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Brisbane Ranges National Park...
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The Brisbane Ranges offers a fantastic variety of hiking opportunities through a range of habitats. This lesser known section, just off The Burchell Trail, explores a reasonably short yet dramatic gorge, the Little River Gorge.
This hike is not to be confused with the Little River Gorge, which is Victoria's deepest gorge, just north of Buchan in Victoria.
Commencing at the Little River Picnic Area (which is a walk-in camping ground only), follow The Burchell trail south as it twists and turns along Reilly Creek. After approximately 1km of multiple, but relatively easy, creek crossings you will leave the creek briefly at the foot of a steep spur. It is at this point that the Burchell Trail climbs away from the creek to the south but your journey does not follow this trail. Ignoring the spur, drop back down into the creek again and follow it initially north, then west as it winds into the depths of the Little River Gorge.
For the next 3km you will enjoy countless creek crossing, rock hopping, spectacular scenery and above all, a real sense of isolation on this off-trail section of the circuit.
At around the 4km point (from the start) you will note that you start to leave the steep walls of the gorge behind as they make way for the lower foothills of the Brisbane ranges and the farmlands beyond. Locate a spur to your left. You will know it is the correct spur when you see a dry stone wall that starts at the foot of the spur and continues to the top of the plateau. If you simply follow the stone wall you will find the going relatively easy, though steep.
On reaching the top of the plateau you will easily locate Echidna Track, a rough management track. There is a gate and private property to your right so turn east and follow Echidna Track approximately 2.2km (of easy walking) back to McLeans Hwy. Don't be fooled by the name, this is no highway as you would have discovered on the rough and bumpy drive in.
Turn right at the road junction and walk south west for around 1km back to the Little River Picnic Area and your vehicles.
Little River Picnic Area and Walk-in Camping Ground
This picturesque campground is at the junction of the Little River and Rileys Creek and makes a great spot for overnight walk-in camping. Note, no vehicle camping is permitted.
- Access: Access is by walkers only along the Burchell Trail which traverses the length of the park. The camping area is situated 10kms from Boar Gully and 29kms from Steiglitz on the eastern side of the Little River.
- Bookings: Advanced bookings and payment are required.
- Campsites: There are 2 unpowered campsites available. This campground is suitable for tents only.
- Facilities: Non-flush toilets, wood barbecue, picnic table and seat are provided.
- Campfire: Firewood collection is not permitted. Campers should bring a fuel stove for cooking.
- Water: Tank water is available but it is not suitable for drinking - supply your own drinking water.
About the region
Little more than an hour's drive from Melbourne takes you to the state's richest wildflower habitat. Set in a low range of mountains dissected by rocky gullies, the unusual geology of Brisbane Ranges National Park has preserved plants that have long since vanished from the region, together with a correspondingly diverse bird population and the greatest density of koalas in Victoria.
The park is 81km west of Melbourne via the Princes Highway. Turn onto the Ballan Road from Geelong or take the Western Freeway to Bacchus Marsh and follow the Geelong Road. It is best to set your GPS to the coordinates provided or simply search for the Little River Picnic Area in Google Maps.
Please be mindful that this area is a walk-in campsite only so do not disturb overnight hikers who may be enjoying the peace and tranquility.
Max elevation: 365 m
Min elevation: 203 m
Total climbing: 410 m
Total descent: -409 m