Walking to the Farmyard
The Cathedral Range is a 7km ridge of upturned sandstone on the Maroondah Highway between the Black Spur and Buxton and about 100km northeast of Melbourne.
There are many short walks through this range although most of are parts of a circuit track which travels up the eastern side of the range and then along the ridge at the top to either Cathedral Peak and the Sugarloaf.
We took the short one hour track up the Jawbone Track to the Farmyard. It took just a little longer than an hour for us unfit people with our packs to climb to the top. Once there, we found a camping area in a saddle with water available from a small steam a little below the camping area.
The area is known as the farmyard because there are a family of lyrebirds who imitate the sounds of farm animals that they can hear from the valley below. They are an example of how these birds develop a local ‘language’ and pass the sounds down to their young. We watched a group of six lyrebirds fossicking around in the bush for an hour or so until it began to rain and it was time to cook dinner.
It rained steadily throughout the night and we were pleased that we only had a relatively short walk back down the same track to the car.
One thought on “Cathedral Range”
As a frequent walker to Cathedral Range I thought to add some comments.
The range was substantially burnt in the February 2009 fires that decimated the Buxton/Marysville area. We have not been back there since October 2008, but you should speak to the Parks Officer for the area before going.
My preferred ascent is via Wells Cave to Sugarloaf Peak. A dirt road off the paved road that runs from Buxton to Marysville takes about 20 minutes to reach the Sugarload Car Park.
There are two walks to the Peak: 1) An easier rock ascent on the left fork from the Car Park trail, and 2) Wells Cave ascent which is on the right fork.
The sign post to Wells Cave recommends only experienced hikers to tackle this. It is a sensible sign.
One North American hiker I took up balked half way to Wells Cave, in tears she insisted we stop. And return to the car park.
Another time, I took a younger man who was inexperienced through the Cave. He didn’t tell me until afterwards that he suffered from claustrophobia. My mistake not asking.
Wells Cave is a traverse through a rock ledge that has fallen and created a lean to of sorts. The distance from one end to the other is perhaps 25 metres, but it requires removing your pack and shimmering with backs to the wall…dragging your pack behind you.
This is the EASIER of the two challenges to the Peak.
The tougher section is just below the peak. The last 15 metres requires either someone with incredible upper body strength to climb up a vertical section bracing against two walls, OR using a tree that juts out over the rock face to climb around the two walls.
To date my body weight ( am a chubby 59 year old man ) has prevented me from taking the first course. Though my 29 year old son has had no trouble with it.
The walk from Sugarloaf Peak to the Farmyard is a wonderful challenge, as is the return. After about 9 outings to this part of Victoria either solo or in groups we have found that its a full day to tackle the Sugarloaf Car Park, Sugarloaf Peak, Farmyard and return circuit.
Do take minimum four litres of water with you, and some energel gel. After cramping there I now take Magnesium tablets with me as a precaution. Everyone we have taken on this track have marvelled on the physical and psychological challenges it presents.
Having said that we have also seen school kids up there under supervision.