Werribee Gorge

A challenging track hidden in a gorge just an hour from the centre of Melbourne.

On first arriving, Werribee Gorge doesn’t seem like it will be all that peaceful – just off the Western Freeway, only an hour out of the city – but sound evaporates in the gorge. By the time you’ve parked in the Quarry Picnic Area the traffic noise has been muffled, but the voices of hikers up on the ridge can be heard clearly.

The Circuit Track is roughly 10km long, first tracing the edge of the gorge, then winding down through it. The route is clearly signposted with red triangles (mostly faded to burnt orange) and a map in the Quarry Picnic Area. The initial climb is steep but fairly short. Despite it being 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning, we crossed paths with a bold swamp wallaby within two minutes of setting off.

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Walkers are quickly rewarded for their climb with two viewpoints overlooking the interior of the gorge and a valley beyond. From the second viewpoint, the path winds steeply down until it reaches the river. This flat section of the walk is fairly easy-going, aside from the need to bash through some overgrown bushes and navigate some ledges, though the drop is very small.

Beyond this section is a rocky stretch that rounds a bend, with a slight overhang above the water. Parks Victoria have attached a cable along the rocks so that walkers can have a mini climbing adventure, but again, there isn’t much of a drop so there’s no real risk. It’s a fun and unexpected part of the track but it can get a bit congested on weekend afternoons, as families and hikers attempt to traverse it in different directions!

Photo: Alex Mullarky

Photo: Alex Mullarky

A gradual incline follows, at the end of which is a fork. At this point, we took a wrong turn, following the sign for the Short Circuit Track (another option from the Quarry) instead of continuing down towards Meikles Point. This doesn’t seem to cut any distance off the walk but it does add a steep incline as the track goes sharply back up to the initial ridgeline and viewpoint, before we retraced our steps down to the Quarry Picnic Area.

This is another great afternoon walk, taking only about three hours but giving your forgotten hiking muscles a good workout. The varying terrain keeps the walk interesting and the park’s proximity to the highway isn’t a problem – from the highest point you can see cars passing in the distance, but the gorge is peaceful and almost silent. A great afternoon escape.

Summary:

  • An hour’s drive from the city
  • Slightly challenging terrain
  • Can be walked in an afternoon
  • Varying landscapes of ridgeline and gorge basin

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Alex Mullarky

Alex Mullarky is a freelance journalist and works part-time in threatened species conservation. Her other passion is ex-racehorse rehabilitation and she is currently completing her Masters.