Where we went: Myrtle Gully Falls
When we went: Late Autumn 2022
Estimated time to complete walk: 1 hour (factoring in tiny little toddler legs)
Time spent on walk: a little over an hour (they just have such tiny legs!)
We haven’t posted in a long while now because our lives have been very topsy-turvy since certain viruses changed the shape of our work/life balance. The truth is Sommelier and I went 12 whole months never doing anything more than tiny little day walks that we never found the time to blog about. We’re working on changing that in the coming months, but, in the meantime I, Sapphire, determined to remain passably hiking-fit, have taken on a role as a support worker for an adventurous 4 year old with cerebral palsy, and her 2 sisters (Miss 3yo and Miss under 2yo), who also enjoy long walks in the woods (we hope…this is our first ever walk in the woods together).
Miss 4yo has severe mobility limitations which require a range of mobility aids. Many non-disabled, newly disabled, and temporarily disabled people are shocked to discover that not all mobility aids are covered by the NDIS (many can be argued for, but it can be a stressful and disheartening process). While we do have a chair that can handle some off-road action that was covered by the NDIS, we are also very fortunate that Miss 4yo was given a We Carry Kevan carrier as a gift. It has taken her some time to grow into it, but we are finally ready to go on big adventures with her in the carrier, rather than having to find tracks suitable for chairs (there are very few of these around).
Getting out of the house with 3 smalls is a challenge, any parent can confirm this. The small’s mother (mummy L) started the packing process the night before and I was chief in charge of light snacks. Miss 3 was an enthusiastic warm jackets finder and we always have nappies and wet wipes on hand. Did you know you need about 5 nappies for a 2 hour outing with 2 children in nappies? This was new information to me who was well on track to packing nowhere near enough of any baby essentials before Mummy L intervened. I was ready to stuff my usual 5 bandages into the sparkly unicorn bag (at the expense of at least 2 nappies) but Mummy L inisted that we really would need at least 5 nappies and a whole pack of wipes, so I grudgingly stuffed my favourite bandage (the snake bite one) into my pockets along with the head torch that I maintain is an essential for all walks, even the 1 hour ones. In all the excitement of packing and getting ready for our first big outing together we almost forgot lunch! During the gobbling (as quickly as 3yos are able) it came to light, thanks to a conversation with experienced-hiker-grandma, that our original plan of Snug Falls would likely be too challenging for small children and their impossibly tiny legs. Having promised a waterfall and being unwilling to break a promise to small children who were already packed we quickly rummaged through the internet to find a more suitable walk, settling on Myrtle Gully Falls, which is allegedly a smoother track with much easier car parking options (as I have not done Snug Falls I cannot confirm these allegations).
After much kerfuffle over lunch and a minor disagreement about the importance of wearing pants in public we just missed our (rather ambitious) departure time of 1pm, and were underway by closer to 1:30 with Mummy L lunching in the car and the both of us adults frantically searching through the PODD book to try and communicate to all parties that we were going to see a waterfall. As there is not currently a tile in the book for waterfall (we used one of our customised ones to put it in ours), and noone under the age of 30 in the car had ever actually seen a waterfall this was very tricky. We settled for promising that it would be an “outside activity” and that we would “like it” but that was all we were able to say about that.
The Myrtle Gully track departs from behind the Cascade Brewery and winds softly up along a slightly muddy, very gentle slope that follows beside a burrbly stream. If you are not travelling with children then you can park at the cascade gardens and walk in, but we were unsure of our stamina so settled for the cheats parking near the main fire trail.
The track is fairly narrow, a little too narrow in most areas for an adult to hold the hands of 2 children at once without one child trapsing dangerously close to the edge of what could reasonably be considered a moderate cliff/gully. As we were heading out in the afternoon and there had already been some rain that day we probably saw some of the worst mud that the path had to offer, honestly, it was not a lot, but we would advise ensuring all the tiny toddlers in your party have waterproof tiny toddler shoes, as mud goes much further up the bodies of the very small humans than it does the adult sized ones.
Mushrooms abound along the entire track in the right weather conditions. If you have the time to tickle the curiosity of children then a mushroom flip book may be of merit to your trip. We mostly settled for speculation into what kinds of fairies live in these kinds of mushrooms, rather than identification because we did not think to bring a mushroom flip book and also no children displayed an interest in knowing proper names of fungi at this juncture.
While the path is easy to follow and not particularly difficult to take on foot, unfortunately, due to a minor stone steps situation it is not wheelchair accessible. It is also worth noting that stone steps get very slippery when wet, which is something I know in theory, but found much more terrifying in the face of small bodies climbing them. We all made it up safely with only a bit of mud on Miss under 2yo’s knees.
The falls appeared through the trees not long after the flurry of stone steps, those unencumbered by the legs of cherubs could likely have made it in under 15 minutes, but it took us closer to 25. There is a very convenient viewing bridge, and we had the whole area just to ourselves.
After a quick look at the falls (which I should note are a particularly great activity for us as Miss 4yo has visual impairment, so activities with an auditory involvement are much more inclusive than just a walk in the woods), we were still feeling energetic enough to keep going in search of the perfect snacking location. A set of stone steps and a relatively shallow hill climb bring you to the top of the falls (which are 4 meters high at their tallest, it really isn’t too onerous a climb), and a short way past that we settled in for a riverside picnic with diaper bags for sitting on, wet wipes for clean hands, and homemade fruit leather and museli bars for food. The path carries on, but we had definitely gone as far as we could manage on our first outing together.
After a long rest I swapped my hiking companion (Miss 4yo) with Mummy L who wanted some quiet time with her eldest and helped the other 2 down the steps again (I thought the stone steps were scary going up, but they were heaps more terrifying going down!) And I quickly learned that I simply do not have the upper body strength necessary to carry an almost 2yo any significant distance, which was inconvenient, as she had decided (very reasonably) that her little legs simply could not even anymore. We made it as far as the base of the waterfall (less than 10 minutes) before we had to swap back. Luckily Miss 4yo quite enjoys being my companion as she finds incompetence hilarious and my accidentally walking her into tree branches sent her into fits of giggles which carried us all the way home. It is also worth noting that Mummy L was right, we used all the nappies, as well as the change of clothes. We did not need a single bandage.
If you would like to read more about Miss 4yos future adventures and constant development, or if you just want to read more of her story from Mummy L’s perspective than head to their instagram or Facebook. There are occasional promotions, and lots of smiles and mischief.