Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

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Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby bigkev » Thu 28 Apr, 2016 6:46 pm

Over the Friday/Saturday/Sunday of Anzac weekend I headed up to the Little Desert NP and re walked the Desert Discovery Walk. After talking to the ranger at Wail before I left I decided to do a water dump near my first nights camp at Yellowgums as the tank at the hut is currently out of action.
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Yellowgum Camp

Day 1 consisted of a walk from Kiata Camp to Yellowgum Camp, just over 20 km. Day 2 was a big one for me Yellowgum to Mallee Camp via the Wimmera River, at around 36 km it was a hard day and I really enjoyed my swim in the river in the middle of the day. Day 3 saw me walk from Mallee Camp back to Kiata Camp, another fairly solid 20 km.
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Mount Arapiles is just south of the park.

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The Wimmera River.

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Yellowgums just after sunset, near Mallee Camp.

It appears that since I last walked up there that dirt bikes using the walking tracks as their own enduro tracks is becoming a bit of a problem. The parks guys have shiny signposts at the beginning of all the walking tracks banning motorbikes but the temptation is obviously to much for our leather clad mates. Now normally I'd just shrug my shoulder and get on with it but up here in the soft drought effected sand they really caused some damage to the tracks and made them a lot harder to walk on.
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Tools on bikes

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It only took the two bikes to rip up the track.

Apart from the dirt bike issue the rest of the walk is great, I'd highly recommend this for a first walk in the desert, although maybe take 4 days instead of my 3. There are walkers huts at both Yellowgum and Mallee Camps although I wouldn't recommend sleeping in them, a tent or bivy would be much more comfortable but the huts are great if the weathers turns a bit crappy. If you want a bit more of an idea of what the DDW is about I've done a post on my blog about it http://goinferalonedayatatime.blogspot. ... esert.html

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Mallee Camp.

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The DDW walks along that low ridge to a trig point on the first day.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby Hallu » Thu 28 Apr, 2016 7:15 pm

Yeah I hate those morons on bikes and 4x4... Little Desert is really plagued with bogans, including at the river campgrounds, where they use motorboats. *&%$#! *&^%$#!... It's a shame coz it's a great park, with great wildlife. THanks for the photos.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby andrewp » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 11:29 am

bigkev wrote:I decided to do a water dump near my first nights camp at Yellowgums


Where did you drive to for the water drop and do you need a 4wd or could you get there in a subaru or equivalent?
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby peregrinator » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 1:35 pm

Excellent photographs here and on your blog, bigkev.

It is a wonderful park but I'm with you and Hallu on the marauding motorcyclists. I've also walked for hours on these tracks and know how frustrating that can be after they've been churned up. But what to do? Well first, it is a very distinctive colourful top the rider is wearing in your shot, so as this is a recent event it might be worth sending a copy to Dimboola police station and Parks Vic. Also send copies of the photographs of damaged tracks.

More generally, this is a vexed issue as it is almost impossible to enforce existing legislation, and of course the riders know it. So the only solution I can think of is that all off-road vehicles should have to carry an attached GPS tracking device, linked to a data storage service. The vehicle owner would have to get the device inspected by an appropriate authority at given time intervals. Detection of any use of the vehicle in a prohibited area would result in the vehicle being impounded, the owner fined, or both. Yes, compulsory fitting of a GPS device would penalise owners who confined themselves to legal tracks. So perhaps they could be rewarded by getting an annual reduction in their vehicle registration fee for each year they report such legal activity. (There are of course some advantages in having a tracking device and some owners already pay for that service.)

My solution may sound draconian to some, but I have to ask: what else is going to stop people treating the land with contempt? Any suggestions welcome.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby Hallu » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 6:59 pm

If they like Little Desert so much, maybe build a special section for motorsports. Besides, there's plenty of tracks in Murray-Sunset and Wyperfeld where motor vehicles are authorized, why destroy Little Desert where they aren't ?
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby bigkev » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 7:37 pm

andrewp wrote:
bigkev wrote:I decided to do a water dump near my first nights camp at Yellowgums


Where did you drive to for the water drop and do you need a 4wd or could you get there in a subaru or equivalent?


Hi Andrew,

I did my water drop where the Desert Discovery Walk crosses Dahlenburg Mill Track near Yellowgum Camp. Unfortunately you wont get in there in a subaru as the sand is deep and soft in some sections and you need high clearance. If time is on your side you could get in contact with the rangers at Wail who in my experience are top blokes, they may be able to drop some water off for you when they are out there......maybe? The photos on my blog of the track are typical of the soft sand, but there are a few spots that are a lot softer and deeper.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby bigkev » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 8:33 pm

Hi Hallu and Peregrinator,

Yeah, it's definitely annoying when you see the damage that these bikes and 4wd cause, at Eagle Swamp some 4wd's have got onto the clay pan and done a bit of circle work, those scars will take a long time to disappear. The real issue for me though was that I'd met people walking in from the Wimmera River to Yellowgums who didn't look like experienced walkers, they had around 40 kilometres before they could get more water, with the churned up sand making for walking a lot harder than you would anticipate I was worried that they may struggle for water.

Hallu what pissed me off so much on this walk was that there are plenty of legal 4wd tracks in Little Desert but those dirt bikes seem to prefer the virgin sand of the walking track. I only went up the river as far as Ackle Bend (turning back west towards Mallee Camp before Horseshoe Bend) but the bogan quota on the Saturday that I passed through wasn't to bad, infact there was only two parties in the whole camp, 1 hippy couple who were cool, and a group of younger folk from SA who may be considered bogans but they had there music down at a pretty reasonably volume and were spending most of the time fishing. Kiata Camp had only 2 caravans with some grey nomads in them, no one else was there when I got there mid afternoon on Sunday. I suspect a lot of the dodgy 4wd and dirt bikes are coming into the national park from surrounding area's.

Peregrinator you raise a lot of interesting points, I'll probably send the photos to the rangers but I don't want them (the rangers) to think that I'm criticising them. From everything I could see they are doing what they can with signage to keep these tools off the tracks and I'm conscious that they are probably over worked and under resourced. Over the years I've had a bit to do with the rangers at Wail and they seem like great people who are really proud of their park. I thought about ringing the police at the time but really by the time they arrived finding these blokes would be like a needle in a haystack, in my experience with the police as a pushbike rider its pretty hard to get any kind of action out of them unless someone is hurt. I have a sneaking suspicion that your idea of a GPS type device reporting back to a central data base may be closer to reality than you may realise, I suspect that in the years to come governments will want to move to a more user pays system for roads (a road tax) and the only way to efficiently collect that tax will be via a system like you suggest, of course not only would it collect tax but it would obviously know where you've been (slightly scary when you think about it). The problem with that though is these trail bikes aren't even registered from what I could see. I'm slightly compromised by the issue of banning 4wd's from all parks as I've used mine over the years to access lots of great walking areas, although I stay on designated tracks. Interestingly one of my mates at work, a young bloke that works in the office beside mine, is a dirt bike rider and was making jokes about taking his bike up there and checking out the tracks, when I talked to him, explained the issue and showed him the photos it was like a penny dropping as he realised that there were ramifications for his actions, maybe education is the answer but there are a lot of tools to educate! :)

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby andrewp » Fri 29 Apr, 2016 9:02 pm

bigkev wrote:I did my water drop where the Desert Discovery Walk crosses Dahlenburg Mill Track near Yellowgum Camp. Unfortunately you wont get in there in a subaru as the sand is deep and soft in some sections and you need high clearance. If time is on your side you could get in contact with the rangers at Wail who in my experience are top blokes, they may be able to drop some water off for you when they are out there......maybe? The photos on my blog of the track are typical of the soft sand, but there are a few spots that are a lot softer and deeper.


Thanks Kev. I thought that might be the case. You really wonder why they haven't been able to clear the bees nest in 5 months.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby peregrinator » Sun 01 May, 2016 2:37 pm

Kevin you make a number of good points. I thought it is worth looking further at a few. I'd love to know how we as a society can solve problems caused by illegal activities in NPs, but any solutions have to consider many issues.

bigkev wrote: . . . I'll probably send the photos to the rangers but I don't want them (the rangers) to think that I'm criticising them. From everything I could see they are doing what they can with signage to keep these tools off the tracks and I'm conscious that they are probably over worked and under resourced. Over the years I've had a bit to do with the rangers at Wail and they seem like great people who are really proud of their park.


I completely agree with you about the positive things the rangers do under absurd funding constraints and the last thing I'd want to do is be critical at the personal level. They've been helpful to me as well when asking for advice. I doubt they'd interpret any photographic evidence you have as being critical of them. And let's face it, you are probably the only person who has been clever enough to get a very clear shot of a moronic motorcycle marauder.

I suspect a lot of the dodgy 4WD and dirt bikes are coming into the national park from surrounding areas . . .


I thought about ringing the police at the time but really by the time they arrived finding these blokes would be like a needle in a haystack . . .


You are spot on there. But if they come across the same offender elsewhere (wearing that distinctive outfit and on a bike that is probably also identified easily enough by anyone in the know), they would value your evidence of previous malpractice. And I think you're right about these people being locals, so therefore they could be easier for local police to identify.

I have a sneaking suspicion that your idea of a GPS type device reporting back to a central data base may be closer to reality than you may realise, I suspect that in the years to come governments will want to move to a more user pays system for roads (a road tax) and the only way to efficiently collect that tax will be via a system like you suggest, of course not only would it collect tax but it would obviously know where you've been (slightly scary when you think about it)
.

Yes, I think your speculated future will probably happen and agree that lots of it is scary. On the other hand, people already go everywhere with phones that reveal their location. It's pretty hard to be anonymous these days.

The problem with that though is these trail bikes aren't even registered from what I could see.


Even more reason to go after them.

. . . Interestingly one of my mates at work, a young bloke that works in the office beside mine, is a dirt bike rider and was making jokes about taking his bike up there and checking out the tracks, when I talked to him, explained the issue and showed him the photos it was like a penny dropping as he realised that there were ramifications for his actions, maybe education is the answer but there are a lot of tools to educate!

Cheers Kevin


A nice example of the possibilities of how education programs can work. Programs run at the state level should be high on the list of priorities, I reckon. Illegal bike riding is of course happening in the suburbs, e.g. along creek valleys, as well as in the country. It annoys a lot more people in the more populated areas.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby bigkev » Mon 02 May, 2016 6:47 pm

Hi Peregrinator,

I talked to the nice people at Parks Vic up at Wail again, after checking out the blog they have asked if they can use the photos of the dirt bike and the damage for education purposes, apparently they in the process of writing up an information brochure for the Desert Discovery Walk. I'm sending the photo files up tonight.

They didn't think that they had much hope of rounding up that particular rider but are keen to keep chipping away and trying to educate the tools.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby Eremophila » Mon 02 May, 2016 10:08 pm

Thanks for the write-up BK, on my to-do list although I fear 36km days in soft sand would kill my poor blistery feet! Still a stunning part of the world.
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TRIP REPORT: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby planto nerdo » Tue 03 Apr, 2018 11:14 am

We hiked the Discovery Walk over 4 days, Easter 2018.

It is a top walk, one of the best in Victoria, but has a few issues people need to be aware of.

We did a circuit walk starting and ending at Horseshoe bend:

Day 1 -21km Horseshoe Bend to Yellow Gums Walkers Camp via Crowhurst Flat. Walk south 5km from Horseshoe to Crowhurst Flat and the start of the hike. A good day's walk, although, in my opinion, the south of the part has less interesting vegetation than the north, which seems to have a bit better soils. After Eagle swamp we found that dirt bikers had been using the track - and that is one of the issues people need to be aware of. Because so few hikers use the track, bikers feel bold enough to ignore the no bikes signs and tear up the track. We had a nasty experience on the first day out west of eagle swamp when 10 bikers flew by. They destroyed the fragile, sandy track. Although we took photos of the bikers there is nothing that the rangers can go - they were all unregistered. It is really unfortunately as it really takes a bit of a shine of an otherwise brilliant track.

The other thing to be aware of is that the water, currently, at Yellow Gums is foul. While the tank is nearly full, the water is so full of dead bees that it has become cloudy and the stench...I never want to smell that smell again. Seriously foul. We had a flash pump water purifier with us, but even it could not handle the condition of the water, and broke after purifying on a few liters. That meant we had to rely on aquatabs and straining the water through a sack. While it meant that we could drink the water without getting crook, it was disgusting - and I am not usually too fussy. They really need a new tank out there - you can see where the valient rangers have been trying to make in bee-proof, but the model of tank has too many gaps and holes up the top to ever be able to be sealed effectively.

Day 2 - Yellow Gums to Kiata. This is a tough day. Although the signs say it is only 21km, I believe it is at least 24km, and feels like even more as you are walking north which means you cross numerous east-west dunes, and lots of soft sand. Again the vegetation is nice, but it does not get really special till towards the end of the walk at Kiata. Kiata is a great car accessible campground - huge with mulitple water tanks and toilets.

Day 3: Kiata to Mallee Walkers CAmp. 20km. An easy days walk through varied interesting vegetation. Mallee Camp is pretty lovely. Emus about. Again there is a problem with bees fouling the water tank, but water quality was much better than Yellow Gums, a slight pong, but like Evian after the stench of Yellow Gums

Day 4: Mallee Camp to Horseshoe Bend - 13km easy walking, brilliant vegetation.

If you are going on the Discovery Hike you should first register and check the conditions with the local rangers out of Wail. Suzy Skurrie , one of the rangers, was very helpful and friendly.

Also note, you can make this into a 3 day loop walk by hiking direct from Yellow Gums to Mallee Camp via Wallaby TRack.

Cheers.
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Re: Desert Discovery Walk - Little Desert NP.

Postby bigkev » Tue 03 Apr, 2018 1:38 pm

I was there two years ago and had the same issues with the water at Yellowgums and the dirt bike riders, as you say it's a shame because it is nice walk. :(
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