When I first started back at university this time last year, one of the things that concerned me the most was the practical aspect of my course. As a part of getting my Bachelor of Education (graduate entry), I needed to attend a total of 80 days of practical in a primary school environment, spread out over three sessions. Now, I’d never done a practical before, with my previous degree being entirely academic/theoretical. Dean and I talked about it, and I decided (although now I admit the true reason why escapes me) to undertake my first practical in Darwin, despite Dean and I now living in Melbourne.
As the day of my departure from Melbourne rapidly approached, I started to realise that it was a truly terrible idea. Dean and I love being together, obviously, but more than that we really relied on each other day-to-day. I suppose you could call it a head-over-heels happy co-dependency, and not really something that you can throw a 5 week absence into. Of course we had been apart from each other before, for more than two months when I was getting my money together and seeing my family before heading over to the U.K. to be with Dean for a year. The 12+ hour time difference, and the stage we were in our relationship (only having been together for a year) made it hard. Really, really hard. I wasn’t eager to recreate that, or even think about it, so we went walking instead.
We headed up to the Dandenong Ranges, a spot we’d been to that past Autumn, to check out the Lyrebird Track and grab a few geocaches in the area. It was, admittedly, a bit of a wet day, which just happened to be the perfect kind of weather to experience that kind of environment. The forest ferns dripped with icy water and our footsteps were muffled along the canopy floor by the leaf litter and mud. Slipping, we fought for traction, climbing and clambering our way up the Lyrebird track. Most people, it seemed, either only walked the first half or didn’t have the stomach for the mud drifts. Soon we were alone on the trail, listening for the lyrebirds for which the track is named. Bird calls surround us, it’s hard to pick a mimic in the choir. The trail is steep, and the mud makes that all the more eventful, but we quickly reach the other side.
For any semi-regular walker, a trail of 1 or 2 kilometres is hardly all that can be done in a day. We completed the Lyrebird track, including walking back to our car, in a remarkably short time, despite lingering in the forest to enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasted. So, with time to spare, and knowing this would be the last walk for a while, we headed along to the Silvan Reservoir, where we’d also heard there was some walking trails waiting.
From a distance, there’s nothing much to be noted about the Silvan Reservoir. Unlike the lake we walked on when we visited the Grampians, Silvan is entirely fenced off, leaving us gazing at the long stretch of trail that crosses the dam in envy. We would gain no access today. So, instead we left the lake standing where it stood, and wound our way up into the surrounding forest to hike the Grey Gums walking track. To be honest, we only picked this walk (there are a few available in the area) because we have such fond memories of another Grey Gums. The name was shared by a cafe along Putty Road in NSW, where the owners allow free camping on their stunning lawns in exchange for patronage. If you’re ever in the area, they do fantastic hot chips, and their coffee is well received!
The Grey Gums walking track was, again, muddy, and we spent most of the trail hiking alone. The rain had stopped, but dark clouds threatened overhead, which is enough to rush along any hiker. We had a quick scope for one geocache, before realising we were on the wrong level (GPS needs to be 3D!) and giving up to enjoy the walk. Even though it wasn’t exactly a walk to remember, the occasion, prior to my departure for so many weeks, made the time spent all the lovelier.
Of course, nothing lasts forever, and soon it was time to start heading home. Boots muddy, legs worked, and lungs full of fresh forest air, we folded ourselves into the car, and made our journey home.