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
The 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.
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