Visiting : Kinglake, Extons, Hazeldene, Jerusalem, Old Kinglake, Everard
Distance : 112km
When : Sunday 3rd April 2016, 8:00am @ Hurstbridge

I wasn’t going to write about this ride but I ended up seeing a couple of things that are worth mentioning. Sometimes you’re just out for a local roll and you get struck by the majesty and absurdity of life… This had a bit of both.

This ride was originally going to be a 200km+ journey into the hills out east but some family stuff happened and some laziness happened and I decided to turn it into a local roll around the Kinglake area.

I started off with the main road climb up to Kinglake – I haven’t taken the main road in a few years so the novelty factor was high. I’d recently de-bearded my NFE so it was feeling light and nimble without its usual rack/boxy bag/dyno light on the front. Good fun climb! Passed a couple people, got passed by some people. Kinda felt like I was in some sort of bike event – I usually never see other riders out climbing the same hill as me unless we’re in the same group.

I had a very rough plan for the day which started with riding Extons Road from south to north. Good plan. I love that road. And it was on Extons Road that I saw the first amazing thing :

The previous picture was taken looking east from Extons Road. Let’s look at this picture right to left. (you’ll need to click on it to make it bigger!) If you scan across to the second tree from the right, just before that tree you’ll see Mt St Leonard on the far horizon. Now follow that horizon all the way across the frame until it dips down below that smaller range in front of it on the far left of the picture. You’ve just followed the Black Range from south to north in its entirety. Black Range Road does more or less what your eyes just did – it follows the ridgeline of the Black Range all the way from south to north – right there on that horizon, Black Range Road, start to finish, all in one shot.

“Yes!” I said out loud, “It’s a sign!”

You see, the long 200km+ journey that I mentioned earlier had Black Range Road as its centrepiece. That ride had been on my list for ages and, though I was a little bummed that I wasn’t riding it that day, I had been kicking around the idea of doing it as a shorter loop out of Healesville and making it an open-invite ride. Seeing the whole Black Range like that made me think, “Yes, goddammit, I want to share this!”

I’m aiming for end of April, stay tuned for details.

Anyway, high on life, I rolled on down Extons Road which turns into Mt Robertson Road and gets rougher and ruttier the further you go. When you get to the very end of Mt Robertson Road you shoot straight down Long Gully Road which spits you out right at Hazeldene which was my next refuel point.

I’ve hiked up Long Gully Road before – it’s unridably steep. Well now I’ve hiked down it too – I found it unridably steep going down as well! Too loose and rutted and whatnot, no big surprise there.

Anyway, as I was stumbling down Long Gully Road on foot I saw something red off the side of the road so I laid down my bike and had a look.

Ah, shotgun shells. Not an uncommon sight on little-used bush tracks. There seemed to be quite a few of them so I started poking around.

Heh, wonder what they were shooting at, all these bloody shells lying around, must have done some damage eh?

I followed the path of the shells on the ground and started looking around for, I dunno, something that had been all shot up or signs that something had been all shot up.

And then I looked up from the ground where the shells ended and said out loud, “No way! Are you serious?!”

They shot the fucking tree.

I had no idea why. My mind was blown. I was laughing in disbelief.

I tried to piece together the story and work out why someone would end up shooting the hell out of this tree but, for the life of me, I had no idea. My face was stuck in an incredulous grin of disbelief and the same words kept playing over and over in my head, “They shot. The fucking. Tree.”

I gathered up all the shells and counted them. There were sixteen! Someone had stood there and shot this little tree sixteen times with a 12-gauge shotgun. What the actual fuck?! Who even does that?!

I was confused and amazed at the same time, trying to imagine what sort of scene went down here. The sheer pointlessness and brutality of it made me think of that bit in Robocop where Boddicker and his gang unload on Officer Murphy, laughing and howling with cruelty while blowing him away piece by piece until he falls down dead (or so they thought!)

But, alas, this tree will probably not be reborn as a cyborg. It’ll stay dead.

The Murphy Tree.

I gathered up all the spent shells and made a little rock cairn at the base of the trunk. It was the least I could do.

I mean, getting blown down by the wind, burned in a fire, hell, even getting cut down by a chainsaw, these are the usual ways for a tree to go. But being blown apart by a shotgun? Oh, the indignity.

So, there it will stand. A memorial to absurdity.

The Murphy Tree.

Well, after all that excitement I continued stumbling down Long Gully Road, took some crap photos of my bike and then hit up the Hazeldene store for a pastie. Pro tip: The vege pasties are ace, the meat pasties are a disgrace.

After Hazeldene I rolled up the main road towards Kinglake, noodled around in the pine plantation for a while and got some of the same photos as last time I was there.

The pine plantation seems to be a common spot to ride motorbikes, dump cars, make campfires, shoot things and drink premix cans. Looks like the kids who aren’t tough enough to shoot guns just use party poppers instead, bless them. Rebellion can take many forms.

I rolled on to Kinglake, refuelled and took the long way home via Jerusalem Track (down), Old Kinglake Road (up), Mt Everard Track (up and down). I noticed some of these along Jerusalem Track :

Gonna have to volunteer for that one of these days. Sitting in the bush counting lyrebirds sounds like a pretty rad day to me!

Anyway, that was that. Rolled home in time for dinner. A good ride, and proof that any adventure can be interesting if only you’ve got eyes to see.

Seeya next time!

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