Stroll through a lush gully, dense with tree ferns, messmate and manna gum on the Whipstick Loop.
Only an hour and a half north-west of Melbourne’s CBD, this gentle trail is dotted with vertical and horizontal mine shafts – remnants from the area’s gold mining past. You’ll even walk along a water-race, hand-dug in the mid-1800s to divert water to and from the mines. Another section of the walk winds its way through eerie open eucalypt forest, with trunks scarred black from bushfires a few years ago.
This is a relatively easy trail with only a few short steep climbs, some sections of narrow and uneven trail, and a few fallen trees to clamber over or under. If the reward of this picturesque forest wasn’t enough, the birdlife will surprise and delight. Keep your eyes peeled for wombats, echidnas and wallabies, too.
The trailhead is clearly signed from Jack Cann Reserve, next to the Garden of St Erth in Blackwood. Stroll down the hill to the first track junction, where you can choose to either follow the trail clockwise or anti-clockwise. Either way is probably good but I went with anti-clockwise. The track intersects a 4WD track on a few occasions but the continuation is easy to find (and well-marked) on the opposite side. There’s only one confusing track junction, where you’ll need to pay very close attention to the signs (hint: make sure you don’t follow the mountain bike trail).
Need to Know
Length: 5.6 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Region: Melbourne / Western Victoria
Park: Wombat State Park
Closest Town: Blackwood
Car Access: The trailhead is located opposite the Garden of St Erth in Blackwood (for those using Google Maps). Head west from Melbourne on the Western Freeway for about 70 km, taking the Greendale exit and following the signs to Greendale. In Greendale, take a right at the roundabout onto Greendale-Trentham Road and continue for 11 km to Blackwood. Turn left onto Simmons Reef Road and follow this to Garden of St Erth. Park in the carpark here where you’ll find the trailhead.
Extend this walk: This walk could be extended to 14.6 km / 5 hours by adding the nearby Lerderderg Heritage River Walk.
Map: All tracks are covered in the Meridian Maps Wombat State Forest 4WD Touring Map (but it’s only 1:50,000). Vicmap also have a 1:25,000 Trentham map but I haven’t been able to find it. If you’re happy to use your phone as your map you can download the free Avenza Maps app (on Android, iPhone, or Windows) and purchase the Meridian 1:50,000 for AUD$7.99.
Have you visited Wombat State Forest? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.
Exploring the Great Ocean Road?
You won’t see the best sights from your car. Get the definitive guidebook, featuring the 25 best walks in the area with detailed instructions and maps.