The Big Walk is perhaps one of the most interesting, diverse and naturally beautiful yet accessible full day walks in the North East. Beginning at the base of the mountain, the 11kms (or 15kms if you take in Rollasons falls) climbs through various terrain zones and can be taken at a pace that suits you and your walking group.
Start from the trail head sign at the north end of the picnic area, shortly after crossing Eurobin Creek on a swing bridge built in 1998 for the Park’s Centenary. Over the creek the track becomes quite steep climbing 370 metres, initially through tall moist and then drier foothill forest of mainly peppermint eucalypts with a Hop Bitter-pea understorey. After 2 kilometres, a 4WD track is reached, turn left and continue uphill for 700 metres to meet the main road at Eurobin Point, elevation 680 metres.
The hardest part is over! While resting notice the sandstone rock in the cutting. This forms when sand is compressed by the massive weight of rock on top of it. Continue up the main road for 100 metres and cross over back onto the track. Follow this gentle spur, as it ascends west towards the Mount Buffalo Tourist Road. Now at 810 metres and back on the main road it’s only 400 metres right down the road to Rollasons Falls Picnic Area which has a toilet, fireplaces and picnic tables. From the picnic area down to Rollasons Falls, the return walk is another 4 kilometres or 1.5 hours. This is an interesting side trip if time permits. If not visiting Rollasons Falls, cross over the road to pick up the trail on the opposite side.
The trail now passes through an open montane forest of majestic Candlebark Gums and a Bracken Fern understorey. Look out for the shy Swamp Wallaby and listen to the abundant birdlife here, especially Grey Fantails and Thornbills. Cross the main road again, continuing past an old gravel pit reaching the road once more, turn left then 100 metres up to Mackeys Lookout. At 920 metres elevation there is a clear view of the Australian Alps. The forest has given way to granite slabs which form Mount Buffalo. Beyond here take care on the track. It is wet and slippery. This section was part of the original track up Mount Buffalo called the ‘Zig Zag’. Follow the orange arrow track markers and take care not to cut corners.
Take a short 100 metre side trip to Marriott’s Lookout for amazing views into the Gorge past Queen Victoria Pinnacle. Back on the track and again the bush soon changes. At 1150 metres, and near the snowline, Alpine Ash, often called ‘Woollybutt’, is common with a shrubby understorey of peas and grevilleas.
Continue along the trail to Manfields Junction, the highest part of the trail 1350 metres. From here consider a side trip to Manfields Lookout or Reeds Lookout, both about 500 metres. From Reeds continue on a loop returning further along back onto The Big Walk. There are two options from here to the finish. Turn right and follow the Gorge Heritage Walk looping back onto the main track or proceed straight on, either way is a similar distance. Wilkinson’s Lookout is 300 metres to the left with breathtaking views from the 330 metres North Wall. Along the main track Pulpit Rock also has fine views of the sheer walls with climbers often clinging to them. Crystal Brook has carved out the Gorge over 360 million years. Proceed over the bridge turning left and continue past The Oval Picnic Area. The Heritage Walk plaques will bring to life the pioneering days of the area as seen through the eyes of Guide Alice. Gorge View Lookout provides a different vantage point into the depths far below.
Continue along the trail to the Gorge Day Visitor Area. There are toilets, picnic tables and a shelter nearby. At present the Chalet is closed. Around the day visitor area are several lookouts, such as Bents Lookout and Echo Point all with spectacular views of the valley below and the Australian Alps beyond. Other walking tracks head off from the lower carpark to the Underground River, the Monolith ad Lake Catani with the campground there.
From Melbourne, take Hume Fwy/National Highway M31 to Snow Rd/C522 in Wangaratta South. Take the exit for C522 from Hume Fwy/National Highway M31. Follow C522 and Great Alpine Rd/B500 to Mount Buffalo Rd/C535 and park at the Eurobin Creek Picnic Area.
Hikers should be reasonably fit and have strong footwear as The Big Walk ascends over 1000 metres in only 9 kilometres! Water and snacks should be carried along with a jacket as it is often cooler at the top. Stop and enjoy some rests along the way and admire the beauty of the bush.
Max elevation: 1367 m
Min elevation: 320 m
Total climbing: 1340 m
Total descent: -315 m