Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lerderderg East Walk, Lerderderg State Park - January 2018


Leaving O'Briens Crossing this morning things were looking good.
Ok, it’s time for Lerderderg version 2.0, yep I spent a couple of hours typing this up a couple of days ago and promptly lost it when I was pasting it into Blogger - I wasn’t a happy Feral blogger! It’s taken another two days for me to work up enough enthusiasm to start again, I have trouble writing up those posts during the week sometimes as for some reason I struggle to switch off after writing a post, so when I go to bed I sometimes toss and turn with my mind going over what I’ve written, this isn’t ideal really as I normally have to fire up at 4:30 am to get to work the next day. Anyway, as I’m writing this up in the middle of writing up all my AAWT posts I figured that I’d better get on with it, at the time of writing this I’ve still got two thirds of the AAWT walk left to write up.
The camping area at O'Briens Crossing was pretty busy on this Saturday morning.
The pad starts off pretty easily.
I’d sweltered through some stinking hot days at work leading up to this Saturday so I was keen to do a walk that involved a bit of a swim, that was basically my whole criteria for choosing this stroll, well that and the fact the drive too and from the walk would take less time than the actual walking bit of the day, something that isn’t that common in my Feral world. Pulling on my boots at O’Briens Crossing I was on my way nice and early this Saturday, this was a good thing because my mates at the BOM were predicting rain this afternoon. After crossing the low level bridge over the Lerderderg River I set off south along the fairly good walking track under a bright blue sky.
The Lerderderg River had stopped flowing on this visit.
There are a few rocks to scramble over.....
....and plenty of nice pools to explore.
Early morning in Lerderderg Gorge, it's a little hard to believe that your only about an hour from the Melbourne CBD when you're in here.
The pad south along the river from O’Briens Crossing is a bit of a mixed bag really, in some spots it’s right down beside the river, in others it climbs a bit, some sections are clear of scrub but other sections had me happy that I had my gaiters on. Getting closer to Mine Camp the track follows a fairly long section of old water race, which always make for nice walking, but before getting there the pad crosses plenty of rocky bluffs which require sure footing.
The contrasting light conditions in the early morning always test out my skill behind the shutter down here.
The path traverses this huge log jam for a couple of hundred metres, not a good spot for someone as hefty as me.
Sometimes the pad is very close to the river.
I was suffering a little this morning with a common early morning issue in Lerderderg Gorge, the contrasting light in this place kills me when I’m trying to take a photo, what looks really nice through my sunnies either comes out partly over exposed or looking like I need a torch, not that it stopped me trying though. After slowly meandering my way down the gorge for a couple of hours checking out the many pools left in dry riverbed, I started to follow an old water race through some mine tailings. Wandering along what was now a pretty easy section of the track my revery was broken when I almost stepped on a Tiger Snake, yep it wouldn’t be a visit to Lerderderg without a snake sighting I don’t think. Old mate Mr Tiger Snake wasn’t in any hurry to get out of the way either, sun baking in the middle of the pad while I got a few photos of him. Eventually I decided to skirt around him, doubling back to get a photo of his head from a different angle, although noticing his neck flattening out I took my cue and left him in peace.
It doesn't take much looking to notice the mining history.
At times the pad climbs high up above the river.
This bloke was going nowhere in a hurry!
He's flattened his neck out, time for a Feral retreat!
After passing the turn off to Nolan Track the fairly easy walking continued all the way to the turn off to Whisky Track, now my ongoing walk would continue straight on but I wanted to drop down Whisky Track to check out a couple of things. The first spot I wanted to re-visit was Mine Camp, this campsite is a little unusual for Lerderderg Gorge in that it is pretty big, well at least that’s the way I remember it. After checking out what is indeed a large camping spot I dropped down to the river to find the next spot that I wanted to re-visit. I remember that there was a nice swimming hole and beach not far from here. Sure enough after climbing a fairly low rocky bluff I dropped down onto a nice pool with it’s own beach, the perfect excuse to strip off and jump in for a bit of wild swimming, not that I really need an excuse for a swim anyway!
There are a variety of signs and markers throughout Lerderderg State Park.
Feral goats are a real issue at Lerderderg unfortunately.
The track passes through a lot of these old mullock heaps.

Floating on my back in this fairly remote pool, looking up at the blue sky I was really living the life. Eventually though I figured that I’d better get going again in case the predicted rain beat me back to the ute. After drip trying on the beach for awhile I pulled on my sweaty clothes and set off again, climbing away from the river, passing through the deserted camp, I was soon back on my onward route. The easy walking continues for a bit longer as the track continues on down the gorge, crossing over a spur the pad passes a huge area of mine tailings, there must be forty or fifty mullock heaps pock marking the top of this spur, it reminds me of a mini Coober Pedy. Soon after passing through the old mining area my easy walking came to it’s end when I met and turned up Cowan Track.
I'm in my natural habitat.
Mine Camp is just up the hill over the bluff.
Climbing over a low spur the track crosses a spur pock marked with mullock heaps.
There's even an old mine just below the track.
Looking at all the support beams on the ground I wouldn't go too far into here.
Walking over at Lerderderg State Park is synonymous with a few things in my mind, rough riverbed walking, scratchy scrub, swimming holes, snakes, goats and steep, loose climbs and descents in and out of the gorge on the many spurs. So having already ticked off most of those I started up today’s steep climb. Initially today the climb up Cowan Track was along a nice walking track which kept just to the west of the crest of the spur before arriving onto a bit of a knoll and meeting up with an old fire track. The fire track now climbed up over Upsall Hill before continuing along the crest of the ridge towards O’Briens Road. Apart from the steepness of some of the spurs at Lerderderg the other feature on most of the spurs are the dry open forests and while the sparse tree cover doesn’t provide much shade it does allow for some distant views, unfortunately the distant views today allowed me to see the dark clouds heading my way. Hmm, I’d better get a shuffle on.
These are the current standard for sign posting in the park.
Cowan Track starts off as a nice walking track.
Before morphing into an old fire track.
On reaching O’Briens Road I stopped for a bit of a break and checked the map, two kilometres to go and it’s starting to spit with rain, this’ll be a close thing I remember thinking. Shouldering the pack again I set off along the quiet dirt road before branching off onto the very old Short Cut Track, the showers for the most part holding off. After crossing over a knoll the old fire track dropped very steeply down to meet O’Briens Road again for a few metres before I once again headed bush, this time dropping down through some more mullock heaps along a dry and open spur. With the rain largely holding off I dropped down the spur back onto O’Briens Road for the last 100 metres back to the ute. After throwing my boots and gaiters into the tray I climbed behind the wheel and headed off home after another nice stroll, the rain arriving in earnest before I’d even made it to Greendale.....beautiful!
Reaching O'Briens Road I had two kilometres to go and it's starting to rain, I'd better get going!
After ten minutes or so I headed off along the closed road that is Short Cut Track.
How the hell did that stump get into the middle of the old track?
The Dirt.
I walked around 13 kilometres and climbed 350 metres on today’s stroll. I’m thinking this is a medium grade walk but…if you don’t like rough ground and the occasional scrub massage then you’d probably rate it hard. The pad down stream along the Lerderderg River is a little indistinct in a couple of spots, you have to be particularly aware when the pad climbs very steeply to pass above a big bluff. The Lerderderg River wasn’t flowing when I went through in early January which is a pretty standard thing in late summer, there are generally plenty of pools that area suitable for a swim though, although you’d need to treat the water if you wanted to drink it. Mine Camp would make a nice spot to camp if you wanted to turn this into a very easy overnighter. I used notes from the House of Chapman’s book, the 2017 edition of Day Walks Melbourne, it is walk number 15 in the book.

Relevant Posts.
The Scenic Rim, Lerderderg State Park, 2017.
The Old River, Lerderderg State Park, 2017.
Clearwater Creek, Lerderderg State Park, 2015.

Meeting O'Briens Road I veered left down another spur to finally meet O'Briens Road again 100 metres before arriving back at O'Briens Crossing.
Dropping down the spur the end was in sight. I just beat the rain.

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