2nd to 6th January 1991
Present: Ian Fieldhouse, Rod Davies, David Law, Stuart Fawcett, Marcus Ferguson
Wednesday the second of January, nineteen ninety one was a bloody hot day. So hot it was a total fire ban and by five-thirty pm, when the four other adventure seeking lovers had arrived at my place, a change of plan was required.
The original plan was to spend the four days covering some of the most challenging country in Victoria. This included conquering the top of the highest Mt Darling in Victoria (yes, there is more than one!), visiting the historic Wonnangatta Valley and Station and struggling our way up through the great deptha of Bryce’s George. But with two days of fourty-plus temperatures predicted and with thunderstorms to follow, dry mountain tops and vunerable gorges did not seem the appropriate places to be, So we headed for Moroka Gorge, and thank heaven we did!
Anyway, back to my place at five o’clock – the agreed meeting time. As expected Stuart (especially) and David were late by almost three quarters of an hour. This gave Rod, Marcus and myself the chance to plan what was to be the superbly chosen walk for the conditions (No sarcasm please David!).
Having all arrived we headed eastwards along the Princes Highway to Taralgon where police were informed and McDonalds food was eaten under sufferance. Having survived such delicacies on offer, we headed on to Rosedale where we turned left and made for Hayfield, Licola and finally the last crossing on the Wellington River where we spent the night.
The idea for the following morning was to be up and gone early, so as to walk as much as possible in the coolness of the morning. Unfortunately those with this idea had not counted on David’s and Stuarts complete lack of organisation and tardiness in getting up in the morning. As a result we did not lease our campsite until ten-thirty.
An hours drive in Rod’s Niva only gained us approximately one thousand meters in altitude, and lost us several welcome degrees in temperature. The start of the walk was Horseyard Flat and after quick preperations we were finally able to start walking at 12:00pm. The first obstacle was a small, slow flowing creek about two meters wide and almost as deep. Despite the increasing heat this stagnant water was far from inviting, but a little initiative and a short walk upstream overcame this problem by way of a fallen tree. From here the track wound its way though a variation from light scrub to marsh land.
After some time, we arrived at a track intersection, giving us the choice of a river track with a time approximation scratched on the signpost, or a spur track with “hard” scratched on the signpost. Unfortunately we were unable to inform of how hard the spur track really is!
Further walking brought us to our lunch stop. This was a waterfall three or four meters high with a wonderfully large swimming pool at the bottom (see photo number 1). After a quick exploration around the falls, a swim was the order of the day with temperatures no doubt heading over the thirty mark. A quick lunch and we started the last half of our journey which was mainly above the very low Moroka River
A spectacular lookout gave us a small idea of what the Moroka Gorge would be like. Further walking and a very steep descent brought us to our campsite as seen in photo number 2 – comfortable, just!
Wasting no time we dropped our packs and headed downstream to see the four sets of waterfalls that exist. The second set were as far as we got (photo number 3), for the large pool at the bottom was too nice to leave in such heat.
After several hours swimming and sunbaking and eventually noticing two sisters not twenty meters from us reading, we headed back to camp. A cold tea was the order of the night due to a total fire ban day. Despite the lovely night, tents were taken to soon after sunset due to the large numbers of mosquitoes making life unbearable.
An early start was again hoped for by some, although not necessary and definitely not possible. Stuart does not understand “before ten in the morning”! Eventually we headed back off downstream as we had the previous day, passing the first two falls without stopping, continuing onto the third falls. This waterfall is very spectacular and dwarfs the previous two, being ten to fifteen metres in height.
Due to the height of the fall, the path took us someway downstream, so we continued on to the fourth waterfall, which is just as large as the third, but falls into a large enclosed pool. Apart from the opening for the river, the side walls are as high or higher than the waterfall itself (see photo number 5). This wonderful, if slightly eerie setting was definitely the place for a swim and at least an hour was spent in or around this pool, before returning upstream.
Returning to waterfall number three, we headed to the bottom of the waterfall, having passed this by on the way down, and enjoyed another half an hour swimming in the much larger and more open pool (photo number 4). By general opinion, this pool and waterfall was the best of the four, although the last was a close second!
The afternoon and more importantly lunch was getting late so we headed again upstream to camp. When we passed the first two sets of falls we were quite surprised at how small they are, and indeed wondered whether the first fall was indeed a waterfall at all.
Having eaten lunch and packed, we headed back along the track we came in on. Apart from Rod feeling the heat a touch on the steep ascent out of the gorge and Marcus cramping slightly in the legs the trip was uneventful and we arrived back at Horseyard Flat at 7pm.
This was the end of the hike, although we stayed in the area for another two days, little hiking was actually done. Having stayed at Horseyard Flat for the night, we drove to within five hundred meters of Guy’s Hut (photo number 6) where we stayed the night. From here we explored the top section of Bryces Gorge on Saturday afternoon. Having eaten lunch in the gorge, as thunderstorms forces us to take shelter under rock ledges. A slight break in the rain allowed us to get out of the gorge and back to Guy’s Hut, only to find twenty horses and their riders had taken over – fortunately only for an hour or so though.
The following day we headed to Piemans Falls (photo number 7), one of the highest in Victoria. This was only a short walk and after helping the horseriders in their car/shuffle we had only to drive home having had a wonderful four days.
Words by Ian Fieldhouse