For better or worse, CoViD-19 has reshaped our world this year. For those of us whose everyday lives are currently lived within a Truman-like, 10km-wide bubble, the challenge has been making the most of our daily allowance of fresh air and freedom. Truly, a little canny planning goes a long way when you can't.
Our own family (two parents plus two older screenagers) have embraced walking and cycling in a major way in recent months. Our daily forays have opened our eyes to the existence of a multitude of unmapped trails (some forged by wheel, others by wombat) within the less populated patches of parkland in our permitted zone. One such place is Tikalara Park, an area of preserved open space to the north of Templestowe.
Besides its network of organically-formed paths, the Park accommodates a 2km stretch of the Mullum Mullum Trail. The Trail skirts around the side of Parkway Place Lake and the bottom end of a somewhat incongruous estate of modern, manicured properties. Blink as you pass, and you'd easily miss the information board opposite the Lake, together with a site that motor-racing enthusiasts feel has earned a place in Australian racing history: The Templestowe Hill Climb Circuit.
Partly obliterated by the residential estate now occupying the area, the Templestowe Hill Climb was a 969-metre long, car-racing track at the southern end of Tikalara Park, designed and constructed in 1951 by the Victorian Sporting Car Club. Competitors, usually amateurs, would take it in turns to race their cars up the three-metre wide, one-kilometre long track, in as short a time as possible, racing against the clock.
Described as the steepest stretch of bitumen road in Australia, one 100-metre section of the track known as "The Wall" has a breathtaking gradient of 1 in 2.5 feet. Unsealed for the first year of use, this section succeeded in thwarting most attempts to scale it.
A total of 99 multi-club hill climbs were held at Templestowe during its 36-year history. The encroachment of development, in particular aforementioned estate, ultimately forced the Hill Climb's closure in 1987, the MG Car Club holding their last annual meeting at the site that December. According to one newspaper report, by the time the Hill Climb closed the track surface was in dire need of repair and missing whole sections of sealed track. One good run up the track was said to be the equivalent of 5,000 miles of wear on a car's suspension.
A couple of hundred metres of the original track, including "The Wall" section which would have signalled the halfway point of the original track, is still visible and conquerable, though a moderate level of cardiovascular fitness is recommended if you plan to ascend it and want to live to tell the tale. This remnant section of track forms part of a signed, Council-maintained trail known as the Templestowe Hill Climb Walk.
To experience the full 2.7km trail, start your walk at the carpark next to Beasley's Nursery, just off Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road. A signed path (part of the Mullum Mullum Trail) leads from the playground beyond the carpark to Parkway Place lake, roughly 700m away. A link to a map and details of the Templestowe Hill Climb Walk can be found on Manningham Council's website, here. Get set and go...and don't forget your stopwatch.
What an informative and nostalgic article Eliza. I attended a meeting there almost 60 years ago, when you could wander around the competing cars, speak to the drivers and admire the cars up close. Thanks for the memories, Neil.