(Week 46) Hiking in Melbourne

T and I planned to head to Sydney for the weekend, but we ended up renting a car and driving way away from the city for nature adventures. It was crazy fun! Crazy dramatic and fun – You’ll understand when you read on…

Friday – Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges and Half Moon Bay, Melbourne

Unlike last weekend, the sky was bright and temperature was a hot 36 degrees. I’d say that we were not so smart to start our hiking at 1pm, when the sun was blazing in the sky. Not smart at all. Thing was, our earlier plans to have nasi lemak brunch and to shop at LaManna supermarket fell short ’cause both places were closed, and so we reached our destination earlier than expected. Heh.

Anyway, we were swearing for a while as we climbed up. One, the heat was crazy. Two, we were tired, possibly because we are not that fit. Three, the heat was crazy. Seriously, the sun was merciless. I don’t remember the last time I sweated like that, drenching every piece of clothing I had on me, including my backpack straps.

But once we reached the top, all the sweat drops and muscle aches were deemed worth it ’cause how the rocks were literally just hanging/stacking on one another was breathtaking and the views were absolutely stunning.

Looking down from the top, we saw how steep some parts of the cliff are. We could not get any phone signal either, ’cause we were away from civilisation. We realised that if we get injured or what not, nobody knew we were here ’cause we didn’t inform anyone. Hah, it dawned to me that we were like the couples we kutuk (criticised) in the films who travel out alone and die, e.g. the couple in ‘Eden Lake’. So note to self, the next time we are going the distance, I will inform at least one friend.

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It was 7pm when we decided to check out Half Moon Bay, a beach highly recommended by a dear friend. The sand isn’t as pretty as Surfer’s Paradise or Bali’s, but the waves are friendly and it has an overall calming chill effect. It was a good place to be at to unwind after the afternoon climb 🙂 I’d love to go there again!

Saturday – The Pinnacle & MacKenzie Falls, Grampians National Park

Five of us – A, E, M, T and myself – decided in midweek that we’d check out Grampians. So we met at 8.30am, and drove a total of 3ish hours from the city. In between, we stopped at MacD for breakfast, Beaufort for toilet break, Red Rock Olives for kambing and olives, and Halls Gap for lunch.

At about 3pm, we started our hike to reach the summit of The Pinnacle. There were two routes up, one from Sundial Carpark, and another from Wonderland Carpark. We obviously chose the easier one. The climb seemed easier than the one at Hanging Rock. Maybe it wasn’t as steep? I don’t know, but heyho, weather was definitely kind. Shade from tree also helped! Only complain we had was the flies buzzing around our heads. Annoyingly, our insect repellent wasn’t strong enough.

4/5 up, A, T and I realised that E and M were not catching up. We called out for them and saw that they were taking a break. Because the end goal was near, the three of us decided to proceed. Surprisingly, when we almost reached the top, we got phone reception and texts from E came in, saying that they were going down first ’cause M had some minor breathing difficulty.

The three of us soaked in the beauty surrounding us for about 15 minutes. It didn’t feel right to stay very long when the other two were waiting for us. Going down was a much easier feat, and these two’s antics made me laugh constantly! Nevertheless, fatigue had set in and we were sooooo happy to see the carpark entrance… Until we realised that E and M were not at their car.

It was 5.05pm. We tried calling them, but they could not be reached. I knew M’s phone died as we were climbing up, and we figured E’s didn’t have reception. We checked their car a few times, confirming that they were not inside and there wasn’t any notes left for us.

“Maybe they’ve reached here early and took a walk to the other short trail?” It was a 0.6km trail. We waited for 10 minutes. Then, T had to make an emergency work call and needed better signal. T suggested that us girls stay, in case the other two showed up. But we watched too many horror movies about friends being separated and killed in forests, e.g. ‘Blair Witch’, so there was no way we wanted to be left behind. We wrote a note and stuck it to their windscreen and went on with T all the way back to Halls Gap. Along the way, we kept calling and sending E and M SMSes and WhatsApp texts.

We reached Sundial Carpark again at 5.40pm. Still no sign of them. The note was left untouched. Our hearts sank a little.

We decided to check out the short trail. 20 minutes and many calling out for their names later, we completed the route and were back at the carpark. Sun was setting in 2.5 hours and worry started bubbling within us.

“What should we do?” “Call the park ranger?” “There’s no emergency number on the notice board, only 000, and that’s the police.” “Should we call the police?” “Is it too early? We’ve only been waiting for one hour.” “What should we do now?” “Okay, let’s leave them a note and go back to Halls Gap, where there is reception. We can wait there for another hour, before calling the police.” “Okay.” “Maybe we can check out Wonderland Carpark first since that’s the other entrance to The Pinnacle.” “Okay.”

The three of us were clearly freaking out inside, but I’m glad none of us panicked uncontrollably. We were pretty calm on the outside. We voiced out only once about our anxiety, but otherwise, we were still level-headed.

Along the way to Wonderland Carpark, these were going through my head: “What if they’ve fell, injured somewhere and got stuck? What if they die? Gah, this is the kind of stories you only read in the papers! So if they’re not there even after we wait, we should call the police. Then the embassy. Shit, someone then have to tell their parents. Who is going to tell the parents? We are in deep shit. Ah, fuck this shit.”

As T drove into Wonderland Carpark, I saw someone in blue lying on a bench. “OMG, that’s M!!!” You’ve no idea how relieved I was to see her! I jumped out of the car once it stopped and hugged her tightly, before going, “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?! AND WHERE IS E???”

Apparently, these two got lost when they climbed down. They ended up taking the really long route down. It didn’t help that they didn’t have enough water (they had to resort to drinking rainwater) and all of us had no reception. They’ve only reached the carpark 10 minutes before we came by so it was pure coincidence that we crossed path the right time! E managed to hitchhike to get to his car, which was a whole other adventure for him ’cause the driver got lost too, but phew, at 7.10pm, all five of us were back together!

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After calming down, we made our way to the gorgeous MacKenzie Falls for a quick dip in the refreshing water. Haha, if they didn’t get lost, we’d have chilled at the waterfall for at least 2 hours! (YOU TWO OWE US!) But we were only there for half hour as the sky was getting dark. Now, we wouldn’t want to be lost in a dark forest, now would we?

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Driving back to the city in the dark was a little nerve-wrecking. I don’t know how people who ride shotgun can ever sleep in the car during road trips ’cause I always feel anxious. It’s not that I don’t trust T – I trust him with my life – but I think I don’t trust myself closing my eyes. It’s like riding a rollercoaster ride, you know it’s safe, but you just need to see anyway. Back to the drive, we reached the city about 1am. Hah, I was so happy to see civilisation!

You know how in primary school, you’d end off your composition with, “This is an experience I would never forget”? Yeah, that’s how I’d end the post. Trip to Grampians is something I would never forget.

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