Written by Lorelei and Lucie
The 2019 Adventure Gang challenge is to hike the whole Great Dividing Trail. Nolan Creek to O’Briens Crossing (21km) was the first part that we completed.
Jacob and Lorelei planned to be in Melbourne for Louise and Jim’s wedding mid-March and decided they wanted in. Who cares if there would be no water left in Australia and Lorelei would be 22 weeks pregnant? It was their best chance.
Amazingly the Gang hadn’t started the challenge yet, so this would be the first instalment, even if it was a section in the middle of it. It was close to the wedding location, not on fire and sounded fairly tame. Caroline organized everything, which was a true delight to Lorelei and Jake. Plus on-board we also had Vanessa, Lucie, and Mark. It was a solid crew of 6.
Jim and Louise’s wedding was truly excellent: super relaxed, beautiful and fun. It probably deserves its own post.
Despite Mark keeping the bride and groom up until 7am and only sleeping 2 hours, we helped tidy up and set off. Jens, Jon and Caro’s parents were our outstanding trail angel’s, helping with car shuffles, and Jon and Jens took the train back to Melbourne. Legends.
Nolan Creek to Blackwood (10km)
We got to the start of the track just before 2pm and pregnant Schmitt demanded we have lunch before setting off. All were keen, but Vanessa was disappointed to find the halloumi and veggies she carefully pre-prepared before the wedding had not faired well being left in the car for the whole wedding weekend in high heat. We pleaded she not eat the mould covered food and offered her some of the super excessive quantity of food the Schmcelwees had brought. She claimed she wasn’t hungry but was clearly bummed. After all finished we set off on our little 10km hike.
The crew was keen and Lorelei struggled to keep pace with fast moving ladies. Meanwhile tired, hungover, Mark slogged along with Jake, only energized to more by sports chat. The bush was nice and trail relatively flat and easy to follow. There was no water in the creek we followed for some time, freaking out Lorelei and Jake.
Time and kilometers kicked on and as we approached where would be finishing for the night we debated whether to go check into our caravan for the night first or go straight to the pub for dinner first. Advocacy for the latter won out, noting that we had been burned at other rural pubs on previous hikes where we found the kitchen to close surprisingly early.
It turns out we just about got burnt again. As Lorelei and took some weird photos of Caroline, Gregory and Jacob by a weird statue, Lucie and Vanessa went to find out what food was on offer. Despite it only being 6:45pm and with an odd St Patrick’s Day karaoke celebration happening out the front, the pub had decided to close the kitchen already! There were no other shops or restaurants around and none of us had brought dinner as we were banking on this pub meal.
When hungry pregnant Lorelei returned to hear this, she said she ‘would take care of it” and marched inside. Flashbacks of her getting a closed to kitchen to open and make about 25 hungry hikers burgers while it snowed outside were reminisced by Jacob and fuelled Schmittsky’s determination. At first she failed in trying to negotiate with a surly barman. She pulled out the baby bump card and everything. Returning to the Adventure Gang with her tail between her legs, Caroline said she had told them we were coming but when Lorelei had relayed this info, the barman accused her of fabrication, saying their phone had been out for a number of days. However, Caroline had not phoned (because the phone wasn’t working) and had instead communicated with the pub via Facebook Messenger.
Lorelei went back inside for round two, and as she was talking the owner overheard, remembered Caroline’s message and promised to get us food! Burgers all ’round? Lorelei put on her most apologetic voice and explained that some of the Gang were vegetarian. Was there any possibly of something veg? No problem! Pasta for the veggies, burgers for the omnivores!
Lorelei returned triumphant and received much praised. We moved inside and sat out on the deck, where we were treated to a display of the owner feeding kookaburras with raw meat.
While we waited for food another table was getting served dinner so we didn’t feel too bad for the kitchen crew.
After dinner we trotted off to the caravan site where Lucie and Mark pitched a tent and the others got comfy in a little caravan for the night.
Blackwood to O’Briens Crossing (11km)
We started the next day earlier and feeling fresher.
We got out of Blackwood and started along the Lerderderg Track, next to the Lerderderg River. The path then follows along Byers Back Track. It was another attractive set of trails following the water (or lack thereof). The path was often narrow, with steep drop-offs, lots of trees and insects to admire. It was good to have a fair amount of shade because the weather was pretty warm.
We crossed a number of different creeks (usually dry), looked at rocks, walked some more etc. Shortly before lunch we took a detour down a steep cliff to visit some ruins and the remains of a big tunnel. The tunnel was dug during the gold rush, although the wasn’t much water following at the end of summer.
We reached O’Briens crossing for late lunch and enjoyed hanging out by the water before heading to Melbourne.