Lerderderg Gorge - November 2000
This was a trip from the 4WD Adventures Close to Melbourne Book. We quite enjoyed this trip, and it showed us some nice bush locations that we had never explored before. We pretty much followed the book to the letter, which got us down a very steep track due to a typo in the book. This was my first steep ascent and descent and was before we did the driver training, so there was a bit of anxiety, but we made it back up with no dramas.
We also did a couple of small river crossings, which were quite fun but very safe and tame for our first attempts.
The bush in this region was very dry in contrast to a forest like Toolangi. I'm not sure if this is typical of this area, or attributable to the drought that has plagued here for the previous many years.
Our trip started proper with us leaving the Western Highway at the first Bacchus Marsh exit, and heading right onto Bacchus Marsh - Gisborne Road. Much to Michelle's delight, we found a huge Trash & Treasure market at Darley Park, which we explored for a couple of hours before continuing. We headed left onto Lerderderg Gorge Road, then turned right onto Camerons Road. This soon became dirt, where we did the air down on the tyres before continuing. Camerons Road became Blue Gum Track, which we followed until turning right onto Ractcliffe Track. The trip notes indicated a right hand turn off this track, which took us down a very steep bit of track, the difficulty of which seemed beyond what we would have expected this book to send us along. The track levelled before continuing further, so we got out and walked it and decided that the track was too steep to attempt on our own, and that the trip notes must have been incorrect. We turned around and headed back up and left, which turned out to be the correct direction. A later look at the book's Web Page showed that the trip notes in the book are indeed incorrect.
We did our first ever river crossing in our car at Middle Creek. This was quite shallow but some large rocks in the middle of the creek gave some concern, but we managed to get around them and make the steep rocky ascent out and onwards. We followed this track to Firth Road, which took us to Firth Park. This was a nice treed park with toilets and BBQ's, though I wouldn't use the BBQ's here since somebody had defecated on one of them.
We joined up on XL Track, which had many water filled potholes allowing us to get the car respectfully dirty. There are a few mines in this area which we must go back and explore one day. XL Track descended to a creek crossing over Sardine Creek, and then brought us up to O'Briens Road. We headed down to O'Briens Crossing, which had some nice camping spots, and was a very popular location, with many people camped and fishing here. We stopped by the river near a river crossing so that James and Liam could have a swim. While we were here, a group of trail bike riders crossed the river, which the kids thought was quite fun to watch. We didn't do this crossing in the car as we were on our own, and I had no real experience in crossings. We will have to go back one day and cross here, as there is an old mine on the other side of the river according to the map.
The trip out was on standard 2WD quality dirt roads, and we headed back to Melbourne via Trentham and down the Calder Highway.