HIKE DIARIES, EPISODE #474 // Sugarloaf Reservoir, Australia

I am totally joking with the title of this post – I am just making fun at myself for my current constant stream of hike related posts at the moment!

Whilst it probably doesn’t make for exhilarating content, all these hiking posts are a current representation of what I have been getting up to in my spare time. The rest of my life is a revolving door of work, coffee, and sleeping, which is far less exciting content!

These photos are form hike 4 out of 52, the 15km circuit around Sugarloaf Reservoir. I had relatively low expectations for this hike, but it ended up being an enjoyable and varied hike that was long, but not challenging.

It was only an hour’s drive from Melbourne, and offers some decent views of the Yarra Valley and the reservoir itself, which supplies water to Melbourne. We didn’t encounter any other people on the hike, only people picnicking at the various car parks. Oh, and one snake!

As you can probably tell, I am not a natural in front of the camera. What do I do with my arms?! Do I smile? Should I pose, or look over my shoulder?!?!?! My awkwardness combined with Chris’ eye rolling behind the camera makes for a hilarious attempt at a nice photo!

Seeking shade under a tree, and reaching the point of exhaustion that is further exacerbated by realising you are only halfway around the lake. Whoops!

Whilst not the most picturesque hike, it was enjoyable and easily accessible from Melbourne. The looming grey clouds in all my photos don’t do much to help the ambience, either!

If you have any good hiking recommendations in Victoria, I would love to hear!

– Reanna


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

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

THE EDGE OF WINTER // Bright, Australia

It is a Saturday morning as I sit here putting together this post, and all these mountain photos are inspiring me to go outside for a hike this afternoon. Whether or not I will actually get around to jumping into the car and heading out of the city is another story, but at least the idea is there!

This photo dump is from the Sunday of our weekend trip to Bright. The town is known for being a nearby base to the Alpine region and a number of snow fields, with one of the closest being Mount Buffalo National Park. After packing up our campsite and tracking down some coffee, we hit the road for the slow, windy drive up to the mountain.

We had planned to drive all the way up to the Horn Carpark, but found that the road was blocked off at Cresta Valley Carpark due to snow. I had not expected there to be so much snow around, considering Winter had ended the month before. We weren’t complaining though, as snow is still a novelty for us Australians.

From the Cresta Valley Carpark, we followed the road a couple of kilometres up to the Horn Carpark, which offered some amazing views.

From the carpark, it was another 1.5km return hike to the Horn itself. There had been snow across the road, so we were feeling a bit unsure about how hard the hike to the top would be. Added to this, a fellow hiker seemed to think he was hiking Mount Everest and stopped to put metal crampons on his boots. Nevertheless, we persevered.

Despite our fears, the hike up was actually surprisingly quick and easy, with minimal snow on the trail. We had a bit of a laugh for the over ambition of the other hiker, but quickly returned our focus to the most amazing 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape. A-ma-zing.

It was such a clear day, so we were treated to some pretty spectacular views above valleys and mountains below.

We could make some neighbouring mountains, such as Mount Bogong, peaking out from the distant clouds.

The hike back down was even easier, though looking back at the Horn (which you can see in the photo below) made our legs hurt.

We drove back down the mountain, stopping at the historic Mount Buffalo Chalet. The Chalet is currently unoccupied, with rumours of it being redeveloped floating around. It would be a spectacular location to stay, so I hope that it is redeveloped in a thoughtful way that respects the surrounding national park.

The Chalet is located next to what I can only imagine is the spectacular Gorge Day Visit Area – we couldn’t completely appreciate it as it was covered in clouds! Whilst nowhere near as bad as the fog we experienced in the Blue Mountains earlier this year, the clouds did unfortunately block out the amazing views. I am glad we made it up the mountain early to see some views from the Horn!

We still took the 3km Gorge Circuit Walk and were able to see some amazing waterfalls and a few brief glimpses of the valley below.

On the drive back down we stopped briefly one final time, when I spotted this amazing lookout. You could see the snow capped mountains of the Alpine region off in the distance – it was simply breathtaking!

I feel like we only touched the surface of the amazing Alpine region, and we are already planning to come back in the Summer for more explorations. There is a campground only open during the warmer months on Mount Buffalo that we are hoping to check out. If you have done any good day hikes around the area, please let me know! I would love to get some ideas for Summer.

– Reanna


AWAY IN THE MOUNTAINS // Bright, Australia

Life has been pretty flat out around here, with work all week, and every weekend becoming filled with getaways, family gatherings, and generally just being away from home. Sunday night always rolls around in a frantic run around the house, as we try to catch up on cooking, washing, and getting everything ready for another week. As much as I love spending my weekends away, today we are blessed with a quiet weekend at home. And now I can finally catch up on photos from a few weeks back!

In our home state of Victoria, we have not one, but two public holidays based around sporting events. Personally, I could not care less about either of the sporting events, but I do love a public holiday, particularly when it lines up with a weekend. Once Chris and I realised that the AFL Grand Final public holiday was coming up, we booked a campsite in Bright. Located at the base of Mount Buffalo National Park, the town is a popular holiday destination for exploring the Alpine region – but neither of us had ever been!

Bright is a three and a half hour drive from Melbourne, so we ended up arriving in time for lunch and an afternoon of exploring. After setting up camp, I decided an afternoon stroll would be nice, so I took us up to Huggins Lookout. Turns out our ‘stroll’ ended up being a short, but steep, hike which we were 100% unprepared for. We were sweating profusely in our jeans and jackets by the time we arrived at the top, but the views over the town were spectacular.

A few snaps of our camp site. We stayed at Bright Holiday Park, which was located a short walk from the town centre, and had peaceful campsites along the creek. As we booked an unpowered campsite, we managed to score a secluded spot away from everyone else.

On the Saturday, we were up early and set off on a walk around town. A popular walk in the town is the Canyon Walk that follows the river alongside both banks. It was 3kms return, and took us under an hour.

The walk was beautiful, and easy to follow on a path with minimal obstacles or hills (thankfully, as once again we were wearing jeans!). However, we did come across a number of families attempting the walk with prams – not recommended!

Okay, so I took way more photos on the Canyon Walk then I realised – whoops!

After some more town explorations and some coffee, we hit the Murray to Mountain Rail Trail with our bikes. The trail is sealed, and follows the main road out of Bright, heading all the way Wangaratta. We followed it for around 12kms to the other side of the nearby village of Porepunka, stopping at Feathertop Winery for some tastings.

It started to rain as we got back on our bikes to our second stop, Ringer Reef Winery. But as soon as we arrived, the sky cleared and we were treated to the amazing view below!

Eventually we made our way back to Bright, stopping for lunch in Porepunka. We attempted to watch some of the AFL Grand Final at Bright Brewery, but eventually gave up in favour of sitting around the fire at our campsite.

I had heard so many positive things about Bright, so it was great to finally visit! In the winter time it is a popular base for visiting the surrounding snow fields, so perhaps we will be back next year… not that either of us can ski!

– Reanna

NOT WORK // Coongulla, Australia

I was meant to be in Alice Springs this weekend, cheering along my brother and father at a mountain bike race. But, a few things didn’t go to plan, so the trip unfortunately had to be cancelled this year. That didn’t stop my family from signing up for another local bike race, and I decided to tag along anyway. Anything for a long weekend away from the office, right?

My dad booked an Airbnb for the weekend in Coongulla, a eerily empty little settlement on the banks of Lake Glenmaggie in Gippsland. I say empty, as the area was filled with ramshackle holiday and weekend houses that were largely unoccupied while we were there! Lake Glanmaggie is a popular location for the summer months, but given it was pouring rain on the Friday we were there, it was no one in sight!

I ventured down to the lake on Friday when it stopped raining for five minutes to take a few snaps. Thankfully, the Airbnb we had booked had a fire place, so we spend most of the day curled up on the couch reading and chatting.

Saturday morning turned out to be perfect weather, for both the bike race and for some further lake explorations on my behalf.

The lake is a water catchment for the surrounding area, having been dammed many years ago in the 1920s. However, the water seemed like it has been much higher in decades past.

The embankment was quite rocky, and beautiful. It is pretty amazing what nature can create.

As you can probably tell, I still have no idea what I am doing with my new DSLR camera.

The bike race was a few kilometres away from the lake at Blores Hill. I spent most of the day by the race track, but was able to grab a lift in a ‘spectator shuttle’ (AKA a 4WD troop carrier driven by a volunteer) up to the highest point of the race. It made for some great views, as well as being able to watch some of the more difficult parts of the bike race.

Even just looking at the bike trails made me feel like such an incompetent cyclist!

My weekends for the coming months appear to have suddenly filled up with quite a few weekends away, so I am excited for more adventures away from the city! Not all of them are long weekends, but it is still always great to get away from the grind of Melbourne and get outdoors (or try to, when it isn’t raining!).

Next weekend is another long weekend – Chris and I are off to Byron Bay! I have only briefly stopped there once when I was much younger, so I am keen to explore the area and enjoy some (hopefully) warmer weather.

– Reanna