A Walk In The Bush (Part 1)

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Mt Victoria on the right, Mt Donna Buang behind it

So today I walked the saddle between the peaks of Mt Donna Buang and Mt Victoria, following a 6.5km loop that started and finished at 1245m asl and dropped to about 980m at its lowest. This was my first real trip to the bush with full kit, and was really just a stroll to check out kit weight/distribution, to check fitness and to wrap my head around Australian grid references. It’s late autumn here, and there have been some cold days, so heading up to a region that claims to be the closest ski slopes to Melbourne in winter left me wondering what sort of temperatures and environment we’d encounter. I needn’t have worried – the day was as stunning as any I’d seen over here.

It was cold at the summit (we arrived just after sunrise), but I knew I’d warm up quickly. I have always carried lots of weight when out, despite being told on frequent occasions the mantra of “know more and carry less”. However, the carrying of weight over distance or at speed is as much about muscle conditioning as anything else – the more you do it, the easier it gets. Besides, for long distance or multiple nights out I’d rather be throwing stuff out of my bergan than adding stuff I’ve never carried before…this was very much a training walk…Image

The bergan is a Warrior BMF Bergan from UK Tactical with a multicam cover from RV OPS. This bergan is the most comfortable I’ve ever had. I always swore by the PLCE infantry bergan I was issued in the army for its robustness and carrying capacity, but this one beats it soundly for capacity and comfort (time will tell on its longevity – I got my PLCE bergan in 1995 and it’s still going strong). It’s fairly standard to read advice on pack selection saying similar to, “ensure it has a waist belt to allow the weight to be taken on the hips” – good advice. The BMF is designed to sit on webbing, but I have found that it sits up high on my shoulderblades and stays there very comfortably. I compare this to the difference between a fireman’s lift and a piggy back – having the weight higher up makes it easy to bear. This may be personal preference, of course…any unnecessary weight on your spine is never going to be a good thing…

Anyway, setting off down the saddle I wish I could share the sounds: Lyre birds have a primordial call that sounds like an effect from Jurassic Park. All of it was so unfamiliar – I recently went jungle trekking through the highlands of Malaysia and it felt less alien. The bush on Donna Buang is “cool-temperate rainforest”. There are ferns everywhere, but the most overwhelming thing is the height of the trees which rise straight up to heights of about 70m, creating an airy but shaded canopy.

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 The entire mountain is forested but nicely traversed by a circular track that includes a short stretch of road. We took the downhill part first.

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After crossing the saddle and heading up the second peak we were greeted with a great view of the morning mist still thick in the valley between the hills.

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However, the walk had not really begun – all the uphill stuff was yet to come. There’s nothing quite so demoralising as going downhill when you know that you’ve got to go back up…This included the road section, where we saw Lyre birds and wallabies, but they had a sixth sense when it comes to the paparazzi, and sat there just long enough for me to fumble my camera out before vanishing into the undergrowth…

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Onward and upward…

This was the hardest part – 750m up a steep slope. Legs were fine – presumably because their pain was overwhelmed by that of my heart and lungs…

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Time for a brew at the top. I’ll continue later (after Masterchef)…

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1 Comment

  1. ukbushcrafters said,

    May 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    A great piece from our colonial contributor!


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