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Lerderderg State Park...
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Goldfields & Mining
The Pyrites Creek and Sugarloaf hike is a variation of the Pyrites Creek Gorge Hike (15.5km) and includes a short deviation to the summit of Mount Sugarloaf for views of the Lerderderg and Pyrete Range. After leaving the summit, the rest of the hike negotiates a scenic section of the the Pyrites Creek Gorge and includes the historic Drapers Lode Antimony Mine. Pyrites Creek winds its way through the range before flowing into the nearby Merrimu Reservoir.
The antimony mines, operating from 1915-47, have shafts and adits of several mines; there is remnant plant and machinery, foundations of a crushing battery, tramway beds, shallow tunnels and a small open cut mine. The site has local historical significance as a representative embodiment of an extractive and industrial process and the associated way oflife. It demonstrates the effect of government action in this industry. The site also has local scientific significance in demonstrating potential as a site for archaeological investigation.
About the region
Rising in the Great Dividing Range, the Lerderderg River has cut a 300 metre deep gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. The park has a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife and some interesting relics of gold mining. Lerderderg State Park encompasses scenic and geological gorge formations surrounding the Lerderderg River as well as the volcanic cone of Mount Blackwood. The adjacent and separate block called the Pyrete Range forms part of the park. The Lerderderg is known for its remote setting and the 300m deep Lerderderg River gorge is a dominant feature. Private land abuts the park to the south and the Wombat State forest abuts to the north and west.
Lerderderg State Park (incorporating the former Pyrete State Forest) is a 14,250-hectare park located between Bacchus Marsh and Blackwood, an hour's drive from Melbourne, Australia. There are several maintained tracks for walking through the park and camping is allowed.
The park is named for the Lerderderg River which has cut the 300 metre deep Lerderderg Gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. Parks Victoria maintains six designated walks: three short walks of 3.5 km or less; Blackwood-O'Briens Crossing and return (22 km); O'Briens Crossing-Cowan Track loop (14 km); and the overnight walk O'Briens Crossing to Mackenzies Flat (20 km).
In addition, one leg of the Great Dividing Trail, the Lerderderg Track, passes through the park, entering from Blackwood in the park's northwest, and exiting south towards Bacchus Marsh. Bicycles are prohibited from one section of this track, due to a conservation area.
From Melbourne, follow the M1 towards Ballarat. Drive from National Highway M8 to Hopetoun Park. Take the exit towards Hopetoun Park from National Highway M8. Follow Long Forest Rd, Diggers Rest-Coimadai Rd/C706 and Antimony Mine Rd to Antimony Mine Track in Coimadai. There is s small space for about five vehicles at the end of a gravel road.
I would rate this a moderate hike during dry months when there is no water in Pyrites Creek as 5km of this trail require you to negotiate a trail along the creek or walk up the creek bed. During wet months I would rate this as a difficult hike.
Hiking poles are useful in the creek bed, particularly after rain when the rocks will be very slippery.
The presence of Cinnamon Fungus poses a serious threat to flora and fauna of the park. This microscopic pathogen attacks plant root systems causing die-back. Patches of dead or dying vegetation can indicate the presence of the fungus and grass trees are particularly susceptible. The disease is spread through the movement of contaminated soil and gravel and there is no known cure.
Help to minimise the spread of this disease through the park by remaining on formed tracks at all times. All soil should be removed from footwear prior to entering and leaving the Park using a 70% methylated spirits/water solution and a sturdy brush.
Max elevation: 452 m
Min elevation: 223 m
Total climbing: 676 m
Total descent: -673 m