Written by Mark.
Over the 9th and 10th of November, 2019, the team completed the Wallaby Track section of the Great Dividing Trail (note that the Wallaby and Eureka tracks used to both be called the Wallaby Track).
The hiking crew arrived bright-eyed and ready to hike from Creswick railway station after driving up from Melbourne that morning. We kicked straight into it and were soon out of town and onto the trail, which also doubles up as the Creswick Heritage Trail.
It was a meandering and interesting track up into the hills of the state forest north-east of Creswick. The greenery started when we entered the University of Melbourne Creswick campus (through some beautiful old gates).
The forests and views in the hills were lovely, and our favourite spot was a solitary tree at the high point with a memorial. The track then slowly wound down through the forests to reach a small pond and join the John la Gerche trail (with a wooden statue of the man in good shape). The trail continued past old mine shafts before eventually reaching the beautiful St George’s Lake. We reminisced about being at the other side of the lake when completing the other part of the trail a few months before.
We then continued south on the trail along nice, varied paths past rivers, dams and historic sites (such as the birthplace of WG Spence). After 16-17km the trail emerged from the forest and became a lane in open countryside. There was a lot of farmland and distant views. Unfortunately, we were well overdue for a lunch break, but the weather had turned sour and no lunch spots sheltered from the rain and strong winds presented themselves until we reached the small township of Dean. A small disused bus stop had never looked so enticing and we were soon making wraps and sandwiches.
The weather then calmed down and we went on our way, heading for our camping site for the night – Mollonghip Community Hall. We had smashed through the kilometres in the morning and had a short 7km left along country roads to reach our destination. The winds were still strong and without any sun we were all feeling cold and exposed. We marched on and reached the hall much earlier than expected. Even better was that they had left the side door open for us (because they knew we were coming) and had got the fire going. What a dreamy welcome.
A little while later, Jens and Caroline arrived at Mollonghip Community Hall. They had kindly collected the car we’d left at Creswick and brought it (with all of our camping gear) to Molloghip.
Mollonghip Community Hall
When looking for places to camp along the trail, Mark read about the Mollonghip Community Hall and learned that there were facilities and camping spots available for a reasonable price. He reached out via email to see if we could spend a night there.
Their response was unexpected. They weren’t taking bookings for that night because they had a big event planned for that evening. With the Gang usually open to large community gatherings, Mark asked about the nature of the event, and whether it would still be possible to camp, even if we couldn’t use the facilities.
It transpired that evening was the annual Mollonghip Poetry Slam – the highlight of the Mollonghip social calendar! A camping + poetry slam fee was quickly negotiated (following Gang approval).
Hence, the Gang warmed up around the fire, drank tea and prepared dinner while anticipating the entertaining evening to come.
After the front doors opened, people started to trickle in. Each person was welcomed at the front desk and either paid their spectator fee or registered as a performer. Everyone also brought a plate of delicious food for the supper, which would take place at the culmination of the evening’s performances. The crowd continued to grow until the place was pumping! After a few wines, the poetry began.
People attended from all over the local area and several drove up from the big smoke. There were even two international visitors from Uruguay!
The standard of poetry was excellent and we had an absolute blast. We even received a special mention and a bottle of wine. For those that made it to the end of the evening, the supper was also a treat and well deserved after a long day’s walk. We’re looking forward to going back next time!
We took our breakfast in the hall and after packing our gear and sweeping out the hall, all six intrepid Gang members set off on the morning’s walk. We walked along the road, through Mollonghip, and went to check out a grove of Californian redwoods at the edge of the hamlet.
We continued back into Wombat State Forest. After a way, Jens and Caroline turned back to return to Mollonghip. From there they’d leave a car in Daylesford for the rest of the Gang and then head back to Melbourne.
The hikers followed the trail and stopped for lunch (cheese, crackers and cake left over from the supper!) at a small rotund on a dirt road. We then walked along an old railway cutting to reach the place where the Great Dividing Trail had been officially launched on 24 October 1992. After this, the land leveled out and we continued through the forest. It was a chilly but nice day for a walk.
The trail meandered through the forest and culminated at Lake Daylesford. We drank some of the spring water, in case it tasted different from our last journeys through the area (it didn’t), stretched in the warm afternoon sun, and headed back for home.