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03 August 2022
Wimmera Bushwalking Club members embarked on an easy 10-kilometre hike from Wartook to Zumsteins, travelling on a flat track, passing the back of the Cooinda Burrong Scout Camp last month.
Members walked a short distance along the roadside north to the trailhead, then beside cropping and pastoral paddocks on light soil, which allowed spectacular views of the mountains. The track then headed into more swampy, heavy country with redgums and Juncus spp, also known as rush plants. There was plenty of evidence of kangaroo highways and dirt bike tracks.
Conversations were aplenty and one member excitedly shared his knowledge of his new Tesla car, which would have cost $3 in electricity to travel to Zumsteins and back; while another member reminisced about travelling the ‘back track’ to Zumsteins as a child in the 1950s with his grandfather, who was friends with Walter Zumstein. He recalled the pedestrian crossing being a couple of logs across the creek, while the vehicles crossed on a gravel ford.
There were signs along the way explaining the local history – one highlighting an unmarked grave in the area, that of a Chinese miner from the Gold Rush. Many Chinese people travelled from Robe to the Victorian Goldfields, avoiding the 10-pound poll tax if landing in Victoria.
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The first sign also highlighted the tragic conflicts between Indigenous tribes and police during early white settlement. Many of the police were also Aboriginal.
The walk continued through land that had burnt out eight years ago, with many wattle saplings. Members made it to Dad and Dave’s weir on the McKenzie River, which got its name from the makeshift bush workmanship – and it stuck.
The reference is from a popular 1940s radio show.
The site also included a fish and platypus ‘ladder’, to help fish and platypi safely bypass the weir barrier and colonise the lower reaches, where conditions have been steadily improving due to environmental water flows.
The track had once been a busy thoroughfare for squatters’ families, timber mill workers, beekeepers, wattle strippers and workers constructing the Wartook Reservoir.
Another exciting find along the way was a wine bar on the McKenzie River, before reaching the end point, Zumsteins picnic ground.
People wanting more information about the club can visit www.wimmerabwc.org.au or the club’s Facebook page.
The entire August 3, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!