Setting out on a hot, summer day we cruised the one and a half hour ride to the cute, country town of Daylesford. The drive there, in itself, is full of green scenery and typical, country town vibes that make you wish you lived there.
The Secret Forest Walks conducted by Brendan Murray, are GPS guided walks in various locations around Daylesford. Before the journey can begin, there is a consultation at the Breakfast and Beer Cafe to discuss the most suitable walk.
Located two stores away from the Breakfast and Beer Cafe on Vincent St
Whilst waiting for Brendan, we were able to admire the cosy little shops in what seemed to be the bustling hub or town centre of Daylesford. I especially enjoyed how ice-cream shops were marked by giant ice-creams.
When Brendan arrived, we got straight into it, as it was already around midday. With the sun out, we sat outside with coffees as Brendan flipped through a large collection of laminated maps of the walks he had designed.
Brendan was happy to assist us in the walk we were after. We asked about the scenic views, but also the difficulty level in walking uphill and so forth as we are not really hikers. Some aspects of walks can also be modified, for example you can skip a more difficult section, so the consultation proves that these walks can be quite flexible in some cases.
Thus, we settled with the Bullarto Walk, which would take up to 3-4 hours and included a reservoir and hilltop views, with Mt Macedon in the distance.
The consultation also included a quick run-through of how to use the GPS device, which was fairly straightforward. The device has the walk mapped and stored on it. It also directed us to the starting point of the walk, which took about 10-15 minutes to drive to.
Thus, after stopping by Village on Vincent to get some Spanish and German sausages for energy, we ventured to our starting point. The idea was to take our time and inform Brendan when we were on the way back, in order to meet again at the consultation spot.
We found the parking area OK, but the difficulty was finding the start of the walk. You ensure you stay on the pink line mapped on the GPS and if you veer off track, the line becomes red, so you merely go back the way you came. Eventually we found ourselves in line with pink, however we couldn't find the pink posts that Brendan had placed there to indicate the start of the walk.
Nevertheless, we felt like we were on the right track and trooped forward. You can make out some worn-into paths between all the grass, but besides this the walk feels very secluded in the open fields and tall trees.
Alas, when we realised we were nearly at the hilltop view...we realised we had taken the walk backwards! Explaining the lack of pink posts at the start. It was too late to go back, so we thought surely there's nothing wrong, as long as we follow the pink line back the other way.
We struggled a bit up the hill, being the unfit people we are. It was doable, but not easy, and being the 30 degree day that it was, we were evidently quite puffed. The view could be seen between the trees and provided an aerial view, with mountains in the distance. To be honest, our camera couldn't really do it justice when we tried to capture it.
At this point we were also to text Brendan, as this was the only area that would receive reception on the walk so we had to let him know that we were alright!
What I enjoyed more was the reservoir, which was larger than I expected. Brendan warned us that there would be signs against trespassers, but assured us that it would be OK and that we might even see other people by there, perhaps even fishing, which we did.
The last leg of walk began to test us physically, being quite exhausted from the walk and heat. At the end we even had to walk through a paddock of tall grass, and we spotted some kangaroos in the distance and heard some wombats.
We were glad to finally make it out and reach the car at the end. We met Brendan back at our starting point and provided our feedback on the walk. We felt quite accomplished for unfit people who get tired walking up and down stairs! We were however, not impressed by our itchy legs covered in mozzie bites! But it was a small price to pay for an amazing and testing walk, providing us some peace away from everyday Melbourne life.
Getting lost amongst the trees during out Secret Forest Walk