Whroo Historic Trail

Map

GPS coordinates -36.646502 145.026763

20200427_map_Whroo Historic Trail

Distance
7km
Difficulty
Grade 3
Duration
3-4 hours (bushwalking)
Alternative Recreational Uses
Birdwatching, mountain biking, photographing, picnicking, orienteering and driving (on formed roads only). Prospecting and fossicking require a Miner’s Right.

Motor bikes / 4WDs must be registered, riders / drivers licensed & stay on formed roads.

Seasonal Information
Wildflowers in spring and autumn. Muddy tracks in winter. Very hot and dry in summer.
Cautions
The Information Centre is permanently closed.

Signs and trail markers may be damaged Unauthorised and poorly defined tracks and trails exist. Take care not to get lost! No potable water is available.

No pets. Take your rubbish with you.

Grass trees are vulnerable to cinnamon fungus transfer: keep to formed roads and tracks.

Amenities
Car parking, public toilets, picnic tables, fire grates, interpretive signs, trail markers and camping
Management and Support Groups
Parks Vic

Location

To access the Whroo Historic Area, drive through the Rushworth State Forest via the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd. 7km south of Rushworth Township, turn left into Reedy Creek Rd. The central car park with public toilets is 0.5km from this intersection on the right.

Track Notes

This is often a quiet, empty place of bushland, native flora and fauna. Exploration of the Whroo Historic Trail unearths evidence of a different, busy, crowded and culturally significant past. The open cut of the impressive Balaclava Mine marks one end of the journey. Remnants of Victoria’s gold rush era can be discovered all along the way. Underground storage tanks, mining shafts and tunnels, building rubble and foundations, century old rubbish dumps and gold mining infrastructure comprise an historic treasure trove. Once spring fed Aboriginal rock wells close these historic trail loops.

You can enter the trail loops at any point. However, the sizable central car park with picnic and toilet facilities is probably the most convenient place to start and finish.

Head uphill to the right of the public toilets to join the Balaclava Mine section of the trail. The trail is well-defined, being constructed of a crushed quartz and gravel surface. Be wary, the gravel can slip. There are 2 viewing points into the open cut. Watch out for locked gated tunnels through the hill. The larger was for a tramline. Access into the open cut is now prohibited due to the high risk of rock falls.

After you pass the second viewing point, cross nearby Rushworth – Nagambie Rd to see the original battery dam. If you are lucky, you may see tortoise on the bank. Fish live in this water.

There is great mountain biking below the dam wall. Procced downhill parallel to the road while looking across the road to your left. Cross the road to the first trail on your left to rejoin the Balaclava Mine loop. You will return to the central car park via mullock heaps  and the site of the Lewis homestead.

Once back at the central car park, this time head downhill, towards Whroo Cemetery. Keep to the left of the open grassy space you initially traverse. Imagine it humming with the sounds of a 10,000 strong population. Take care, like this space, some walking trails may not be well defined due to variable local conditions. You will arrive at a dirt road. Head along the road to your right to resume the trail on the opposite side, beside Poor Man’s Gully. Observe the mullock heaps of gold mining detritus as you pass by.

You will come to Cemetery Road. Cross here to follow the cemetery driveway into the cemetery itself. There are 400 graves here, many unmarked. Take time to reflect on the timing and causes of death in gold rush Whroo.

The next stop will be the Aboriginal waterholes. Follow the trail behind the cemetery around the base of the nearby low hill to the left of the cemetery. Passing through stands of grass trees, you will come to an intersection. Follow the trail marker on your left pointing up the hill. Cross the next dirt road to the ramp that leads to the waterholes.

Return back down the same trail section to the intersection and turn left to resume the trail. This will now run parallel with Reedy Lake Rd until it reaches Cemetery Rd. Cross to the picnic tables on the corner. To return to the central car park, continue uphill parallel to Reedy Lake Rd. You have completed your trail loops.

Options

  • Visit the puddling machine and cyanide vats 300m south of the Balaclava Battery Dam along the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd.
  • Follow the track opposite the Balaclava Mine on Reedy Creek Rd up and behind Malakoff Hill. Then travel downhill along Surface Hill Gully for 300m. Turn right to head back towards the central car park.
  • Free camping is available at Green’s Camping Ground on Green’s Rd.

Topography and Geology

Of the undulating rises to low hills, Balaclava Hill is the highest point in the Whroo district. It was a very rich mine. During the Silurian period, an intensely heated earth’s crust beneath the gold fields pushed volcanic rocks into extremely-hot salty water. As the water moved closer to the surface and cooled, gold crystallised out with quartz. 600 million years later, this resulted in a 19th century fortune of more than £1,000,000 from quartz bearing gold veins of up to 15cm across. Whroo goldfields are estimated to have produced 40,000 ounces of gold.

Flora

Whroo Historic Area comprises 490 hectares within the world’s largest ironbark forest of 24,300 hectares. The forest itself harbours a canopy of red and mugga ironbark, grey box, yellow box, white box and red stringy bark. The mid story contains grass trees, blackwood, golden wattle, spreading wattle, casuarina, melaleuca and dogwood. There are occasional patches of mallee. The understory consists of grevillia, drooping cassinia and bush pea. A ground layer of native grasses, woodland flowers including orchids and bulbous plants completes a unique native bush landscape.

Fauna

Kangaroos, wallabies, yellow footed antechinus, brush tailed phascogale, squirrel glider, common dunnart, legless lizards, tree goannas and tortoise may be spotted. Particularly, if you choose to camp overnight.

Birdlife

Rushworth State Forest is listed as an eBird Australia hotspot with records of 150 species, including the powerful owl and threatened swift parrot.

Local History

The Nguraililam-wurrung aboriginal people used ironbark forest timber to fashion canoes, hunting implements and construct shelters. Ironbark blossom made a sweet beverage. The name “Whroo” is said to come for the word meaning lips. This was a reference to the aboriginal watering holes in the area.

Gold was discovered in Rushworth in 1853. In 1854, a gold nugget was discovered in grass at Balaclava Hill by John Lewis and James Nickinson.  The consequent goldrush lasted much of the decade, recurrently bringing thousands to try their luck. Gold mining began with alluvial diggings, proceeding to open cut methods as alluvial returns diminished. By 1860, a population of just 450 remained. The Balaclava Hill Mine continued to be productive until it was shut down in the 1870s due to water management problems. However, shafts have been mined since. The last active shaft was filled by the Mines Department in the 1960s.

In its time, the Whroo township accommodated a Mechanic’s Institute, a state school, a post office, a savings bank, a free library, 2 churches, 3 ore crushing mills, 3 hotels and a cordial factory. 139 buildings were still present in 1871.

Rumour has it Ned Kelly and his gang visited the area. Prior to anticipated trouble with the local constabulary, it is said a cache of Kelly gold was stashed in the area and never found again …..

Whroo cemetery reflects the undiscriminating difficulties of life in a harsh environment, where neither age, nationality, culture nor religion provided protection. Chinese miners make up 15% of those buried. They were a significant part of the community as miners, for operating puddling machines and growing market gardens.

However, by the 1920s ironbark timber cutting was the principal remaining industry. By 1933 the population had fallen to just 52. By 1955, Whroo was a ghost town.

In case of emergency

Call 000

Melville’s Lookout Track (revisited)

Title

Melville’s Lookout Track

Map

Lat: 36.812930

Lon: 144.996363

Distance, Grading and Cautions

Distance
10.5km
Difficulty
Grade 3
Duration
3 – 4 hours bushwalking
Alternative Recreational Uses
This is a good location for multi recreational use: bushwalking, mountain bikes, orienteering, rogaining and driving (on formed roads only)

Horse riding, motor bikes and 4WDs are only permitted on formed roads.

Seasonal Information
Wildflowers in autumn and spring. Muddy tracks in winter. Very hot and dry in summer.
Cautions
Grass trees are vulnerable to cinnamon fungus transfer: keep to formed roads and tracks.

Unauthorised tracks exist. Take care not to get lost!

No pets or firearms. No drones without a permit.

Rough ground, snakes, falling limbs, no potable water.

Amenities
Picnic tables and fire grates at the Lookout
Management and Support Groups
Parks Vic

Location

Embark from and return to the carpark (of sorts) on the corner of Mt Black Quarry Rd and Heathcote Nagambie Rd., Wirrate.

Track Notes

The main part of the track comprises Mt Black Quarry Rd. This is a dirt vehicle track with very little traffic. Take care, loose stones can make the track slippery. The track rises gently for 3.6km, where it arrives at the base of a steep, rough foot trail that ascends directly to the Lookout (at 4.2km). This foot trail then joins the dirt vehicle track on the opposite side of the summit. This dirt vehicle track loops back to the base of the hill. If the initial steep foot trail ascent looks too daunting, keep walking along the road approximately 100 metres until you get to the Melville’s Lookout 2km directional sign pointing left. Follow this track up and back down for a less demanding walk.

To the right of the Melville’s Lookout sign you will see remains of the old Goulburn Weir quarry site. Rocks from this location were cut to build the Goulburn River Weir wall at Nagambie in 1890. This area invites exploring. Kids will love it for all the climbing and hiding places. It makes for excellent mountain biking as well.

Options

  • For a shorter walk, you can comfortably 2WD drive in on Mt Black Quarry Rd to the base of the Melville’s Lookout.
  • A 4WD can take you all the way to the Lookout on the summit vehicle track, 2km from the Melville’s Lookout directional sign.
  • Walking 800 metres further along Mt Black Quarry Rd brings you to a walking track on the right going up to the Mt Black summit.
  • The nearest camping is permitted at Spring Creek or Dargile Camping and Picnic Grounds or the Whroo free camping area.

Topography and Geology

The National Park is composed of forested hills and gullies. The sand stone ridge lines are a result of folds in the earth’s crust. Look out for fossilised sea shells from the ancient sea bed.

Flora

This park comprises Victoria’s largest remaining box – ironbark forest, consisting of open woodland including ironbark, grey and yellow box and stringy bark. The understory features blackwood, gold dust wattle, silver wattle and drooping cassinia. Grass trees are numerous. Green rock fern is a common ground plant in milder months.

Wildflowers include grassland wood sorrel, shiny everlastings, tall bluebells and Nodding Greenhood orchids, with many more according to the season. Rare spider orchids may be also found.

Fauna

Eastern Grey kangaroos and goannas may be encountered.

Threatened species you may be lucky enough to see are the tuan and swift parrot

Birdlife

White winged choughs love the ground layer and white throated tree creepers are commonly seen running up midstory trunks. Red and little wattle birds and parrots particularly enjoy the canopy when eucalypts are in flower. And, of course, cockatoos abound. If you keep your wits about you, there are plenty more birds to be seen.

Pests

Damage from 4WD and motorbikes is not as bad as elsewhere, but sadly some clowns will always take pleasure in littering and tearing such places up.

March flies can be a problem in Autumn.

Local History

Naming:

Dargile (formerly Heathcote – Graytown) National Park.

Melville’s Lookout: Captain (Francis) Melville was a notorious goldrush era bushranger. After being transported to Australia at age 15 for housebreaking, he escaped Port Arthur to live with local aborigines for a year. He came to Victoria in 1851. Within a short time he had formed the Mt Macedon Gang that robbed travellers heading to and from the goldfields.

Melville’s Lookout Track

Previously, Mt Black Flora Reserve, now Dargile (Heathcote-Graytown) National Park (12,833ha).

20200224_pho_Mt Black 03
Box – Ironbark forest with extensive grass tree stands.
Grand views across the surrounding landscape
20200224_pho_Mt Black 23
Ex quarry site (stone source for the Goulburn Weir).

Responsible Authority

Parks Vic

Acceptable modes of transit:

Foot, mountain bike, horseback, car

GPS coordinates & map

Lat -36.812552 Long 144.996543

20200224_map_Melville's Lookout Track

Distance & duration

10.5km, 4 hours

Grading (using the Parks Vic Track and Trail Grading Manual):

Grade 3

Amenities:

20200224_pho_Mt Black 17
Car parking space is available at the Heathcote-Nagambie Rd and Mt Black Quarry Rd corner

The lookout has 2 picnic tables and 2 fire places

There is evidence of camping

Hazards

Limbs may fall, snakes, rough ground

Very loose stones on the steep ascent to Melville Lookout

No drinking water is available

There are multiple unsigned branching trails. Getting lost is a risk.

Restrictions

No dogs, cats, pets allowed

No firearms allowed

No drones without a permit

Trailhead & Informational Signs

There is no trailhead sign present

Directional signs / bollards or trail markers

20200224_pho_Mt Black 24
There is only one directional sign to Melville’s Lookout at the bottom of the climb
20200224_pho_Mt Black 13

The Melville lookout sign at the summit is damaged

There are no trail markers

Brochure (using the existing SRCMN / Strathbogie Shire format)

None available

Recommended works

Required

Improvement in trailhead and directional signs

Suggested

Development of designated car parking spaces at trailhead and base of trail up to Melville’s Lookout.

Littering and rubbish dumping clean up.

Conclusion

This is an established trail in current use. It has capacity for multi recreational use. There are several features of interest to make it worthy of promotion.

Mountain Hut Creek Reservoir / Charman’s Falls Hike – Garden Range Flora and Fauna Reserve, Kelvin View

Responsible Authority:IMG_3908

  • Parks Vic
  • GV Water

Acceptable modes of transit:

Walk

Distance & duration

  • Mt Hut Reservoir 2km return 1/2 -1hr (dirt track)
  • Charman’s Falls 6-7km return, 4-5hrs (no track)

GPS coordinates & map

  • 36°48’23.0″S 145°38’20.3″E
  • -36.806393, 145.638982

MountainHutCharmansFallsGrading (using the Parks Vic Track and Trail Grading Manual)

Grade 5

Amenities:

None

Hazards

Snakes, tree and limb falls, very steep inclines, cliff faces, overhangs, steep embankments, slippery surfaces include wet surfaces, loose rocks, soil, mud and vegetation, absence of pathways, flowing water

Restrictions

  • No hunting
  • No camping
  • No pets
  • Take your rubbish with you
  • Take potable water with you

Trailhead sign & Informational Signs

None (Mt Hut Reservoir, GV Water sign at gate)

Directional signs / bollards or trail markers

None

Brochure

None.

Recommendations

Significant sections of this walk are a scramble through steep bush terrain. Trail marking and eventual foot trail creation would improve access and safety.

Conclusion

For experienced, well prepared hikers only. A service track begins at and returns to the Mt Hut Reservoir GV Water gate on the Euroa-Strathbogie Road, but only goes as far as Mountain Hut Creek Reservoir itself. From here you follow the Mountain Hut Creek embankment to Waterhouse Reservoir. At this point, cross the dam wall and once again proceed upwards, around the Reservoir and again onto the creek embankment. There is no trail, the slopes are steep and littered with loose surface material. Take care. However, the reward is great. Charman’s Falls are spectacular, particularly with a good spill of water, and it is downhill all the way back.

Ruffy Snow Gum Reserve Walking Track

Trail Checklist

SnowGumWalk Extends from Noyes Lane, Ruffy.

This track meanders down an unused road reserve through open Narrow-leaf Peppermint forest until it crosses a walking bridge and enters the Ruffy Flora Reserve. A circuit of this reserve takes you through swampy riparian woodlands dominated by ancient Mountain Swamp Gums. The path continues past a tiny population of Snow Gums, remnants of a colder climate, and skirts a chain of dark deep billabongs into bandicoot and koala territory.

Responsible Authority:

Road Reserve: Strathbogie Shire Council

Ruffy Nature Conservation Reserve: DELWP

Acceptable modes of transit:

Walk (mountain bike and horse with track improvement)

Distance & duration

3km return, 1.5hrs to the Reserve.

Additional loops could be added:

  • 4km via Bunting Hill Rd
  • 6km via Terip Church

GPS coordinates & map

36°58′4″ S 145°30′56″ E

-36.967745, 145.514873

Snowgums Trail Ruffy

Grading (using the Parks Vic Track and Trail Grading Manual):

Grade 3. Flat, but with some uneven ground and open woodland debris underfoot. Could be rated easy with trail clearance.

Amenities:

The walk commences at the Ruffy Recreation Ground, Maygar Park.

Parking at the Ruffy Recreation Ground

Shelter and picnic facilities at the Recreation Ground

Toilets at the Ruffy Recreation Ground

Horse containment at the Recreation Ground

Hazards

Tree & branch falls, uneven surfaces, bogs, flowing water, snakes

Restrictions

Take your rubbish with you

No potable water

Trailhead sign & Informational Signs

No trailhead sign in situ (there is one in poor condition that has been removed).

Directional signs / bollards or trail markers

No directional signs on nearby roads

No trail markers along the trail, but some exist within the Reserve

Brochure 

Available

Conclusion

This trail has the potential to be a key feature for visitors to Ruffy. With some basic work, it could be improved considerably.  This trail is currently accessible to walkers and is in occasional use. However, until the trail has been cleared for snake sighting, recommended use is probably best confined to the cooler months. With improvement, it would be a viable all year walking, mountain bike and horse trail.

Nicholls-BogieMerton-Jukes Loop

nichollsbomertonjukes

The welcome arrival of Lesley, Marie and Michele usually leads to a walk. Today was no exception. Since they were on the way back to Melbourne this afternoon, the time between lunch and departure was fairly tight. We needed a route, preferably a circuit, of around 5km. At 5.05km, this loop fitted the bill.

Starting at the corner of Nicholls Lane and Jukes Rd we headed toward the Strathbogie Merton Rd on a gentle downward gradient. The dirt had been recently graded smooth to the driveway of the only farm house. This was a just few hundred metres down the 900m lane. Beyond was a pretty, little used, leaf-littered, dusty grey track. This track cut between dry woodland above. Below is a rustic dell including a rush bordered pond within romantic farmland, submerged in forest.

Turning left into the Strathbogie-Merton Rd began a modest incline on narrow winding white gravel. This road is closely skirted by forest across steep slopes and within deep gullies. All are dotted with beautiful, lichen draped granite boulders and formations. The grey green of eucalyptus leaves is set against the walls of white trunked manna gums. The salmon patches exposed by long strips of ribbon bark falling to the ground create a glorious summer palette.

Cresting the top of the rise, we made the transition to the rolling hills of wood bound farmland. The cultivated top of the Tableland. From there it was downhill to the Jukes Rd intersection. There is a short stretch of bitumen to the sharp “V” where the roads meet. Jukes Rd takes off up the hill in a climb that has to recover the previous loss of elevation. It is enough to get the heart rate going if you push it.

The usual wildlife presented. However, unusually, we saw a wallaby chasing a hare as they both bounded down the slope and over the road in front of us! Something I can’t explain. A white throated tree creeper was spotted working the tree trunks. Currawongs chimed and kookaburras laughed at our passage with gusto. We startled a pair of common bronze wing pigeons into a panicked flight. They looked very guilty. A large echidna was foraging in the bush, but dug in deeply before Marie could get a good look. Very sensible with Marie around! Three swamp wallabies suspiciously watched our progress from behind a fallen log. They looked like they were waiting to ambush someone, but fortunately it wasn’t us.

This was a very pleasant walk. A fairly steep rise through the manna, narrow leafed peppermint and stringy-bark forest to the peak would make an interesting side expedition. However, the tree clad crown might not lend itself to a view.

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 7.00.03 pm

Spring Creek Bridge – Armstrong St – Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve Loop

Mode of Transit: Walk

Distance from Melbourne: 150km

Location: Strathbogie Township & surrounds

GPS coordinates: Start and finish 35 51’ 13” S 145 44’ 45” E

Map:

Environmental status: 1km Main and Armstrong Streets, Strathbogie – built environment, golf course and pasture.

2.5km bushwalk in Sevens Creeks Wildlife and Bridge to Bridge Reserves – high quality habitat comprising healthy riparian zones.

Elevation: 485m

Degree of difficulty: gradient some short steep rises, rocky outcrops, otherwise easy walking, but requires sure-footedness

Distance: 3.5km circuit

Duration: 1.5hrs

Facilities: General store open 7 days. Public toilets at local Recreation Ground 0.5km up Spring Creek Rd from Spring Creek Bridge

Take: hat, sunblock, sturdy walking shoes, water, camera, phone

Features:

1. Topography: modestly undulating, short steep slopes, rocky and earthen embankments

2. Surface: engineered gravel footpath to bitumen roadway to unmarked and absent dirt trails and rocky outcrops to grassy pathway with uneven ground

3. Waterways: Seven Creeks, turbid permanent water, meandering across flood plains or cascading through rocky terrain with sandy beaches and lazy pools

Spring Creek, clear, sandy or rock bottomed permanent water with cascades running under Spring Creek Bridge

4. Flora: open woodland including significant stands of established swamp, narrow leafed peppermint, manna gums with poa meadows. Extensive decade old Strathbogie Landcare plantings of indigenous trees and shrubs. Occasional, dispersed woody weed clumps (principally blackberry) along the Sevens, but severe around the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant (which they have agreed to correct). Bridge to Bridge is largely woody weed free.

5. Fauna: indigenous wildlife is common, including native fish, birds, koalas, echidnas, wombats, eastern greys, swamp wallabies, rakali, bobucks, snakes, lizards and platypus

6. Natural environment: healthy riparian zone

7. Built environment: Township zone and riparian bush zone with few nearby farmhouses

8. Safety: animal burrows, slippery surfaces, uneven ground, snake habitat, discarded wire

Comments: with the comfort of access to the Strathbogie Store, this short, beautiful walk can be undertaken with little in the way of carried provisions and much to see. Opportunities for candid wildlife image captures are likely.

Directions: Commence at the Spring Creek Bridge, walking up Main St until you reach the Strathbogie Memorial Hall at Armstrong St. Turn left and walk along Armstrong St, you will pass the town water tower on the right and golf course entrance on the left. Keep walking until you arrive at the the disused bridge (completely unsafe to cross). 10 metres before the bridge on the right is a gap in the fence between 2 large posts. Enter the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve here. The trail can disappear. You will best pick it up by keeping close to the fence line on the higher side of the slope, deviating to and returning from features that attract you. There is no need to cross the creek. Follow the trail until you get to the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant. Walk under Smith’s Bridge to enter the Bridge to Bridge Picnic Ground and Track. This end of the Bridge to Bridge is a short nature circuit. Either arm of the track will take you to a boardwalk from where you can continue your return to the Spring Creek Bridge via the confluence of Seven and Spring Creeks.

Images:

img_1965.jpg

Nearby Tracks & Trails: Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve to Brookleigh Rd. Proposed Magiltan Project upstream of Spring Creek to Magiltan Creek.

Links to The Great Strathbogie Trail: along the length of the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve

Ideas for improvement: woody weed control, trail markers, directional and safety entry signs, some basic trail work to flatten angled slopes