Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dandenong Ranges - Olinda, Olinda Falls, Burkes Lookout - 9th March 2014

This was my first walk with the Diamond Valley Bushwalking Club, a fantastic, friendly and helpful group of people who love to get out and enjoy nature, whilst getting/staying fit at the same time!

We met at Eltham Lower Park (the home of the Eltham Mini Railway) at around 8.00am. The nine members (and myself) carpooled and shared the trip to Olinda in two cars, a great opportunity to have a chat and for me to introduce myself to those I had not met at the previous meeting. What a nice group of people! All were very friendly, enjoyed a joke, and were very helpful, answering any questions I had about the club or the walk.
Upon arrival, we had a very short meeting at our start point at the end of Ranges Road for Peter (walk leader) to tell us a little about the walk, and some basic rules, and then we headed off at a smidge before 9am, with a nice cool start to the walk.
The scenery up in the hills around Olinda is truly spectacular! Walking trails hedged in ferns, tree ferns and stately gums... pure magic. It really takes you away from the everyday humdrum and transports you to a different world. The forest is filled with sights and sounds that we don't normally get to experience in a "comfortable" world of paved roads, concrete paths and neat and tidy buildings. We are really missing out on the good stuff in the city and suburbs, let me tell you!
Heading bush through the ferns.
Peter chose to carry out the walk in the opposite direction as is usually taken, heading down the steep hill from where we parked and into the forest. It was agreed by all (nearing the end of the walk) that this was a very wise decision, as we would have struggled climbing back out due to fatigue!
There has been some works carried out along some of the access roads, as we noticed some new wooden posts and rails along the sides of tracks where streams ran under the road.
Steaming along the easy open sections...
A pleasant walk up the nice open trail ensured, until we started hitting some steeper grades, with some the track turning into switchbacks along the Channel 10 track to climb up the mountain. We saw quite a few runners coming down the mountain at this stage, perhaps competing in an event, and sweating almost as much as we were. The last switchback took us to a very steep climb that passes by the Channel 10 transmitter tower. This one got the heart and lungs working! By this stage the weather had started to warm up, and was getting pretty humid. We stopped just up the trail for morning tea at Burkes Lookout, where there is what we thought to be a launching platform for hang-gliders.
Don't know if I would like to leap off here....

...and down here!

Checking out the fantastic views at Burkes Lookout.

Yes, I did make it up the climb!

Panoramic view.
I had a little friend trying to share my food.
Once everyone was refreshed with some food and drink on board, we ventured off again, this time along the Kyeema Track. We stopped to look at the memorial to those who lost their lives back in 1938 when the Kyeema, an Australian National Airways DC-2 plane, crashed into the mountain when unable to see due to cloud cover. I'm not sure if there is still any wreckage on the mountain.
Memorial to those lost in the crash of the DC-2 "Kyeema"
We continue on and come to the Mount Dandenong Arboretum, which as we know, is just a fancy name for a tree park ;-) On the opposite side of the Arboretum we cross Mt Dandenong Tourist Road close to the Pre-School and wander down Mechanics Track. This is a fantastic section of track! Shady all the way thanks to a thick cover of tree ferns, it's like a different world in here. The creek trickles merrily beside us as we duck and bob underneath the lower ferns, step over logs and roots, navigate the numerous twists and turns, and marvel at the scenery. The temperature is pleasant as we walk, but once we pause to let the rest of the group catch up, we realise how humid it is in here.
Heading down Mechanics Track, a beautiful walk through ferns.

What a magical place to walk!
 The track leads us eventually to an intersection, with a couple of us turning right to head down and check out Olinda falls, the rest heading left and up the hill to Olinda Falls picnic ground for a rest and lunch.
The track to the falls is well made, with rocks placed as steps all the way down, and a hand rail to hold if you are feeling a bit unstable (or tired!). A wooden viewing platform overlooks the first section of falls, and a path (more steps) and small bridge over the creek leads to a second platform looking further up the falls from lower down the creek.
Top part of Olinda Falls

Not a lot of flow due to the dry spell.
Looking back up the Falls from the lower platform.
After a few pics, we headed back up the hill (a decent climb) to the picnic area for lunch. There are parking areas, tables and toilets here too, for those of you who may not want to rough it too much and drive in...

Relaxing lawn areas...

Kickin' back.
Refueled and rested, we shouldered our packs and headed off again, taking a section of the Falls Road, then turning off into the bush again, this time along a more open track. A wonderful gentle downhill slope through the trees lulling us into a false sense of security before turning us again uphill for the final steady climb back to the road and our cars. It's now 2.50pm, a six hour walk (including breaks).
Gentle downhill stroll.

Beautiful day for a walk!
All up, a fantastic introduction to walking with the Diamond Valley Bushwalking Club! What a friendly, happy bunch! What a fantastic way to spend a day! I can't wait to head for the hills with them again. In fact, I have already booked the next walk, this time to Steavensons Falls near Marysville next weekend, then a hike up Mt Donna Buang the following Sunday. Bring it on!!

Happy trails...



  1. Love the blog David, great photo's and glad to see one in particular omitted ha ha ha It is nice to look back at the walks this way and revisit the scenery again.

    1. Thanks KJR64, glad you like the blog. Thought I would be kind, omitted but not deleted! Be nice... ;-) hehe!