bush beat

Breakneck Gorge

This is a great half-day walk for locals or visitors to the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area, giving you a good taste of the surrounding bushland in a peaceful gully.

The walk begins in Bryces Flat Reserve, which is easily accessed from Bald Hill Road in Hepburn. You will come to a bridge; cross it, and the turning to Bryces Flat is on the left, where parking is available. 

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

Set out following the signs to the Blowhole, taking the footbridge over Sailors Creek and following the track up. You will cross back over Bald Hill Road before reconnecting with the path on the other side, which will lead you up into the trees and over the hill to the gully on the far side. Forming part of the 210km Goldfields Track, the path is always clear and well signposted. 

Following it for half an hour will bring you to the Blowhole, a good place to stop to refuel. The Blowhole is a remnant of the gold rush, created to expose gold in the water, and after heavy rainfall it appears to shoot water. Unfortunately, the viewing area is currently closed due to a recent rock fall. 

From the Blowhole, follow the signs towards Breakneck Gorge. The Dry Diggings Track temporarily joins with an unsealed road before turning off to meet the riverbed, currently dry. If in doubt, just follow the yellow signposts. 

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

The trail becomes trickier here, negotiating a few more hills and with some rocky spots to navigate. The slope becomes quite steep to your left in some places and it’s best to walk carefully. Small lizards are common along the path on a warm day and the odd swamp wallaby can be spotted down in the leafy gully. 

It takes around an hour from the Blowhole to reach Breakneck Gorge: a deep, tree-filled gorge that appears suddenly around a bend. It’s a great place to watch some birds in the treetops below. And if you’re not feeling too worn out, the walk can easily be turned into a return trip, back along the same path.

Image: Alex Mullarky

Image: Alex Mullarky

SUMMARY

  • A 4km route from Bryces Flat in Hepburn to Breakneck Gorge.
  • Opportunity to continue along the Dry Diggings Track which leads into Daylesford.
  • Spectacular scenery and seclusion not far off the beaten track.
  • See the Daylesford area from a different perspective.

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Alex Mullarky

Alex Mullarky is a writer and environmentalist from the UK who has called Melbourne home since 2014. She is a graduate of English Literature and is particularly interested in the connection between language and landscape.
You can find her on Twitter at @saesteorra


Originally published on Walking Maps.

Banner image courtesy of Alex Mullarky.

Maroondah Reservoir

Known for its monumental landscapes, Maroondah Reservoir Park promises spectacular views overlooking a most impressive 22, 000 megalitre reservoir that flows over the dam spillway into the gorgeous Watts River. Teeming with native wildlife, the surrounding eucalypt forests sport ideal walking tracks for the keen wildlife enthusiast.

Located in the heart of Healesville, just over an hour’s drive from the northern suburbs of Victoria, lies a local favourite: Maroondah Reservoir Park. Heavily based on and around Watts River, the park boasts a diverse range of native flora and fauna, as well as spectacular views of the dam itself.

You will be given the choice of four walking tracks at the information shelter, located north of the main car park area. We chose to walk the Lookout Track and completed our stay with the Maroondah Forest Track. 

Lookout Track ~ 30 minutes

From the information shelter, I suggest you first explore the exquisitely landscaped gardens lined with both native and exotic trees. Native birds thrive in these historical gardens, so keep a keen eye out and listen carefully. Before heading towards the top of the dam wall, visit the spillway viewing platform to appreciate the beauty of Watts River and the force of water exiting the dam. From here you can climb the famous Rose Stairway consisting of 84 steps, leading you to the very top of the dam wall. If you are unable to climb the stairs, there is a bitumen walking track at the eastern end of the car park, leading you to the same destination.

Once you reach the top of the 41-metre high dam wall, you are presented with breathtaking views of the 22, 000 megalitre Maroondah Reservoir with densely forested mountains in the background. Constructed in 1920 and completed in 1927, the reservoir has since been an important source of potable water for Greater Metropolitan Melbourne. The dam wall walk eventually ends at a clearing where there is a lookout that boasts stunning views of the entire dam, the dam wall and the surrounding forests

Maroonda Forest Track ~ 15-30 minutes

From the lookout clearing, the Maroondah Forest Track leads you through a pleasant native forest walk back down to Henderson's Picnic Area (located near the car park). Time spent on this track can really vary depending on an individual's interests. This densely forested walk is lined with native pines, wattles, eucalypts and tree ferns. Home to many Australian mammals and bird life, this walk is best taken slowly and quietly. Once you are tuned in to the distinct sounds of the forest, you will be delighted with what you hear. On our walk, we spotted a swamp wallaby who had lost its footing and gone tumbling into the scrub below. We saw sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, Australian white ibis and bronzewings. Plenty of kookaburra calls could be heard, although the birds themselves were not seen.

This moderate walk is a gem for those who are fond of native plants, which are heavily distributed the deeper you get into the walk and reminiscent of a tropical rainforest. Just before the end of the track is a small bridge that leads you over a quiet section of Watts River. This is an absolutely stunning spot to take in the sights and sounds of the river and surrounding forest - a perfect treat before you set off in your car to discover more of what Healesville has to offer! 

Summary:

  1. Spectacular views
  2. Dense native vegetation
  3. Array of native fauna
  4. Historical landmark 

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All photos taken by Tanya Rajapaske.


Tanya Rajapakse

Tanya holds a strong passion for the conservation and preservation of local ecosystems. She recently completed her Masters of Science, focusing on the biodiversity of fauna in Port Phillip Bay and its relationship with seagrass meadows.