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On Walkabout In: The Werribee Gorge State Park – Part 1

Basic Information

  • Name: Circuit Gorge Trail
  • Where: Werribee Gorge State Park
  • Distance: 10 kilometers (6.5 miles)
  • Time: 3-4 hours
Map of the Hike:

Narrative

If you are in the Melbourne area looking for an easy day hike that isn’t to far outside of town one of the places I highly recommend is Werribee Gorge State Park. I took a trip to this park that is located a short 40 minute drive west of Melbourne near the city Bacchus Marsh this past weekend. On the way to the gorge and pulled over and took this shot of the hills of Lerderberg State Park that is located not to far from Werribee Gorge:

Lerderberg State Park is just north of the city of Bacchus Marsh while Werribee Gorge is about a 10 minute drive to the west of the city. On the map below you can see how large Lerderberg State Park is. I haven’t had a chance to hike through here yet, but I’m definitely going to try it some time. It looks like some beautiful country. Werribee Gorge is much smaller in comparison to Lerderberg.

You can see the gorge on the map below just to the west of Bacchus Marsh:

By looking at the map you may think getting to Werribee Gorge is easy, but it is actually a little tricky. To reach the park take the Pentland Hills Road exit off the Western Freeway running west of Bacchus Marsh. From the exit take a right and go under the highway bridge and then take a left at the next intersection. Travel down the road until you pass underneath the highway yet again and then look immediately to your left and you will see the road that takes you to the gorge. I missed this turn because the turn was so sudden after passing underneath the bridge again.

Once on the proper road the road passes through a bunch of fields of grazing land which allows you to really see how much of a wilderness island this state park is:

The gorge is completely surrounded by farm land because fortunately many decades ago someone in the Victorian government had the foresight to protect this gorge and turn it into a state park before all its trees could be cut down and turned into grazing land.

I parked my Jeep at the Quarry Campground which is located not to far from the park entrance. This campground used to be a gravel quarry, but it is now an open area for campers with a picnic table. From this campground I began my hike on what is known as the Circuit Gorge Trail:

From the campground the trail begins gaining in altitude to be able to get to the high cliffs that surround the gorge. As I hiked up the hill side I got a good view of the Quarry Campground area:

You can see the campground has a little pond located there but I would not recommend using the water because it seemed quite dirty. Also in the above picture you can see the southern boundary of the park because of the grazing land. Anything with trees is park land and anything without trees is private grazing land.

The below picture which is a view looking towards the north really shows the sharp contrast between grazing and park land:

As you can see the gorge is actually larger than just what is contained in the state park. A large part of the gorge is actually private land used for grazing. Below is a view looking towards the east and the city of Melbourne:

In this close up view you can see the Melbourne skyline in the distance and even the Dandenong Ranges behind it:

Eventually the trail begins to lose altitude and begins working down towards the gorge:

From this view point I had a great view of how deep the gorge is below me:

As I continued to drop in altitude and move lower into the gorge I was able to get another great view of this large land mass to the north:

This land mass is actually an island of rock. The bluff is composed of a basalt rock that did not erode as quickly as the other rock that surrounded it thus making this large island of land. To my south I had a view of one of the larger rock walls of the gorge:

The altitude of the trail continued to slowly drop and provide more and more dramatic views of the gorge walls:

Soon I would be into the gorge itself.

Next Posting: Into the Gorge

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