Werribee Gorge State Park: Ironbark Gorge / Falcons Lookout – 5.5km

My second hike in 8 days with YHA Bushwalking Club took me to Werribee Gorge State Park. Although I have hiked in its northern neighbour Lerderderg State Park, Werribee Gorge was a new hiking destination 🙂

Advertised distance was 11km, but Runkeeper disagreed and calculated 5.5km. Perhaps the 11km was for brave hikers walking 2 laps… (not me, and not anybody else either from what I saw).

Disclaimer; I could feel the effort through my calves and thighs afterwards. Still, only 351 meters elevation in total. Yes, the hike was short, sharp and scrambling in places, but hardly my “toughest” hike.

Hike elevation chart

Meetup place was outside Flagstaff train station in town. Followed by carpooling of 27 odd hikers to Ironbark Gorge Track Car Park, west of Bacchus Marsh. Stand up and be counted, will you?

YHA Bushwalking Club in action

A cool and dry morning with temperatures in the upper teens or so provided excellent hiking. Obstruction of some views from fog made it even better.

Trees in the fog

A diverse range of hikers as usually is the case in these groups. From “hardcore” wiry guys and gals to almost rookies. I may fit in somewhere in-between. Good vibes, lots of chats and laughter.

Hikers on Ironbark Gorge Track

First serious views of the day were from Falcons Lookout, popular with rock climbers. Some are in the picture below. Werribee River, our next destination, is down there at the bottom.

Views from Falcons Lookout

Did I mention popular with rock climbers? Parks Victoria had anchored several of these hooks into the rocks at Falcons Lookout (Yep, I thought the picture looked better sideways…)

Support for rock climbers

The rock climbers up and closer…

Rock climbers pic #2

Reaching Werribee River from Falcons Lookout was ever only going to be one way. Down down down. Some scrambling, but not too strenuous.

Down, down, down we go… to Werribee River

We reached the bottom of Werribee Gorge and crossed Werribee River. For lunch at Needles Beach.

Lunch on the “beach” at Werribee River.

A beach means swimming opportunity. One hiker did that. While looked on with astonishment by another hiker.

Hiker in the drink

Behind our lunch spot was the popular Werribee Gorge Circuit Track. Some hikers passed while others stopped for lunch at the beach.

Signboard describing some flora and fauna at Needles Beach

After lunch, we followed Werribee River eastwards on the Werribee Gorge Circuit Track. Narrow in places, you’d better hold on to your hat. Or yourself…

Hikers progressing along Werribee River

After another Werribee River crossing, this hilltop became visible. We uninformed non-local hikers heard that it was Pyramid Rock. Or Pyramid Hill, I can’t remember. Some likeliness.

Pyramid Rock (or Pyramid Hill)

A steepish climb followed up towards Western Bluff. Needles Beach became visible…

Needles Beach from above

…and further up again. Great view while climbing on the ridges.

Needles Beach from even further up

The hill you see in the distance below is Mount Blackwood. Apparently, Mount Blackwood is the oldest Australian volcano. The land underneath the straight line in front of Mount Blackwood is The Island. Formed after Mount Blackwood’s last eruption. Which was a very long time ago.

Nearby Blackwood town is close to Lerderderg State Park. I explored Blackwood after one of my hikes in that park.

Mount Blackwood – Australia’s oldest volcano

Then hiking was all over…

Except that it wasn’t. Sure, the offical hike had finished. After getting ourselves reorganised, we decided to regroup in Bacchus Marsh. For that post-hike drink.

Me and one of the other hikers jumped back into our kind driver’s car and we were on our way as the last car-poolers.

However, soon enough, an odd sound came from the left back wheel. Yep, you guessed it, a flat. A “quick” tire swap and we could have continued our journey. Except no spare tire in the car.

The driver (no disclosure of names to protect both the innocent and guilty 😉 ) called RACV for support. And then suggested that the other two of us may be better off walking. Who knows how long RACV will take…?

We all called the group leader at various times, but either no reception or no reply. Being the last car in the cortege, well, nobody else was behind us.

So the two of us non-driver hikers started walking towards Bacchus Marsh. From here below. Could have been worse. 

The long road ahead

Looking back at the stranded car, from a “safe” distance where identification should not be possible.

Stranded in farming land

What to do?

Well, options analysis gave 2 plausible possibilities (disregarding expensive taxis). Both options included first walking to Bacchus Marsh, some 6km away. To down there somewhere…

View from Ironbark Road

The two options…

  1. Find Bacchus Marsh train station and wait for the next train back to “civilisation” – if there is one
  2. I contact Good Mrs to see whether she may come and get us.

Option 2 prevailed. Good Mrs agreed to come and pick us up, an hour’s drive.

Hence, some 1 1/2 hours after leaving the stranded car, we were on our way towards Melbourne town in the car driven by Good Mrs (Thank you, heaps!!!).

I felt quite guilty leaving the driver there, knowing only first name but not phone number. As I’m writing this post the following day, I don’t even know what happened after we left. We did see an RACV van coming and going, but no tow truck and not the car.

I owe our driver a pint of beer in a hopefully not too distant future… We both would have stories to tell from today…

3 thoughts on “Werribee Gorge State Park: Ironbark Gorge / Falcons Lookout – 5.5km

  1. Great well-written account Hans. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Only one question, how and exactly WHERE DID YOU CROSS THE Werribee River to get to the beach? Last time I did it meant getting quite wet.

    1. Hi Greg,
      I crossed the river very close to the beach. A little bit of bush-bashing beforehand and not much water in the river. In fact, boots stayed on and I didn’t get wet. I’m sure that is not always possible.

Leave a Reply