Hollow Mountain and Mt Stapylton from the Mt Zero Summit, Northern Grampians, Victoria
Hauling myself up the rocky drop-off towering above my head, I desperately clung to the cold hand rail, slippery with drizzle, hoping like hell my arms wouldn’t give way. Vertigo kicked in as I scrabbled for a foothold. Looking neither to the right (dizzying drop off) or the left (dizzying drop off), I focused on wedging the toe of my trusty Aussie T-boot into the cleft in the rock.
Looking down the track
This probably wasn’t the best time to test exactly how non-slip my boot soles really were …
Sweating like a pigGlowing gently in the October 2011 Grampians spring day humidity, I thought longingly of the splendid Halls Gap Bakery lunch we’d left in the car, a couple of hundred metres below.
This walk was a fairly short – and moderate – one wasn’t it? On that, Pilchard and I had agreed. We’d climbed Mt Zero, northernmost peak of Victoria’s magnificent Grampians many years before and we both remembered a climb to a fantastic vantage point from which the Dadswells Bridge Big Koala was ALMOST visible!
‘Let’s knock this one over before lunch,’ Pilchard had suggested as we pulled into the car park, ready for some Northern Grampians action. ‘It won’t take long.’ I agreed. How hard could it be?
Yeah right. Who’s sorry now, I wondered, toiling up the last pinch before the summit. The track wasn’t familiar and I was beginning to doubt that we HAD previously hiked it – until we’d reached the grab rail. THAT I recalled. But why had I thought the hike was easy?
Looking North from Mt Zero summit, Grampians, Victoria
Thankfully a grab rail surrounded the summit – so I could enjoy the staggering 360ºview overlooking the plains of Victoria’s Wimmera district to the north, and the great bulk of Mt Stapylton and Hollow Mountain to the south. And to think! Down there somewhere, hidden in the undergrowth near the car park was a scenic public toilet just itching to be photographed (see if you can spot it in the top photo!!). But not from here – it wasn’t visible from this distance …
We peered down the sheer cliff dropping away to the plains beneath. Where was the ‘other’ track of yesteryear? The ‘easy’ one we both remembered climbing last time??
No wonder it’s not visible from the summit!
A light drizzle drifted under my visor, its misty drops speckling my glasses. I exhaled. My glasses fogged up and my vision went from ‘blurred’ to ‘non-existent’. How much fun would the descent be if the rain started for real?!?!
Slowly, we picked our way back down over the track’s now-wet rocks and slippery clay. A dramatic panorama opened out in front of us – even better on the descent and even more atmospheric in the deepening drizzle. Clear days were REALLY overrated.
Although my shorts MIGHT have survived better if the steep bits of the track I scooted down on my bum had actually been dry …
Back in the carpark, our bakery lunch quickly becoming a distant memory, I checked the track notes in the Grampians guide. ‘A steep climb for the adventurous family …’ it began, going on to describe the rail-assisted ascent. No, it wasn’t the most difficult walk in the park – but nor was it the most relaxing!
Coming down the mountain – wildflowers on Mt Zero track!
How could we have thought this walk was easy? Were we losing our minds and/or memories?? What possible explanation could there be for our amnesiac poor judgement???
The more we thought about it, the more we were drawn to one inescapable conclusion, the only explanation that made any sense.
Sad … but true. The last time we’d climbed Mt Zero, we were 20 years younger … so that explains EVERYTHING!!!