Last Saturday, I hiked with YHA Bushwalking Club in Victoria for what they call the Three Peaks Walk. Graded medium to hard, it is a 20km walk in Kinglake National Park northeast of Melbourne.
Car pooling to meet at the park’s impossibly named Jehosaphat Gully Picnic Area for an 8am start. No problems. My car poolers and I even managed coffee and breakfast beforehand at Kinglake Bakery. After an initial 6am meet up at Prahran train station.
However, the Jehosaphat Gully Picnic Area may be somewhat unknown. Didn’t feature on Google Maps. Even the bakery employees, 2 minutes drive away from it, didn’t know where it was. However, a passersby did and we arrived on time.
Perfect hiking day, cool, overcast, no wind. At least to start with. It warmed up later. The hiking map…
The three peaks by the way are Mount Beggary, Mount Everard and Mount Jerusalem. Although you never quite felt that you were on peaks. More like walking along ridges. Which we did as the trail bypassed the actual peaks.
The 10 happy hikers, with me behind the camera and one cancellation. The maximum number of hikers for this walk was 12.
Ready to rock…
The initial 2km on Shelley Harris Track was hiking through potential leech terrain. Rain the day before, overcast, early morning dampness and lots of green vegetation over the trail. Of course, I have lukewarm feelings towards leeches after contracting cellulitis from a bite in 2012.
Thankfully leech-free after 2+km of hiking, a different type of trail appeared. And a sign with questionable accuracy at its intersection. The 3.4km back to Jehosaphat Gully Picnic Area clashed with the 2.2km reported using Runkeeper GPS.
Perhaps 3.4km through an alternative scenic route…
Next to conquer for the YHA Bushies was Cookson Hill Track…
…over Cookson Hill. Not a peak.
Jen, the fearless leader, pointed out this view between the trees as it is easily missed. Yes, in the hazy distance is Melbourne’s skyline.
While shooting the photo above, the Bushies suggested a selfie. I obliged, with the following result incorporating half the happy hikers.
The weather warmed up as more traditional Aussie bush appeared. Most of the remaining hike was on trails similar to Mount Everard Track below.
The Kinglake area has a recent tragic past. In 2009, “Australia’s worst bushfire disaster” in Victoria killed 173 people with 414 injured as a result of fires. Of those, the Kinglake area suffered 120 deaths with more than 1,200 homes destroyed. Awful, absolutely awful…
It’s difficult to tell what damage is from when. Almost all Australian state and national parks suffered bushfires at some time and the blackness and scarring remain for a long time. This looked more like a lighting strike, but we were in the middle of Kinglake National Park.
Despite the earlier somewhat misleading distance, signage overall in Kinglake National Park was excellent. Including several boards like the one below.
Below was our lunch place. Well, you have to believe me as I took this photo uphill from where I sat during our break. In the shade, on the trail, next to a bridge. That worked…
We finish off with a couple of people photos of my fellow hikers. Peace man…?
The last 2km were the same of the first 2km and why not a quick rest in the lovely bush before the final home stretch.
OK, we squeeze in a 2nd photo as per above, but with me in the picture this time.
Hiking the 20km Three Peaks Walk took 6 hours with breaks almost to the minute. The 11 Bushies returned to the Jehosaphat Gully Picnic Area around 2pm.
Now, most of us felt like refreshments. You know, ice creams, milkshakes, tea, coffee… Hence regrouping back at the Kinglake shops before heading back to Melbourne.
In summary a brilliant day, weather played ball, hike length and grade felt just right – with some effort involved and a feeling of accomplishment. The group was fantastic with many laughs and crappy jokes along the way. One Bushie, Peter, claimed to never have walked 20km before in his life. In addition, he had brand new boots never worn before. Still, he was on fire, happy as Larry throughout, mostly at the front of the pack and… got no blisters. Go figure…
I may well sign up for many more similar hikes through YHA Bushwalking Club if this is the norm… This was FUN!!