Brisbane Ranges trail guide

By David Hung 4 September 2014
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It might come as a surprise that time poor outdoor lovers living in Melbourne can easily escape to Brisbane

The Brisbane Ranges National Park is a mere 80 km from the city of Melbourne, but this close proximity doesn’t mean they lack suitable outdoor credibility.

The park is rich in rare wattles, grevilleas and bush peas. Check out the Friends of the Brisbane Ranges website link (refer to the fact file) for plant lists and the like.

When walking, be on the lookout for native animals including grey kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, koalas, possums and up to 180 species of birds that frequent the park.  

Historically, the Wathaurong people were the original inhabitants living and managing the land for thousands of years before Europeans arrived in the mid 1800s to farm and graze.

During the gold rush of the 1850s, much forest was cut to provide timber and firewood for the miners, then by the 1870s Melbourne’s satellite city of Geelong sourced its water from dams built on Stony Creek.  The pipeline from these times can still be seen.

There are a number of short walks through the park, and for those with more time, the three day Burchell Trail (permits from Parks Victoria, call 131 963) travels the length of the Brisbane Ranges and brings into play the Steiglitz Historic Park. 

An excellent day hike can be created by combining the Anakie Gorge walk with the Ted Errey Nature Circuit (named after a late president of the Geelong Field Naturalist club who was a passionate advocate of the National Park). 

Lunch can be had at a number of midway points offering panoramic views. Contrary to Melburnians popular opinion, a hike around Brisbane is closer than most think. 

Fact file:

Distance:  10 km

Time: 4.5 hours with lunch break

Start/Finish:  Anakie Gorge Car Park.

Nearest Town:  Bacchus Marsh.

Best Season:  All year, hot in summer.

Maps:  Vic Map 1:25,000 Ingliston & Staughton Vale topographical map

Terrain:  Mainly flat with the exception of three steep inclines and one major decline.  Potentially slippery after rain.

Accommodation:   Camping at Boar Gully (permit from Parks Victoria required), B&B’s, caravan park, hotel/motels in Bacchus Marsh.

Food/Drink:  Bacchus Marsh

Other points of interest:  Visit the Fairy Park or local wineries at Anakie.  In Bacchus Marsh check out the Avenue of Honour, fruit orchards and in September the Pioneer Day Festival.

Getting there: The Brisbane Ranges are 80km west of Melbourne.  Via the Princes Highway turn off at Werribee and follow the Ballan Road from Geelong.  Or take the Western Freeway to Bacchus Marsh and follow the Geelong Road, turning off to Anakie Gorge halfway between Balliang and Anakie.

More info: Parks Victoria 131 963
Friends of The Brisbane Ranges website
Bacchus Marsh Visitor Info. (03) 5367 7488   

Track notes

1. Start/finish, Head to Anakie Gorge picnic area off Staughton Vale Road.  There are toilets, chairs and tables plus a gas barbeque and wood fire barbeques (bring your own wood).  

2. From the picnic area follow the path through the Gorge along Stony Creek for 3 km to the Stony Creek Picnic area.  You will notice the Ted Errey Trail comes down from a hill on the left.  This is where you will emerge at the completion of the walk.  Once at Stony Creek picnic area the facilities offer a good place for lunch with chairs, tables, toilets and fireplaces.  

3. Leaving the Stony Creek Picnic area pick up the Ted Errey Trail indicated by the blue markers.  This trial begins to climb immediately up to a spur before descending down to a broad watercourse and zig-zagging duck board before a climb again that emerges at Outlook Track.  

4. At this junction the option to take a 100 m path to the left is worth the side trip for a great lookout that gives views across the ranges.  Here the extent of recent bush fire becomes evident as the view reveals just how much ground cover has been lost.

5. Follow the Outlook Track to Switch Road then turn left for just 15 m where it resumes on the other side of the road.  This trail now heads east before it turns into Nelson Track.  There are two lookouts along this section.   The first gives views across the park back to Stony Creek water catchment and the second on the edge of the park looks across to the plains, remnant volcanic mounds and the granite You Yang’s.

6. The path then drops off steeply and is rough and uneven as it drops back down to rejoin the Anakie Gorge walk and returns back to the Anakie Gorge Picnic area.