Melbourne: Sugarloaf Reservoir 17km

Sugarloaf Reservoir is one hour northeast of Melbourne and is one of nine dams providing the city with drinking water. You can hike around the whole dam which is what I did today…

Map below indicates location of Sugarloaf Reservoir (in bold). Many of Melbourne’s dams are in the northeast.

Overview of the 9 dams providing Melbourne’s water

I parked my car in the Ridge Picnic Area in the reservoir’s northwestern corner, wandered down towards the water and began hiking clockwise.

This sign was misleading. I clocked up 16.6km with my “detours” so unsure about “18km”. Additional scenic routes?

Official start of Sugarloaf Walking Track

As Sugarloaf Reservoir is a water supply in use, some sections are off-limit. Reserved for Melbourne Water. The track first followed the fench line.

On the road…

Tall grass appeared when the track diverted.

My early 8am start ensured plenty of kangaroos and wallabies around, given the proximity to water. I saw perhaps 50 of them this morning. However, around 10am, they had all disappeared.

Kangaroo Hill

Across this bay is Sugarloaf Sailing Club and to the right is my destination for today’s first break.

Across a bay…

Which is here. Tranquil spot for a morning cuppa.

Bench for break

Right behind me was a closed cafe. I assume that it belonged to the sailing club up behind.

A cute cafe by the water

Moving on and I stumbled onto bones. These three bones were all I saw. An ex kangaroo/wallaby?

Bad to the bones

A note about the orange posts or arrow trail markings. The most visible and most frequent markers I’ve encountered for some time. From one marker, you always saw the next post or arrow, sometimes both. Although this arrow on the wooden post had succumbed to the elements.

My hiking poles have nothing to do with trail markings… Pure “decoration”…

Sugarloaf Reservoir trail markings

Here, the trail turned right out from the picture. I’m guessing here, but are these tracks up the hill created by kangaroos or wallabies?

Kangaroo or wallaby trails?

Today’s hike was mostly flat. Only a gradual ascension up a lone hill on the reservoir’s eastern side. With a view. Perfect for today’s second cuppa break while checking out Melbourne’s skyline from a distance. And nobody else around…

Cuppa break. Melbourne “over there”

More great views overlooking Sugarloaf Reservoir.

Sugarloaf Reservoir from the “top”

Here is a “Rota-loo”. The sign says that’s the name for these composting toilets. Great “business” support halfways into the hike.


The trail descended, it got gloomier and this bay looked brilliant in the grey.

Grey bay

Given the reservoir’s use as drinking water, hiking was nowhere permitted along the shoreline. Walk here but not closer to the water.

Close but not too close to water

Plenty of these signs around so every visitor gets the message.

Shoreline access prohibited

Every post needs one selfie. Unsure what the area behind me was for. No dam here.

Selfie time

My map had marked a bench here. Apparently, this was the bench. One expected more…

The “bench”

I arrived at Saddle Dam Picnic Area after passing these 4 hikers… Not sure what distance they will walk, but possibly not too far…

Hikers at Saddle Dam Picnic Area

Saddle Dam Picnic Area looked awful. Noisy, crowded, plenty of cars, picnics and BBQs. I bypassed it… Behind it started the shorter of Sugarloaf Reservoir’s two dam walls.

Shorter dam wall

Driving allowed in both directions and a sidewalk for pedestrians. Between the two dam walls, there is a pumping station and also Winneke Treatment Plant. And the Southern Lookout.

Southern Lookout

I entered the “lookout” and left immediately after taking this photo. Regarding “lookouts”, this was bad. Glassed in, with nothing whatsoever inside, an empty shell, limited views. Why bother?

“View” from Southern Lookout

Water leaving Winneke Treatment Plant, with a muddy pool in the foreground. The pump house behind the trees.

Muddy pool

I walked across the longer dam wall and looked back, water on the left.

Away from the reservoir

Views back across the water. Pumphouse to the left and the longer dam wall to the right.

Across Sugarloaf Reservoir

I had almost completed my circuit now (refer below). Although, here where the above photo is taken, was a picnic table. Providing the perfect setting for my earlyish lunch. So while I’m eating, check out this board.

Map of Sugarloaf Reservoir

I returned to my car moments later. Now, Ridge Picnic Area was busy busy. When I arrived, I saw 2 other cars in the parking area. Although, today was Australia Day (26 January) so many likely slept in to have BBQ picnics later.

Today was close to perfect for hiking. Cool not cold, little wind, overcast and no rain or drizzle whatsoever. A fantastic and scenic hike close to Melbourne. Serene and tranquil. The hike took less than 4.5 hours with 3 breaks. And it was even more enjoyable than Lysterfield Lake Park.

I shall return.

2 thoughts on “Melbourne: Sugarloaf Reservoir 17km

  1. Thanks for the blog post. I did the sugarloaf reservoir hike today and it was really peaceful being winter and it’s enjoyable with the water views and wild animals seen (kangaroos and lots of birds). I reckon it’s easier doing it in a clockwise fashion than anticlockwise as well. Also we decided to give the southern lookout a miss after reading your post, so thank you!

    1. Thank you Aovana for your very kind comments. It’s really great to hear when my posts help others as it makes the blogging worthwhile. There are so many fantastic day hikes within an hour or so away from Melbourne’s centre. I am still finding more. Thanks again 🙂

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