Great South West Walk Day 7, Nelson Rest Day, November 2021

The weather was nasty last night and continued to be very wet and windy today. It turned out to be a perfectly timed rest day in Nelson.

A pretty lazy day was had as the weather was not conducive to exploring the town and surrounds.

I did a bit of food sorting for the next section of the walk from Nelson to Portland via the coast.

Food for the next 6 days along the coast from Nelson to Portland

I also caught up a bit on my trip journal and spent some time using the free Wifi at the info centre to refresh the weather forecast and read some news.

I had dinner at the pub with Judy. We met a hiker named Helena who arrived at 7.30 pm. She had walked along the coast from Lake Monibeong today in the wild weather. As well as walking into the driving rain and wind she missed the turnoff from the beach to Nelson and ended up spending a couple of hours around the estuary before eventually finding her way to town. We chatted to her about her day and got some information about the track for the next few days. At one point Judy mentioned her leech bite was getting a bit inflamed. Helena asked to have a look as she is a paramedic. She thought the inflammation might be well on the way to infection. She drew a circle around the red area to monitor if it spread overnight. If it got worse Judy would be getting a lift to Portland to get it checked out and it would probably end her walk.

With the wind and rain continuing well into the night we all said good night and I made my way to my room. Last proper bed for a few days. Not that the hammock hasn’t been good, but I wonder whether it will be as easy to find places to hang it on the coastal section.

Great South West Walk Day 6, Pattersons to Nelson, November 2021

The prospect of a shower and a pub meal was high motivation to not linger at camp this morning. I was packed up and walking by 7.45am.

Packed up and ready to go

Today’s walk was the best day of the river section with stunning views of the river gorge. The path was a lot rockier today and required a bit more care with foot placement.

I stepped across the border into South Australia just after 10am. It felt slightly illicit with the SA COVID border restrictions not allowing Victorians to enter . This is pretty remote though so they must turn a blind eye as there were no signs or anything to say it was not allowed to continue on the trail.

Shh, nothing to see here

I did not come across any snakes today, third day in a row, but did spot this Blue Tongue lizard off to the side of the trail.

Hello Bluey!

The last few kms into Nelson along the river eased me back into civilisation with houses and boat moorings replacing the bush. I arrived in Nelson around 1pm.

After checking into my room at the Nelson Hotel a shower was the first item on the agenda. All the dust, grime and sweaty stench were washed away and it felt very good. A few days in the bush always renews my appreciation for a hot shower.

Nelson Hotel accommodation

With no wifi at the hotel and no reception on my mobile I discovered the tourist information office had free wifi. It was just over the road and a little uphill from the hotel. So I camped myself on a bench outside and got myself caught up. A long chat with a Helen followed by a call to Mum to let her know I did not get foul weather last night that Melbourne did and that I was ok. I checked the weather forecast and it seems tonight and tomorrow are going to be very wet and windy. A warning for severe and damaging winds was issued for the area. Fortunately I had a rest day planned tomorrow so would be able to sit it out in comfort.

Next on the list was laundry. The pub kindly let me use their washing machine to clean my filthy hiking clothes. With my jobs done I could relax a bit before dinner.

Ryan and Erin’s family had gathered at the pub for dinner and invited me to join them. They were all a very friendly chatty bunch so I had a good time in their company. I had a large beef schnitzel with gravy, chips and salad washed down with a couple of schooners of Coopers Ale.

Ryan and Erin are determined to push on tomorrow in the rain and strong wind. Hopefully they will be ok.

Feeling very sated I made my way to bed and slept very well as the weather started to get quite angry.

Great South West Walk Day 5, Battersbys to Pattersons, November 2021

An early morning rain shower made it a struggle to get out of my warm cozy hammock this morning. Eventually I got up around 6.30am and set about morning pre-walk tasks. Usually I leave the hammock and tarp till last but today while the rain had subsided I got started on them after changing from camp/sleep clothes into dirty hiking clothes.

It was quite a short 12-13km walk to Pattersons camp today as the the pleasant river views continued.

The walking was quite easy on a mixture of walking tracks and vehicle tracks.

Paul, Judy and I arrived within a short time of each other around midday. After setting up, it was quite a leisurely and peaceful afternoon relaxing at camp for the afternoon.

View of the river from the camp shelter – the serenity!

There was a canoe camp nearby with some basic huts that could be used for shelter if the weather got really bad. And some amazing eucalypts with horizontal trunks along the ground.

A new hiker arrived just after 4pm. He had walked from Moleside, about 30km. He started from Portland on Tuesday so has caught up a day on me and two days on the others. After chatting with him briefly he went to set up his tent. The campsite had a lot of room to pitch a tent – there was only four of us there but for some reason he pitched his tent right next to my tarp. So close that when he was pushing in one of his pegs he actually tripped on one of my tie-outs! Dude, why so close?! After he finished setting up he asked me while gesturing at the tarp “Is someone sleeping there?” When I said yes he asked “Oh what is it? I’ve never seen one before.” When I told him it was a tarp with a hammock underneath he was quite surprised. He thought maybe someone was hanging clothes underneath. We had a laugh and he moved his tent.

A bit close!

A kangaroo came to check out the hammock and tarp as well…

Apparently it was quite windy and stormy in Melbourne. Mum was worried about the weather and had rung Helen at work and told her I needed to come home! It was a little bit blowy in the afternoon but ended up being quite a pleasant night. Glad I stayed!

Great South West Walk Day 4, Moleside to Battersbys, November 2021

Today I made a concerted effort to get up earlier and not be so “late” out of camp. I wanted to see if I could get most of the walk done in the morning when it is cooler and maybe avoid snake encounters. I made it out of camp at 7.45am, not too bad!

The river walk was more varied and interesting to me compared to the forest walk. There were lots of views of the Glenelg River along the track.

At one point a Kookaburra flew onto a low branch of a tree just ahead of me. I thought it would fly away as I approached but it just stayed there, keeping an eye on me but not too fussed about how close I was. I said hello, took his picture and moved on.

After around 18kms I walked into Battersbys Camp a little after 1pm. And no snakes seen today! The weather was quite mild with a few sunny patches and plenty of snakey grass. But getting the walk done mostly in the morning worked.

Ryan was keen to push on for Pattersons campsite a further 12 kms. He wanted to get to Nelson tomorrow and enjoy two nights there with a full rest day on Saturday before taking on the coast section. So he and Erin kept going while Paul and Judy and I stayed to enjoy a pleasant afternoon at Battersbys.

I found a pretty good hang site with two gum trees not too big and looked reasonably healthy although they had a bit of a lean towards each other. As with all the sites so far not perfect but doable. Up went the hammock and tarp and then I had quite a few hours to relax before dinner and bed.


I sat in the shelter and wrote some notes about the last few days. At some point I felt something strange in my pants. I lifted my shirt and looked at my belly just about level with my appendix scar and saw blood oozing out of a puncture mark. Leech! I stood up to get my first aid kit to clean it and put on a Band-Aid. As I walked to my pack the leech fell down the inside of my left trouser leg and fell out on to the ground, looking very fat. I tried to clean the blood and put a Band-Aid reinforced with some elastic tape. That did not last long as the blood kept coming. I got some toilet paper and put that over the top to absorb the blood and some more elastic tape to hold it there. That seemed to do the trick. When I pulled it off next morning it was soaked in blood. Yuck!


With that drama out of the way it was time to sort dinner. Judy got a fire going but we did not have much suitable wood to burn. After a couple of hours it petered out and it was off to bed. I got very hot in my quilt and woke up sweating around 2am. I went to the toilet which cooled me down a bit and managed to get back to sleep ok. Overall I am sleeping quite well. No back pain which was my main complaint with the tent.

Great South West Walk Day 3, Fitzroy to Moleside, November 2021

I was last one out of camp again, leaving just before 9am. The last of the others had left by 8 so I was quite a long way behind. Todays section is 22km according my Lower Glenelg and Discovery Bay map.

The forest scenery changed a bit more today as we neared the river, a bit more sandy. Lots of snakey grass too so I was on constant alert. I was so far behind the others I did not bump into anyone today.

Only one snake today but it was a difficult one. I had just stopped for a break not long before and started the section from Inkpot Road. About 10 mins in at 12.45pm I came across a brown coloured snake. I assume a Brown snake but I didn’t want to get too close. It was lengthways along the track facing towards me with its head up. I backed off to give it some space but it wasn’t really going anywhere. It seemed to be keeping an eye on me!

I made some noise and stamped my feet but got no reaction. I threw a lump of wood into the bushes near the snake but that got no response. So I rolled a piece of wood down the track stopping a few metres short and wide of the snake. That got a reaction and it came slithering down the track towards it, and me! I backed off a few steps while the snake checked out the piece of wood and very slowly went back to where it came from. I waited about 10 minutes but the snake did not get off the middle of the track. It seemed to be telling me “You shall not pass!” Could I go around through the bush? It was pretty thick reedy stuff and I had no appetite for him to follow me there or come across any of his mates. I looked at the map and decided strategic retreat was the best option. I could go back to Inkpot Road and take the road for a couple of kms before rejoining the track at the Inkpot, a dark coloured dam.

Inkpot Dam

Fortunately no further snake encounters and I arrived at Moleside camp about 2.30. The start of the river section!

Happy Hiker!

The other walkers had arrived and set up their tents. I found not a lot of options to hang the hammock. I ended up choosing a spot near the shelter with two gums quite a distance apart. I had to get the tree straps up as high as I could reach. I even had to tie some proper knots with the tarp as the line was not long enough to reach all the way around the tree and back to the tarp. Thanks to Andrew Skurka for his tutorial on knots!

Erin and Ryan’s mum and step-father had arrived to spend the afternoon. We were all asked to join them and were offered proper food! I had my packed dinner of noodles with freeze dried veg and salami bullets first, as I wanted to lose the weight from my pack, but then had a snag in bread with sauce. And some choc “Favourites” for dessert. We sat around the camp fire chatting for a while until the parents left. Then gradually we all retired to our beds for the night. It was very noisy with wildlife tonight, including one loud snorer amongst the walkers. I listened to a podcast but didn’t get sleepy. Eventually I turned it off, put in earplugs and sleep finally came to me.

Tomorrow is the start of the river section. I’m looking forward to it as, having walked it a few years ago, I know the terrain and scenery is a bit more varied and interesting.

Great South West Walk Day 2, Cut-Out Camp to Fitzroy Camp, November 2021

I was last out out of camp this morning. Nigel was out first, followed by Judy and then Erin and Ryan. I made it out just before 9am. I blame the coffee. I decided to bring some on this trip as a bit of a morning treat. I don’t usually bother with coffee on bushwalking trips.

I came across a black snake curled up beside the track around mid-morning. I saw it late just as I was alongside it and kept going. It didn’t stir. That was it for the day too. Although I did not know that at the time, so I was on the lookout constantly for them, especially after yesterdays three sightings.

There were a few rain showers today; one before arriving at Cobboboonee camp gave me a good soaking. I had a break there and my first leech encounter. Sliding up my shoe I managed to flick it off before it got to my leg. Erin and Ryan were there when I arrived and soon set off. I came across them not long after where Ryan was also having a leech encounter.

Cobboboonee Camp, not staying just a rest stop for today

There was quite a bit of water on the track. Sometimes duckboard went over it and sometimes I just had to slush through or sidestep around it.

Lots of water on the track today

There was quite a bit of tree-fall across the track too.

I had another solid rain shower before arriving at Fitzroy camp around 3.30. I managed to find a couple of ok trees and set up the hammock.

The same group was at camp tonight with the addition of Paul, who is on his first multi-day walk. He had good gear so he has obviously done some research and set himself up nicely for it.

As it was wet most of the evening we did not have a fire and when the sun went down just after 8 all had trundled off to bed. The rain had set in so we all wondered how good our tents and tarp would be in keeping us dry. For my part I was dry and quite warm too. I had put the underquilt protector on, maybe that helped with the warmth. One the first night I had a couple of cold spots early in the morning but none this night.

Forgot to take a picture of Fitzroy camp set-up so here’s one after pack-up next morning

Tomorrow is the last day of the forest section and camp will be at Moleside where the river section of the walk begins.

Great South West Walk Day 1, Portland to Cut Out Camp, November 2021

My intention for today was to avoid arriving at camp by lunchtime, so I tried to force myself not to get up and start too early. I repacked my pack and of course it feels too heavy. What can I take out and leave behind to lighten my load? Do I have too much food? Maybe, but I don’t want to be short and feel hungry. I am taking coffee and tea which I normally wouldn’t but a morning coffee will help me to not start too early and enjoy morning camp a bit. I want to try to pace myself and go a bit easy early on to avoid injury. Hopefully giving me a better chance of actually finishing the walk. Let’s see how we go. What else could I leave behind? I decide nothing, it’s all needed, I think. I decided to take the tripod stand for my phone/camera. Let’s see if I regret that choice.

Ok it’s 8am, time to stop faffing and get into town for breakfast before checking in at the tourist information office. Then it’s off and walking!

Ready to go!

Today’s walk starts with an easy coastal section through Portland along a nicely mown path. I stopped and chatted with Helen Oakley a local of Portland who has a walking group called Trailblazers of Portland. Apparently a certain basketball team would not allow her to use the name Portland Trailblazers, funny that. She also let me know she was in the news a bit a few years ago when a property owner bulldozed a bunch of trees that were known to be the homes of a koalas and she posted a video of herself crying in despair about it.

Easy coastal section

I turned inland opposite the Henty Caravan Park and it feels like the walk is now starting properly. I stop to chat to a young couple coming the other way. They are finishing the full circuit today, their 10th day on trail. They suggest to me that the scenery gets progressively better in the direction I am headed, which implies that it got worse for them.

On a short road section approaching Bolwarra I come across two koalas making a lot of noise. One of them scoots up a tree and they both peer down at me as I make my way past them.

Keep walking human!

Gordon picks me up at our agreed meeting place and after a 20 min detour drops me off at an entry point to the Cobboboonee Forest Park. It is only a few kms walk to Cubby’s Camp and I arrive at 1.30pm. I have a snack for lunch but am not overly hungry.

It’s a fairly small campsite and there aren’t many suitable trees to hang the hammock. Despite my intention to not push it early, I decide to push on anyway. I’ve walked about 13kms so far and it’s 15kms to the next camp. It should take me around 4 hours. I am hoping the next site has better places to set up the hammock. It only 1.30 and I don’t fancy hanging around here for another 8 hours or so before bed. So much for my plan to take it easy today.

Cubby’s Camp

Not long after leaving Cubby’s I see my first snake. In the grass beside the track, light brown with hoops, maybe a Tiger snake? It was barely a foot or two away, I shouted in surprise and did a big high-stepping type jig. The snake stirred. I managed to take a couple of steps forward and quickly looked back. The snake had disappeared. It must have hightailed it out of there, apparently unimpressed with my antics. I would have liked to get a photo but I didn’t really want to go back too far to check. Best to just move on.

Not long after, maybe 15 minutes, I came across another snake. A Red-Bellied Black snake. This one I saw fairly easily, a few metres away and about to slither off the path into the bush. I didn’t hang around and just kept walking.

My third snake sighting was maybe 30 minutes later. As I rounded a corner of a fairly wide track I could see it at the corner of my eye. It paid me no attention and I was composed enough to pull out my phone to take a picture. There were a lot of twigs, sticks, bark and leaves on the ground to help disguise the snakes. But the curved shapes they make helped in spotting them. Three snakes within an hour and my heart was pumping! Hopefully that was the worst of it and not a sign of what’s to come.

Red-Bellied Black Snake or Copperhead?

Thankfully there were no more sightings for the rest of the walk to Cut-Out Camp. When I arrived around 5.30pm there were four other walkers already there plus a few family and friends of two of the walkers. I was happy there would be some company at the camp tonight.

The other walkers included Ryan and Erin, a brother and sister. Erin was fairly new to multi-day walks and this was Ryan’s first. Nothing like a 12 day walk to start with. I guessed they were maybe in their early 30s but found out later they are twins and about to hit 40. They have organised family and friends to visit them every couple of days for support and food! They are walking the full circuit.

Judy is an experienced walker and is doing the full circuit as well. Nigel is the other walker. He pretty much stayed in his tent so I didn’t get to talk to him. He has a Hilleberg tent, which gives him instant cred; it looks palatial!

I managed to find two suitable trees after scouting the campsite. Most of the trees are large gums which I’d prefer to avoid but that’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of ant holes around but being off the ground should be ok.

Cut-Out Camp and my bed for the night

I stood around the camp fire chatting with the others until around 9pm and then slept very well in the hammock. Survived day 1!

Great South West Walk, Day 0, November 2021

I’ve had an eye on the roughly 250km Great South West Walk (GSWW) for a long time. With Melbourne’s second several months long lockdown ended and time on my hands I decided the weekend after Cup Weekend would be a good time for me to do it.

I set off on a long Sunday drive to Portland via Nelson in south west Victoria, close to the South Australian border. I dropped off a box with food at the Nelson Hotel for me to resupply half way through the walk. I will be staying at the hotel for a rest day next Sunday if all goes to plan.

I arrived in Portland around 4pm. After settling into my motel room I went for a little wander around town, scouting some options for dinner.

Unremarkable motel room, like many others, with hints of pack explosion

While out I received a phone call from GSWW track coordinator Gordon who told me there is a section in tomorrow’s walk that is flooded and he will drive me around it. So we arranged for me to call him when I arrived at Bolwarra where he will pick me up and then drop me off a few kms from the end of the day’s section at Cubby’s Camp.

Dinner tonight was at the Royal Hotel. I had a huge chicken parma. Feeling very full I strolled back to my motel room and settled in for the night. Netflix! A bit of a novelty as we don’t have it at home and it took me a while to pick something to watch. I started with a movie but couldn’t get into it so opted to watch a Bill Burr comedy special “Paper Tiger” followed by a Russell Peters special “Almost Famous”. Then it was off to sleep for whatever tomorrow brings. Let the walking begin!

Wilsons Prom Northern Circuit Day 4, April 2021

Lower Barry Creek Camp to Five Mile Road Car Park

Today’s walk was the shortest of the trip. Around 10km would see us back at the car and hopefully tucking into some nice hot food for lunch at a town on the drive back to Melbourne. We packed up camp and set off at 8am.

It wasn’t all beer and skittles though with some thick scrub to be pushed through at times.

We stopped for a break and some views on a big rock outcrop before a final, easy push to Five Mile Road.

Once we were back on the road we played spot the wallaby for a bit and before long we were back at the car.

Nothing much to report about the trip home other than to note that the only places that seemed to be open in Leongatha were Maccas and KFC (and they were teeming with people) while Korumburra had a few cafes open including Kelly’s Bakery who also do post-hike staples such as burgers, steak sandwiches and chicken schnitzel rolls.

I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and would do it again someday. While most that do it seem to agree it is a challenging walk, views are mixed whether it is walk worth repeating. We had good weather and the water sources were in good shape so that helped. I am glad I did not do it solo as it was good to have three sets of eyes in the swamp to keep looking out for the ever elusive track. The challenge, variety of walking terrain and some good views along the way all made it worthwhile for me.

Wilsons Prom Northern Circuit Day 3, April 2021

Tin Mine Cove to Lower Barry Creek

With the end of Daylight Saving giving us an “extra” hour, we set off on the most anticipated day of the circuit just after 8am. First up we needed to make our way back to Chinaman Long Beach, just under 2km to get there and then around 3km of beach walking at fairly low tide.

Beach walking can be a bit boring, or meditative might be a nicer way to put it, but this wasn’t too bad with little crabs keeping us entertained as they scattered away or burrowed into the sand as we approached. Low tide is the way to go as the sand is firmer to walk on and there is more to see with odd pieces of sea life to investigate. Around 10am we reached the turn-off inland to take us through the swamp to Lower Barry Creek Camp.

The photos that follow don’t do a good job of capturing the challenges of the swamp. Though the watery part of the swamp actually wasn’t much of a challenge. Once you accept that your legs and shoes are going to get soaked in scummy water, it’s one of the easier parts – at least is was for us as the water did not reach much above our knees and it was clear where we needed to go. The mud underfoot wasn’t too bad, no sinking into some deep muddy hole and losing a shoe. No doubt winter and early spring would be a different story. But I am getting ahead of myself as it took us around 3 hours from the beach to reach the Chinaman’s Creek part of the swamp. To that point is was quite dry and the main challenges were staying on track and pushing through thick and scratchy scrub.

There is a track in there, somewhere

The vegetation was often above head height and there were few to no clear landmarks to aim for. The pieces of faded pink flagging tape marking the track were often difficult to spot or spaced quite far apart; sometimes we had to send a scouting party ahead to find the next piece. On one occasion it took us around 30 minutes to rediscover the track. I’m glad we took the time though and didn’t try to bush bash our way through at that point because the next little section was through some incredibly thick, tall scrub that looked impenetrable. It was hard enough burrowing through, along the track.

PCO M Huang

Eventually we made it to the watery, swampy part.

Not too bad to walk through but I wouldn’t want to drink from it.

PCO M Huang

The next couple of hours of walking to Lower Barry Creek Camp had a lot more trees than we had been used to so far. And a lot of if was Banksia forest.

It was nice to reach the camp site after a long and challenging walk. The clear flowing water of the creek was welcome after the ordinary water of Tin Mine Cove and the only-drink-it-if-in-dire-need water of Chinaman Swamp. We only had the couple walking ahead of us to share the camp site with tonight. They were on the other side of the creek and we had plenty of room to set up on our side.

There were a lot more trees around this camp which meant I was able to hang the hammock and enjoy another good sleep. All 3 nights of this trip were able to be spent off the ground and the back-up sleep pad and bivy were not required.

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