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Lerderderg State Park...
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This Spanish Onion and Lerderderg Track hike explores the Lerderderg River via the Spanish Onion and Lerderderg Tracks. Commencing at the end of Lerderderg Track off O'Briens Road follow the vehicle management track until you reach a signposted trail junction (the sign is damaged and only a pole remains). The track to your left descends into Clearwater Gully. Keep right and continue along the Lerderderg Track until you reach the Spanish Onion Track on your right. This is a lesser track and is not often travelled so can be overgrown in places.
Follow the Spanish onion track for the next two kilometres as it winds its way through wooded forest and grass trees. The trail is not always easy to follow but stay on the main ridge line and you will easy locate the trail. Orange markers can also be found occasionally
Just as you start to descent into the Lerderderg River you will reach the Cowan track. Turn left at this point and follow it for approximately 400m down a rocky ridge and onto the Lerderderg River.
Approximately 50m to your right is a nice deep pool perfect for a refreshing swim. Across the river is the Razorback North track. The trail now continues downstream along the Lerderderg River. There is no marked trail so you will need to pick your way along the river bank. This will vary depending on vegetation growth, flood damage and water levels.
Be mindful of snakes in this section as it is not frequently travelled.
Follow the Lerderderg River for a few kilometres until you reach an open river flat to your left. This is the point where the Lerderderg Track descends onto the river and is indicated by a white sign post and an official location marker.
Locate the end of the Lerderderg Track by finding orange markers on the northern side of the open flat. The ascent is not steep but constant until you reach the vehicle management track which is the Lerderderg Track. Follow this track its entire length, passing the Spanish Onion Track on your left. This will lead you back to O'Brien's Road and your start point from earlier in the day.
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 Calder Freeway 53Km and turn off at Girborne. Continue along the Bacchus Marsh-Gisborne Road for 11Km then turn right onto Carrolls Lane. Veer left at Firth Road and drive a further 2.8Km before turning left onto O'Briens Road. Follow O'Briens Road for 4.5Km and park at the start of the Lerderderg Track. You can also approach Carrolls Lane via the Western Highway and Bacchus Marsh.
Hiking poles will be useful is the water levels are high along the river. Be mindful of snakes in warmer weather. Keep an eye out for orange trail markers as the walking tracks are not always clearly defined.
Max elevation: 646 m
Min elevation: 362 m
Total climbing: 410 m
Total descent: -410 m