Visiting : Mt Tanglefoot, Mt St Leonard
Distance : 22km
When : Saturday 24th June 2017, 6:00am @ Monda Road

I’ve often wondered what was at the top of Mt Tanglefoot in Toolangi State Forest. When I had a close look at the satellite imagery and saw that there was a mysterious clearing up there, I decided to go check it out. A lot of my planned route was on unnamed tracks that I wasn’t sure even existed any more, so I planned for a prohibitive amount of hike-a-bike and left my bike at home.

This one was all hike, no bike.

Mt Tanglefoot is just north of Mt St Leonard in Toolangi State Forest. The two hills are more or less the same height and are connected by a 10km north-south saddle. The twin humps of Tanglefoot and St Leonard are a distinct landmark that you can see clearly from various vantage points when looking east from Melbourne.

I’d been to the top of Mt St Leonard a number of times but the closest I’d been to the top of Tanglefoot was when riding past it on Sylvia Creek Road – the highest point on Sylvia Creek Road is actually only a kilometre or two from the summit of Tanglefoot, albeit an untracked kilometre choked with impenetrable scrub. I was psyched to finally see what was up there.

I parked at the start of Monda Road, just off Myers Creek Road. It was pre-dawn, pitch black and I didn’t bring a light so the first section of the hike was all by foot-feel.

Morning broke somewhere on Monda Road and it was daylight when I found my unnamed track off to the summit of Tanglefoot.

So many bird noises in the misty morning. Toolangi was waking up.

The unnamed track was clearly a logging access road. It was drivable and passed by a number of logging coupes in various stages of regrowth. Plenty of deer sign around though I never saw one.

So far, there was significantly less hike-a-bike than I’d anticipated.

Animal trails leading off into the regrowth.

Could have used some wheels.

Can’t go far in Toolangi without seeing one of these.

Don’t know if this was loggers, hunters or 4WDers. Pretty typical for the area though.

Rideable *sigh*

It was all logging until I finally approached the summit.

That blue tape around the tree on the right marks the boundary of the logging coupe.

Looking back on the logged area as I hiked up into the untouched tall trees.

The lyrebirds were really loud now.

And still the road was rideable. Dang it, I could have driven my Corolla up here!

Ok, that’s not true, it was way too steep and slippery for that, but it was certainly drivable for a 4WD.

In fact it was drivable all the way to the top. It’s a steep little pinch to get to the summit and when I finally reached the top of Mt Tanglefoot, after years of wondering and so much anticipation, I found the mystery clearing which contained…

This.

Hm.

Slightly underwhelming but then, I really don’t know what I expected to find.

I celebrated my great discovery by cooking a hot lunch on an alcohol stove I made from a can of cat food because, why not.

I had a good look around the clearing and inspected all the communications gear. Nothing too interesting. But then I spied something that did interest me. A-ha!

It’s a Land Yabby claw! (i think. correct me if i’m wrong)

Sneaky little nippers. I’ve seen their holes plenty of times but never laid eyes on an actual specimen. I hope I see a live one one day.

After enjoying my lunch I scoped out the edge of the clearing for any signs of a track heading down to Sylvia Creek Road. I knew the road wasn’t far away but I couldn’t find anything that looked walkable. There was thick scrub and lots of logs in varying states of decay (read: rotting, slippery) all fallen over like a game of pick-up-sticks. There were animal trails in there but I couldn’t follow them very far before getting into sketchy situations. It was slippery and I was clambering over logs and sinking down into the deep mulchy overgrown ground cover. I didn’t like that I couldn’t see where my feet were going and I felt like I’d be heading for twisted ankles if I continued.

Shame.

So, I gave up on bush-bashing directly down to Sylvia Creek Road and started hiking back down the way I came.

The impenetrable scrub gave way to tall ferns and lyrebird scratched ground. I could hear lyrebirds not far off the track so I started creeping into the ferns to see them.

Turns out it was pretty easy terrain so I kept going a bit further.

The cheeky birds seemed to be teasing me from just out of sight. Just a little bit further…

At some point I realised I’d stopped looking back and trying to remember the way I’d came. I knew if I went straight down the hill I’d intercept the Tanglefoot Loop walking track which I could use to get back to Monda Road. And so I committed to heading directly down the mountain, through the most lyrebird-y area I’ve ever seen.

I kept coming across little raised mounds of dirt. Initially, I thought they were deer beds or something but googling after the fact revealed that they were lyrebird display mounds.

I gently made my way past the mounds and down the steep hillside.

Too soon, I found the Tanglefoot Loop. It’s a gem of a track but I was still stoked on the lyrebird mountain. So good.

A quick walk out on Tanglefoot Loop and I was back at Monda Road just near the unnamed logging road I’d left it on.

It was an easy decision to take the short detour up to the Mt St Leonard summit. I liked the symmetry of visiting both summits on the same walk.

Now that’s a communication tower.

Fire refuge bunker I’m guessing. Scary place to be if you had to use it.

Cloudy up there unfortunately.

Fast walking on the way down. Monda Road is good value however you travel it.

And that was that. I got back to the car and started driving home. Couldn’t resist a couple of parting shots out the window on the way home though. Here’s Tanglefoot :

And the classic shot of Mt St Leonard standing proud in the middle, the little hump of Mt Tanglefoot on the left and the less distinct rise of Mt Monda on the right.

Perfect.

This day did not meet expectations but it was a treat nonetheless. Not least because now, every time I drive back home along Diamond Creek Road, just at the top of the Windy Mile, I can see my two little mountains off in the distance – Tanglefoot, St Leonard and the 10km between them – and I remember that time I walked from there to there and back again.

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