Sunday, October 28, 2018

Ingliston Gorge, Werribee Gorge State Park - October 2018

This is as far down Ingliston Creek as I got today.
It seems the harder I try to keep fit the sicker I get this year, so far I’ve had two severe cases of man flu, the first one needed antibiotics to finally shake after about four weeks. The second dose of man flu is now well into it’s third week and to be honest I don’t seem to be getting any better. To top it off this year I had a big stack on my bike and caused some serious damage to my lower back, yep, it’s been an annus horribilis that’s for sure. Thinking that I was getting a little better I figured a nice easy walk would be the go on this Saturday, so that’s how I found myself in the dusty Ingliston Gorge Carpark pulling on my boots this morning.
It was another cracker of a day today...although a little rain wouldn't go astray as things are getting pretty dry.
The walk starts and ends on this 4wd track.
As is pretty common I’ve done this walk before, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to tax me too much and setting off along a 4wd track things were looking good. Today was a cracker of a day in Melbourne and my spirits were high as I soon met up with the turn off down on Sloss’s Gully Track. Heading down the shallow gully that is Sloss’s Gully things were still pretty good in my Feral world although after 15 minutes meandering my way along the dry gully the pad left the gully and started an easy climb up onto a ridge,  suddenly things weren’t so sweet. Starting the short easy climb I had nothing, the climb was probably only 30 metres elevation over a few hundred metres but it was a two photo stop climb for me this morning!
Sloss's Gully is where I left the 4wd track....the walking improves immensely from here on.
Sloss's Gully
There are a few track markers along Sloss's Gully...don't miss the spot to turn out of the gully though.
This little climb was a two photo stop climb this morning!
Reaching a gas pipeline easement I crossed over and thankfully started a gradual descent. After stopping at an informal rocky lookout over Inglston Gorge my track started descending a bit more seriously, eventually dropping into a gully and arriving at the bottom of Inglston Gorge. Before continuing on the marked circuit this morning I decided to turn left and head down Inglston Creek. There is no formal track on this little side trip but the going is pretty easy, after our super dry September there was no water in the creek to negotiated so the bed of the creek was sometimes the better option for walking. The gorge along this little side trip is arguably more spectacular than the formal section of the walk I’m thinking and the grassy opening where I met the old fence line would make a nice spot for a picnic, you certainly wouldn’t be over run with other walkers down here.
Gee the country is looking dry for early Spring.
The Rocks Lookout
Ingliston Gorge probably suffers a little in comparison to its nearby big brother, Werribee Gorge. It's a surprisingly rugged little gorge though.
Dropping into Ingliston Gorge from the lookout, through typical rocky terrain.
On meeting Ingliston Creek I followed it downstream to this old fence line, this would make a nice spot for lunch if you were making a day of it.
The old fence marked my turn around point and I now took in the view from the opposite direction as I retraced my way back to the main track, the rocky bluffs and blue sky made it easy to believe that I was kilometres from anywhere, when actually the sprawling outskirts of Bacchus Marsh are only a few kilometres away and the Melbourne CBD well less than an hours drive. Meeting the formal track I continued on up through Ingliston Gorge, I was now following Whitehorse Creek though.

The scenery on my little off piste side trip was pretty sweet.
It was just as easy to walk in the dry creek bed sometimes on this section.
Meeting the main track again there was a pretty reasonable pad.
My old recollections of this walk had me walking largely off piste up the creek along here, but today I found a pretty good and well marked track. The track criss crossed the bone dry creek quite a few times on it’s meandering journey north though, but each change of direction gave me another great view of the walls of the gorge. Thankfully the scenery was nice though because I was feeling decidedly shitty now, I was drenched in sweat and really had nothing to give when it came to energy output now.
Ingliston Gorge
Rocky walking along Whitehorse Creek in Ingliston Gorge.
Have I mentioned that it was a pearler of a day?

Arriving at the exit of the gorge I stopped for a bit of a breather as I contemplated the climb out. Thankfully the climb out this end of the gorge didn’t seem quite as solid as the drop in the other end, but it still required quite a few photo stops before I emerged onto the 4wd track up near the carpark again. The climb is actually a really nice one, the track being benched into the steep hill side and passing through the ubiquitous dry, open Ironbark forest, even in my slightly less than optimal state I enjoyed it. Arriving back at the ute I chucked my boots in the back and set off home with a new plan, I’d settle down on the couch for the rest of the weekend and watch Bathurst - that shouldn’t require too much energy!
Don't miss this turn.
Even though I was feeling absolute crap the climb out was a good one.


The Dirt.
I walked 6 kilometres and climbed 179 metres on today’s easy stroll. There is a short off track section on this stroll but it follows a creek, so it shouldn't present any real navigational issues, it's easy enough to omit this section if your not wanting to walk off track though. Ingilston Gorge is within the boundaries of the Werribee Gorge State Park and while Inglston Gorge isn’t anywhere near as grand as the nearby Werribee Gorge, it’s still well worth a look I think. I used Glen Tempest’s notes today out of his ‘Melbourne’s Western Gorges’ book, Tyrone Thomas has also written this walk up in some of his old books. Another author that covers this walk is a guy called Jack Myers, his 2002 book ‘Jack’s Track Notes, Day Walks in Bacchus Marsh District’ is the absolute definitive guide to these western gorges, I think.

Relevant Posts.
The Scenic Rim, Lerderderg State Park, 2017.
You Yangs, You Yangs Regional Park, 2016.
Boar Gully, Brisbane Ranges National Park, 2016.

The walk is coming to it's end...I don't think I've ever done an easy 6 kilometre walk harder, my shirt was ringing wet with sweat!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Byers Back Track & Shaws Lake, Lerderderg State Park - September 2018

Shaws Lake
On the first day of Spring this year I decided head over to Lerderderg State Park and walk the Byers Back Track - Shaws Lake circuit. This walk is a bit of a standard for a lot of Victorian walkers, with plenty of history to be seen and the possibility of a counter lunch at the Blackwood pub, some mineral springs, a nice lake and an historic tunnel, yep there is plenty to see on this stroll. While it was the first day of spring the weather was actually pretty shitty today, so on pulling into the deserted car park at O’Briens Crossing this morning I was happy to set off under a relatively blueish sky.
O'Briens Crossing was deserted this morning.
Blue sky to start with.
Since I was last down here camping has been banned at O’Briens Crossing, I suspect for environmental reasons although I’m only guessing. The place was probably in danger of being loved to death but it’s still a little sad, what is also a little sad is that the relocated camping area was vandalised almost as soon as it was opened, with some 100 year old trees chainsawed down. Setting off today, climbing away from the river I witnessed another act of senseless stupidity. It appears as though a walker had raided the toilets at O’Briens Crossing and removed the toilet rolls, they then draped them along Byers Back Track like streamers, littering the bush for the first kilometre and a half, it wasn't until I crossed Ambler Lane that the toilet paper disappeared, what hope have we got?
Byers Back Track climbs steeply from O'Briens Crossing to reach an old water race.
Some drop kick had draped the first couple of kilometres with toilet paper.
Ignoring the trail of toilet paper fluttering in the breeze, Byers Back Track makes a great walking track, the old water race is benched into the sides of the steep (sometimes almost vertical) sides of Lerderderg Gorge making a perfectly level walking path that contours its way towards Blackwood. Reaching Ambler Lane the Bacchus Marsh to Daylesford leg of the GDT comes in from the left and I’d now be following it most of the way into Blackwood. The next couple of kilometres along Byers Back Track are probably the most spectacular of the walk, with the river occasionally glimpsed through the tree canopy below me and views across forested ridges, it was only really the slightly dodgy weather that was a bit of a downer this morning.
Passing Amblers Lane I joined the GDT.
Byers Back Track
Typical Lerderderg Gorge country.
Byers Back Track is benched into the side of the gorge.
I was getting a few long range views and a few patches of blue sky.
With the occasional light shower scudding through I didn’t muck around much this morning, stopping every now and again to take a photo or check something out that had caught my eye, but largely shuffling on. The actual track, whilst almost dead level and clear is actually a bit slippery in wet weather, the compacted clay and dirt along with the sometimes big drop offs demanded a bit of care, especially with the occasional mountain biker also using the track. After crossing over Deadmans Track I started to pass through some extensive old gold mining diggings, the huge sluicing gullies and old mine shafts slowly being reclaimed by nature. There is actually an old mine shaft cut horizontally into the hill side along here as well. Somewhat unusually this old mine hasn’t been fenced off and you can get a fair way in, although I’m thinking that it’s probably best not to go to far, OH+S probably wasn’t big when this old mine shaft was dug out.
Byers Back Track makes for good walking.
There is a fair variety of signage at Lerderderg.

Not long after passing the old mine Byers Back Track emerged from the scrub onto Golden Point Road, I’d now follow quite roads until I reached Blackwood. Like Byers Back Track, the gravelled Golden Point Road largely contoured in and out of the gullies along the hillside above the Lerderderg River. After passing by a couple of nice swimming holes and bush camping spots I met the bitumen and the road climbed a little, I was now in the outskirts of Blackwood, I was also now in light but steady rain unfortunately. Now normally the go on the walk is to head to the Blackwood Pub for a counter lunch, but seeing that it wasn’t lunch time yet and also the fact that I was once again walking with all my Feral mates, I decided to give the pub a miss on this walk.
Closing in on Blackwood the track starts to pass through old gold mining areas.

Big rocks, steep climbs and Tiger Snakes are all Lerderderg staples.
The old mine on Byers Back Track.
It would probably pay not to go too far into this old mine.

So instead of the heading to the pub I left Golden Point Road and dropped down through the caravan park and mineral springs reserve. After crossing the Lerderderg River on the substantial bridge I sat out of the rain for awhile in one of the mineral springs shelters while I checked out my notes and map. Unfortunately the grey skies were sucking a bit of the Feral mojo away today so it took a little bit of willpower to shoulder my pack again and start the climb up to my next objective, Shaws Lake. The good news was that, unlike a lot of the other climbs at Lerderderg this one is pretty gentle, even better news was that the sun was out again.
Nearing Blackwood I passed a couple of nice swimming holes.
Golden Point Road, Blackwood.
There are a few different mineral springs down beside the river at Blackwaood.
No need to get my feet wet on this crossing.
The Lerderderg River at Blackwood.
You're braver than me if you drink this stuff.

My extensive research failed to come up with the reason that Shaws Lake exists, and while I’ll never get that two minutes of my life back I’m guessing its relic from the old gold morning history. Whatever it was initially used for nowadays it makes a nice picnic, and I’m guessing in summer, swimming spot. Today, with the sun out again, it also made for what was probably the nicest photos of the day. I was now skirting around the northern side of the Lerderderg Gorge via series of quiet dirt roads, firstly along the Shaws Lake Road from which I was able to look down into another old gold mining sluicing gully. Lerderderg State Park can be home to its fair share of my bogan brothers and these quiet roads and 4wd tracks are normally where you’ll meet them, so I was pretty happy today to manage to shuffle my way, not only along Shaws Lake Track but also North Blackwood Road, without bumping into any of my two stroke or four stroke friends….maybe it was the rain?
The climb from Blackwood to Shaws Lake is pretty easy.
Shaws Lake under a patch of blue sky.
Climbing up Shaws Lake Road I passed this old sluicing gully.

On reaching Tunnel Track my luck with the weather had run out again and I was again trudging along in the rain. Tunnel Track is another of those 4wd tracks that are fairly common out here but really it’s not bad walking. At almost 4 kilometres it’s a fairly long descent back down to the river, the track initially following a wide spur before it narrows up down towards the river, these lower sections were great walking as the 4wd track had now finished and I was dropping down the narrow spur on a walking pad. Eventually, with the Lerderderg River just below me, I dropped off the side of the spur down onto the bed of the river where it disappears under the spur. This is the spot that the old miners tunnelled though the spur to divert the river so as to allow them easier access the the gold in the river bed. Nowadays The Tunnel makes for an interesting spot to poke around and check out, especially in winter when there is a good flow of water in the river.
Reaching Tunnel Point Track the rain was back.
It was that kind of day really.
Tunnel Point Track is pretty good walking.
Nearing the bottom of the spur I followed a walking pad along the now narrow spur crest.
Dropping down onto the river bed I had to negotiate these slick dead trees and rocks, not so easy for a fat old bloke like me...
After carefully negotiating the slick rocks around the The Tunnel it was time to make a move back to O’Briens Crossing and the ute. Before I could rejoin my outward route though I had a steep little grunt up the badly eroded Gribble Track to once again meet Byers Back Track. Being deep in the gorge and with the weather once again looking anything but promising my GPS lost the plot a little here, losing satellites and positioning me anywhere from Ballarat to Bendigo, needless to say I won’t use my GPS stats on this walk as I’m pretty sure I didn’t walk 78 kilometres!
The Tunnel inlet is fairly well log jammed.
The Tunnel outlet is a lot prettier.
It must of been quite a feat cutting through here with hand tools back in the day, I'm thinking.
Ah, the lengths I go to to get a half decent photo.
With my GPS beeping in my pocket I set off along Byers Back Track towards the ute, the rain now really coming down, so much so that I broke out my umbrella, yes I’ve had this umbrella for years and probably carried it for hundreds of kilometres but today was the first time that I’ve actually used it in anger. By the time I arrived at the end of Byers Back Track and dropped down the short Nature Walk the sun was again poking through the cloud. The short nature walk doubles back a little, before dropping steeply down a spur and emerging on the banks of the river opposite some old camping spots. If the weather was twenty degrees warmer this would be another nice spot for a swim I’m thinking, but with hypothermia more of a chance this afternoon I pushed on. The last short section of today’s stroll should of been a bit of a wind-down but I had a couple of things conspiring against me, the first issue is that I’m old and broken which along with the second issue, my creek side stroll had my climbing over a couple of slick rocky bluffs, meant that there was no easy finish on todays walk.
The climb up Gribble Track to Byers Back Track is steep and eroded.
Back on Byers Back Track the walking was easy again although the weather was closing in on me as well.
Byers Back Track.


I reckon of carried this umbrella on my back for hundreds of kilometres and this afternoon I finally used it.

The Dirt.
Like I’ve already mentioned my GPS once again dropped a cog and came up with some interesting stats, if you want to see what I mean check out the map. So with stats from my GPS even less accurate than normal I’ll go with numbers out of the guide books, I’ll call this an 18 kilometre walk with around 360 metres climbing on what was a medium-hard grades days walking for me. Now speaking of guide books it seem that every man and his dog has written up this walk, The Chapman’s, Glen Tempest and Tyrone Thomas all spring to mind. I normally use the Meridian Map for the area when I’m walking at Lerderderg. This is a really good walk with interesting tracks, lots of history and good facilities, it’s definitely worth checking out. The tracks are generally clear and well marked, although the immediate area around The Tunnel requires care, especially if the rocks are wet like they were today.

Relevant Posts.
Lerderderg East Walk, Lerderderg State Park, 2018.
The Old River, Lerderderg State Park, 2017.
Clearwater Creek, Lerderderg State Park, 2015.

Instead of dropping straight down Byers Back Track to O'Briens Crossing I took the short nature loop walk.
One final greasy bluff to scramble over.

O'Briens Crossing was a little busier this afternoon.

Needless to say, treat this map with a lot of suspicion!