Some say Mount Disappointment State Park is, well, a little disappointing.

I’m more of a glass half full type, though. Where there’s nature, there’s always beauty to be found. For me, a day out in the bush is always about the adventure, anyway.

If you’re a Melbournian who’s into 4WDing, hunting, riding dirt bikes or horses (see the DELWP Forest Note for more info on these activities), you probably already know Mount Disappointment State Park well. However, it’s much less popular with those looking for a bushwalk (which, it’s fair to say, is more my jam).

Hidden amongst what seems to be an absolute maze of 4WD and dirt bike trails, dotted with campgrounds of varying sizes, there are a handful of short hiking trails which are great for getting a quick walking and nature fix without the need to travel too far from the city.

Mount Disappointment Summit Walk

Mount Disappointment Summit Walk - Mount Disappointment Hikes

I really didn’t expect too much from the short trail, especially after setting off to the sound of motorbikes and gunshots but 100 metres down the track I felt like I’d entered a different world. Meandering my way through a ferny gully, I clambered over moss covered fallen trees and ducked under the drooping fronds of huge tree ferns, then pushed my way through an overgrown glade of tall bracken fern before I reached the summit of Mount Disappointment.

Though there are no views from the summit, another couple of hundred metres on there’s another overgrown glade of bracken fern with views all the way to Melbourne’s CBD (on a clear day – unfortunately I didn’t visit on a clear day). The return from here to the carpark is only a couple of kilometres further and the vegetation very similar. 

I completed the trail in a clockwise direction but if you’re looking for a few slightly steeper climbs, you could try it anti-clockwise. The birdlife is abundant. I can’t wait to return to this special place with my kids.

Mount Disappointment Summit Walk - Mount Disappointment Hikes
Mount Disappointment Summit Walk - Mount Disappointment Hikes

Need to know

Length: 3.5 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The walk starts at Blairs Hut Picnic Area. Careful typing this into Google Maps if you have a 2WD car because it’ll take you on a “shortcut” you may regret. Heading north from Melbourne on the Hume Highway, turn off through Heathcote Junction and then follow North Mountain Road. This will turn into a dirt road after a while. Careful of people on motorbikes here as the road is windy and there are many ups and downs. When you reach a five-way junction, take Mount Disappointment Road and continue for about 2 km to Blairs Hut Campground. The trailhead is opposite the campground.
Map: I haven’t found any good maps covering this walk, except for the one in Forest Fire Management Victoria’s More to Explore app. If you make sure you have a charged phone, you’ll be able to follow the track in real-time with your phone’s GPS.

Sunday Creek Walk

Sunday Creek Walk - Mount Disappointment Hikes

If you’re camped at one of the nearby campgrounds or you’re visiting to hike the Mount Disappointment Summit Walk (above), the Sunday Creek Walk is well worth a visit. This trail takes in a drier section of Mount Disappointment State Forest than the summit walk, but it’s still quite picturesque. It follows Sunday Creek south-east from Andersons Garden Campground for a bit under 2 kilometres, before crossing over the creek and returning on the opposite side. A couple of gentle hills will help get the heart pumping while you check out the incredible birdlife.

Strath Creek Falls - Mount Disappointment Hikes

Need to know

Length: 3.3 km
Time: 1.5 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: Heading north on the Hume Highway from Melbourne, take the Clonbinane exit and go east on Clonbinane Road into Mount Disappointment State Forest. Turn left at Boundary Road (look for the Anderson Garden sign), cross the ford and park at the picnic area. The walk is signed and starts from the campground, to the right of the parking area.
Map: No map is really necessary for this walk. I haven’t found any good maps covering the trail, except for the one in Forest Fire Management Victoria’s More to Explore app. If you make sure you have a charged phone, you’ll be able to follow the track in real-time with your phone’s GPS.

Strath Creek Falls Walk

Strath Creek Falls - Mount Disappointment Hikes

Descend into a gully following a steep rocky staircase to a platform at the base of Strath Creek Falls (return is via the same route). The falls are absolutely spectacular after heavy rain, cascading 50 metres over a granite rock face to feed the creek below, and are well worth making the drive for if you’re sure that they’re flowing.

When the falls aren’t flowing the gorge itself is pretty spectacular, so you may decide to visit anyway. Just keep in mind that, although very short, this trail is seriously steep and you will obviously need to climb back out once you reach the viewing platform. The falls are also visible from the picnic area where the trailhead is located, so maybe you can decide whether or not to continue once you get there.

Need to know

Length: 1 km
Time: 1 hr
Grade: Easy-Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: Head north from Melbourne on the Hume Highway and exit at Broadford-Flowerdale Road. Continue east until you reach Murchison Spur Road and turn right. After about 9 km, before turning left into Strath Falls Road and continuing to the carpark and picnic area.
Map: No map is really necessary for this walk. I haven’t found any good maps covering the trail, except for the one in Forest Fire Management Victoria’s More to Explore app.

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Strath Creek & Tunnel Falls (EXPERIENCED HIKERS ONLY)

This is a remote and dangerous hike for experienced hikers with solid navigation skills. DELWP do not recommend that anyone completes this walk, but I didn’t feel this guide would be complete without at least giving it a mention. Trail Hiking Australia has all the details, should you choose to go ahead with this one (at your own risk).

It does sound pretty spectacular, though, taking in four waterfalls, a vast gorge and some spectacular cool temperate rainforest gullies. As I haven’t completed the hike myself, I’ll leave it to the video above to give you the best idea of the challenges you’ll face.

Need to know

Length: 14 km
Time: 8-9 hrs
Grade: Difficult / Grade 5 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: Head north from Melbourne on the Hume Highway and exit at Broadford-Flowerdale Road. Continue east until you reach Murchison Spur Road and turn right. After about 9 km, before turning left into Strath Falls Road and continuing to the carpark and picnic area.
Map: A good 1:25,000 topographic map is required to do this walk. I can’t personally recommend one, so do your own research.

Camping at Mount Disappointment State Forest

Mount Disappointment State Forest is an incredibly popular spot for campers from Melbourne and surrounds, especially because campsites are free, dog-friendly, and campfires are allowed.

The most popular campsites are Andersons Garden, Regular Camp and No. 1 Camp, but I’d say Andersons Garden is the most attractive.

Check out the WikiCamps app for up to date information and reviews of all campsites in the park.

Note that although dogs are allowed, they must always be under direct control and on-leash in picnic areas and campgrounds, or when near other park visitors.

Have you been to Mount Disappointment State Park? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.

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