Researching scenic routes home from work quickly evolved into an all-consuming passion for Travis Easton, who has recently completed documenting 314 waterfalls within 100 kilometres of Melbourne.
Easton, a contributor to Wild and avid wilderness photographer, pursued his hobby after realising just how many waterfalls weren’t marked on modern maps.
While the definition he uses includes any drop of three metres or more on any mapped watercourse over rock, some of the features he’s discovered are much more impressive.
“After finding a 75-metre high undocumented waterfall in Kinglake National Park – Halse Falls – I decided to expand my search to systematically explore every watercourse with conducive geology and topography in my search area,” he said.
Easton’s methods combined some common sense desktop research with field exploration, with the latter often requiring him to face adverse conditions.
“Caesar Falls is the most elusive of the unmapped waterfalls that I found,” he explained. “I first became aware of these falls via a photo taken by Lindsay Cumming in 1920.”
Accompanying the photo were the words ‘Rubicon River’ in barely legible handwriting.
Following some enquiries that led only to dead ends, Easton embarked on a series of expeditions up the Rubicon River (part of the Goulburn River Broken catchment) that he commenced in 2008. He eventually rediscovered the falls after six trips to the region.
Working full time while also being a married father of four meant that Easton has had to be careful in planning his time chasing waterfalls around more pressing commitments.
“Basically I had my wife’s blessing to undertake one trip a week after work and three days per school holidays,” he said.
Luckily for Easton, his family enjoy tagging along on his adventures, with his daughter Iona, 14, characterising him as “like a real explorer”.
“I’m so proud of Dad and I think it’s insanely cool that he’s like a real explorer,” she said. “It’s crazy how many waterfalls hadn’t been found until he came along, and there are still more out there.
“It’s really fun going on walks with Dad. We get our own taste of adventure.”
Not one to confine his interest to being a purely personal endeavour, Easton also undertook many hours in developing all of his findings into a series of books, which has resulted in the three-volume set, Melbourne’s Waterfalls: 314 Waterfalls within 100km of Melbourne.
“I simply can’t believe my luck that in a city that was established 180 years ago and that has four million souls in it, no-one else has ever undertaken this rewarding work before me.”
While Easton may be in it more for the thrill of the chase than for any personal gain, his self-satisfaction isn’t the only outcome of this immense project. Of the 314 waterfalls and 109 water features he’s documented, only 11 per cent have registered names and only 29 per cent appear on current maps. As a result, Easton is now working on submitting a list of some 200 geographic features that he has personally named with a hope of them being accepted by Vicnames – the Register of Geographic Names.
So far, Easton has had 12 names accepted by the register.