2009-09-05 -37 145
Just to the east of Bunyip State Park, near Neerim South, deep in forest.
Having camped in the hills above Traralgon the night before I spent the day cycling towards the geohash location embedded in the depths of the aftermath of Victoria's devastating Black Saturday bushfires. Part III of a four day consecutive geohash. 2009-09-03 -37 145 is the first and 2009-09-06 -37 145 is the next.
I woke up at the stately time of 10am and found myself camping in the hills above Traralgon after the previous day’s virgin hash, on the second day of my three day bicycle endurohash - which I believe to be the ultimate expression of geohashing). Packing up my tent I decided to continue down the narrow four wheel drive track to the west, as I was heading that way towards the day’s new geohash location.
The sky was blue as I descended into the valley of the Tyres River, and up along a ridgeline offering spectacular views of the Latrobe Valley and its renowned brown coal derived electricity generating capacity (which emitted an audible hum depending on wind direction).
Soon I was back on bitumen and riding into a stiff head wind towards the day’s hash, which, I was informed, was deep inside bushland near Bunyip State Park.
After a not-too-eventful 30 kms or so working my way along quiet rural roads (very slowly though, as I was faced with a severe head wind, knobbly tyres and a heavy lock for which I’d forgotten to bring the key) I found myself on some dodgy logging tracks getting increasingly lost, with only a compass bearing to guide me through the labyrinth.
Luckily, I made it to Neerim South relatively unscathed from the experience and stocked up for the next phase of the expedition.
With supplies came a decision: I had eagerly announced my intention to present myself at a house party back in Melbourne that evening and I still reasoned I had a good chance of making it back for it. However, map and GPS in hand, I figured out where Sunday’s hash was – very close to Saturday’s. Could I pass the opportunity up? This choice was amplified by my previous night’s fear of missing out (FOMO – I am very susceptible) on Friday night drinks – could I cope with missing out again? …But with the possibility of four consecutive geohashes ahead of me – how could I resist?
I headed north, along roads previously familiar from my epic hash (although the woman from the Neerim South milk bar did not recognise me), above the Tarago river valley. Soon I was flying downhill into the bush, where I was forced to stop suddenly at a gate.
Oh no - A barrier! Signs warned me not to pass this point or be inflicted with draconian penalties, barbed wire threatened me with punctures and torn pants, bollards stood immovably in my way. It seemed I was at the entrance to the local water catchment area into which none may enter. I was to fail at the first hurdle.
However, it was also apparent that the road I wanted to take was not part of the catchment zone, and the gate was impassable by car… but not by bike with panniers temporarily removed. A few signs (pictured) warned me of poisoned wild dog traps, but the programme was due to have been concluded a few days previously. I soldiered on.
The road was very well made and extremely scenic along the Tarago River. Soon I came to the area recently devastated by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, which had made international news at the time and caused over 200 deaths. A few more turns and road changes (the roads became steeper and more debris strewn) and I was there – 90m from the geohash.
I wandered around for quite some time trying to get the coordinates on the GPS to match up (GPS plus compass is the best method in my experience) and found the point on a steep hillside, completely burnt out with only sapling regrowth. It was about 6pm and getting dark.
Knowing that the last train was at 7:30pm and that if I gunned it I might just make it to the station in time I found myself setting up my tent. Clearly somewhere along the way I’d decided to camp the night and go for tomorrow’s hash, but hadn’t noticed.
I’d chosen a spot just on the top of a knoll with views over the whole valley and surrounding mounts, not too closely underneath some scarily dead branches sticking out from tall burnt-out trees. This was only about 150m from the hashpoint and the nearest flat surface.
Once I was set up it occurred to me that although the dog trapping programme had ceased, presumably the wild dogs it was intending to control were still on the loose (unless the programme had been very successful). This was cause for some concern.
Having watched the sunset from my tent, and eating salmon and vegemite on biscuits for dinner, I curled up cosily to read my terrific book by Robert Heinlein, ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ (I’ll stop talking about it now, but it really is an awesome book), for the next three hours until I fell asleep at 9pm.
Stay tuned for more exciting geohash adventures in tomorrow’s episode, ‘The Regrowth From Hell’.
Here's the Google Maps link to my whole route. Saturday's section is between C and D - 79 kms.
| Felix Dance earned the Bicycle geohash achievement
| Felix Dance earned the Consecutive geohash achievement
| Felix Dance earned the Camping geohash achievement