended, holding onto rocks and trees so we didn’t fall over.

Fat pregnant arse managing to go down the hill without falling over

Fat pregnant arse managing to go down the hill without falling over

I think we did pretty well, except at some point we were so busy focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other that we lost the orange arrows marking the trail. Not to worry. All we had to do was go down to the river.

View down Link No 2

View down Link No 2

We found a pretty creek bed which took us to the river.


And from there it was river river river. In the river, across the river, next to the river. My feet were FREEZING in the river. It felt like that water had come straight off a mountain. Every time I went in the river, my feet got so numb I couldn’t tell if I was stepping properly on the rocks, I didn’t know if my shoes were gripping right, and I just had to get out of there. When I got to dry land, it took several minutes for my feet to regain feeling.

We found where Link Tk No 2 met up with the river, and I was hopeful there’d be some slightly more obvious ways to walk. But no, it was just more river, and rocks, and debris, and shrubs, and prickly things.

We saw a couple of campsites by the river. Who are these people that walk along a river with a backpack to set up camp? That is just crazy thinking.

After a long while, we found a track. Yay! Smooth sailing from here on!

But the track would disappear, and it would be more river, then the track would reappear briefly, before disappearing and we’d be in the river again.

But finally we came across a track that was on nice smooth fairly even ground with easy footing, and a sign that said it was only 30 mins back to the start. Phew!

We couldn’t relax too much though. Because that hill cliffy bit at the start we saw and decided not to do? Well that was up next.


At that point we decided to turn around and find a shallowish bit in the river to cross. The other side was nice and rocky – in the nice rocky sense rather than the rock climbing sense, and I knew it would lead back to the start of Link 1.

So we found the shallowest bit. It wasn’t that shallow. I secured my phone in my pack, and we slung our packs over our heads, and walked across the waist deep river.

But the rest was exactly as I thought – easy rocky bits, and even a bit of a shuffle back to the car!

Totally doable, although pretty challenging at times. And as with all my adventures – it took way longer than expected.

Strava link:

Donnolley’s Weir – Mt St Leonard

I feel like it’s been a little while since I head out for some kind of adventure, so I decided to go up to Healesville yesterday. I have a couple of other places in mind I want to check out, but the weather was forecast to be hot, so I decided that Donnolley’s Weir to Mt St Leonard and back would be something nice and short. I don’t know why I thought that.

When I arrived at Donnolley’s Weir, it was 18°C and raining. I slapped on some sunscreen anyway, and started walking. There is really only one way to go, and that is up.

You basically follow Road 11 to the top, but occasionally a walking track kind of runs parallel and you can walk up over some hills instead of around them. I did this on the way up, because it seemed quite nice at the time.

Nearly at the top! ... haha nah, just kidding

Nearly at the top! … haha nah, not really

After a while, the Bicentennial National Trail veers to the left, and you follow the trail going up a little steeper.

The sun was out now and it was getting pretty hot. And the horse march fly things were out biting me. I have been attacked by them so many times this summer!

The trail gets steeper, and when you think you are nearly at the top, it gets crazy steep. And then when you think you really must nearly be there, it gets super crazy steep. And then you realise that although you can see the sky through the trees, you shouldn’t get your hopes up until you can actually see the tower at the top.

I don’t think I’ve ever moved so slow in my life. The last kilometre to the top took nearly 30 mins!

Once I got to the top, I climbed the tower, because that is what you do when you see a tower. The last time I was here I nearly slipped because the stairs were iced over. This time I nearly slipped because my calves wanted to cramp. Then I sat underneath the stairs in the shade for a bit.

mtstleonard sit down

Someone was working in the building next to the tower. I was really hoping they’d step outside, because I would not have hesitated in asking for a ride down! But they didn’t, so I realised the only thing left for me to do was to walk straight back down.

It was pretty slow going down the very steep bit. And it wasn’t particularly pleasant. But then I reminded myself that it does get better and less steep. I also decided to stick to Road 11 so I didn’t have to go up and down some extra hills.

It was so hot, and I had drank nearly all my water. This is really unusual for me. It was now 37°C and there’s not much shade up there. It was uncomfortably hot.

Then a cyclist came past.

And we smiled that crazy smile that only crazy people do, when we are doing something crazy that no one else is crazy enough to do.

I kept walking downhill, and he went on uphill.

Some time later he passed me on his way back down. He went to the bit before it gets crazy steep. A quick crazy chat and we both continued down at our own speed.

mtstleonard wizard

It was about 18km and took me nearly 3 hours to walk up, and 2:15 to walk down, with around 1600m cumulative elevation.

mtstleonard wizard 2


Warburton to Mt Donna Buang

My other half never comes on any walks with me because “they’re all long, uphill and steep.” I’m starting to think he might be right…

I’m pretty sure I had some pleasant routes in mind, but as usual, picked the steepest option, which was Mt Donna Buang. You can walk straight up through the forest from Warburton, starting at Martyr Road. You don’t need a map. There’s a sign at the start of the trail that says 12km return, 7 hours.

I don’t know if the trail is always like this, but it was very muddy and slippery. It was pretty slow going at the start. There are quite a few fallen down trees and although it’s a well formed track, it seems a little overgrown at times. I heard many lyrebirds, but only saw one. I’m surprised there were no leeches, but maybe it was too cold for them.

It was quite cool and I knew that soon I’d be in the clouds.

After the first few kilometres it actually gets easier. There are even some flat and downhill bits after the radio tower near Mt Victoria!

I really liked this bit, as it starts to have a bit more of an alpine feel with that short green grass and less dense trees. And it’s always very pretty being in the clouds.

It was definitely getting colder.

I realised I should have put more effort into my attire. My shorts/tshirt/arm warmers combo was not quite warm enough, and I should have been bothered to find my gloves.

At the top there’s a lookout tower. On a clear day I imagine the views would be fantastic.

I’m not a fan of out and back routes, but that was all this was. I could have added a little loop at the top to Mt Boobyalla, but I didn’t feel like it. So since it was freezing cold, there was no stopping, just time to head back down.

I felt very slow going down, especially the last slippery bit. I wasn’t wearing my most grippy shoes, but these still have a good amount of grip for most jobs. The lugs just collected the mud so I was basically walking around with heavy shoes with a nice smooth mud sole. I felt like I was trying to walk down a slide while wearing socks. Yeah, I slipped over quite a few times.

My watch said this route was a bit over 15 km return, it and took me 4 hours 40 mins. Elevation was around 1074 m, and with the undulating bit up the top, total elevation gain was 1426 m 🙂

Click to enlarge

2 Laps of The 1000 Steps

Today I head out to the 1000 steps in the Dandenongs for a couple of laps. I think the most I have done is 3 or 4 laps up the steps, to the very top (not just to the top of the steps) and down the Lyrebird Track. I am sick of having poor cardiovascular fitness just because I am too injured to run, and I hate walking.

So I thought 2 laps would get the heart rate going. I forgot that I would be affected by DOMS from yesterday’s squat session, that I would be dead tired coz it’s Friday and that’s 4 days of getting up at 5am, and that I have terrible cardio fitness, oh and that my ankle is still screwed.

But it was a mild day, and so it was a good day to not die of heat exhaustion.


The first lap took 45 minutes – I think that is nearly my slowest on record. It felt as bad as what a 3rd lap usually feels like. For the first time in years I could no longer take 2 steps at a time. I was even overtaken by not one, but two people! The second lap took 51 minutes. That IS the lowest on record! But I’m glad I did it.

Now my stupid ankle is killing me and I’m limping, and I’ll still be limping tomorrow. But I love to hit the trails, and if this is the cost, then for now I’m willing to pay it 🙂


I have tried rest, physio, acupuncture, reiki-type healing and dad suggested surgery the other day. No way. I still hope to run at least one trail race this year, and I have my heart set on a short one near the end of the year so I at least have to improve my cardiovascular fitness before I can think about training 🙂

Trail Run Attempt

I had most of today free, and instead of catching up on paperwork, I wanted to get a good trail run in. I really felt like some steep hills, and finishing with the Channel 10 track on Mt D sounded perfect.

I photocopied the relevant pages from the Melways and had a rough idea of where I wanted to go.

I started near the Channel 10 towers and head down towards the plane crash memorial. According to the map, if I just continued past the crash site, the trail would intersect with another trail.

After a while, the trail looked like this:

Soon enough this animal track disappeared, but there was no way I was going to walk back up the near vertical hill I had been descending so I just figured if I kept going in the right direction, I’d meet up with this other trail.

The grassy rocky slope soon turned into a shrubby slope. The scrub was very thick. It was taller than me. The branches were long. Some were scratchy. There was the odd bit of sword grass. I felt like I was swimming through trees. I completely understand why Bush Search and Rescue will not let you do searches in shorts. It was quite ouchies at times!

Every now and then it would clear up a bit, but it never lasted long, and it was back into the thick scrub. I never contemplated turning back because the thought of walking back up was too much. It was taking ages to get to this trail that was somewhere in front of me.

Finally, in the distance, I spotted a well formed trail.

I was pretty over the scrub so it was a relief to get back to a trail. But not just any trail, the Channel 10 track that I wanted to finish my adventure with.

I was a bit disappointed, as the hill wasn’t as steep as I remembered. I will have to go a different way next time and see if it feels steeper then.

I think you are supposed to look out here and admire the view of industrial land below, but it was a bit rainy and cloudy.

I only did a bit over 3km – not quite the 12-15k I had in mind. And after an hour of bush bashing, I only ran a total of 1km. Although this wasn’t quite the trail run I had in mind, it’s good training for the rogaine coming up soon, which I have to do as part of bush search and rescue training. I wore my Inov-8 X-Talon 190s and these were absolutely perfect 🙂