Last Visited: 17/09/2011
Length (km): approx. 15 km (according to MapMyHike.com)
Time (hrs/min): 6 hours
Grade: Moderate / Difficult
Return / Circuit / One-Way / Partial Circuit: Circuit
Park: Cathedral Range State Park
Closest Town: Buxton (12 km)
Maximum Elevation: approx. 836 m (according to MapMyHike.com)
Total Ascent: approx. 442 m (according to MapMyHike.com)
Car Access: The hike starts from Cooks Mill Campground, which is best accessed via the Maroondah Highway. Turn right on Cathedral Lane, just after Buxton (look out for the Cathedral Range State Park sign. From Cathedral Lane, the way to Cooks Mill Campground is well-signed.
Whenever a visitor to Melbourne asks me to take them for a hike, Cathedral Range State Park is the first place that springs to mind. I’ve done the two main day-hikes here now and they both fit all of my criteria for an amazing day out. If you aren’t good with heights this one might be the better choice for you, since the Southern Circuit begins with a short section of what I’d almost call rock climbing (well, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to rock climbing anyway). The Southern Circuit is actually my favourite, but I’ve chosen to take a couple of people here instead because they weren’t so crazy about heights. It definitely comes a close second for me.
At Cooks Mill Campground, find the signed track that leads to Jawbone Carpark (close to the toilet block). The gravel entry road might be a quicker way to get there, but this is a much nicer walk. If you’ve started early in the morning, there’s a good chance of seeing Eastern Grey Kangaroo grazing alongside the track.
When you arrive at Jawbone Carpark, find the continuation of the walk on Jawbone Creek Track. This crosses the creek and then takes you steeply up Cathedral’s eastern slope. The track soon turns into a rocky staircase which has been very well built by the Friends of Cathedral Range State Park. In spring and early summer, this is a great place to admire the variety of wildflowers. You’ll be glad of the excuse to stop and catch your breath.
When you reach the first track junction (on your right), the worst of the climbing is over. Take this unnamed track until you find the short detour to North Jawbone Peak. The detour won’t take long and is worth it for the views of The Razorback and Sugarloaf Peak to the south, and across Little River Valley to the east.
Retrace your steps back to the unnamed track and then continue on it to Ridge Track. Though I’m very unfit, I actually found the ridge traverse far more challenging than the climb on Jawbone Creek Track. There are no major climbs but the scrambling takes its toll on your legs, knees and ankles. You really have to concentrate on where you’re putting your feet too, so it’s very slow going.
Continue past the turn-off to Ned’s Saddle and take in Cathedral Peak. The track takes you away from the ridge-line at this point, so keep an eye out for the orange markers. At the next track junction, take the short detour to check out Little Cathedral.
Retrace your steps once again, this time taking the other track to Ned’s Peak. The final peak for the day requires another short detour. There are no views to speak of at the top so you may prefer to skip it. I couldn’t resist one final challenge. Descend the range on Ned’s Gully Track and then enjoy a nice easy stroll on Little River Track, back to Cooks Mill Campground.
- Cathedral Range Southern Circuit is another excellent day walk, which basically covers the other half of Cathedral Range.
Have you visited Cathedral Range State Park? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.