The Great Dividing Trail concept, as originally envisaged in 1992, involved three Stages, all of which are now complete. The Great Dividing Trail Association later added the Lerderderg Track between Daylesford and Bacchus Marsh.
This multi-day hike traverses all sections of this track, from Daylesford to Castlemaine. This is a challenging hike due to the distance covered, steepness of some sections of the trail and the limited water procurement opportunities. There are multiple entry points to this trail if you wish to divide it into shorter sections.
Entry points for the Dry Diggings Track are located at:
- Lake Daylesford – on the embankment adjacent to the spillway, access via Central Springs or the carkpark near the ‘Boat House’.
- Daylesford Visitor Information Centre in Vincent Street, south of the Post Office.
- Hepburn Springs – in the Mineral Springs Reserve south carpark
- Vaughan Springs – at the picnic ground on the Loddon River
- Fryerstown – at the Burke and Wills Mechanics Institute
- Castlemaine Rail Station
The Great Dividing Trail – Dry Diggings Track includes the following sections as it passes through Daylesford, Hepburn, Mount Franklin, Vaughan Springs, Fryerstown and Castlemaine.
Tipperary Walk – Lake Daylesford to Hepburn Springs Reserve 16km easy/medium
The trail takes the Tipperary Walking Track from picturesque Lake Daylesford, a man-made lake that covers the site of the Wombat Flat diggings where gold was first officially reported in 1851, to the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve. At the Reserve, there’s a full range of facilities for indulging yourself from private spa baths to a spa pool, cafe or European style picnicking with electric barbecues.
The narrow Trail largely hugs the contours of the steep Sailors and Springs Creeks valleys, through foothill forest, hidden away from housing upslope. There are many mineral springs you are free to visit en route.
Sailors Creek was turned inside out in the search for gold in the second half of the 19th century. Mining artefacts and landscapes are studded throughout the bush, which is surprisingly intact, except around Lake Daylesford and between Breakneck Gorge and Golden Spring. At the latter two places, blackberries threaten to overwhelm the Trail.
Mt Franklin View Walk – Hepburn Springs Reserve to Porcupine Ridge Rd 16.5 km easy/medium
The region’s best known volcano, Mt Franklin, has a breached crater formed half a million years ago. You can view it from the Trail, but you will need to make an 8km return side trip by walking or driving west along the Midland Highway to camp on its crater floor. Toilets and picnic facilities are available here.
There are two prolonged climbs in this walk – one near the beginning (the perhaps appropriately named Widow’s Gully), the other near the end. From Hepburn Springs the Walk goes up into dry box forest around the old mining settlement of Dry Diggings. It includes a number of significant mine sites either side of the Track, particularly in Beehive Gully.
The Hepburn Springs entry station is located at the southern end car park of the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.
Golden Mountain Walk – Porcupine Ridge Road to Vaughan Springs 11 km
This section passes through historic goldfields that are only accessible on this walk. It includes a number of often dry gullies. Water must be carried in this area because it isn’t guaranteed to be available or potable, even at Vaughan on the Loddon River.
There is no permanent settlement at all once you head north of Mt Franklin. It is a great area for experiencing a quiet, challenging walk through a forested, uninhabited but once thriving mining area.
Cry Joe Walk – Vaughan Springs to Castlemaine Station 19.5 km
This section is extremely rich in mining heritage. It goes past a number of historic mines and through a number of mined and sluiced gullies. It also passes through the historic township of Fryerstown and the former mining towns of Irishtown and Spring Gully.
Walkers are encouraged to leave the Trail and investigate several of the historic mining sites and buildings around Fryerstown and Spring Gully. Please respect the privacy of people who live in many of these buildings. The section between Castlemaine and The Monk (a large hill with a stunning view) follows the Poverty Gully Water Race into Castlemaine.
An entry station is located at the Fryerstown old school, a building which is being refurbished by the local Fryerstown community. The grounds are available for camping and there is a wood barbecue, an external water point and external showers.
Max elevation: 563 m
Min elevation: 277 m
Total climbing: 1379 m
Total descent: -1620 m