I am always on the hunt for wild runs within a 30km drive of home, so when I saw on Instagram that the always inspirational Lucy Bartholomew had done a fun looking 13km loop there, I was keen to try it out.
Lucy had described the track as ‘technical slow trails’ which is my favourite, especially since it’s been a while in between runs! This didn;t disappoint – majority of the trails were mountain biking tracks, which allowed you to feel just a little bit lost! I managed to stick to Lucy’s track pretty well, despite the many spider webs of tracks within the park.
It was a fun, explorative run that felt adventurous and challenging. I would happily return here as there are many trails to explore, and thanks to having phone service, you can always find your way back to the car!
I messed up initially by just typing ‘Plenty Gorge Park’ into Google Maps, which took me to a residential area that didn’t feel right at all. I studied the map a bit more thoroughly and realised I should be at Yellow Gum Park, right in the middle of the Park. 15 min later I was on the gravel road, feeling much more confident I was in the right place. It wasn’t much of a carpark – I just parked off the road near the path to ‘Blue Lake Loop’. I headed off downhill, and soon enough saw Blue Lake. I followed the main track left towards the lake, had a quick look at the lookout area, then headed back the same way, turning left to head uphill. After passing the upper lookout, I hugged the river, opting for bike tracks instead of the 4×4 roads. I kept tight to the river until I reached the river crossing 4km in.
After yesterday’s rain, water was covering the rock crossing so I opted to follow the creek slightly upstream to a large tree that had fallen across the river. Wanting to get in the habit of documenting my adventures, I was filming as I stumbled my way through the long grass along the river bank. After a close call, I managed to capture the moment I stepped onto nothingness, and fell not so elegantly down the bank. Thankfully, a thicket of blackberries arrested my fall before I reached the water. Unfortunately this meant my legs were now covered in light scratches which bled slightly, eventually forming Halloween like trails of blood down my legs! Typically, my first thought was my AirPods, which were thankfully still safe and sound in my ears, despite my hat being knocked off in the milieu!
I picked myself up, filmed a quick recap and set off across the log, creeping slowly along on my bottom, with my confidence slightly knocked after the fall! On the other side I set off once again, albeit cautiously as the clay soil underfoot was extremely slippery. I followed the path that hugged the creek, finding it difficult to follow Lucy’s exact track. At the top of the hill there was a large clearing with houses backing on to it. I found the bitumen walking track and followed that downhill until it branched off onto another narrow track that took me back on course. After reaching the RAAF Track / Cobbs & Co Track intersection I followed the Cobb & Co Track briefly before realising thanks to Google Maps satellite view the track ended in the middle of a bend in the river. I doubled back and followed the RAAF Track, which was wide and easy to navigate. I passed the turnoff to Janefield South Track, and turned left onto Fat Spur Break, towards the open grassland. I was once again a bit lost, so just found another mountain bike track that hugged the river, hoping it would lead to the teeny-tiny bridge I could see on Google Maps. This section was really enjoyable, with a clear, narrow track through young and old gums. The track dropped to the river, where there was a very convenient timber plank across the creek. From here I headed left, up the hill and on the spur. I could see that the track veered off to the left sharply, with the trailhead being obvious from the road. This was a lovely section with a well formed track that wound its way around the contours. By this stage I was operating at a fast walk – my legs were starting to tire and I was concerned I still had a long way to go! The track eventually evened out and started to head north. By this stage I was at the 8km mark and getting ever closer to the car. The landscape opened up and I cut across towards Goldsworthy Lane, the gravel road I took into the carpark. By the time I got back to the car had just clicked over 11km. It was by no means my most consistent or fastest run, but was a fun exploratory mission that will allow me to head out with confidence next time!
Date: Sunday 3rd November, 2019
Conditions: Overcast with chance of rain
Duration: 1hr 52min
Moving Time: 1hr 26min
Elevation Gain: 280m
Start: Yellow Gum Park, Plenty Gorge
Track: Mountain Biking & 4×4 tracks
Min Elevation: 57m
Max Elevation: 151m