Visiting : Sylvia Creek Road, Hardy Creek Road, Mt Monda
Distance : 50km
When : Sunday 15th October 2017, 9:00am @ Toolangi
This was a slow-paced explore around some of the hidden places in Toolangi. Nothing too strenuous, no grand plan, just nosin’ around some places that weren’t marked on the maps but were clearly visible in satellite imagery. The kind of tracks that you might have ridden past before and thought, “Huh, wonder where that goes?” Well, this was the day to go and follow some of those tracks and answer that question.
I parked up at Toolangi in the tennis courts carpark and rolled up Sylvia Creek Road for my first explore of the day which was a clearing that was not marked on the maps but clearly visible on satellite view. “Hm, I wonder what’s in there?”
There were official signs saying this was a log loading area. Right, logging infrastructure, makes sense that it’s not on the map.
Unofficially though, it was one of the most heavily-used shooting galleries I’ve ever seen. A lot of noise had been made in this place.
Lots of pretty colours.
Even some shiny ones.
Some of which hadn’t gone bang yet.
There were a lot of shot things lying around, some of which weren’t intended to be shot…
…and some of which were intended to be shot but had somehow been missed.
And it must be some sort of rule that if there’s that many shells on the ground, there’s guaranteed to be at least one shot tree nearby.
If not more than one.
Twelve gauge topiary. Pruning’s more fun when you use your gun!
And a party popper. For some reason, there’s always a party popper.
So, Mystery #1: Solved.
I rolled on up Sylvia Creek Road, right on Hardy Creek Road. More logging…
And onto the next mystery track.
A nice grassy little singletrack. It obviously sees a little traffic.
It became clear that this was an old logging access track and that this area was an old logging coupe. Regrowth choked up the track the higher I climbed and soon my bike was only slowing me down as I had to lift, drag, push and heft it through unforgiving scrub. I dumped it and kept going on foot.
The track looked barely used now (by humans), but it was still discernible. I pushed on up the hill, scrambling through the scrub, thinking it’d be a good idea to remember my way back down to my bike.
By my calculations, I figured I must be quite near that logging area I saw just below the top of Mt Tanglefoot a few months ago. If I kept going straight up, I’d come to that same unnamed track that I’d hiked along previously. The only discernible tracks now were animal-sized. I squeezed through small gaps, ducked through barely-visible holes, followed the paths used by deer, wombats, roos.
If it goes somewhere, there’s always an animal track to follow. And if there’s an animal track to follow, then it always goes somewhere.
On this day though, the track may have been clear to wombats but it wasn’t clear to bigger animals like me. The scrub resisted my advances and there were more and more log piles to negotiate. I’ve seen this a lot on the edge of logged areas – piles of logs just pushed out of the way and left to get overgrown and snakey and ankle-breaky. I felt like I was close to that Tanglefoot logging track but it started feeling not worth it to continue. So be it. I stuck my head above the scrub and took a couple photos.
And so I followed gravity back down through the animal tracks, eventually picking up the old logging access road and finally finding my bike. I shoved it down the hill and eventually got to a point where I could ride it again and finally popped back out onto Hardy Creek Road.
Mystery #2: Solved.
I was sensing a theme here: It’s all logging stuff. Toolangi’s full of it. Temporary roads, tracks and clearings put in to access logging coupes and then given back to the bush to be grown over and regenerated. Hours of fun if you like walking bent over double while being scratched on all sides of your body simultaneously while pushing through a seemingly endless tunnel of spiderwebs with your face. Just don’t revert too much to your animal nature, the shooters around here have been practicing a lot based on what we just saw at Mystery Spot #1!
Side note: I was very aware that I was in thick scrub by myself, grunting through the bush far away from any tracks where you’d expect to see bushwalkers, not wearing any safety orange for visibility and occasionally coming across deer beds in what I know is an area full of deer. It did occur to me that getting accidentally shot in that position would be an embarrassing way to get on the news.
Anyway, back on the Hardy Creek Road, I tapped it out and came upon Mystery Spot #3. Another old logging track no doubt.
Yep, a freshly harvested coupe, yet to be choked up with scrub. Temporary road winding through an open wasteland. Views over to Mt Tanglefoot and Mt Monda. Hard to get excited about this secret spot though – just a big open sore that’s only starting to form scar tissue. There were tiny green shoots pushing up through the dirt. Crows sailing around on the wind.
This will be an impenetrable thicket in a couple of years too.
Mystery #3: Solved. Kinda depressing really.
I rolled back out to the main track and headed towards Monda Road.
I heard a gunshot.
Too rhythmic to be shooting at something that can move. Must be another pump-action arborist wielding the long-barrelled pruner nearby.
I rolled on up the road, chowing on an apple and listening to the regular reports of the explosive tree-lopper.
As I approached the top of Monda, I saw a guy on a mountain bike sitting at the picnic table just off the road. He was fiddling on his phone. We exchanged glances, gave a nod. I dunno what he was thinking but I was thinking, “Hm, I’m about to ride right up to someone shooting a gun in the bush, completely unannounced. Am I making a good choice here?”
And that thought was instantly followed by, “Screw it! What am I gonna do, turn around and run away because some idiot’s shooting too close to the road?!” So I kept going.
Guy was right near the top of Mt Monda, barely 50 metres off the road, next to his vehicle, happily shooting away. I craned my neck up the hill as I rode past and saw him all set up there, blasting away. What’s the minimum distance away from the road you have to be to shoot? Is there one?
I didn’t hang around.
And so that was the final scene in today’s episode of “Nosin’ Around Toolangi”. Roll credits as I continue up Monda Road and then bomb down the other side to rejoin the bitumen and coast back down to Toolangi township and cut to black as I slam the back door down on my loaded station wagon, wheels spinning in gravel and engine sound revving off into the distance.
Just another day in the bush…