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 Leanganook Track are located at:
- Castlemaine Rail Station
- Bendigo Rail Station – adjacent to the main station entry and bus terminal
The Great Dividing Trail – Leanganook Track includes the following sections as it passes through Castlemaine, Chewton, Expedition Pass, Mount Alexander and Bendigo.
Heritage Park Walk – Castlemaine Station to Old Calder Highway 15.5 km
Traces of the alluvial gold rush era are evident everywhere in this walk through the Castlemaine Diggings and Forest Creek goldfields. They range from the sandstone walls of one roomed miners’ huts, to puddling sites that were to become dominated by Chinese in the 1860s, and to the foundations for the giant Garfield water wheel driven battery which crushed quartz for gold until the start of the 20th century.
This first part of the walk comes close to the historic Pennyweight Cemetery on the fringes of the former gold workings, now preserved as an historic site and which should form a short side trip. It passes the massive stone foundations of the former 21.5m diameter Garfield water wheel that once drove a 15 head quartz-crushing battery.
Later the walk passes the Expedition Pass Reservoir, constructed to bring water off the Great Dividing Range to the goldfields from the Malmsbury Reservoir on the Coliban River.
Leanganook Summit Walk- Old Calder Highway – Sutton Grange Rd 12 km
Soon after leaving the Calder Highway this walk skirts a granite quarry and heads via a walking easement onto the now forested (mainly manna gum) granite country that forms the Mount Alexander range, largely denuded of trees by the 1860s. The walk goes through the former Koala Park towards the top of the range via the Dog Rocks, a collection of granite tors onto the gently sloping, summit ridge at Langs Lookout with excellent views to the north and east.
Sit and enjoy the views from Ed’s Seat – constructed from koala park fence parts by GDTA member, Ed Butler and a Conservation Volunteers Australia crew.
Keep an eye out for a track immediately north (no 8 on Leanganook map), leading 1.3km east to the Leanganook picnic and camping ground, with fireplaces, toilet block and vehicle access (no.9 on Leanganook Track map).
The descent from the summit down the eastern flank toward Sutton Grange Road is studded with huge granite tors interspersed by an unusual and beautiful old growth open woodland with large, spreading manna gums and yellow box trees.
Coliban Water Walk- Sutton Grange Rd to Sandhurst Reservoir 21km
This Walk follows the remarkable Coliban Channel, constructed during the gold era to bring permanent water to Bendigo all the way from the Great Dividing Range, some 70km away. The ambitious scheme involved diverting the Coliban River, south of Malmsbury, towards Bendigo via gravity-fed channels and aqueducts. An engineering gem, the Coliban Water System includes over 20 reservoirs and more than 500km of open channels. It is registered under the Victorian Heritage Act.
Starting at Sutton Grange Rd, this walk follows the concrete channel through paddocks, punctuated at regular intervals by startling, almost sculptural, engineering features. Features on this section of track include Wirths tunnel (623m long), granite flume pillars for holding up a wooden flume: a raised aqueduct for carrying water across a gully head and ‘The falls and dissipators’. These are probably the most extraordinary features of the Coliban Water System. As the water drops from the plateau to the plains, it passes over two artificial bluestone-block waterfalls, set in the course of the channel, less than a kilometre apart. The second set of falls at Cuneens Gully has an added dissipator, There is a camping ground to the north of Cuneens Gully. By Sandhurst Reservoir this walk along the Coliban Channel passes through Box Ironbark forest, in the shallow soils formed on the Bendigo shales and slates with their famous gold bearing saddle reefs.
Bendigo Goldfields Walk – Sandhurst Reservoir to Bendigo Station 12 km
This walk goes from the forested hills above Bendigo via the southern Bendigo suburbs to the Bendigo Railway Station. The mining wealth of this striking central Victorian city was primarily won in the hundreds of kilometres of shafts and tunnels now under the imposing civic buildings, broad streets, parklands and suburbs of the present-day city of Bendigo. Between the reservoir and Bendigo, the walk passes through a regrowth box-ironbark forest, originally devastated by mining and recently included in a series of national parks to conserve this endangered forest type.
The remains of many dozen mines are evident on Diamond Hill: from mullock heaps to sluiced gullies, from building and stamp battery foundations to mine shafts and bedrock exposed by the stripping of soil. At Diamond Hill, the track links into the separate Bendigo Bushland Trail, which circles the city. The walk comes close to the Swan Decline, a new tunnel targeting gold bearing reefs 600m below the surface. It also passes through the Salomon Gully Flora Reserve that features excellent examples of box-ironbark heathland before coming to an end at Bendigo Railway Station, the northernmost terminus of the Great Dividing Trail.
Max elevation: 736 m
Min elevation: 233 m
Total climbing: 1422 m
Total descent: -1480 m