FRUIT & FORESTS // Brisbane Ranges National Park, Australia

Well, once again I return with another hiking related post! Now that I am doing the 52 Hike Challenge there may be a common theme of hiking. It has only been a few weeks but already I am thoroughly enjoying the process of trying to find a new hike every week and seeing so much more of the areas surrounding Melbourne.

Last weekend I chose the Brisbane Ranges National Park for a hike. But before we hit the trails, we made a quick detour for some fruit picking!

Somehow the idea of us going berry picking had been floating around my head for a few weeks, so when Chris suggested we find a place on our way to the Brisbane Ranges it took me all of 0.5 of a second to agree. The Brisbane Ranges are only an hour west of Melbourne, and are located near the town of Bacchus Marsh, which is apparently known for fruit and berry farms. We went to Naturipe and were able to pick strawberries, peaches and nectarines, and we may or may not have eaten our body weight in strawberries in the process.

From Bacchus Marsh it was off the freeway towards the national park. We did the Ted Errey Nature Circuit, an 8km loop I had heard wonderful things about and it definitely lived up to the hype.

Apart from a few short, steep hills the walk was easy enough, and was broken up regularly by fantastic viewing points. To think that this is only an hour from the CBD!

You can hardly tell, but in the above photos you can see the You Yangs (the range on the left), and Port Philip Bay.

I am trying to get over my shyness towards being in photos, and take more that include either myself or Chris (or, god forbid, both of us). As you can probably tell I am terribly awkward at posing and Chris is reluctant to accept the role of #Instagramhusband, but I am persevering nevertheless! It is nice to be able to look back at some pictures and see that we were actually there.

Given the proximity of the Brisbane Ranges to the city, I will definitely be back for some more hiking! It is fantastic to have such an amazing, diverse forest so close to the city.

Three hikes down, and 49 more to go!

– Reanna

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LAST MINUTES PLANS // Bells Beach, Australia

Okay, I swear this isn’t intentionally becoming a hiking blog… it just so happens to be a few posts in quick succession! More exciting adventures will come soon (maybe).

But in all seriousness, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting outside more this year and hiking is such a fantastic way to spend the day and explore more of your own backyard. Chris and I have seen so much more of Victoria this year through day hikes and camping, and I am looking forward to getting outside even more this summer. With extra sunscreen, of course.

A few weekends back I joined a group hike with some lovely women down along Bells Beach, at the start of the famed Great Ocean Road. All the photos are from my phone, and the weather was constantly changing, so apologies for the poorer quality! Maybe one day I should consider taking a photography class!

I recently joined a facebook group for local Melbourne women who organise semi-regular hikes. The group is relatively new, but has gained immense popularity, and as a consequence I had been unable to join any hikes due to capped numbers. On a Friday morning one of the leaders announced a last minute plan to hike a circuit around Bells Beach, and before I could consider it too deeply I jumped at the opportunity. For an introvert like me who tends to anxiously mull over decision making, joining a hike with a group of women I had never met with 24 hours notice felt like quite the achievement, and it was definitely worth it.

It ended up being a small group of six who joined the hike. Despite the grey looking weather and attempts at rain, we took to the beach and followed the cliffs to Point Addis, where we stopped for a snack before following the trail inland. The hiking notes for the trail are here.

The weather eventually cleared, and despite my pre-planning and packing sunscreen, I did not apply any due to the overcast skies and ended up extremely sunburnt on my return home. Alas, when will I learn.

It was great being able to chat freely to a group of women I would never normally have met. I am useless at making small talk (see above: introvert who tends to anxiously mull over decision making everything), but ended up having some laughs and sharing stories.

This last minutes decision has inspired me to challenge myself more to go outside my comfort zone, plus continue hiking as often as I can get out of the city! I am sure many more will be on my horizon in the coming months.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful festive period, if you celebrate Christmas. My food coma is slowly but surely subsiding!

– Reanna

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HIKE // Cape Schanck, Australia

Summer has finally begun in Australia, though the weather changes so frequently in Melbourne it can seem as though we are heading back to Winter at any moment. At least it keeps us on our toes (‘always carry an umbrella’ – Melbourne proverb) and breaks up the hot days.

A few weeks back Chris and I took advantage of some of the warmer weather and went down to the Mornington Peninsula to do the Bushranger Bay to Cape Schanck hike. It isn’t an area we have explored much, but given its proximity to Melbourne it makes for a perfect day trip.

We followed the directions for the hike from the Trailhiking web page. I don’t know where this website has been all my life, but it has fantastic reviews of hikes around Australia, with detailed trail notes and additional information.

We started at the Bushranger Bay carpark and followed the trail towards to coast for a couple of kilometres, before continuing along past the turn off to Bushranger Bay itself and following a track along the coastline. I had no idea what to expect from the hike, but the views were absolutely stunning, particularly the contrast between the bright blue water and the dark cliffs.

After another five kilmetres we reached Cape Schanck. Neither of us knew anything about the area, but turns out that Cape Schanck is quite the tourist attraction. The carpark near the lighthouse was filled with cars, and the trail down to the tip of the Cape was crowded at times.

We followed the boardwalk as far as it went, then clambered over rocks to Pulpit Rock, the pointed formation in the above photo. I was surprised that we were allowed (and even encouraged!) to climb the rocks and venture out towards to water, as often this is discouraged due to the danger of slipping or a rogue wave.

The views back along the coastline were pretty bloody great as well.

After a bit more exploring around the rocks we found this perfectly still pool, which was quickly disturbed by another hiker jumping in for a swim.

Eventually we turned around and followed the same track back to Bushrangers Bay. The entire hike, including walking out to Pulpit Rock, was about 13km and took us around 3 hours. Apart from a few small hills it was fairly easy going, and there were toilets and a cafe to grab more water at Cape Schanck.

I think it is safe to say I was completely blown away by this hike as I had no expectations, and we were treated to amazing weather and fantastic views! Cape Schanck itself was beautiful, and easily accessible by car for those who don’t want the extra 10km hike from Bushrangers Bay.

– Reanna

ONE LAST WALK // Launceston, Australia

At last, these Tasmania pictures come to an end! And with a back log of other adventures to come.

These final snaps are from our half day in Launceston before we flew back home to Melbourne. Launceston itself was far smaller (and admittedly, far more underwhelming) then we imagined, so we went out for more hiking and nature.

Cataract Gorge is a river gorge located in the middle of Launceston, and was easily accessible as we were still in our hire car. It was hard to believe that we were still in the middle of the city! We took a hike along the river, before looping back to the gardens and chairlift.

The gorge seemed to be a popular place for locals to hike and run! We were definitely feeling incredibly unfit after a few days of wine, cheese and bread.

A chairlift runs over the gorge, providing what I am sure would be amazing views. However, the chairlift looked at least 100 years old and very rickety, so we steered clear and stayed on the ground.

A random friend we encountered on our walk!

The walk along the gorge was a lovely way to end our whirlwind road trip around Tasmania. Five days felt like just enough time to get a feel for the island state, but we definitely could have extended it to a week. We saw such diverse landscapes, went on some amazing hikes, and encountered all types of weather.

We will be back, Tassie!

– Reanna

PICTURE PERFECT // Freycinet National Park, Australia

There were so many highlights from our little road trip of Tasmania that it is hard to pick just one as the stand out. However, looking back at these photos from Freycinet National Park, I think it would be hard to argue against this day being number one.

Freycinet National Park was just short of an hour away from Swansea. Most people who visit the park stay in Coles Bay, but accommodation was dire there (like, $60+ for a capsule hostel), hence our opt for Swansea. We stopped by the visitor centre to grab a map, before heading to the main carpark. As per usual I had over researched and pre selected our hike for the day – the 13km Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach circuit.

After a short uphill hike we made it to our first stop – the famed viewing point of Wineglass Bay. The view speaks for itself.

This little guy had taken up residence at the viewing point and seemed totally at ease with being pet by a small child.

After bashing through tourists to get the best shot of Wineglass Bay, we hiked downhill to the beach itself. The sand was just as white as it had looked from the distance.

Another little friend! This wallaby snuck up behind us as we were sitting on the beach eating apples. As much as I am against feeding native wildlife, I did sneak a pat of this guy, it was too close an encounter not to!

Yes, I am this white all year round.

After soaking up the sun on the beach of Wineglass Bay we hiked inland for a few kilometres before arriving the Hazards Beach. The trails further away from Wineglass Bay were far less busy, and this beach was almost empty apart from one other couple.

The trail eventually left the beach and took us along the coast, offering stunning views towards Swansea.

The visitor centre map advised that the 13km hike would take 5 hours, but we finished it in just over 3 hours, including stops for snacks, lunch and photos.

Freycinet 100% exceeded all my expectations. Such wonderful views, and an amazing hike. Plus, the picture perfect weather helped!

I am almost at the end of all my Tasmania photos. It seems I was a bit too snap happy despite only being there a short period of time!

– Reanna

PEDALS, PINOT & PUPPIES // Swansea, Australia

After rain, snow, hail and the occasional glimpse of sunshine, we were treated to a picture perfect blue sky when we arrived in Swansea, on Tasmania’s east coast.

The small coastal town offers views across the blue bay to the acclaimed Freycinet National Park. We briefly wandered the beach, taking in the sunshine and the blue skies.

Our main agenda for Swansea was to explore the wine region just out of town. Through the help of google I came across Swansea Cycle Tours, a small local company owned by the loveliest lady who was incredibly flexible and adjusted the tour to meet our needs. The bike tours are typically guided, but we enjoy the flexibility of going at our own pace, but the owner was more than happy to organise a self guided tour for us, which included bike hire, helmets, water, and being driven out to the nearby wine area.

We were dropped off near a country road about 15kms out of Swansea, and after a quick briefing we were pedaling down a dirt road towards our first stop – Craige Knowe Vineyard. Chris made some off hand comment about how we might see some cute dogs at the wineries, and then we arrived to this – a fluffy, adorable, tiny 12 week old puppy.

LOOK at this cutie. Many cuddles and pats were had.

The sweet views, delicious wine and local food platter for lunch also helped set up an excellent start to our wine trip.

Our next stop was a short ride up the road to Gala Estate, one of the oldest wineries in the area.

The best part about Gala was the cellar door, which was located in an eccentric old house that was, until recently, the home a farm hand who worked on the estate. The resident was using the above stove right up until he had to move out a few years ago!

The next winery, Springvale, was a slightly less leisurely ride down a major highway, but as per usual we were treated with stunning views and sunshine (and wine)

Our final stop was Milton Winery, which was a perfect place to unwind from our bike ride… well, the 5kms we probably covered anyway. It was easy riding!

It was such a wonderful day in the sunshine, exploring a beautiful slice of Tasmania. Even though we didn’t cover much distance on the bikes it was a convenient way to get around between the wineries at our own pace, though there are tours available.

– Reanna

OUR LUCK CONTINUES // Lake St Clair & Central Highlands, Australia

After a number of hours driving in the rain, our expectations were extremely low when we pulled into the car park at Lake St Clair. After spending a few minutes huddled my the fire in the visitor centre, we decided that we would venture out to the main viewing point.

It was eerie and somewhat beautiful seeing the lake covered with mist, though of course it was nothing like the picture perfect blue skies we had seen in the brochures. The rain was only light, so continued on for a small hike – at least we could stretch our legs!

As we were crossing a bridge we were suddenly hit by sunlight and blue sky began to emerge. I still cannot believe our luck with weather throughout this holiday – the rain always cleared exactly when we needed it too!

A bit further along the track we were able to see out over the lake from a platypus viewing area (sadly, not one platypus was seen!).

Five minutes further down the track and we popped out onto a quiet beach along the lake shore – it was a completely different day! Albeit only briefly, the rain returned as soon as started walking back to the car park.

It was sunny enough for me to snap approximately 200 photos, and enjoy the stunning views. Lake St Clair is at the south end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, and is the finishing point of the Overland Track. I couldn’t think of more beautiful places to start and finish such a walk!

We spent the night in a nearby town, if you can really call it that. Bronte Park seemed to be a ‘trailer town’ in the middle of the Central Highlands. The pub we stayed at was ‘quaint’ and ‘characteristic’ at best… let’s just say we had parmas for dinner and we in bed watching Harry Potter by 7:30pm.

The next morning we were up and out relatively early to hit the road for the East Coast. After spending 15 minutes removing ice from our car, we were treated to another day of amazing driving through the highlands.

Tasmania really is ridiculous.

– Reanna