Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mt Dandenong

Photo: Walking along a track on Mt Dandenong

Walk overview

Length: 15.5km
Time: 5 hours
Grade: Medium to hard
Ascent: 640m
Maximum height: 633m
Region: Dandenong Ranges, Victoria
Map: VICMAP Kilsyth
"Melbourne's mountain is undoubtedly Mt Dandenong. Looming over the eastern suburbs, its slopes contain some fine forested and treefern lined tracks. Being so close to the city is has been extensively developed. The summit contains a lookout and restaurant (currently closed) and there is also a series of tall television transmission towers along its skyline. Less known but just as interesting, are the grounds and gardens of the old Doongalla estate. While the main house was destroyed by bushfire in 1932, the park-like grounds provide an interesting contrast to the surrounding eucalypt forests. Bushfires are regular events on the mountain and a network of management tracks exist to facilitate fire fighting. These tracks are close for public vehicle access and provide good walking."

Source: Day Walks Victoria

My comments

Jane and Guy organised this walk, and a bunch of their friends came along (David, who we'd met on the Macedon Ranges walk, Liz and Andrew, and Judith and Karl), and our colleague Scott, making it a more social occasion than our usual two-person walks.

On the advice of a local Parks person, we skipped the first rocky uphill section of the walk and took the road up to the fire station where we found the walking track behind a small reserve. We made our way to the summit lookout at Mt Dandenong without problem and stopped for coffee.

Re-starting the walk, we felt a little lost because the track nearest the summit lookout was marked as a short circuit and didn't have signage indicating the track name (Kyeema Track). We walked around a little looking to see if there was an alternative track, and finding nothing else promising, we headed off and soon found we were on the right track.

Kyeema track runs along a ridge from where you can get great views of the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The track then turns down to meet Dacite track, and becomes very rough and slippery. A four-wheel drive had recently been over the track making it even more squishy and difficult to walk.

Our next navigational challenge turned out to be a physical challenge as well. We took a wrong turn and had to scramble up an extremely steep and slippery track. Several people slipped and fell. I managed to capture a couple of photos of the mayhem, but was too busy gripping a tree fern and trying to maintain my footing to get any more. When we finally reached the top, our error was discovered, and there was some moaning and groaning (mainly from me) about the tough task of getting back down again. Some slid and bumped their way down on their bottoms, others did the downhill partly by walking in the rough off the track. This definitely taught me about the value of walking poles. I'm going to buy some!

The weather was fine, and when we rounded the track near Doongalla Estate, the sunlight was breaking through the trees. We stopped in the park-like gardens of the estate for lunch, sampling some of the goodies that had been brought along including craisins (dried cranberries, yum!) and sweet chilli and coriander rice crackers (full of MSG, but tasty!).

The remainder of the walk was pleasant and without incident. We finished up at around 3pm (having started just before 10am) and some headed off for tea and cakes, while others went home for a quick nap before going out for the evening.

My rating

Good. Avoid during wet periods because parts of the track are extremely slippery.

Photos from this walk

Photo filmstrip with highlights from Mt Dandenong walk
For more, see: Mt Dandenong photo slideshow