Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
September 2023
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Muddy boots and overgrown tracks

With my students off on their mid-semester break I felt that I deserved a day off to go caching, since it’s been over a month since my last plastic box (“My name is SamCarter and I am addicted to caching”). My caching friend Muzza was able to swap his day off and so we headed up to the Warburton area in search of bush, fresh air, walking, smilies* … and mud.

The Yarra Valley region has some lovely tracts of mixed sclerophyll and temperate rainforest, and fading remnants of past industrial endeavours. The O’Shannassy Aqueduct runs beside a nice wide level path. It’s an open channel dating back to about 1914 or so, used to carry water between reservoirs, and we walked about 9-10km to pick up a couple of caches along the trail.

Then we ventured into the dense bush to discover old overgrown paths and the remnants of past hydro activities. The first of these caches was by the little creek in the photo at right … and it’s where I managed to step straight into a muddy puddle as I came back across the creek not realising that there were no metal bars across the section of grate that I was about to step onto.

The second cache was along 500m of barely visible track which took us about half an hour or so to traverse, as we ducked under and clambered over fallen trees and undergrowth. At one stage the track disappeared completely although we picked it up again later. I was a bit perplexed by the cache’s description as it kept talking about a water channel which I just couldn’t see at all. Eventually we discovered it running along the track (which is where we’d expected it to be), but years of detritus and humus had filled it in, so that the half-metre wide concrete half-pipe had all but vanished entirely. In a few years’ time you’ll struggle to find even what little we saw, although it will still be there … just totally buried. The return journey was quicker because we knew where we were going, we had the duck-and-clamber rhythm going, and we discovered that some of the obstacles were not quite as solid as they appeared.

Our last cache for the day was near Graceburn Weir (shown in the landscape picture below) along the path of another water channel (in the portrait photo), but this one is still in working order and was full of fast-flowing goodness rushing off to stock up the nearby Maroondah Reservoir. Our estimate was 100L/second, based on a visual estimate of its dimensions and chucking in a twig to measure how fast it was flowing.

It was good to get out into the bush and get some exercise, but my poor boots now need serious cleaning (and I still think they contain some essence of the Yorkshire moors despite my best efforts to clean them several times since then!).

* Geocaching websites recognise found caches with a smiley face.

3 comments to Muddy boots and overgrown tracks

  • Linda

    Your descriptions remind me of a certain grade 10 bushwalk at Lake St Clair (particularly the rain soaked day to Pine Valley hut) and a certain rotund and bespectacled novice who couldn’t see where she was going due to fogged up lenses and just constantly fell in, on, over and through every puddle, log, root etc. And her much more experienced friend and tent mate who kept her going! It might be 30 years later, but thank you!

    • Helen

      Ah, yes. A memorable trip indeed.

      I had to take my glasses off on this week’s scrub-bashing bit because (a) I was fogging up and (b) there was a definite risk of having them knocked off by some aggressive piece of shrubbery.

  • Sounds WONDERFUL!! I really need to get out!

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