On Saturday 21st of November, the FOGGs started gathering at the Mt William car park at 6.00 pm. Over the next half an hour we transferred picnic chairs and tables, Eskys and picnic baskets into the back of the ute (it was well filled). Those who felt unable to walk the last 2km to the summit climbed into a couple of cars. The young and enthusiastic, the active and the determined set off up the hill on the balls of their feet. The cars waited for stragglers, and then after finding out Margo was on her way, Ranger Tammy Schoo opened the gate and the vehicles (enjoying a very rare privilege) set off up the hill. The walkers were strung out depending on their physical abilities. It might be a sealed road, but it is steep. It has to be to reach the highest peak in the park. The first turn shows why the road to the summit is not open to the public. Almost too tight to turn on full lock, narrow and steep. Not a corner to meet a driver enjoying the view coming down!
On arrival at the summit, those transported by vehicle found a sheltered corner out of the wind, and set up for our smorgasbord of shared delights, and looked around to study the vegetation and find treats not seen at our last wildflower walk. Orchids, boronias, alpine species and the ubiquitous tourist rubbish (collected to remove to an appropriate bin) were all spied by our eagle eyed members. Once the final pedestrians, and vehicle, arrived we all partook of blue vein cheese, fruit cheeses, asparagus rolls, zucchini slice, quiche, finger foods, cakes, biscuits slices and fresh fruits. Mostly home made or grown with love. The array was impressive, not at all lacking for the loss of a zucchini slice that I lost off top of the toolbox while driving through the park.
A short speech, more food and drink and a bit of a wander to look at more plants, and enjoy the magnificent view. If you haven’t seen it you should! The view eastward over the plains is a joy to behold. By this stage the sun was starting to sink and the wind was cold and very lazy (it went through instead of around you). It is easy to understand why the Major Mitchell Plateau can be a dangerous place to be in the depths of winter, or during a storm. We were all replete with food, tired and COLD! As we descended the mountain the sun peaked from behind the clouds as it set. Those enjoying the view basked in a golden glow, and the view of the peaks was amazing. There is no better time to see the view at the top than sunset. The serried ranks of jagged sawtooth peaks, backlit by the glowing clouds and the other worldly golden disc of the sun. I wish I had the ability to photograph it properly or the poetry to describe it better.
As we arrived at the car park and closed the gate and the darkness closed in. I found it a fitting end to another great year for the Friends Of Grampians Gariwerd.
I look forward to seeing you all for an even better year in 2016!
PS Thanks to Parks for allowing us to take a few cars up, and to Tammy Schoo for joining us with her daughter Bonnie.