Visiting : Murrindindi Scenic Reserve, Ash Creek Road, Yea Rock
Distance : 48km
When : Thursday 21st December 2017, 9:00am @ Murrindindi Scenic Reserve
This was a short, cruisy exploration mission around Black Range State Forest. Primarily, I wanted to check out Yea Rock but there were also a few interesting clearings on Ash Creek Road that I found on satellite view. What could they be? What was actually there on the ground? Only one way to find out.
My recent hike up to Mt Tanglefoot was clearly on my mind when I planned this ride. I love poring over maps online – flipping between topo and satellite view, zooming in, zooming out, connecting roads I’ve ridden with roads I haven’t. It was this sort of pre-ride map study that led me to find what was at the top of Mt Tanglefoot. So, I thought, what else can I find in the area?
Yea Rock jumped out pretty early in my online search so that became my main goal. I wanted to have a pretty cruisy day on the bike and focus more on exploring and poking around (possibly on foot) so I decided to start my ride nearby at Murrindindi Scenic Reserve. Then it was just a matter of connecting the dots and seeing what interesting things I could find between those two points. Satellite view showed a few potentially interesting clearings on Ash Creek Road so that became the route.
Bam! Let’s go see what’s out there.
Murrindindi Scenic Reserve is a top spot to start a ride. Plenty of parking, a toilet, quick and easy drive to get there. There’s no fresh water to fill your bidons so best come prepared. In fact, I didn’t anticipate any place to refill my bidons on the route I’d planned – Yea Rock is up on Black Range which is the highest point around and dry dry dry.
Murrindindi Road was a nice gentle grade to start the day. Just watch for traffic – you get everything from boomers going for a Sunday drive in their 2WDs to young mullet-heads getting loose in their fourbies and roostin’ their trail bikes. You can hear them coming a mile away so it’s usually no big deal.
I crossed the bridge at Bull Creek Road and soon I was mashing up the steeper climb of Ash Creek Road.
No traffic now. Just me and the bush. A hill to climb and something to see up the top. Perfect.
First stop was a tiny clearing I spied on satellite view.
Turns out there was nothing much there. It looked like there may have been a logging track taking off up the hill at one point, probably when this was a logging coupe however many years ago? You can clearly see from satellite view that this area’s been logged – there’s a big area that looks flat and smooth with all the trees the same size compared to the more lumpy areas that haven’t been logged.
But now there was just a dry old clearing with some old rubbish. Camping rubbish from way back. Pretty uninspiring spot.
I continued up the climb of Ash Creek Road. Mashing, resting, slow progress but fast enough.
At one point there was a rocky patch on the road and I noticed, what’s that?
Wow. Cryptic signs painted on the rock? Interesting. I have no idea what they mean. Do you?
This was near the start of a bigger clearing snugged away off the road. It looked promising.
But it was mostly just logging junk. Heaps of abandoned logs. Piles of bark and splinters.
I guess this was the loading area where they brought all the felled trees, cleaned them up and loaded them onto trucks to take to the mill? All just old logging coupe junk in the middle of an old logging coupe.
I poked around on foot for a while before losing interest and heading back to my bike. Meh, not every clearing that can be seen on satellite view is interesting I guess.
Fortunately, I rode on up the hill and, eyes still wide open, I spotted a spiky friend.
It sat still so I could take some close-up photos. So spiky!
On up the hill, I found another more recently used camping spot. Fresh rubbish, great! Burned, smashed, dirty rubbish. Dickheads.
Not satisfied, I poked around further near the junk camp and Oh, hello there!
A nice long buddy enjoying the sun. I crept a bit closer to get a better shot.
Nice and stripy, this one. I stood and watched it for a while, enjoying the sight of something I rarely see.
Riding on, my goals changed. Instead of seeking hidden clearings, I decided to seek hidden reptiles.
A nice bridge over a creek. Hm, so hot and dry today, so scrubby down there below the bridge.
I slowed down and crept up to the edge of the bridge because I had a feeling that it might be the perfect place to see…
Haha! I can see you down there. This was a fun game.
I rolled on up the hill and finally hit Black Range Road.
Had a look down Yea Rock Road. That’s a great fun descent. It doesn’t actually go to Yea Rock, it goes from Black Range Road all the way back down the hill but, yeah, it goes near enough to Yea Rock that it got the name. Yeah.
This thing would have slowed down any drivers who came across it. Boo hoo. Come to think of it I didn’t see any drivers at all up here.
A short way up Black Range Road I spied my turn-off. The real road to Yea Rock. It’s not signed at all and it’s an unmade track so you could easily ride right past it and be none the wiser. But, if you do follow it up into the bush a short way, you end up at… Yea Rock.
Nice views out towards Yea. I sat a spell and enjoyed the serenity.
Views over to Mt Despair and maybe Mt Klondyke?
And is that Mt Tanglefoot over there?
After taking it all in and resting my legs, I thought I should give my immediate surroundings a once-over. So, I started exploring Yea Rock.
Junk, bits of rubbish. People had camped up here plenty of times, made fires, thrown cans in the fires, crapped in the bushes, the usual stuff.
I was still on the lookout for snakes so I started exploring all the nooks and crannies of the rock. I figured I’d probably made enough noise to scare them all away but Oh, hello there!
A little lizard buddy. About 15cm long and very curious. It kept creeping around in the rocks, disappearing into one crack and reappearing out of another one. I followed it around for a while and maybe fooled myself into thinking we were building a rapport when I noticed that it had led me to something interesting.
Oh, a snake skin! Yes, my little friend, the skin of the serpent that I seek. How did you know, you cheeky little scamp?
I was pretty chuffed with the prize my little friend had led me to. I hung onto it and took it home with me. (I still have it years later.)
The little scamperer seemed to enjoy my company so I crept in for some glamour shots.
What a distinguished little face.
Eventually my friend disappeared into a crack and never returned. Just wandered off, Littlest Hobo style.
“Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down.
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.”
I had another look out over Yea and bid farewell to this beautiful place myself.
“Until tomorrow, the whole world is my home.”
(The Littlest Hobo is awesome by the way, I’m not even joking.)
Back on Black Range Road for a few kays. Hot. Still no traffic.
Soon it was time to get down off the range and back down to the valley. Falls Creek Road was a fast and fun descent. Just watch the corners and let it rip. No photos of this section on account of too much fun being had.
Jacksons Road is steeper, rougher and less fun but it feels nicely exposed and hot. Fast way to drop some elevation too. Yew!
I did have to haul on the brakes and grind to a stop at one point when I saw something up in the sky.
Ah, nice. A pair of eagles.
Soaring and turning silently way up there. They see it all. All the lizards, all the snakes, all the echidnas. All the fourbies, all the trail bikes, all the campers shitting in the bushes.
And all the sanctimonious bike riders.
See ya next time Black Range.