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Our Leader, Pat Williams, made the right decision. "The walk is off", she said when she called me. "Unable to locate any satellites", my GPS said under very dark clouds and dense tree canopies along Allambee Estate Road. "Go back home and huddle under a nice warm blanket", my brain said when faced with the prospect of a walk through incessant rain. A wombat sitting by the roadside stared at me, soggy and miserable.

I had driven through thick fog along Griggs Road, and was already near the agreed meeting point when Pat's phone call came in. Pat's was the voice of reason. She had the unenviable task, as today's leader, to call all of us registered participants. And her reasoning was clear. The weather forecast was awful, rain was expected to increase throughout the day, a walk in this terrain could turn into a very unpleasant -- and potentially unsafe -- experience for us.

So there I was: The walk was not going to happen. Plenty of empty space at Moonlight Creek carpark (picture 1) -- can a car get lonely and miserable? It certainly looked mud-splattered and a dirty mess but, hey, we weren't here for a 'Show and Shine'. And strangely, there was no rain here -- not even a drizzle at the moment. I called Pat for an update. Would she mind if I walked anyway? I'd wait 20 minutes at the meeting point for anyone who perhaps hadn't registered for the walk, and then I'd set off. Sure enough, another car soon arrived and parked at the other end of the carpark. Social distancing for cars? Mine is lonely and miserable! Or perhaps a sophisticated strategy of making this enormous carpark look a little less empty? Chris came out of her car with all guns blazing: "I'm going to do this walk. Are you up for it? I don't care what's going to happen with the weather!"

Just the two of us? Alright then. Convinced.

So, although Pat had given me all the wonderful excuses I could ever need, we trodded off. No cuddly warm blanket for me today. No cozy ginger tea. No lazying on the couch. It's a cruel world...

And then: A spot of blue sky above us and, yes, a small patch of sunlit forest right ahead (picture 2). Unfamiliar with Mount Worth State Forest, we had consulted the information board and decided on a counter-clockwise route on the Moonlight Circuit. That turned out to be a wise decision as the first half of our walk took us through very muddy and slippery clay (picture 3). Obviously there had been plenty of rain during the previous night and some clay stretches of this first half would have been difficult to traverse downhill if we had taken the clockwise route. Uphill was quite doable, though. Chris commented later that, had either of us been on our own, we would probably have turned back at this stage. And yes, it was tricky in some places as the soles of our boots had no traction at all. But our surroundings made it very enjoyable: Cool temperate rainforest with beautiful ferns, moss and majestic trees, grown since the area was largely deforested about a hundred years ago. Along a trickling mountain stream, we passed the sites of the old Seymour and Bromfield timber mills without seeing any trace of these industrial endeavours. It was misty and damp, but never pouring rain. In fact, both of us decided after a while to take off our rain jackets and simply ignore the occasional drizzle on our pullovers. A serene little waterfall (picture 4) and roughly 30 leeches later....

It was easier to gain some mileage on the second part of our walk. We felt that we were running a little late as it was nearly lunchtime by now. We made up for our slow speed on the mud-slopes of the first segment by rapidly huffing and puffing up the Link Track, a largely grassy path taking us onto a ridge with splendid Mountain Ash and Blackwood. No views to the distant agricultural areas or to Mount Worth itself, though: All those b$@%^&; trees are in the way! Dear fellow walkers, if splendid views are your thing, choose Wilson's Prom. In the Mount Worth State Forest, at this time of year, look out for colourful or unusually-shaped mushrooms instead (picture 5).

We had reached the Moonlight Divide Track by now and the path turned into a furry grass carpet, gently sloping downwards, lined by ferns and the occasional messmate. There were thousands of holes in the ground, presumably dug by what we suspect to be giant Gippsland earthworms (information, anyone?). We instinctively ignored the turn-off to Bower waterfall on Courtney Creek, another lucky decision as a subsequent phone conversation with Pat confirmed: She had found herself knee-deep in mud there a few weeks earlier. Instead, we rapidly decended the last remaining slope to Maslin's Mill site. A black cockatoo greated us upon our arrival back at the carpark. I noted, though, that the two cars hadn't moved any closer to each other. High time for lunch now!

We sat down with our food in the well-built shelter and considered the magical ambience surrounding us (picture 6). Mist, wombats, drizzle, soggy forest and muddy terrain. Mosses, mushrooms and leeches. A lazy Tuesday dream, perhaps. Good thing, then, that this walk didn't really happen... :-)

Chris E
Frithjof A

Mt Worth 1 Mt Worth 5
Mt Worth 1 Mt Worth 5