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Warrandyte State Park...
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Located in Wonga Park, Mount Lofty features spectacular views of the river and surrounding mountain ranges. This walk is one of the best in the City of Melbourne. The track meanders through gums and tea-trees, over creeks and along the Yarra River before rising to the summit of Mt Lofty. Birdlife, riverside environment, bush tracks, exposed ridgeline and magnificent views are just some of the treats that await you - all to the gentle sound of the Yarra River.
The hike begins at Wittons Reserve Carpark next to the relaxing sound of the Yarra River. You'll often see canoes or kayaks launching from this point. The track to Mt Lofty begins at the north-east end of the car park. The gravel path takes you across a bridge over Bushy Creek. Look for evidence of wombats - they leave almost square droppings - a strange product from such a rotund animal. There are also wombat holes near the sides of the path.
Not far along the trail, you will pass one of several Yarra River viewing spots, perfect for a quick respite. Watch for water birds here including herons, cormorants and ducks. Currawongs, kookaburras and rosellas can be heard in the trees. The trail continues over a couple of bridges and through Burgan, Kunzea ericoides. Mt Lofty was grazed until 1995. Since then regrowth of native Burgan has been prolific. In spring the thickets are covered in white flowers and provide habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife. The track now undulates and crosses a couple of creeks. It then opens into grasslands.
Cross this beautiful grassland where you will find wildflowers and orchids among tussocks of Wallaby and Kangaroo Grass. There is a seating area opposite an ancient steep escarpment cut by the river. An unsealed management track will appear on your right. You can take this shortcut if you like, but it is steep and does not reduce the time by much. A short path to your left leads down to the water's edge. This is yet another picturesque point to rest and relax. Picnic table and seats are located here. (The path widens to a vehicle track.)
Now for the climb! Your path takes you up a steep ridge, but every step is worth it with stunning views waiting at the top, all the while the sounds of the river can be heard way below. Wedge-tailed Eagles have been known to circle the mount - keep an eagle eye out for them.
The summit. You are surrounded by views to Mt Dandenong, Lilydale and Warrandyte. The Yarra you can see bordering Mt Lofty is the start to the Warrandyte Gorge. Turn your gaze to the gentle hills to your right, these are the Yarra Valley Flood Plains - an area providing nutrient rich soil and perfect for a range of farming and market gardening. A steep side-path descends to the river if you want a quiet place to fish, read or just sit. Keep to the right of the fork ahead and walk towards the homestead.
Veer to the right at the old homestead. The track now begins a steep descent. Take care here - the gravelly track can be slippery, especially after rain. When you find yourself back in bushland you are almost home. Turn left at the main track to return to Wittons Reserve car park. This finishes your hike. Time to relax and plan your next adventure.
About the region
The closest State Park to Melbourne, Warrandyte is a haven for picnickers, bushwalkers, canoeists, birdwatchers and those who enjoy peace and solitude. Its lightly wooded landscape is dominated by the Yarra River as it winds through the Warrandyte Gorge. There's a good chance of seeing koalas in the trees at Pound Bend Reserve, while kangaroos and other wildlife are not uncommon in sections of the park.
The park is 24km north-east of Melbourne. Access is mainly via three sealed roads: Warrandyte Road, Research-Warrandyte Road and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road (Melways pages 23 & 24).
Warrandyte State Park has a rich gold history. It is believed to be the site of Victoria's first gold find in 1851 and remnants of the gold rush remain at Fourth Hill. For details about public transport to the park contact VicTrip on 13 1638.
- Parking Wittons Reserve, Reserve Road, Wonga Park.
- Can be combined with other Warrandyte State Park walks for a longer hike.
- To complete the circuit, either take the steep track up the hill on the right shortly after starting the track and follow it around anti-clockwise; or proceed straight ahead for a more gradual climb and descend the steep hill at the end.
Contributed by Rob Collins
Max elevation: 129 m
Min elevation: 51 m
Total climbing: 251 m
Total descent: -252 m