Born To Travel is taking flight

After three years at this site I have filled my Media Gallery and am now migrating to –

https://borntotravel55.wordpress.com

If you are a new reader I hope you have enjoyed reading about our travels as Karen and I have trained, bussed and walked around Japan most recently and Nepal, India, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Spain, Fiji, Borneo and even the odd post from Australia in the past. If you have been following my ramblings from here at markallison55 – Born To Travel thanks for joining Karen and I as we have travelled around. I have enjoyed reading your comments and you know I appreciate even the quick clicking on the Like button to let me know you have found something in a post that informs or interests you. Look forward to hearing from you at my new site and I look forward to reading about your traveling adventures for we are all ‘born to travel’.

Cheers, Mark

April 2020 – But wait there’s more!

Note: I am now separating posts about our overseas trips from our travels in Australia. Look forward to hearing from you at my new sites –

https://borntotravel69.wordpress.com and https;//borntotravelaustralia.wordpress.com

 

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Nakatsugawa, Magome and Tsumago

A full day’s travel from Hiroshima to Nakatsgawa via Nagoya meant arriving too late to do much the day before. As well as collecting some walks information we did have time for a quick look at the wonderful displays of artworks (plus food, local sweet delicacies etc) at the Tourist Information Centre in Nakatsugawa.

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So after our buffet breakfast we took two buses to reach the start of our main planned walk for the day at the hill town of Magome. Lots of tourists joined us by leaving the bus in Magome

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but after walking up through the somewhat touristy section we found only a few other walkers with us. Into the forest we went. Quite often we had streams of water running near the path. From time to time we passed through small hamlets.

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A couple of times we crossed over the streams as we walked.

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At one point when we were quite high up we came to a series of raised boardwalks which were signposted asking us for our own safety to stay on the boardwalk not go near the soft edges.

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Near the end we were challenged by a stony downhill section.

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After that we crossed a bridge at the edge of a small farming hamlet.

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One of the houses even had the rice drying on a rack.

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Here are some photos of Tsumago, our end destination for the walk, which prides itself on the main row of well maintained/restored houses. It was also where we ate our lunch.

We found this walk in our Lonely Planet Japan guide. If you are in the area it is well worth doing.

If you found this post helpful please feel free to make a Comment or click the Like button. Thanks.

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Kumano Kodo – Day 5 – Koguchi to Nachi-san

Awoke to the calming sound of running water. Again breakfast was a lovely meal with such a large number in the dining area. It was good to sit at a regular table even if we were on a stool as the legs were a bit stiff from our walking. By 8:00 we were at the trailhead stamping our Pilgrim passports without having to walk anywhere!

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The first section of 4.8kms would see us climb nearly 800m in elevation and was nicknamed ‘body breaking slope’. By the time we had completed it we had certainly given our lungs and legs a good test, that’s for sure! Not only was it sharply uphill but the rock steps had plenty of moss covering them and if you tried to walk on the edge of them the tree roots made it tricky too.


imageAt one point when we stopped to catch our breathe just about everything was moss covered.

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Anyway upwards on onwards we walked.

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At one point we had a bit of an obstacle to clamber around

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But after about two hours we finally reached Echizen-toge pass. I used the timer on the camera to give us photographic proof.

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The trail continued in an up and down fashion for nearly two kilometres.

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Occasionally we heard and saw small streams.

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Eventually we came to a place with a shrine, remains of an old tea house and a shelter with seats so we took a well earnt break and ate a snack. A couple of other Aussies came along and we chatted with them. They had an update that parts of the next section of the trail had been damaged by storms so we walked along an adjoining forestry road for about a kilometre instead. We could see evidence of the storm damage as we walked.

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Back on the real trail we had an uphill section walking through water

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but the bonus was we also saw some waterfalls.

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We also had an amazing view across the mountains not long after. Just love the layers of mountains.

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As we continued across a couple of saddles the wind started to bite. So we were pretty pleased to come to Funami-maya tea house remains. It was a it late but another shelter with seats had been constructed here. The view down to Katsuura and the Pacific Ocean was sadly a bit unclear due to the misty, cloudy day.

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Due to the cold wind we put jumpers on before eating our final bento pack of the Kumano Kodo.

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Once finished we moved on ever downward. The signs on this part of the trail were now on stone pillars.

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My knees were not appreciating it but the end of the steps came soon enough, so said the sign. The pile of walking sticks added weight to this line of thought.

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However there turned out to eat about another half hour of steps down to the shrine complex at Nachisan!

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Once there we looked around at the shrine complex. A number of the buildings were bright orange whilst others were plain wood.

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Sadly we couldn’t find where to stamp our Pilgrim passports so we headed down to the triple level pagoda with views to the famous Nachi-no-Otaki waterfall.

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From there it wasn’t really clear which way to go to our accommodation but by continuing down the road we finally made it not long before dinner.

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Dinner was another delicious Japanese meal.

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The good news was we sat at normal height tables with Colin and a couple of young Dutch guys who had walked past us earlier in the day on one of the steep step climbs. The dining room was full with many of the others we had met along the trail or at the various accommodations. So I’m sure they all felt the same sense of fulfilment we did and I’m pretty sure their legs and bodies were as tired as ours!

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If you are reading this and thinking of doing the Kumano Kodo, yes, we would recommend doing it. Just make sure your knees and hips can stand up to the downhill parts and I’m sure your lungs will handle the uphill bits. As an old hiker once said to Karen and I, “you can do it, just so long as you want to and can put one foot in front of the other.”

(Your comments and questions are most welcome.)

Kumano Kodo – Day 4 – Yunomine to Koguchi

Our day started with a lively breakfast at our minshuku in Yunomine. After breakfast we gave our hosts an Australian animal 2017 calendar to thank them. This of course led our hostess to reciprocate by giving us a Japanese bandana in return.

We met travelling companion Colin on the way to the bus stop. Lots of walkers and others clambered on. Along the way we passed two of the other onsen towns. At Ukegawa our driver was kind enough to go past the bus stop and drop all the walkers at the trailhead. (Later on we realised this meant we missed the place to stamp our Pilgrim passports.) Started with a walk past the houses of a few locals before a steep step climb then into the rhythm of a continued climb for quite a while. Some of the trail was quite smooth

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The trail continued up and down but mostly up for some time. The sound of running water made it a peaceful walk. From time to time we crossed small wooden bridges and could see some of the small streams.

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After another 1.4kms we came to a shrine area with an outstanding viewpoint so we stopped for a few photos. It was called Hyakken-gura lookout.

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At about the halfway point the trail met a forestry road with public toilets so we took the chance while we had it. The view from nearby was quite good too so we sat down for a snack.

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As we resumed we seemed to be walking along a ridge part and the trail was smooth and well treed. At one of the many tea house ruins there was a shelter with tables and seats so we stopped for lunch. In our lunch pack there was a large leaf enclosing four rice balls of various flavours and then a bamboo leaf bento box with an assortment of other items. Some really delicious but a few of the pickled vegetables didn’t appeal.

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Not long after, a view down to where we presumed our destination Koguchi was, provided a photo opportunity.

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The trail now went through an area with lots of ferns along its edges beneath the many tall cedar and cypress trees.

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The village below came into view again as the trail descended.

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Sometimes the trail was well stepped but other sections were large rocks covered in moss and very slippery. Just as well we had our poles for balance and support. From time to time we also passed stone pillars which had poems inscribed on them.

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The uneven mossy rocks made the downhill going quite tricky. At times we used the edge of the trail and walked in dirt or mud to avoid the rocks. My right knee was giving me quite a bit of pain by now on the mostly downhill sections.

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Finally we came to the river we had seen from high above. As we crossed it we spotted a few keen fishermen.

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From there we actually went through a short tunnel in the hill.

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On the other side our destination, the converted high school building at Koguchi, came into view.

 

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I asked the kitchen staff for some ice to put on my aching knee which they were able to give me. Sat down for a while icing my knee with a towel wrapped around it until water started to drip.

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Karen had gone for a bath. On her return I also went and had a good soaping and brief shower before enjoying a massive bath all to myself. Very soothing. Dinner at six o’clock was a noisy affair as there were twenty walkers from Japan, Spain, USA as well as several other Aussies. Beautiful food as we have come to expect at dinner time in all the places we have stayed. The tempura was especially wonderful.

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After sitting in the lounge area using the wifi for a while we headed to our room. Sleep on the thin futon mattress finally came.

If this, or any of my other posts about the Kumado Komo walk have interested you or helped you please let me know by making a Comment below or clicking on the Like button. Questions are also welcome. Happy hiking!

Kumano Kodo -Day 2 – Nonaka to Hongu via Hosshinmon

Slept well for a while but by about five o’clock my left hip and right knee especially began to ache badly so didn’t need our alarms to wake up at 6:30. Breakfast was artistically presented. Rice with lots of small dishes. One even had ham and lettuce on it. Melon and a piece of orange were a refreshing finish. Packed and rested until our bus at 7:49. Due to our huge effort yesterday opted for a bus part of the way to Hosshinmon-Oji. After leaving the bus the first part of the trail was on the road. Soon after we turned onto a narrow country lane which took us through a number of small rural villages. After a while we came to a stamping point for our Pilgrim passports. As it was an area with seats we stopped to have morning tea and also take in an awesome view.

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As we continued we passed a number of shrines

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and even a pillar with many small rocks stacked up against it by previous pilgrims. Our mascot Kirby joined them.

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About a kilometre past Fushiogani we came to a spot where a lady was selling vegetables. She told us that this was the turning off point for pilgrims going to Koyasan using the Kumano Kodo Kohechi trail.

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From here the trail was reasonably smooth for a while.

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At times we found it amazing to see how the trees could grow in such rocky places. Given they were up above us we were pleased they were well rooted.

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Like the day before we came to a sign tempting us up to a viewpoint which again we did. The climb was well worth it. Later on we would see the tori gate in the distance for the massive structure it was.

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We continued downwards for some time until we reached the tori gate on this side of the Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine complex.

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A short walk through a small forest and we were there.

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We had a good look around

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ensuring we found the shrine with the pilgrim stamper.

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Next we had a steep descent down stairs which in former times, and now too, many pilgrims and visitors use to come up to the shrine complex.

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We sat and ate our lunch in the gardens before heading over to the adjoining Cultural and Visitor Information Centres. We had a good look at the static displays as well as a couple of informative videos before going out of the town through the huge tori gate we had seen from high above earlier in the day.

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Our last few kilometres were extremely punishing. Firstly an ascent of just over a kilometre of very steep steps followed by an equally steep staired descent which my old hips and knees definitely didn’t appreciate!

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Eventually we made it to the shrine at the entry to Yunomine,

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our stopping point for the next two days. Thank goodness we had a rest day coming up to rest and soak our worn out joints in an onsen!

If this, or any of my other posts about the Kumado Komo walk have interested you or helped you please let me know by making a Comment below or clicking on the Like button. Questions are also welcome. Happy hiking!

Kumano Kodo – Day 1 – Takijiri to Nonaka

Awoke about six and finished packing. Ate western breakfast at 7:00. Checked out of Tanabe City Hotel and walked down to the station. Karen went with our walking companion Colin to pick up beautiful Bento lunch boxes while I took the cases to the bus stop. Caught 8:02 bus to Takijiri. Arrived about 8:45 and transferred our cases to the luggage transfer man’s van. Had a brief look in the Tourist Information Centre before crossing the road.

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Had a photo at the Kumano Kodo marker rock then stamped our Pilgrim folder for the first time.

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Started just after 9:00 on a very steep starred first section with two Swiss girls. It took us to the first of the many 500m markers but it went up 100m! After a brief respite it was up, up again for another kilometre. At that stage we took an option to go up to a viewpoint.

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Quite steep stairs but the views were great.

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Then back down a different way to rejoin the Kumano Kodo. There were lots of signs plus even some for Not the Kumano Kodo! Continued up and down until we came to Takahara. I was a bit behind and spotted the shrine.

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Went in and signed the Visitors book and stamped my Pilgrim passport. Karen and Colin had walked further to some seats and a great viewpoint.

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I told them it was a short walk back to stamp their Pilgrim passports too. Turns out later they found the little shrine house and used the correct stamp. I had used a different one. We all ate some of the sushi items and the prawns from our Bento boxes for morning tea as it was warming up.

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The path as we left Takahara was really steep again!

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Kept rising for the next 2kms but at least we could hear the peaceful sound of running water. Soon after there it was.

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Eventually we reached Daimon-oji where we stamped our Pilgrim passports again.

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After that more uphill but at Jujo-Oji saw no stamper for our Pilgrim passports. Kept going for another 3kms over reasonably flat and smooth surface so made good time. We stopped at the Three Fold Moon signboard for lunch from our Bento boxes.

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Quite steady downhill after lunch, some alright but some very dodgy and slippery rock surface. As we approached the Osakamoto-Oji we heard water which became steadily louder. Eventually we came to a series of bridges that crossed the stream with its numerous small waterfalls.

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Very peaceful but the wooden bridges were quite slippery and a bit dangerous we thought.

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At Gyuba-dojo Guchi we took a snack and toilet break as the trail met the main road here. Made the decision to keep walking as if we stopped we had about an hour and forty minutes to wait for the bus. (My knees regretted this decision!) uphill to Gyuba-dojo statue for a stamp then a bit of a descent until we came out to Chikatsuyu township which seemed to be on a secondary road. Crossed the river on a bridge. Great photo spot.

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Then the Kumano Kodo followed mostly sealed tertiary roads uphill, in one section steeply uphill to Hisohara -Oji where it levelled out.

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Our walk continued until we came to Tsugizakura for our last Pilgrim passport stamp of the day at the shrine (Oji) there. Here we left the official trail for a detour to our accommodation. We even saw one of the signs telling us it wasn’t the Kumano Kodo!

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The next section took us steeply downhill past a spring for over thirty minutes to the rural village of Nonaka where we finally met the main road again.

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All that climbing seemed such a waste when we had to descend so sharply to get to our accommodation at Minshuku Nonaka Sanso.

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Karen joined us after her shower/bath. Another four young Americans were there too. Had dinner on two tables. Beautifully presented as you can see

imageand by far the most delicious food we have had in Japan. The plum pickled in beer being a highlight. (Bottom centre of this photo) After chatting for a while we retired quite willingly to bed (a thin futon with a layer of foam beneath) for an extremely well earned sleep. Had walked the best part of 22kms.

If this, or any of my other posts about the Kumado Komo walk have interested you or helped you please let me know by making a Comment below or clicking on the Like button. Questions are also welcome. Happy hiking!

Sorrento’s Tuckey Track Walk

I’d never heard of the Tuckey Track in Sorrento until a friend said she was happy to take a group of us, all volunteers at Dromana’s Tourist Information Centre, for a familiarisation walk so we could better inform visitors to the Mornington Peninsula of yet another wonderful walk. Starting on the bay side at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club we followed the signposted track along a street leading away from the beach at first, then came to a section of track through the bush

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before coming to a section that was being upgraded.

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From there we were soon back on a paved road for a short time

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before heading along another section of bush track.

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Signage made it easy to follow the track, whether it was along a street or a track through the bush.

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Some sections were a bit hilly and sandy underfoot so it was good steps had been installed.

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For a while we walked through heavy bush. The only hint of Sorrento being the odd house or two.

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A very sandy uphill section was slow going.

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After a while we made it to the lookout at Mount St Paul on the Bass Strait side of the Peninsula. This was indeed the highpoint of the walk.

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Here we were afforded views back to Arthurs Seat and where we live at Dromana

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as well as a good view over Sorrento township.

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Looking out to the ocean side we could see through the mist all the way to Cape Schank in one direction

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and to the end of the Peninsula and over to the Bellarine Peninsula’s Surf Coast through the haze when we looked the other way.

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Our walk continued along the cliff top ridge path for a while. The views of the rocky points were lovely.

 

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Stairs lead down to the beach but to return to our cars we could either double back the way we had come or (as we chose) quicker still head back along the streets and footpaths of Sorrento. Tuckey Track might not be the longest walk on the Mornington Peninsula but it certainly has much to offer.

 

Mt Martha to Mornington cliff-top walk

Taking the cliff-top path from Mount Martha to Mornington is a good walk anytime of the year but in winter you don’t risk sunburn. Parking a car at Fisherman’s Beach in Mornington and then another at the Balcombe Creek estuary enabled us to take a leisurely walk of about 6-7 kilometres. The first part of the walk is on a concrete footpath

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but after passing the estuary

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you have the opportunity to cross over to the beach side. Interestingly the creek rarely makes it to the sea.

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Given the crumbly nature of the cliffs due to erosion it was good to see railings along the edge of the path as we started.

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There are frequent viewpoints along the path.

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Another thing we noted were the information markers detailing interactions between the early European explorers and the original indigenous inhabitants.

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As we walked along we could feel some strength in the wind so it was no wonder that many of the trees were twisted and gnarly.

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About halfway along we detoured down a path to Fossil Beach for a quick look. It has been well picked over during the decades since fossils were first found there.

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The acacias and the casuarinas in bloom reminded us that spring is on its way.

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The coastline is quite rugged but beautiful.

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As we approached Mornington we saw a number of the bathing boxes (beach huts) that are dotted around Port Phillip Bay. They always peak interest in interstate and overseas visitors.

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After a gentle uphill finish we were happy to sit down for a hot drink and a warm lunch at the busy Li Lo Cafe.

Blackrock to Mordialloc coastal walk

February seems such a long time ago, especially when the delightful weather then has been replaced with cold, blustery, rainy August. So it’s a good time to sit down at the computer and type up a post. (Yes, I realise many of those reading this are enjoying a Northern Hemisphere summer.)

Walking on a really hot day in Melbourne’s summer is a challenge so when it was only forecast for high 20s Karen and I joined up with our two friends Pauline and Brendan and decided to do a section of the coastal walk along the east side of Port Phillip Bay. We dropped one car off at Mordialloc and continued up to Black Rock where we parked the other car. Unlike where we live further south on the Mornington Peninsula we had to pay for parking which was a bit annoying. Anyhow we were soon on our way. Initially the smooth gravel track was high up

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which enabled us to take in a good view of part of the area we would be walking through.

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The path was easy to follow but for those who weren’t sure it was well signposted. In fact based on the age of this sign it had been a well walked trail for many years.

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After a while the trail moved away from the beach and onto the footpath along the main Esplanade in Beaumaris. According to a nifty piece of paving/artwork we were now walking the Coastal Art Trail. So that was an unexpected bonus.

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Not long after we came to the beginning of a series of signs showcasing prints of famous Australian painters who had been inspired to paint the area in the past.

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Sure enough there was Banksia Point for us to see as it was now, more than 100 years after the painting had been produced by Jessie Evans.

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After reading the details and looking at a second sign featuring a painting by George Bell we made our way back along the trail as it led to the beach at Banksia Point. Here we were treated to the sight of some of the local black swans on the water.

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The next painting featured on a signboard was one by Charles Conder entitled ‘Sandringham’ which he had painted in 1890. Charles was one of the many painters from the famous Heidelberg School in Melbourne to have visited and painted the people bathing in the area along the beach here.

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I’m no painter so a quick photo to show the modern day bathers from a large school group will have to suffice.

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As we continued the track rose again.

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After fifteen minutes or so it came back down closer to the water and we had a good view across Moyes Bay in Beaumaris towards Mordialloc where we were heading.

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Soon after the trail actually became the footpath along the roadside. The view we had seen of Moyes Bay was quite different to the one that Fred McCubbin had painted back in 1887, which we saw on one of the next set of boards.

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The other board showed a photograph of the Great Southern Hotel and Keefer’s Boat Hire as seen back in the late 1890s. Sadly the boat hire burnt down so time ago.

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Amazingly the great Southern Hotel is currently undergoing a major restoration. Clearly someone has lots of money to spend in returning it to its former glory.

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The trail again headed back above the beach. When we saw this tree bent over by the wind over many years we were able to appreciate just how fortunate we were to be walking on such a beautiful day.

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The next stretch returned down to sea level almost and was paved.

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It didn’t take us long to be tempted to walk along the sand. Here the views spoke for themselves.

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Back in Mordialloc we picked up one of our cars and drove back to where we had parked the second car in Blackrock. Here,the many cafes presented a bit of a challenge – which one to choose! But we finally settled down in one to rest our weary legs, enjoying a cool drink and a relaxing lunch.

Warburton Rail Trail

Last year Karen and some of her teacher friends decided to complete the Oxfam 100Km in 48 hours walk. As part of the preparation a group of non participants including myself joined in and walked sections of the Oxfam walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

This year we decided to walk another section. This part was along the Warburton Rail Trail. So one sunny afternoon we drove to the carpark at Launching Place where three of us were dropped off. We intended to walk the 10.6 kilometres to Warburton.

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At first the trail followed the Warburton Highway. It was quite flat and the weather was sunny. After a couple of kilometres we were in Yarra Junction which was formerly a major timber town. As we walked through a lovely market was just finishing up. Too bad we hadn’t started a bit earlier.

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Along the trail seating and the odd picnic table could be found for those walking further than us. I just loved the beautiful white barked eucalypts along the edge of the trail.

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The section between Yarra Junction and Millgrove saw us come into contact with the Little Yarra River as we walked along the edge of the floodplain.

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Good weather had brought out lots of other walkers. Some were clearly preparing for the 2015 Oxfam Walk with maps in hand. Others were just out for a pleasant day’s walk. Walkers share the trail with cyclists too. Those coming towards us were easy to spot but avoiding those from behind was tricky at times. Fortunately most tinkled their bells to give us warning. In spots the trail was bridged over the floodplain.

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The trail continue along the edge of farmland. We had good views out to the mountains of the Yarra Ranges National park as we walked.

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Nearer to Warburton the trail was tarred and at times we could hear the Little Yarra bubbling along. We were met by Brendan who’d dropped us off back at Launching Place and had walked from Warburton, where he’d left the car, to meet up with us.

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Once we arrived in Warburton we walked through the town, past many cafes and arty crafty shops to where our car was parked. We stopped at a seat on the banks of the Little Yarra River resting after our walk. Perhaps we’ll walk another section another time or if we get really energetic may bring our bikes and cycle the whole 39kms. Lots of good possibilities to consider.

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