Track Clearing 2020
Track Clearing Trip – 31st October 2020
Like just about everything in 2020—the track clearing weekend in the Otways was a little different than usual. Different weekend, different rules—but still a great chance to get out on the tracks, help the community and to get the tracks cleared and opened after the annual winter closures. Plus the chance to drive some MVO tracks that rarely see traffic.
We ended up with one team of three—Danny leading, Rob on chainsaw duties and Keith bringing the muscle. After a quick stop at Moriac to grab a coffee, we headed to Deans Marsh for a quick safety briefing with Parks Victoria Rangers and went through the expectations for the weekend. Other than a couple of tracks that are still extremely wet and in poor condition to remain closed, this was a straightforward run through of the already well established risk assessments and safety procedures.
Our first track of the day was Five Mile track – just outside of Lorne. If this was what the rest of the day would be like – we’d be in for a long day. After five stops—all with the chainsaw out— we had cleared our first track and ready to slowly make our way east towards Anglesea. Zig-zagging our way up and down between the forest hills and the Great Ocean Road we cleared and opened track after track, before making the most of the lookout at the end of Clark Spur Track to stop for lunch. This is a great spot for a small group to stop for a break and take in the breathtaking view of the Great Ocean Road and Aireys Inlet. We were lucky enough to spot a hang glider enjoying the light breeze of the day. Unfortunately this track is being reclassified as MVO, so access to the general public will be restricted—but as an affiliated club we can access many MVO tracks via a permit system.
After our lunch stop it was time to get back to work and see how far we could get through our allocated tracks. Working our way further east we started on our second group of allocated tracks in the Anglesea Heath area. Many of these tracks are MVO tracks—so it was great to get the chance to drive on tracks that we hadn’t seen in some time.
We expected the Anglesea Heath area to be relatively clear, but not long into Denhams Track we came across the largest fallen tree of the day. With Rob on the chainsaw and Keith and I providing the manual labour we were able to slowly but surely clear away this monstrous obstacle and continue on along the track. That was until Keith came over the radio with car troubles that we thought were going to put an end to our day—”hey guys, I’ve got a misfire and no power under load”.
Keith’s GQ had been running well all day—and we certainly hadn’t just driven anything crazy that would explain the sudden issues. So it was up with the bonnet and out with the tools. All three of us taking a side of the engine bay to diagnose what the trouble was. We actually found three issues fairly quickly—an earth wire split at a connector, a vacuum line that had come off, and points (ha, what are points these days!) that were in need of a tickle. With all three issues fixed, we powered the GQ up to see if we were good to go—and we weren’t!
We decided to move off and nurse the Patrol to the end of the track and back to the main road—and assess what we would do next. We really didn’t want to split up our small group, but we wanted to get through all the tracks we had been allocated. In a stroke of rare good luck for 2020, by the time we finished the track Keith let us know that his rig was running fine again and we were able to push on. Thank goodness for that!
Throughout the day we saw many and varied track users—people on motorbikes, out riding horses, punishing themselves on bicycles , and even a couple of walkers — and each displayed a varying degree of pleasantries when we always stopped and said hi. I was sure the bushwalkers were going to call the police on us when they thought they were alone on a locked track and we passed them only to fire up the chainsaw just as we were out of sight. It was good to see different types of users out enjoying the bush, and to see some of the investment and works that are continuing in the area—tables and seating, impressive lookouts, and additional and improved camping areas.
By the end of the day we were able to complete both of the two groups of tracks that were allocated to our club—over 150km of tracks in all. It was a long day, but certainly plenty of fun with our great little team. We had more trees to clear than in any recent year but thanks to Rob and Keith we achieved the lot with no stress at all, and are already looking forward to doing it again next year.
See ya next trip, Danny