Today's plan was to get to Martin's Hut, almost 30km from the Colac Bay camp, and we achieved this - leaving at 0700 and finally arriving at about 1715 (10.25hr including breaks). The day’s GPS data is here.
The first 4km was along the highway but we only had four cars pass us heading east, and two of those were in the last 400m - not busy! Then uphill on a gravel road for a km to Longwood Forest and the start of the real track walking (Long Hilly Track initially) for the day. The first short segment was uphill to some old gold diggings in the forest. This was a nice track - it is well used as a short loop to view the diggings.
From there we essentially followed Ports Water Race for over 20km (in total it was eventually 40km in length!!). You can see this from the GPS data, where we just gradually gained elevation over time. Considering this was built by the Chinese miners in the late 1800's the engineering (and sheer hard work) involved is very impressive. The forest would have been quite dense, although it has since been logged, and a number of small tunnels and an occasional wooden flume were required to keep the water flowing downhill. This all made for relatively easy walking by TA forest standards - although there was the occasional stream/ditch to cross (some a down/up scramble, some on logs!) as well as an occasional fallen tree to find your way around. My back was causing some concern and I was having to get Belinda to take the pack off and lift it for me to put back on each time we stopped, and then getting started was a bit painful for a few minutes until it warmed up a little! A less than ideal situation!
After 20km or so of the race we arrived at a gravel (later turning to dirt) 4wd track which we followed for a km or so before finally reaching another bush track. This track was a half hour steep uphill slog to Martin's Hut.
As we we walking the last dirt bit of the 4wd track we could see some fairly fresh tyre tracks in the mud. We both thought it would be just our luck for someone to have decided to drive up to spend New Year's Eve at the hut (only 4 bunks)! As we reached the start of the half hour climb we saw a 4wd vehicle parked there. We slogged (it felt like a slog after a longish day of fairly flat walking!) our way up to the hut and found a couple with their maybe 10 year old son, and a dog, there. Turns out they had been out for a hunt (red deer) and were not stopping at the hut, but were on their way back down to the vehicle! So we had the hut to ourselves. It was originally built for a worker to maintain the nearby water race and most of it appears fairly original (i.e. old!), but the bunks and mattresses are more modern!! Anyway, we were happy to see it. We had a cuppa and a meal and I was asleep by 2030 with B not far behind. No seeing in the New Year for us!!
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!