Last weekend I went bushwalking in You Yangs Regional Park East of Geelong. I always wanted to go there and check out the walking tracks, now finally it was a sunny weekend and I had no motorcycle ride planned for the day.
I got there early in the morning on a Sunday. Around 9am I was there (1 hour after park opening) and already the car park at the entrance was full, so I skipped checking out the information boards. It seems to be a popular place for walking, jogging, mountainbiking and other fitness activities. I drove a bit further and ended up parking at Big Rock, which was completely empty.
I grabbed my backpack and cameras and spent a little while walking around the area. It was going to be a hot day, but still very mild so early in the morning.
An older couple arrived. They had a dog with them, and the dog wasn’t kept on a leash, despite the unmissable large sign at the park entrance. This is one of the downsides of the You Yangs park. It’s only a Regional Park, not a National Park, so dogs are allowed. In National Parks they are usually banned.
The problem with dogs is that their owners tend to be morons. People all want to have dogs because they feel lonely and for once they want somebody to listen to them, and because dogs are nice and cute and protective and loyal and all, but nobody wants to have the annoying responsibilities that come with dog ownership. Such as cleaning up after them, training them, and following some of the basic rules that make civilised societies function, like keeping them on a leash where asked to do so, without questioning the validity of these rules. Not surprisingly people will often walk their dog far away from home – not because it would appreciate the change in scenery, but because they think they won't need to clean up after their dog if it crapped onto someone else's property, in remote park lands or paddocks.
Anyone denying this experience only needs to visit You Yangs park on a nice weekend day like I did. Walking tracks were full of dog shit and roughly half the dog owners I came across during the day – and there were plenty – didn’t bother keeping their dog on a leash. Granted, some people may really have missed the sign at the entrance, and some might even be unable to read it, which is entirely plausible in East Geelong. It’s safe to assume however that the majority was purely ignorant. I hate to lecture others about park rules, and rarely do – that's the job of park rangers after all (if only there were any) – but it’s disappointing that it seems to be necessary given how selfish so many people are.
Après moi, le déluge. (After me, the flood)
– Louis XV of France, according to legend
Apart from the dog issue though, the walking tracks were great. I walked from Big Rock car park over to Turntable car park from where I climbed the stairs to Flinders Peak where there is a great lookout point. Just before the peak there was another lookout with an information sign about Wedge-tailed Eagles. Just as I arrived, a large eagle flew past. It was so close I could see its eyes. Unfortunately it caught me by surprise and I didn’t have my camera ready. I couldn’t believe it.
Back at the car park I went on to walk the East West Walk, a 4-5km walk that starts and finishes at Turntable car park. Along the track there were several places for rock climbing.
Halfway through the walk, at The Saddle, I had lunch break and then walked down Saddleback Track to check out the Bunjil sculpture, a large eagle formed out of rocks that was created for the Commonwealth Games 2006. It’s best viewed from the eagle lookout just below Flinders Peak, but I wanted to check it out anyway.
Back at The Saddle I considered walking the Northern Range Track, but left it for another day given it had turned into a really hot day and I only had one bottle of water with me. So I continued on the East West Walk where I saw several more eagles and a few kites too.
From the car park I walked back to Big Rock car park which, to my surprise, was overflowing by then. Cars parked everywhere, even on the road, people having set up BBQs, shelters and camping gear for a full day picnic. I felt lucky for having arrived early to avoid most of the crowds.
If I was going to visit again, I would probably try to visit the park on a week day – or if on a weekend, I would try to arrive at 8am right when the park opens, and then leave before lunch.