The Lal Lal Bungal Circuit hike explores the many tracks of the Lal Lal Bungal Historic Area. Most of these tracks were created by the Lal Lal Iron Mining Company (formed in 1874) when it set up an iron ore quarry and smelting works. The mine reached its peak in 1884 when 1,600 tons of ore were smelted and 800 tons of pig iron were produced.
Commencing at the Blast Furnace picnic area near Ironmine road this circuit takes you north west into the Lal Lal State Forest with views over the Lal Lal Reservoir. After leaving the reservoir you can then explore the lower reaches of the state forest including the summits of Mount Doran (545m) and Champion Hill (520m) before returning to the picnic area.
After completing the circuit you can then drive a short distance to the Lal Lal Falls Scenic Reserve. The Lal Lal Falls are about 30m high are best after heavy rain. During prolonged dry periods the falls may not be flowing. Access to the falls is via a bitumen road and near the falls there is a small playground and a shelter with one table, BBQs, three seats and information boards. A big grassy area also has three un-shaded tables, water tap and toilets. There is a 200m walk to a viewing platform which has a long distance view of the falls or you can walk to the von Guerard viewing site which is a little further away,
About the region
The Lal Lal blast furnace ruins rate as one of the most important and highly significant sites of early industrial history in Australia. The blast furnace is the only one from the nineteenth century remaining in the Southern Hemisphere and it represents the only attempt to smelt iron ore in Victoria. It has an ‘A’ classification from the National Trust.
The Lal Lal blast furnace and iron mine are on Iron Mine Rd, at Lal Lal, near the spillway of the Bungal Dam. The ruins of the 17-metre-high furnace and the adjacent iron mine are clearly visible in the bush and information boards explain the operations of this amazing relic of early Victorian industry.
Lal Lal is 130 kilometres west of Melbourne, on the Yendon Road south of Ballarat. You can either go into Ballarat on the Western Freeway, then head south on the Midland Highway to Clarendon, via Buninyong, and take the left-hand turn for Lal Lal; or leave the Western Freeway at Gordon or Ballan and take the roads to Mount Egerton, Yendon and Lal Lal. Follow the signs to the Lal Lal Falls and watch on the right for the small sign to the blast furnace. There is a car park, toilets, picnic tables and wood-burning barbecue facilities at the reserve.
This is a great hike for families and kids as you can easily shorten it by short-cutting via the many tracks.
Max elevation: 545 m
Min elevation: 401 m
Total climbing: 639 m
Total descent: -639 m