2 April 2017
Leader : Penny Purchase

Report and photos by Penny Purchase

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

This new hike attracted 15 hikers of differing age, ability and speed! It' s a Grade 1 hike, 9-10 kms, alongside wetland, through forest roads and cycle tracks and a few kilometres of urban land. It was geared for beginners, lapsed hikers wanting to get fit again and for families. I initiated this hike, basically following my cycle route through Mondi forests.

We gathered at GROUND, the new coffee shop in the Harcourts building opposite the Hilton Hotel. It was a warm summer day but we were thankful for a light breeze that played around us.

The hikers who came were: Vladimir Dobreff, Debora Anderson, Linda Bruss, the van der Merwe family (Emsie, Jan and Chelly), Michael Foster, Cheryl Brown, Inge Koppelaar, Annie Hinde, Chris Dobson, Vashur Thakur, myself , Penny Purchase and 2 visitors, Denise and Don Slatter.

We set off down Hayfields Rd and were soon in the forest alongside the highway. Down we went and alongside the wetland where gabion weirs had been set up to encourage the wetland environment. Through the tunnel under the highway and then along a broad forest road below Grace College. Tall eucalypts spanned the road.We passed the Mondi sign stating that people were welcome to use the forest for recreational purposes.

Our halfway snack stop was under some gum trees overlooking a small dam. On the other side was John Fowler' s farm with irrigated green pastures and its yellow soya bean crop rising gently from the dam. Refreshed, we moved on past the new Castle View development with its views across to Amber Valley and Kwa Wula. We crossed the Hilton College road and took the dirt track past Callaho stud farm. As it was getting hot, we followed the single track cycle track that snaked and twisted through the forest, thankful for the deep shade and the quietness of the forest.

We came out on Elizabeth Drive near the sign to Wedgewood. The last kilometre was a hot suburban walk, as we took the treeless pavements, past the new Hilton Hospital, over the Hilton bridge and safely to GROUND.

Our tongues were hanging out for hot coffee and cappuccinos and the high they give & ..but we were greeted with unwelcome news : no water in Hilton ! so their fancy pressure coffee machine couldn' t work! Groans all round! Most of the hikers left, hot and bothered. 5 of us stayed; Chris Dobson, Vladimir, Debra, Linda and myself. We spent a pleasant coffee time enjoying the special coffee from Rwanda and Guatemala, and sharing our hiking experiences. And I had the best cappuccino ever! This was a pleasant morning hike combining town and country, that took about two and a half hours. Recommended for beginners and the getting-fit brigade.

1 Hiking group
2 Start of the hike, Hawkins Rd
3 Wetland opposite the Hilton Hotel
4 Snack stop in the gums
5 Enjoying their snacks
6 Van der Merwe family and Michael on the rocks
7 Van der Merwe family and Michael on safe ground
8 Hiking group raring to go after snack refreshment

9 GROUND coffee shop
10 Vladimir,Linda, Chris and Debora getting a coffee high after a hiking high
11 Vladimir, Linda, Chris and Penny relaxing tired legs