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Lerderderg State Park...
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The Tunnel and Sardine Creek hike commences at O'Briens Crossing in the Lerderderg State Park. Walk up the steps past the toilet blocks and follow the steep ridge following Byers Back track. The trail crosses Amber Lane then continues along to Gribble Track. Turns right at the Gribble Track junction and descend the steep track down to the Lerderderg River and the Tunnel.
The track then leaves the river behind the tunnel entrance and continues across the Eastern bank of the river. The trail beyond this point is not particularly easy to follow and in some places it may be easier to simply follow the Lerderderg River through to the Ambler Lane ford. There is a section on this part of the trail that requires you to scramble over a cliff face before descending to the river.
Turn left onto Ambler lane and follow this track for a few kilometres to reach the Trout Track junction. Alternatively (in dry weather) you can follow Clear Water Creek for approximately 2km to the end of Trout Track.
Descend Trout track (steep) until you reach Sardine Creek. Cross the creek at the ford and continue along Trout Track until its end at O'Briens Road. Turning right you then walk a few hundred metres until you reach Short Cut Track on your left. This is indicated by two marked posts at the start of the track.
Follow Short Cut Track back to O'Briens Road and continue along until you reach O'Briens Crossing and the end of the hike.
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.
There are some steep sections that will benefit from the use of poles. Following rain, when the river is high, several creek crossings may be required. The trail along Clear Water Creek is not marked and you will need to pick your way along its length. Best not to attempt this section following heavy rains.
Max elevation: 613 m
Min elevation: 449 m
Total climbing: 522 m
Total descent: -524 m