The Lerderdeg River has cut a 300 metre deep gorge through the sandstone rock of the Great Dividing Range between Blackwood & Bacchus Marsh. Most of the country in this area is dry & open eucalypt forest with a fairly solid undergrowth.
This was another of my very early walks (1970’s) and was a lesson in why it is important to read up on the track notes and understand the local environment before charging out into the bush.
Our plan was to walk from near Blackwood, down the river to McKenzies Flat. This was a distance of a little over 30 kilometres. (Not too far for a couple of fit 20 year olds – we thought). With a car shuttle required, we left a car at each end of the walk.
On the first day, we followed a fairly well defined track along the river and enjoyed the scenery of the area, camping at O’Briens Crossing. It was here that we realised that we probably ‘bitten of more that we could chew’ as we were nowhere near half way along our proposed route. However, on the following day we pushed on through more of the gorge until we ran out of track and the river was far too full for us to be able to walk along it or traverse it.
Looking for an escape route, we decided simply to climb a spur to the north where we should come cross O’Briens Road. After a lot of hard going and heavy bush bashing we eventually found the road and fortunately picked up a ride with a bloke in a ute back to our car at the beginning of the walk.
Some good lessons learnt!
One thought on “Lerderderg Gorge”
The walk from Blackwood down the Gorge is perhaps best started at O’Briens Crossing.
There are toilets at O’Briens Crossing and space for perhaps 20 to 30 families to set up a base camp. We were there Easter Weekend 2009 and the Gorge is dry due to the prolonged drought. And it has been like this for the last four months we have been tackling sections of it.
A useful map to purchase for this walk is the “Wombat State Forest” Touring Guide 2nd Edition. I purchased my copy from Melbourne Map Centre Chadstone Vic Tel 03 9569 5472. They will laminate it for you in the shop.
Scale of the Map is 1: 50,000
An alternative to the route suggested here would be to take the Breendale Trentham Road which can be reached by taking the Western Highway and getting off at the Blackwood turnoff.
We turned right into O’Briens road and parked our vehicle at the start of Nolan’s Track. The distance from Nolan’s Track to the Gorge creek is about 2 hours on foot.
We travelled back from the Nolan’s Track intersection with the Gorge to O’Brien’s crossing on two seperate four hour hikes in Dec 08 and January 09. Following the creekbed or a trail near the riverbed both times.
A five hour roundtrip walk from O’Brien’s Crossing to Deadmans Track was made at Easter weekend 2009. A trail ascent can be found above the toilets at OBrien’s Crossing, it continues up for about ten minutes. It then turns east and is a smooth path can be taken that is at about 425/450 metres elevation. It follows the contours of the gullys so though its windy it is pleasant and easy for walkers of all standards.
Our return trip was via the creek bed, after descending Deadman’s Track. The river bed was dry except in two spots were there was some brackish water to be found. One can from time to time find a shoulder on either side of the creek bed to walk on. This reduces the risk of ankle injury, though gaiters would definitely come in handy. I was too stupid to put them on though I was the only one in our party to be carrying them on the back of the pack.
At the suggestion of some campers we climbed out of the creek bed where a diesel tank can be seen. This appears to cut a long loop out of the creek bed walk, and the time back to O’Briens Crossing is somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on whether one goes off track or via river bed.
Our party Easter Saturday were myself ( turning 60 this year ), Keith who is an experienced hiker in his 50s, and NZ Brendan ( a wee lad who is only in his 40s ! ).
Hope this advice is of value to others.