Hidden amongst rolling hills in the goldfield country, around 90 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, there’s a spectacular gorge that’s home to one of the state’s lesser-known waterfalls – Loddon Falls.
2.5 Million years in the making, the watercourse here has carved what is now a tributary of the Loddon River into the volcanic basalt rock, creating a geologically spectacular gorge with towering walls formed from hexagonal basalt columns. The columns of the much more famous Organ Pipes National Park, just outside Melbourne, are nothing in comparison.
At the southern edge of the gorge, Loddon Falls tumbles dramatically over the columns and forms a stunning pool below, before disappearing into the scrub. It’s not only a great place to have a picnic or just sit and contemplate, but if you visit at the right time it’s perfect for a wild swim.
An oasis surrounded by land stripped bare of native vegetation by many years of gold mining and farming, it’s no surprise that the gorge is teeming with wildlife – from frogs and skinks to Black wallabies and Eastern Grey kangaroos. It’s also a popular spot for birdwatchers, with swallows and hawks among the most common sightings.
If you’re in the area – only 11 kilometres from Daylesford and under an hour from both Ballarat and Bendigo – Loddon Falls Reserve is well worth a visit.
Loddon Falls Walk
It’s only around 550 metres (1.1 km return) from the car park at the end of Sewell Road to the base of Loddon Falls, so you’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for an epic bushwalk. The brief, steep climb out of the gorge will get the heart pumping though.
I’ve only visited in winter but I’ve read some suggestions that the gates may be open in summer, allowing you to drive right up to within maybe 100 metres.
From the Sewell Road Carpark, walk through the gates up the rough vehicle track heading north. Notice the views to your left of the river rushing across the basalt tessellated pavement, and look out for the smaller cascade that lies upstream from the falls.
You may be tempted to head off-track to get a closer look at this part of the river but keep in mind that the reserve only looks as natural as it does after years of revegetation work by Glenlyon and Upper Loddon Landcare (in partnership with Parks Victoria and the local CMA). Among other things, walking off track here might spread the invasive plant species that have been their biggest challenge.
A few hundred metres along the track you’ll come to a clear track on your left and an information board perched in a tree at the junction. Turn left along this track and stroll a short distance down the hill and you’ll find yourself on the edge of the gorge.
The steep rocky ‘stairway’ to the base of the falls begins from here and should be easy to spot, but first make sure you check out the views of the falls and across the gorge from above. You’ll be walking on a steep cliff edge with no safety barriers, so tread very carefully and keep your kids in check if you’ve brought them along.
Find the track and after a brief scramble to the base of the gorge, just follow the track along to the falls. There’s a pretty spot to sit on the rocks and view the falls not too far along, or you can head along the left of the falls for a closer look. Return via the same path.
Need to Know
Length: 1.1 km
Time: allow 1 hour
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Region: North-Western Victoria
Park: Loddon Falls Reserve
Closest Town: Daylesford (11 km)
Car Access: Loddon Falls Reserve is accessed via Sewells Road in Glenlyon. There are various approaches from Melbourne. Plugging “Loddon Falls” into Google Maps will help decide the best route.
Map: No map necessary
Further Info: Loddon Falls is less than ideal for those with limited mobility due to the inconsistency of the track and the steep climb into the gorge to view the base of the falls.
Swimming at Loddon Falls
The pool at the base of Loddon Falls makes for a picturesque and enticing swimming hole when the flow of the river means it’s deep enough. Unfortunately, it isn’t often that the depth of the pool will line up with what most would call swimming weather. If you find yourself looking for a wild swim on an unseasonably warm day, though, it’s worth a shot.
Rock Climbing at Loddon Falls Gorge
When’s the best time to visit Loddon Falls?
Since Loddon Falls has a tendency to dry up in the summer months, I’d recommend visiting during winter and spring. Any extended period of heavy rain should see a decent enough flow, so just make sure you don’t visit when it’s been dry for a while. Having said that, the gorge and its impressive basalt columns are well worth a look when the waterfall is dry.
Have you visited Loddon Falls? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.
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