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Lerderderg State Park...
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The Razorback, Lerderderg and Lower Chadwick Circuit hike takes explores the Lerderderg River from Ler518 to Ler516 Emergency Markers. The River section is mostly off trail, and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. It is a very beautiful section of the river and well worth exploring.
Commence the hike at Square Bottle Track. After a short distance you will see the turnoff to Razorback Track on your right. Turn right at this point and after approximately 2.5km you will reach the turnoff to Razorback North Track on your left. Turning left, follow the trail as it descends to the river below. It does get progressively steeper and can be slippery so watch your step.
Upon arriving at the river turn right and continue downstream. There is no trail or visible trail markers to follow in this section. You will need to pick your way along the river based on the conditions. After a few kilometres you will come to the turnoff on your right to the Razorback and Lower Chadwick Tracks. This is very easy to miss so do make sure you are keeping a close eye on navigation and your surroundings.
Turning right, at marker LER516, commence the ascent of the Take Lower Chadwick Track. After a short climb up the trail levels out. (Last time we did this hike the trail was very overgrown and disappeared in some sections). If you do loose the trail simply remain on the ridge line of the spur and it will reappear (in some sections you may be able to make out the remnants of a stone wall in the undergrowth). The spur continues to rise steeply before providing some relief on a knoll just near the the MacKenzies Track junction. Keep to your right at this point continue your ascent along a narrow ridge. The trail is not as steep as it was earlier.
You will arrive in the grassy slopes at Mount Blackwood where the trail continues roughly west as it ascends to the summit. It is quite a slog up, but the views are very rewarding. Once you have reached Tower Track (bitumen Road) the walking becomes a lot easier as you descend along a bitumen road to Mount Blackwood Road. Turn right at the junction and follow Mount Blackwood Road back to the Square Bottle Track carpark.
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 Western Freeway 9km past Bacchus Marsh and take the Myrniong exit. Continue along the Myrniog-Greendale Road for 1km, then turn right on the Mount Blackwood Road. Follow this narrow surfaced road north for 10km to pull into a turnoff on the right at Square Bottle Track (just 250m past Shutter Track). Park near the gate overlooking a small dam.
- The amount of water in the river will dictate how difficult this is. If it is low it should be quite straightforward, but if the river is full it will be much more challenging. Therefore, if there is a lot of water, then add an extra hour or so to it.
- There can be many snakes in the area so do keep a look out for them.
- Hiking poles will be very useful for this hike.
Max elevation: 724 m
Min elevation: 339 m
Total climbing: 563 m
Total descent: -562 m