Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekend Run: Somewhere In Yarra State Forest, Warburton

I have no idea how to describe this whereabouts exactly, but I know that the Big Forest Run event is held there. We took their course maps as a guide and ran a small part of the route. 

Two Sundays ago (27th July 2014), we took the hour long drive towards Warburton. By the time we arrived at our destination at 10 in the morning, I was ready to go back to sleep. Sitting in the car always makes me sleepy, like a baby. Hah!

We drove in from Big Pats Creek Road as far as we could go and parked. It felt dark, probably due to the tree canopies. Every now and then, we would hear rumbles from a distance, mountain bikes. Thankfully, none came our way.

We started off along the Upper Yarra Track, following it all the way to our 1st pit stop, Starlings Gap. The single track was of soft black soil, bringing me back to our tropical forests back home.

Except that it's cooler here and we're not sweating buckets. :D

The track was quiet and felt almost unused- we bumped into no one.

The track was lined with ferny undergrowth. Sometimes they were in our faces, so we had to brush them aside before making our way through, or sometimes they were just above our heads and we'd have to squat to get through.

I was thinking, how on earth do they race through the tracks with the ferns in their way??

Playing with jigsaw puzzle.

Is this an Ada tree? Not sure.

It is roughly 9km to Starlings Gap but it felt sooooooo long. Besides having to wrestle ferns, we also had to climb over fallen branches or trees.

I discovered a leech on my right ankle. I was torn between flicking it off and leaving it there. Decided I'd leave it there in an attempt to be a nature-loving person. Haha!

Every now and then, the track would have boardwalks over damp and muddy sections.

It was like running an obstacle course!

We finally arrived at Starlings Gap. There were several campers with mountain bikes in their trucks, packing up to leave.

Years ago, bush workers would walk the route we had just taken on Sunday evenings to get ready for work on Monday morning. There were some who would run to and fro on Saturdays for their weekly football matches.

We were eagerly anticipating our 2nd part of the run towards Ada No 2 to be more scenic.

Curious fella came to check us out, whether we had any food.

Hello there!

After a 10 minute break of refueling on bananas, power gel and some chocolate, we headed off towards the mills.

One of the obstacles along the way.

I lost track of how many trees we had to climb over. 

Fun, fun, FUN!

I kept looking around, hoping to see Mill No 3 (Burnt Ada) or Ada No 1 along the way but to no avail. I did spot a huge mount of sawdust, which could have possibly been Burnt Ada. 

At this muddy section, we threw some thick branches into the puddle, hoping to use them as steps. It turned out that the puddle was deeper than we anticipated. After wasting 5 minutes trying to be boy scouts, we gave up and just stepped along the sides. :P

We arrived at a crossroad known as Federal Crossing. The green paper on the sign is a laminated course map from the Big Forest Run, telling runners where they were and directing them to the right track. How cool is that, to have a map in the middle of the forest!

We took a right turn towards Ada No 2 and prayed we'd find it before we had to turn back.

We were giving ourselves about 3 hours to run all the way back to the car before it turned dark, so time was precious.

We found the boiler at Ada No 2!

It turned out to be a camping area, with 2 food boxes for campers to store their food inside. I lifted the lid to one of them and found a very damp roll of toilet paper.

A better view of the boiler and its remains.

We gobbled up our peanut butter sandwiches (thank goodness I packed them because we were starving) before retracing our steps.

We were short of time to explore other tracks.

From Starlings Gap to Ada Mill No 2, it was 8km. So we had to run 18km back to our car. 
As quickly as possible.

Well, it was just me who wanted to be quick. I didn't want to be running in the dark, despite having headlamps!

I didn't realise it was called Womby's Hut. So cute!

As it was a gentle downhill from Starlings Gap towards Big Pats Creek picnic area, it was easier to pick up the pace. Of course, we still had to slow down at obstacles and ferns. Pushing through the ferns as quickly as possible may not necessarily be the best option as we found a few thorny bushes hidden undergrowth, badly scratching our legs.

Running fast was great, knowing that it was going to be an end to the trail run. Stepping on slippery planks and falling on your bum, however, makes you feel foolish. That was 2km left to go, anyway, so I picked myself up and continued running, hoping that I'd make it at 7 hours on the dot.

It was 7:05 for 36km.

There are more scratches on my calves and left thigh.

It turned out that I had a leech on each ankle to balance things out.

I have horrible scratches on my legs, and wow, I didn't realise a few of them were quite deep.

I can't complain, I suppose, as I did tell the hubs that I needed a really long run. Last weekend, we did back to back runs with a gentle and scenic run along the Main Yarra Trail on Saturday, and 8 hamster loops around the Tan on Sunday.


  1. That mud puddle reminds me of the first time I went trail running with you and JP in FRIM :D

    1. the time when JP helped you across like a gentleman, is it? haha