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On Walkabout On: Mt. Macedon, Victoria

I have mentioned before what a great day trip that a visit to Victoria’s Hanging Rock is.  However, for those looking for another great day trip in the area then a visit to Mt. Macedon shouldn’t be missed:

Mt. Macedon is located adjacent to Hanging Rock and is only about 65 kilometers from Melbourne.  There is an improved pave road that takes visitors all the way to the top of the mountain:

The most visited landmark on the mountain is without a doubt the Mt. Macedon Memorial Cross:

The cross is huge and can easily be seen from the Calder Freeway leading to the Macedon Ranges.  It was constructed in the 1930’s by Mr William Cameron to commemorate the soldiers who died in World War I.  The cross is considered Victoria’s second most important war memorial behind the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.  Today the cross honors more then just the World War I veterans as smaller plaques have been constructed in the area in honor of veterans of other wars as well. 

Up close, the cross towers over visitors at a maximum height of 21 meters.  Here is the inscription on the original inscription at the base of the cross in honor of Australia’s World War II veterans:

I continue to be impressed with how well Australia remembers its veterans with some really very well done memorials across the country along with the nation wide effort to remember the nation’s past veterans during ANZAC Day

Right next to the Memorial Cross is something else I have seen quite often on the summit of mountains in Australia which are these plaques that display the distance to various locations in the area from where you are standing:

As you can see on this plaque the cross is located on a peak of Mt. Macedon that rises to an altitude of 989 meters.  Being so high up of course means some great views and great views is what you can find on Mt. Macedon when the clouds haven’t rolled in:

The above picture is actually looking towards Melbourne which can easily be seen from Mt. Macedon when Melbourne’s famous poor weather doesn’t roll in.  Looking towards the west from the cross I had a fantastic view of the thickly forested bushland that covers Victoria’s once world famous Goldfields:

It was from here that Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836 during his exploration of Victoria, had become the first reported European to ascend the mountain and take in views of the surrounding area. Mitchell wrote this in his journal after climbing up the mountain:

“from the top of the mountain, Port Phillip Bay and a few of
the buildings of Melbourne can be seen”. Major Mitchell also noted the
“high quality and size of the timber on the side of the mountain.”

Mitchell decided to name the mountain Mt. Macedon because he could see Port Philip Bay from the summit. Thus the mountain was named after Philip of Macedon. This naming also kept in line with the number of other landmarks Mitchell named after Greek characters as well.

After checking out the cross and imagining what the thoughts of Major Mitchell must have been looking at this same view back in 1836 , I then decided to hike the trail is known as the Macedon Ranges Walking Trail.  It is roughly 29 kilometers long and takes hikers completely around the mountain.  I planned to hike about half of the trail from the Memorial Cross to Sanatorium Lake where my wife would meet me at and pick me up:

The trail was easy to follow the whole way and in good condition.  The surrounding bush land was quite thick with gum trees both living and fallen over:

The mountain is currently so thickly forested that it is hard to believe that not long ago nearly every tree on this mountain was cut down due to logging and then what remained was burned down during the devastating Ash Wednesday Fires of 1983.  However, the lack of gigantic gum trees like you see in areas east of Melbourne or along the Great Ocean Road is the first clue to visitors that there is no old growth forests left on Mt. Macedon. 

Besides the many gum trees there is an occasional fern tree that makes an appearance, but once again the size of these fern trees fail to compare with those that grow in Victoria’s old growth forests:

As the trail neared the Camel’s Hump which is the highest point in the Macedon Ranges, rock formations covered in green moss began to become visible along the trail:

Here is the last portion of the trail as it ascends towards 1,011 meter summit of the Camel’s Hump:

From the top of the Camel’s Hump it is easy to see why this rock formation has become popular with climbers based in Melbourne.  The large rocks that compose the Camel’s Hump is the same type of volcanic rock that formed Hanging Rock known as a mamelon

Here is how this rocky volcanic outcropping looks when viewed from Hanging Rock:

With this view it is easy to see the volcanic origins of the Camel’s Hump. 

Just like over at the Memorial Cross the Camel’s Hump also has a plaque that displays the distance to other landmarks
and cities in the area.  What I found interesting about this plaque was that unlike the previous plaque this one listed all the distances in miles:

Since this plaque was constructed in 1911 I am assuming that Australia must have been using miles back then and not the metric system.  The plaque at the Memorial Cross was erected in 1978 and is in kilometers.  It just makes me wonder when Australia changed over to the metric system? 

Something else unusual about the Camel’s Hump is that there is a snow gum growing there:

These snow gums are rare to see in Australia and can only be found at high altitudes in the Victorian Alps and the Snowy Mountains.  The Camel’s Hump is apparently just high enough for a few of these very hearty trees to grow. 

And finally of course the view from the Camel’s Hump looking towards the north is spectacular.  You can see Hanging Rock hanging out in the middle of the below picture:

From the Camel’s Hump I continued my walk through the lush forests of the Macedon Ranges:

Along the way it was good to see the large number of hollows in the trees known as stags:

These stags are created by natural forces such as wind and fire and these hollows are perfects nests and shelter for the native wildlife that lives in the Macedon Ranges:

As I hiked closer to the end of my hike at Sanatorium Lake I walked right through a very pleasant camp site:

The trees in this area were the largest I had seen on Mt. Macedon to include to these decent sized mountain ash trees:

I finally concluded my walk at the lovely Sanatorium Lake:

The lake was constructed in 1899 to provide water for a sanatorium that was constructed nearby.  The sanatorium closed in 1910 after being badly damaged by bushfires.  However, the short history of the sanatorium has left one lasting legacy which is this beautiful lake:

There is a pleasant camp ground near the lake and that is where my wife was waiting to pick me up.  All in all a nice day that began with remembering Australia’s military past and concluding with a pleasant walk through the beautiful Australian bush of today. 


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