The Cowbar Nudist Camp Circuit is a relatively easy 12km circuit that explores the protected native bushland of the Cobaw Range. Before anyone asks, I have no idea why two of the tracks include the term ‘Nudist’ and cannot find any reference to a nudist camp in the area.
The hike commences at the end of the 2WD Mooneys Lane near a private property gate. Follow the 4WD Nudist Camp Track north from this point. After approximately 365m of steady ascent you will reach an unsigned track junction. Take the track to your right, Nudist Camp Track, and follow this north as it gradually, then steeply climbs a broad spur to the top of the range and the junction of Croziers Track. Turn right onto Croziers Track and continue to the top of the Cowbar Range (approximately 750m elevation).
Continue to follow Croziers Track north then west to the junction of Reilleys Road. Ignore any side tracks as many are not marked on maps. On reaching Reilleys Road you will see a large cleared area to your right. This area has been recently cleared and is closed to public access, following the fires of 2003, due to the number of unstable trees. Avoiding this area, turn left onto Reilleys Road and walk approximately 100m to the signposted junction of Camp Track. Follow Camp Track for approximately 450m and locate Soil Pit Track on your left. Most tracks in this park are not signposted so ensure that this track heads to the south west and gradually ascends along a rocky 4WD track to the top of the Cowbar Range.
Continue to follow this track as it turns south, at the top of the range, and descends along a broad then narrow spur to Devanney Road. Turn left onto Devanney Road and walk a short distance to McKinley Track. The tracks in this section have been used a lot as a 4WD playground and offer some quite challenging routes for 4WD enthusiasts. Turning left onto McKinley Track walk approximately 620m, turning right onto Reillys Fireline Track. This track gradually ascends the range again where you will rejoin Croziers Track at an approximate elevation of 710m. Turn left and walk a short distance to the top of the range. From here the Croziers Nudist Link Track gradually descends through bush-land back to your start point at Mooneys Lane.
About the region
The Cobaw State Forest is a large preserved region of protected native bush-land in the Cobaw Range, about 2500ha, near the towns of Lancefield and Woodend, in Central Victoria, approximately 75 km north of Melbourne.
The Forest was severely damaged by bush-fires in 2003. There are innumerable tracks and trails for walkers, trail bikes, and 4WDs, popular on weekends. The ridges are strewn with granite boulders of all shapes and sizes.
There are nice views from Ridge Track towards Mt William, across the valley to the east as well as across Hanging Rock and the Macedon Ranges to the south.
The Cobaw State Forest is situated between the Calder Highway and the Northern Highway near Lancefield. It can be accessed from Melbourne using the Calder Highway or the Melbourne Lancefield Road. This circuit commences on Mooneys Lane which is approximately 81km north of Melbourne (8km west of Lancefield) along Three Chain Road. Parking is very limited near a gate at the end of Mooneys Lane (before the 4WD Nudist Camp Track commences).
There are numerous tracks and trails in the Cowbar State Forest, many of which are not on any maps. As such I would recommend downloading the GPX file and following the route in order to avoid making a wrong turn. Some of the tracks shown on maps no longer exist.
Some maps may show that the route taken explores a few off-trail sections. The entire route is along well formed 4WD tracks and no off-trail navigation is required.
Max elevation: 770 m
Min elevation: 503 m
Total climbing: 564 m
Total descent: -552 m