Rock climbing, walking through caves, sliding down cliffs and making friends with local mountain pets – visiting the Cathedral Ranges is a truly astonishing experience.
We set out to drive to the Cathedral Range State Park on a beautiful Sunday morning. It is a two-hour drive from Melbourne CBD. It was a gorgeous sunny 25C day - just perfect for this kind of trip. It’s better not to climb or do any physically demanding activities when it’s too hot outside.
You don’t need any rock climbing gear, but at times it felt like I was in the Survivor show. At first it was quite frightening climbing up the steep rocks without any harnesses and in my quite uncomfortable (for this purpose) runners, but after about 20 minutes I absolutely fell in love with the feeling of adrenaline, plus the stunning views.
If you’re planning to do this kind of climb, I would recommend wearing a comfortable shirt, pants or shorts (it is easy to get your legs scratched if you don’t cover the skin), a hat to protect you from the sun, and a pair of sunglasses. Also, don’t forget to take a bottle of water, sunscreen and some snacks.
We started out at the bottom of Sugarloaf Saddle and went up the Wells Cave Track. There are a few different routes you can take, and you will be guided by the arrows pointing you in the right direction.
The track started out as a challenging walk, and then step by step it turned into an intense rock climbing session. This “walk” is probably the maximum you can do without having any rock climbing gear.
I must say there were moments when I thought “If I slightly tilt back I will fall and not make it”. There were also quite a few lizards around, and usually you will stumble upon snakes, however I was lucky enough not to meet them.
While on your way up, you will stumble upon a very narrow cave. If you do not have any trouble with tight spaces this shouldn’t be a problem. It gets a little dark and cold, but hey, that’s a part of the challenge. You should be careful of snakes, bats or any other creatures that can creep up on you though.
When we finally got to the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, there it was – the stunning view across the ranges, plus a feeling of freedom, a slight fear of falling down, but mostly freedom. The cool wind whips across the top as the sun's ray warm up the skin.
“We’ve made it”, I thought. It was a challenge, but it’s worth it for the views you get, and it's quite a good workout. After resting at the top of the mountain and absorbing the stunning views and fresh air that you don’t often get back in Melbourne, we decided to head back and reward ourselves with a big lunch.
As we got up ready to go back, we saw a man with a little kid strapped to his back making his way to the top of the mountain! That was quite a surprise to me, as I wouldn’t take a child on such a risky journey, but I guess you can call it a child-friendly activity for some!
We came down the Canyon Track, which was way easier, but still tricky at times. My legs were covered in dust, my muscles were crying and my stomach begged for food. We got in the car and drove back to Melbourne, stopping for some food and milkshakes (not the healthiest choice, but we deserved it) on the way back.
We did it. It was an amazing experience and I would definitely go again!