RAIN, HAIL & SHINE // Wilsons Promontory, Australia

These photos are from mid August, when I organised a weekend away in Wilsons Promontory National Park with a couple of other leaders from Melbourne Girls Outside. We spent two nights in one of the group lodges at Tidal River with 24 women from all walks of life who had come together to enjoy some hiking. I still can’t believe we pulled it off!

The weekend was a challenge for me in a number of ways, but I pushed through and am admittedly a little proud of myself. Physically, it was exhausting leading a 20km hike in the rain on Saturday, and mentally tough to continue on in spite of the terrible conditions. The constant socialisation required in the event was also hard for a socially awkward introvert such as myself, but I enjoyed the challenge and met some wonderful women I might never have crossed paths with.

Everyone arrived on the Friday night, and on Saturday we split off on to two different hikes. I co-led the longer 20km return trek to Sealers Cover. As mentioned above, the weather was not in our favour and it ended up being a very long, very wet hike that made a typically easy hike a very hard one.

At least we had some views of the beach when we arrived! Though after ten minutes huddling under the trees we decided it was best to keep moving so as to stay warm.

In the afternoon, after we had all dried off and warmed up, the skies cleared momentarily and a group of us wandered down to Oberon Bay to walk along the beach.

Wilsons Prom always brings back so many memories of my childhood, from family holidays, to school camps, and teenage weekends away.

On the Sunday, I co-led another hike up Mt Bishop, whilst a second group took on the iconic Mt Oberon. The rain was again not in our favour, and we were originally treated to the below view.

In the five minutes it took to walk along the final stretch of track to the main lookout point, the sky cleared and we were treated to stunning views over Oberon Bay below! We could see Mt Oberon from our lookout point and it was covered in clouds, so my fellow hikers and I felt very lucky to have had this brief view.

Oh, and then it started hailing sideways!

Whilst it was a tough weekend with poor weather, it was worth the effort and I certainly felt a sense of achievement coming away from it. The Melbourne Girls Outside community has been so great to be a part of, and has encouraged me to push myself further by becoming a leader. Hopefully I can fit in a few more hikes with the group before the year is out!

– Reanna

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MOUNT ROSEA // Grampians National Park, Australia

Here is one last photo dump from our long weekend in the glorious Grampians. We were able to fit in one last hike before the drive back to Melbourne, and we ventured a hike that was admittedly 100% inspired by instagram photos from other Melbourne Girls Outside hikers!

After a few wrong turns, we started our hike to Mount Rosea from a very unassuming carpark on the side of a dirt road. The hike was 9km return, and took us up a winding, rocky path with non-stop views of the surrounding area.

The weather looked constantly on the verge of rain, but blue sky continued to peep through, and we were even treated to a stunning rainbow in the distant valleys!

Near the summit the track turned into nothing more than rocks with the occasional arrow. But that makes it more fun – until you loose the arrows and question whether you took a wrong turn!

The summit offered spectacular 360 degree views of the Grampians, looking down over Lake Bellfield and Halls Gap, and back towards the Pinnacle and the Balconies.

The sun was determined to break through, but it was horrendously windy at the top! After a few quick photos we had to make our way back down the path to escape the freezing cold, and avoid being blown off the edge.

I wish I knew a bit more about weather patterns and clouds. In the above photo you can see a strange, long cloud that was hanging low over the valley. My brother, being in the outdoor education world, always comes up with the names of strange cloud formations and what that translates to in possible weather warnings.

The hike back down was along the same path, and the rocky descent certainly did not do any favours to my knees!

I am so glad that Chris and I have been making more of an effort to get out and explore our home state before we pack up and ship off overseas. We are so lucky to have such wonderful natural destinations in our own backyard.

– Reanna

VIEWS & VINEYARDS // Grampians National Park, Australia

Our final stop of our tour of the Northern Grampians was the Balconies. This is hardly a hike, but more of a 2km return wander to some of the most stunning, yet easily accessible views in the Grampians. There are even some great viewing points from the carpark!

Despite a rather misty start in that morning, the weather was perfectly clear all day. By mid afternoon, we had fantastic views at the Balconies.

The below rocky outcrop is technically off limits, but as per usual it was still being used by visitors for photo shoots. I am sure it would be a stunning shot, but at a risk!

We had a peaceful afternoon and evening at our cabin in Halls Gap, before getting up early to join a local fun run. I don’t know what was going through my head when I let Chris convince me to run 12kms, but it ended up being a great run through the valley from Halls Gap to Lake Bellfield, aided by the stunning views.

After such a big run in the morning (for me anyway!) hiking was off the cards for the remainder of the day. We set out in our car and explored some the regions wineries, which were beautiful with the backdrop of the mountains.

That evening, we also stopped off at the dam wall of Lake Bellfield, which was just up the hill from our caravan park. I still have no idea what I am doing with my camera 99% of the time, but I do kind of love how these evening photos at the lake came out.

The dam wall provided an unexpectedly fantastic view back down the valley towards Halls Gap, with the Pinnacle up to the left.

Despite almost being winter when we were up in the Grampians, there were still plenty of visitors in town. Sure, it was a bit cold and we weren’t always guaranteed perfect blue skies, but it was still a great time to visit. Oh, and we got to fit in one more hike…

– Reanna

MT ZERO & HOLLOW MOUNTAIN // Grampians National Park, Australia

What’s that? More hiking content? I am back today to share our recent getaway to one of my favourite parts of the Victoria, the Grampians National Park. Located a three hour drive away from Melbourne, it makes for more than a quick weekend trip, so we snuck an extra day off work and treated ourselves to a long weekend. We stayed in the town of Halls Gap, which is a great base for exploring the region.

Having previously visited the Grampians and taking on some of the main walks, such as the Pinnacle and Mackenzies Falls, we decided to spend a day exploring the northern region of the park. We headed about 40 minutes north of Halls Gap to our first stop, Mt Zero. I have a strong recollection of hiking up Mt Zero as a child, and remembered it being an epic adventure. However, in reality it was a pretty easy 2.8km return trek from the carpark to the top of the below peak!

Despite the short distance, the view offered by Mt Zero is spectacular. We had relatively clear skies for our view back towards Mt Staplyton and Hollow Mountain.

After a quick decent, we drove a few kilometres down the road to Hollow Mountain, where we completed a further two short walks.

The first was a quick stroll to Gulgurn Manja, an Aboriginal art site. Meaning ‘hand of young people’, this site features a series of rock paintings that tell stories and lore of Jarwadjali people.

After a picnic lunch in the sun back at the carpark, we did the 2.2km return hike up Hollow Mountain. The walk towards the mountain took us past a series of cliffs and rock formations that were very popular among rock climbers. We watched a few ascents, before deciding that rock climbing was most definitely not for us!

We knew nothing about the track, and assumed it would be relatively straightforward like Mt Zero. After following the above trail for a few hundred metres, we were faced with some more rocky terrain, before eventually coming face to face with the below sheer rock face. An arrow pointed the way forward – up!

It ended up being a fantastic climb of rock scrambling, crevices, and eventually stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Not your average 2km stroll, but it was fun little adventure! Though of course, nothing compared to what the nearby rock climbers were taking on.

We explored the above rock cave/formation/terrifying balance act on the way back down. The trek back down the rocks we climbed up was slightly more difficult, but we safely made it back to our car in one piece.

Whilst not conquering any big hikes in the Northern Grampians, these series of short walks made for a diverse and fun day of exploration. There is so much on offer in this region!

– Reanna

52 HIKE CHALLENGE UPDATE // Melbourne, Australia

At the start of 2018 I decided on a whim to commit to completing the 52 Hike Challenge over the course of the coming 12 months. Well, almost 6 months in and and I have surprised myself by hitting the halfway mark! Throughout the past months I have spent most weekends outside on the trails, sometimes by myself, other times with Chris, or with a group of adventurous local gals.

I was worried I might fall behind once the weather took a turn for winter, but I have been pushing through and taking on a few hikes in the rain. I have also counted a few trail running events I have participated in, and managed to clock up a few hikes whilst traveling overseas.

As previously mentioned, I have joined a local hiking group called Melbourne Girls Outside. After participating in a couple of hikes, I surprised myself by taking the leap to become a volunteer leader for the group! I have led two hikes so far, which certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of having to step up, be organised and sure of myself, and be sociable (no small feat for this awkward introvert). They have both been incredibly rewarding experiences.

So 6 months and 26 hikes down, 6 months and 26 hikes to go!

Anyone else participating in this challenge? I am always looking for suggestions for hikes near Melbourne.

– Reanna

HIGH COUNTRY HIKING PT. 2 // Bogong High Plains, Australia

Check my first post for part one of our hike, where I left off at the end of a steep descent at the Big River. Which, as you can see, was quite a big river! We were required to cross, which involved wading through knee deep, freezing cold water in our bare feet whilst carrying our heavy packs.

It was an adventure, but we all safely made it across under the watchful eye of my brother.

From Big River, it was a grueling 4 kilometres of climbing to the Bogong High Plains. This was undoubtedly the toughest section of the hike, and possibly one of the toughest hikes I had ever done!

After two very, very long hours we made it to the high plains just as the mists began to roll in. We bunkered into Roper Hut for a late lunch.

The remaining 6 kilometres would have been an easy stroll along the high plains, but due to the snow the trek was substantially more difficult! Our pace was hampered by constantly sinking into steep sections of snow that had built up along the track. At least the landscape was beautiful!

The clouds again obstructed our view of Mt Bogong, and rolled across the plains in front of us, creating an eerie atmosphere.

We were treated to some fantastic views at exactly the right time, so we quickly ran off the track to admire the view over the valley below.

It was at this point that my camera ran out of battery, so I have no photos of our very cold night at Edmondsons Hut! We camped outside of the cabin, and my brother introduced my mother and I to the concept of Nalgene hot water bottles. Revolutionary.

My brother snapped this shot of Mum and I on our last morning, with Mt Nelse in the background. We only had 5kms to walk out, and it was a very easy stroll along the main trail to the Falls Creek catchment area.

Despite more difficult weather (and snow!) than anticipated, not being able to summit Mt Bogong, and sore bodies, it was such a wonderful weekend. I feel truly lucky to be able to get outside and do the things I love with my family, and we hope to do more hikes in the future. Perhaps in the summer though!

– Reanna

HIGH COUNTRY HIKING PT. 1 // Bogong High Plains, Australia

Whilst my backlog of posts from our holiday to the Caucasus and Middle Easy might finally be over, I seem to have accumulated even more photos since arriving back in Australia. This year has been incredibly full and busy, and despite feeling overwhelming at time, it has been so rich and fulfilling. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to live this life.

Whilst I have been slowly getting into the hiking scene over the past few years, 2018 has seen me commit to the goal of completing the 52 Hike Challenge. I have been out hiking most weekends, with Chris, the girls from Melbourne Girls Outside, or by myself. My hiking is generally limited to half day hikes, but recently I had the opportunity to take on a three day/two night hike in the Bogong High Plains with two of my favourite people – my mother and my brother.

My brother works as an outdoor education leader, and did all the leg work in terms of preparation, organising all the gear I needed and planning a route around Mt Bogong, the highest mountain in Victoria. After a long morning of driving and car shuffling, we didn’t end up starting our hike until around 2pm, departing from Camp Creek near Mt Beauty. And it was foggy!

Despite only being May, it had been unseasonably cold the weekend before. As a result, snow began to appear across the trail the closer we got to the summit of Bogong.

A glimpse of the mountains ahead!

Catching our breath at the ridge leading up towards Mt Bogong, we were treated to a brief moment of views onto the surrounding Alpine region.

Temperatures plummeted as soon as we reached the ridge line leading up towards the peak. It was hard enough clambering over the rocky trail, but as we reached a saddle near the summit, we came across a snow drift! My brother admitted that he had not been expecting this, but was able to safely lead us across. It was an exhilarating and terrifying experience!

From the top of the snow drift we decided to forgo attempting to summit Mt Bogong, due to the fading light, roaring winds and thick cloud. Instead, we attempted to cover the remaining 4km to our overnight stop as quickly as we could through the thick snow covering the track. It was almost dark by the time we stumbled up to Cleve Cole Hut for the night.

After a wonderfully warm night in the hut (luxury!), we were able to get a better view of where we were in the morning. My brother is a regular of the hut during winter, but I found the entire experience a great novelty.

The weather conditions were picture perfect that morning, as we came away from the snow and headed towards the Bogong High Plains.

After an easy few kilometres, we faced a gruelling 4km of steep down hill tracks, which were often covered by fallen logs and branches. At least the views were worth it!

Our downhill trek eventually brought us to the Big River, which required a very cold and mildly stressful river crossing – but more on that shortly!

– Reanna