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Lerderderg State Park...
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Goldfields & Mining
Byers Back Track runs for approximately 12.5 kms between Blackwood and O'Brien's Crossing in the Lerderderg State Park. The hike can be undertaken as a one way trip with a car shuttle or a return hike, retracing your path. Alternatively you can return via Tunnel Point Track. This circuit is referred to as the Blackwood Hike Circuit.
The route largely follows old water races which were cut into the mountainside to transfer water from dams or the river to downstream alluvial gold workings where panning for gold would be undertaken. As water originally flowed in them, the old water courses are basically level and follow the contours of the hillside meaning that the hike is relatively flat at times. Despite being relatively flat, the hike does present technical challenges along the way such as rocks, fallen trees, washouts, stairs, steep drop offs and loose surfaces. From a hill climbing perspective, the hike is relatively flat and, hence, quite easy but it does provide a few challenges particularly when wet.
The vegetation is largely gum trees for most of the way but as the track gets more elevated in the steeper sections of the gorge, the forest varies and provides excellent views out over the Lerderderg River.
A number of mines and gold diggings are passed on the way along the trail.
About the region
Rising in the Great Dividing Range, the Lerderderg River has cut a 300 metre deep gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. The park has a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife and some interesting relics of gold mining. Lerderderg State Park encompasses scenic and geological gorge formations surrounding the Lerderderg River as well as the volcanic cone of Mount Blackwood. The adjacent and separate block called the Pyrete Range forms part of the park. The Lerderderg is known for its remote setting and the 300m deep Lerderderg River gorge is a dominant feature. Private land abuts the park to the south and the Wombat State forest abuts to the north and west.
Lerderderg State Park (incorporating the former Pyrete State Forest) is a 14,250-hectare park located between Bacchus Marsh and Blackwood, an hour's drive from Melbourne, Australia. There are several maintained tracks for walking through the park and camping is allowed.
The park is named for the Lerderderg River which has cut the 300 metre deep Lerderderg Gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. Parks Victoria maintains six designated walks: three short walks of 3.5 km or less; Blackwood-O'Briens Crossing and return (22 km); O'Briens Crossing-Cowan Track loop (14 km); and the overnight walk O'Briens Crossing to Mackenzies Flat (20 km).
In addition, one leg of the Great Dividing Trail, the Lerderderg Track, passes through the park, entering from Blackwood in the park's northwest, and exiting south towards Bacchus Marsh. Bicycles are prohibited from one section of this track, due to a conservation area.
O'Briens Crossing is located in the centre of the northern section of the park, along O'Briens Road. The crossing is located approximately 4km from the Greendale-Blackwood Road, with the turnoff approximately a 5km drive north of Greendale. The track into the crossing is quite good with sufficient access for 2WD's and caravans.
Max elevation: 576 m
Min elevation: 449 m
Total climbing: 536 m
Total descent: -474 m