Lerderderg State Park: Scenic Rim 16km

Back to Lerderderg State Park outside Melbourne to hike the “Scenic Rim”, a first for me. The blurb I read stated that Scenic Rim is a good introduction to the southern end of Lerderderg Gorge. It offers great views and yet avoids the difficult terrain inside the gorge itself.

How my day panned out:

Grading for the Scenic Rim hike is “difficult”. After all, you start inside Lerderderg Gorge next to Lerderderg River. You then hike “up the hill”, descend back down to the river, up the other side and back down again. 810 meters elevation according to Runkeeper app.

Extract from Runkeeper app

I parked my car at Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area around 8.20am and got cracking. First off, you cross Lerderderg River.

Mackenzies Flat picnic area – Trail start

Well, no worries about getting feet wet today. Not a single drop of water in Lerderderg River around here. A bit sad to see…

Stepping stones across the dry Lerderderg River

The first 2km stretch to Grahams Dam is flat and easy hiking. Suddenly, the grounds looked like the aftermath of a cockatoo fight. Plenty of white feathers strewn across the path. I visualised how that fight may have looked… Or maybe it was the result of something else altogether…

Cockatoos fought here?

Grahams Dam contained some water. The only other time on the trail today I saw other people was here. 3 young people camping and with one having a swim. When I returned here later, the youngsters were all gone.

I didn’t tempt getting myself wet. Perhaps I should have. Skinny dipping all by myself. Nobody else around anyway.

Grahams Dam – a small pool of water today

I hiked on when rocks came crashing down on the path behind and beside me. What’s going on? I looked up and there were… feral goats. Perhaps 4 of them.

Not expected. Snakes, wallabies, kangaroos, an echidna yes, but not goats. The goats were shy and curious at the same time. You can see two of them in the photo below. My apologies for the low quality picture, zooming using an iPhone has limitations.

Feral goats in Lerderderg State Park

Beyond Grahams Dam, easy hiking was no more. The Spur Track commences here, up that… ehh… spur.

Spur Track commences here

Next a steep and rocky 2.5km climb to the top of the range and to Lerderderg Tunnel Access Track.

What am I waiting for? Get on with it, Hans The Hiker!!

Experienced and well prepared walkers only beyond here

Steep! Not joking. And rocky. That never come across well in photos. So here is one of the more gentle sections.

Spur Track when “less” rocky

Spur Track had some short flattish sections too. Like here with this burnt tree holding it together through that small “root”. Looking photogenic in the process. Likely through a lighting strike as surrounding vegetation showed no sign of fire.

That single burnt tree

I finally reached Lerderderg Tunnel Access Track panting and sweating. I deserved a break now, today’s first sit-down.

Rest at Lerderderg Tunnel Access Track

The redfaced hiker with my banana cover I bought for $1 at Healesville Markets. Such a silly item I had to buy it. Today was trail testing premiere. Verdict? Mmmm… not sure.

Silly hiker with a silly banana cover

Next a gentle 2.3km stroll down Lerderderg Tunnel Access Track towards Lerderderg River Diversion Weir. Today’s easiest stretch. Great views as the trail hugged the ridge side.

Drive here but not further, but walkers permitted through at all times. Using that small right opening next to the gates.

Southern Rural Water gates
Sign on gate

Did I mention views? Here’s more.

More views from Lerderderg Tunnel Access Track

Arriving at Lerderderg River Diversion Weir. It diverts water from here through 4km of underground tunnels to Merrimu Reservoir. Well, if there is any water to divert. Water was in short supply today.

Lerderderg River Diversion Weir

You cross the weir and then cross Lerderderg River for today’s steep and rocky ascent number 2. You can see the track up the hill below. The beginning of Long Point Track, the next spur to conquer. Some 1.3km this time.

Long Point Track starts there. The next spur track.

If anything, Long Point Track was even steeper and rockier than Spur Track. But with magnificent views. Like here. Looking down at Lerderderg River Diversion Weir. A great spot for a break or lunch. Except that today you would “bake” here. I continued.

Looking down at Lerderderg River Diversion Weir from Long Point Track

This tree up the hill also looked great against its surroundings. Or maybe I used that as an excuse to stop and take the photo while catching my breath…

Tree

Long Point Track was a hard slog. Arriving at the Blackwood Ranges Track intersection, I was sweating bad. So much that I had to remove my shirt and dry it out (left signpost below).

No pictures of me. Trust me, you wouldn’t like to see a photo of me now. I had today’s second cup of tea and a longer break while recovering.

Blackwood Ranges Track x Long Point Track

Next was 4km of gentle hiking south along the Blackwood Ranges Track, a management road.

Blackwood Ranges Track

More gorgeous views over Lerderderg State Park and Lerderderg Gorge. Scenic rim, wasn’t it just?

Views from Scenic Rim hike

A little bit of down and a little less bit of up. Felt good to stretch out the legs after all that climbing. End of steep climbing for today…

What goes down, must go up…

…but not of steep descent. Link Track number 1 left below will return me to Grahams Dam. At the bottom of Lerderderg Gorge. Where we not are now.

Blackwood Ranges Track x Link Track No 1

OK, when I thought that the views couldn’t be any greater. A clearing some distance away from the top and you could see “everywhere”. So why do I have to interfere with those views?

From Link Track No 1 back towards Grahams Dam

That’s better 🙂

Views
More views

If by the off-chance that you didn’t believe that the descent was steep and rocky, look here.

Rock, rock, rock everybody

No falls or dislocated shoulders or anything else silly today. No accidents. I arrive safe and well at Grahams Dam to stroll the remaining 2km back to Mackenzies Flat picnic area.

The track on the opposite side of Lerderderg River intrigued me. It went on for some distance and looked like a disused walking trail. A real goat track, perhaps?

Goat track?

A final picture of a tree hanging peculiar at the edge. I can’t believe that a future storm or downpour will not send it crashing down into the river. With or without water.

Returning to Mackenzies Flat picnic area moments later. Several cars parked there now (only me when I arrived). Some people were having a picnic. After all, it was Friday mid afternoon now.

I had a short break changing out of sweaty clothes thinking what a stunning hike this was. Not for the fainthearted, it was challenging at times, but the rewards were phenomenal. Views galore and a real sense of achievement.

Lerderderg State Park is my favourite Melbourne day hike destination. This hike reinforced that view I already had.

I read on a noticeboard that it is possible to hike between here and further north to the Blackwood area. Where I’ve hiked before. Investigation required.

On a final note, Mackenzies Flat picnic area is close to Bacchus Marsh. A lovely fruit and vegetables growing town. I even saw olive trees driving there for my cold post-hike drink before returning home.

If you are a reasonably fit and experienced hiker, you can also hike this. Allow 6 hours and prepare for a hardish slog. Your legs will hurt afterwards, but you will have a great day out.

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