Werribee Gorge – Hot, hot, hot
Werribee Gorge really is a special place – rugged, open, and with amazing scenery. Located just outside Bacchus Marsh, it’s easy to get to (by car) from Melbourne and Geelong. If you’re after hiking in Victoria mixed with a bit of adventure then this is your place.
OK, so it needs to be said upfront that I struggled with this. I’d warned my friend that I don’t respond well in the heat – we thought we were fine heading off fairly early, but it got much hotter than expected (32 degrees in the shade, down in a gully). I’d seen in a guidebook that this place seems to radiate heat on a hot day – and I can confirm this! Although I will be back time and again to this special place, it will be either as a shorter hike, or on a cooler day.
Heading off from Meikles Point picnic area we went bam – straight into our first hill. Legs were warmed up straight away! We followed the Circuit and Cententary trails to Junction Pool.
Now this is probably my favourite park of the park. Last time I was here I was lucky enough to have it all to myself. A beautiful spot to chill out for a while.
We then started the mega climb up to the James Whyte Island reserve lookout. This path is a bit tricky to find, but is located just to the right of Junction Pool (when the pool is on your left).
This is one big hill! My friend reminded me that I wanted more hills…yeah OK, point made! Once at the top our legs (and lungs) were treated to a 1km flat track around the top. I was excited to see the You Yangs (close to home), and also fantastic views of Melbourne city (though a little hazy). While here we also saw the biggest kangaroo I’ve ever seen (thankfully hopping away from us!) – lucky I’m well and truly over my fear of kangaroo’s…
We then headed back down to the Junction Pool and up to the cross over area of the Circuit and Centenary walks. We started the Circuit walk from there. Soon after we had the option of the shorter trail back to Meikles Point picnic area – in hindsight this would’ve been the best option (it was getting seriously hot by then), but we continued along the Circuit (I believe my exact words were ‘woo hoo let’s do it’!).
The views along this walk were fantastic – including looking back at the James Whyte Island reserve lookout (and THAT hill).
Although this part of the trail is much flatter, there were lots of rock scrambles, walking along rock shelves, and holding onto a wire rope attached to the rock. As well as a bit of ‘find the sign’. In amongst this is a fair amount of lovely flat trail along the river – on a day when it wasn’t so busy it would be a great walk. There are also a few swimming options – one of them a sandy beach, with a nice place to sit on the sand with some shade.
Total distance was about 14km.
Highlights: Where do I start? Junction Pool, James Whyte Island lookout, the Eastern and Western lookouts. Hiking in Victoria at it’s best.
Lowlights: Too damn hot! Plus being Summer school holidays it was pretty crowded in spots.
Tips: All 3 of the tracks we went on are listed as medium/hard. This is due to big hills, rock scrambling, and walking along rock shelves. If you aren’t comfortable with these, I’d suggest a shorter walk to the Junction Pool area and back – still a lovely walk.