Daylesford to Nolan Creek – Great Dividing Trail

posted in: Great Dividing Trail | 0

Written by Lucie.

Daylesford to Nolan Creek is a 32km section of the Lerderderg Track, which continues on to Bacchus Marsh.

Lake Daylesford to Specimen Hill Road

16km, easy

Mark, Lucie, Jens and Caroline left Melbourne late on a Saturday morning and drove to Daylesford. We thought that the hike would be very leisurely over two days so we were not in a rush and decided to go for a coffee before we started walking.

We parked at Lake Daylesford and were a bit surprised to find that the cafe there was extremely against coffee and cake orders, even when it was quiet. As such, we found a picnic bench and had a lunch. ‘Going for a coffee’ would become a running joke for the weekend.

I don’t know exactly which part of the forest this is from, but the trees were some good looking trees.

After eating, Jens went back to the car and Mark, Lucie and Caroline started walking. We circumnavigated the lake and quickly found ourselves very cold in wind and rain. We layered up and continued on, taking an accidental detour around some residential streets, because the track in real life didn’t quite match our map. Nonetheless, we were soon on the Lerderderg Track and looking at our first mine shaft of the walk. The shaft had metal grating over the top and was surprisingly deep.

We walked through the countryside, admiring the wattle and wildflowers in bloom. The sun came out, we got too warm and stripped off. A while later we reached Jubilee Lake and it got wet and windy again. This fast-changing weather plagued us the whole time we were hiking.

It was pretty.

We walked on into Wombat State Forest, which was lovely to explore. About an hour later Caroline requested a snack break. We were about 500m from our rendezvous point with Jens, but we found a small patch of sun and got out the snacks.

When we reached the point on Specimen Hill Road where Jens was waiting for us, we found him wrapped up in a sleeping bag in the car. It was about 4pm and we had covered about 11km from Daylesford Lake. Mark and Lucie decided to walk another 5km to the next time the track crossed the road. Caroline opted to hop in the car with Jens.

We covered the next section very quickly and were very excited to see a couple of wallabies going through the trees and a wombat. We watched the wombat plodding across a small hillside for a few minutes.

When Mark and Lucie reached the car again, we all went for a short drive to Nolan Creek. We looked around for camping but realised that we couldn’t get down to the official campsite in the 2-wheel drive, especially because the track was quite muddy already and more rain was on the way. We parked up at the picnic area to have dinner and plan our move.

The fading sun on the trees.

First off, we needed to layer up. Mark and Jens did this quickly and started to collect firewood while it wasn’t raining. Then, they began to build a fire in the firepit closest to the shelter. As soon as it started to rain again the firepit flooded and the fire was literally floating. After attempting to bail out the water, unsuccessfully, they decided to move to a non-flooded pit. Using some wide bark and serious skill they physically moved the fire and carried on stoking it.

Jens and Mark moving the fire.

Meanwhile, Caroline and Lucie watched from the dry car. Then they felt guilty and started to prepare dinner.

Caroline got excited when it stopped raining.

After dinner and plenty of fire time we looked around for camping and realised that pretty much everywhere we could access was a big puddle or bog. So, we toyed with the idea of pitching out tents in the shelter.

Suddenly, from out of the dark, we saw a bright light and heard an engine. A minivan arrived with a group of about ten people and a really intense torch. It was a night time wildlife spotting tour. They looked around for about 20 minutes before moving on, at which point we decided to sleep on the dry ground under the shelter.

Mark enjoying some good fire time.

Nolan Creek to Specimen Hill Road

16km, easy

Lucie and Jens were awoken early by a car for slamming. Two men had arrived for some early morning nature photography.

Soon after we all got up to pack our things and have breakfast. The four of us went for a short walk to the sawdust pile (a huge heap left over from mining days) and a small cascade that the men had been photographing. Then, Jens set off in the car and the other three set off on foot, back towards the finishing point from the day before.

The sign for the sawdust heap. The heap itself was probably about 3m high and 5m long.

Jens met us after about 5km and we sat in the car for a chat and morning tea. Then, Jens and Caroline drove off while Mark and Lucie kept walking. We quickly reached some historical chimneys and noticed a drive-in campsite just behind them. The campsite was empty but we saw a concerning amount of smoke rising from a firepit and went to investigate. We were not impressed. The fire was red hot and still had flames. There was a pile of ice dumped nearby (why not use it on the fire?!) and there was litter and leftover dinner scattered around.

We dragged the logs out of the fire and into some nearby puddles, and used an empty can to throw some puddle water onto the embers and make it safe to leave.

A little way past the fire we found a pile of used shotgun cartridges, a pile of broken clay pigeons and a bunch of rubbish. Man, some people suck!

Instead of photos of people’s mess, here is a big puddle. We had to go around a lot of these.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was better. We walked along a wide dirt track through the forest and then turned onto a smaller track to skirt around Edwards Hill. After another hour or so we reached the same point in Specimen Hill Road where we had finished walking yesterday, and there was the Camry. We drove into Daylesford where we stopped for lunch and then returned to Melbourne.