The Hard Road

Trip Start Apr 08, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, April 26, 2013

In the Grampians we did all the main sites, lots of the popular walks and lookouts, the main tourist spots over here aren't that challenging for walkers as there is usually a car park not far away, fair enough it makes it more accessible for most people and that why they are well known, but I don't get the sense of achievement you can get when you have climbed somewhere hard or walked along time to se something special, when there is a vehicle track or ice cream van at the end it isn't quite the same. Not that the Grampians is all like that there are hundreds of walks for all kinds of people, but after we did the main sites and a couple of fairly moderate walks we we keen to get off the tourist trail again, I think we just like finding places less people go.

We headed east towards Ballan where we would be based in our first house-sit while on the road, we still have a few weeks to spare so plenty of time to explore the region know as the Gold Fields due to the gold rush of the eighteen hundreds. We drove through Ararat got stocked up with supplies, fixed the tyre and treated ourselves to fish n chips, like Colac it had a great reserve for campers where there were also showers, for $5 a night! I think it will be hard to beat that.

Moving short distances from site to site we went through Langi Ghiran State Park and Mount Buangor State Park staying a few nights at a time at some pretty remote places. We probably would have had the sites to ourselves but it was the Anzac long weekend and lots of people had made the trip here to camp, trail bike, walk, 4WD and build huge fires! This is defiantly a hidden region for the locals and its not hard to see why they flock here. Its hardly a blip on the map but it has great free camping where you can collect wood for fires, and the walking is brilliant and I climbed my first proper small mountain, just shy off 1000 meters where I had amazing views of the Grampians and surrounding flats. Mount Buangor had even more challenging walks, for a area that looks pretty flat on the map the 5hr sugar-loaf circuit was one of the hardest I've ever done.

No real incidents other than after a big walk we drank to much port by the fire, resulting in Sharon going out for a late night toilet visit where she totally lost her bearings and couldn't find the dunny. I thought she was gone along time but I was half drunk and asleep and didn't realise she had got lost for about half a hour and didn't even find the toilet after all that!

We headed towards Pyrenees, the last time we drove in the European namesake we drove up roads so high the engine on our VW was literally bursting at the seams and the pressure was causing oil to leak all over the place, I will never forget that day and we laughed this area wouldn't be quite as hard, it wasn't even marked on the map as a national park it was so small.

But the Sat-Nav had different ideas, it had already taken us across some challenging tracks to get through the Mount Buangor Park, and we put in the co-ordinates for a campsite in the middle of the next park.Without checking the route the Sat-Nav planned we confidently drove down a track and were apparently only 20 mins away from the site. 

The track got slowly harder, Shaz says 'caravans get down here?' still not thinking, I though sure why not if they take there time, then it gets slowly steeper and more challenging, before we realise it we must have climbed 800 meters in about 10 minuets, this was defiantly not the right route, to late to turn back now. Very slowly we took our time and made it to the top where we were greeted by a warning 4WD track only sign, there was no sign at the bottom and we hadn't even switched to four wheel drive.

Full marks to the old girl she got up there in 2WD, not so full marks to the Sat-Nav, I mentioned it before but I'm convinced its a manic depressive piece of equipment, after getting to the top it decided the best way to reach the given co-ordinates was to drive off the track down a 400m drop, or as it put it turn left 'off-road' for 20 meters. It was right we would have made it in twenty seconds but it would have been the last twenty for all of us.

We made it to the site after some more track riding and it eventually turned out to be a fun drive as I'm still relatively unexperienced on these tough roads, but as in our last encounter in the Pyrenees we were just as relived to be back on a level camp site.

Another lesson learned, never underestimate any track or region no matter how easy it looks on the map.
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