Day 3; The Sunday return
Sunday morning, thanks to daylight savings, and a very early bed-time, we were were up relatively early. The plan was simple; return via the Cowan track. You can see below; the track we walked on day 2 & 3, if you follow the river line, the second southern-most flag is where we camped for the first night.
The cowan track is pretty tame on the return, there is a sharp hill at the beginning which will get your heart racing, but once you are up the hill its pretty much straight sailing. When compared with the river walk that we had done the day before; we found that we were able to make the trip back to the car in just about 2 hours; a enjoyable but fast return. This makes for a nice easy Sunday; which when you’re abandoning significant others for the weekend, can be a saving grace.
Along the trail, there are some points of interest, between our campsite and the turn-off for Cowan track, we spotted what seemed like quite a large site which would be great for teams of more than two people. There is plenty of room, and the site looks like it has been cleared for larger groups. Being right near the bend in the river, there would be plenty of water access and looks like it would be great fun for a summer hike when I would be more inclined to hop in the water.
Lerderderg gorge has a rich history with gold-miners, the park is dotted with old mines which you can take a peek into. Personally they give me the willies, I don’t have any kind of knowledge in terms of what makes a safe mine; so I wasn’t going to go sticking my head down one. However if you’re interested in taking a peek in the front door so to speak, there is an easily accessible mine entrance just off the walk between the river and Cowan track.
Where we turned up Cowan track, you also have the option to head along two other tracks which head further east. The KMZ file at the bottom of the page shows the junction from there you have the opportunity to extend the walk over spring-onion track which then feeds into Lerderderg track. These two eventually head back to the same road as Cowan, but are several KM further east of Obrien’s crossing.
Once you finish Cowan track, and hit the road, its a matter of turning left and walking along for a section before heading onto short-cut track. This track takes you off the road and about 1km off the journey. It heads through the conservation zone rather than along the windy road. Its one of the only times in the whole walk you’re much above the base altitude of the park. Its pretty much all down-hill from there and you will be back at Obrien’s crossing before you know it.
For my sake, I have actually used a hand-drawn path in Google earth, not my personal GPX records. This is because I don’t want to share some of the intimate details that the GPX file stores with the internet. When I figure out how to strip that back, ill be happy to upload it.. You will need to click twice to download this file; bear with it, as if I link it directly; it will just come up as another map. Map KML download
Summing it up
The walk we did here was pretty straight forward. It is not that physically demanding, but still quite enjoyable. There are plenty of ways to customize the walk as you go, with plenty of side-tracks and alternative routes. Lerderderg is a great location to go for a weekend hike, its close proximity to Melbourne means that the drive is normally less than hour and a half from the CBD on a Friday night and there is plenty of room to camp. The conservation zone is large and even though its a DSE park a vast portion is inaccessible to motor-bikes and 4WDers.