Sunday 13 November 2016.
I woke up many times during the night to the wind, it was making so much noise. There’s not much up here to stop it. The driving rain came and went. When it stopped the wind would continue to blow drops off the trees and so the fly of the tent was subjected to a steady stream of water falling. In between all this I could hear the little creek burbling away.
I wanted to go pee. How I wanted to. The thought of gearing up to do so was way to scary. So my bladder and I came to an understanding.
By 6.30 I had to get up. I discovered that a lot of our gear in the tent was wet.
It was quite magical.
The creek was up a lot. Yesterday we could jump it to move around the campsite, that wasn’t so easy now.
I tramped through the wet undergrowth to get to the toilet. The ‘flood waters’ had surrounded our little tent, and the tent itself was now in the middle of a huge puddle.
My hands are freezing.
I manage to make a cup of coffee, no easy task. I enjoy sipping it, mostly because my fingers are wrapped around the hot plastic cup. Subsequent attempts to light the stove fail. The waterproof matches have gone to shit and even the cigarette lighter is so wet it won’t spark.
I spend the next hour and a half standing with my back to the wind, however, the rain continues to fall from all directions and there is no relief from it standing here in the clouds on top of the Major Mitchell Plateau. Michael wakes and spends his time in the tent stowing our various gear into bags, stuffing bits into sacks. I resort to running on the spot to keep warm.
We eat a carrot, apple and muesli bar for breakfast.
Somehow we manage to transfer our belongings from the tent to the backpacks, then we pull the tent down and shove it into its stuff-sack.
Ready to go by 9.00 a.m.
The clouds, mist, fog and rain are being pushed by a gale force wind. With backpacks on we make a start.
Parts of the tracks are on boardwalks, mostly however the tracks have become rivers of water. I’m surprised at the amount of water about. The worms have come out of the dirt for a swim too. There are so many of them on the track, and they’re huge.
Still the wildflowers abound.
The reason for me being here is the view of the western plains from the eastern edge of the plateau. Alas, I’m deprived of this. Beyond the escarpment to my left is nothing but grey clouds. A huge wall of what seems to be solid concrete all the way from the bottom of the mountain, up over our heads. The rain turns to hail, hitting our faces and stinging.
We trudge along the boardwalk, the rocks and the sandy tracks with the water, gradually making our way towards the southern edge to begin our descent.
It’s very rocky and slippery in places, we take our time, being very careful about where we place our feet. We arrive at a point where the path seems to stop, the drop to the next bit is quite steep and to big for us to navigate, so we go around. This proves very difficult. No track, big rocks, trees and undergrowth in the way. We bash our way through to get back on the steep downward track.
Some two hours later we drop off the Major Mitchell Plateau and onto Stockyard Creek track. The narrow mountain path in the closed bush opens into a grass plain with scattered trees. The track broadens to a 4WD road. We see a couple of swamp wallabies, the only wildlife we’d seen apart from insects and worms.
We arrive at a turning point, to the left Mafeking Picnic Ground, to the right Jimmy Creek. 6 kilometres to go.
The path now takes us up to a helipad, over the top and down into the bush.
Compared to the walk on the top this is fairly easy. Still plenty of rain, down here, though the wind has died down. I am now very wet. Water has seeped into my boots and my toes squelch about in their socks. My hands are in my gloves, keeping warm, but the gloves are soaking. Every now and then I clench my fists and a stream of water falls onto the ground.
In these mountains, away from the rest of the world, we see fields of wildflowers. Carpets of woven colours in all their glory. The visual of the track winding up the hill in front of us, the bush, flowers, mountains and the aroma of the flowers and the wet eucalyptus and wattle trees make this a magical experience. The rain has somewhat abated and I’m happy to be out here in the Grampians.
It’s just on 2.30 p.m. we arrive at our rendezvous point and Merv and Naomi are there in the car, avoiding the weather.
I’m sore and wet and I’m very happy.
Be sure to check out Michael’s gallery of images.