What is the GDT?
Our vision is of one Great Dividing Trail centred on Daylesford, progressively linking major cities and towns of the Goldfields region of central Victoria to the rest of Victoria. The GDT is centred on and provides access to ‘goldfields’ towns and cities in the southern part of the Great Dividing Range, that goes roughly east-west across Victoria from the Alps to the Grampians.
There are four Tracks:
Lerderderg Track: Daylesford via Blackwood to Bacchus Marsh;
Wallaby Track: Daylesford via Creswick to Ballarat and Buninyong;
Dry Diggings Track: Daylesford to Castlemaine;
Leanganook Track between Castlemaine and Bendigo.
All Tracks can be walked in either direction or from points in between.
An upgrade and promotion of the existing Buninyong (Ballarat) to Bendigo sections (Wallaby, Dry Diggings and Leanganook Tracks) of the GDT is well underway. When officially opened as the ‘Goldfields Track‘ in 2011, both walking and mountain biking are now catered for, in some places by shared track, and in others with diversions for mountain bikes.
Each Track is divided into Walks, as shown on the four maps for each completed Track, available for sale from Visitor Information Centres or directly from GDTA ($7.50 each, ordered by mail from GDTA (PO Box 429, Daylesford 3460 Victoria).
Great Dividing Trail Tips
GDTA has free copies of ‘Membership application forms’ and also ‘Great Dividing Trail Tips’ leaflets via this website or in hard copy on request.
NOTE: All prospective walkers should check and be fully prepared for any predicted adverse weather conditions, and never walk or ride on the GDT in extreme weather (extreme heat, cold or wind including total fire ban days). Carrying sufficient water is essential at all times.Â
The ‘Tips’ leaflet has handy tips about food, how to find your way, preparation for walking and other safety advice.
Is there accommodation or camping along the way?
There is accommodation information on the Web Site for each Track.
In summary, outside of the main towns of Bendigo, Daylesford, Castlemaine and Ballarat, only Blackwood, Creswick and Buninyong have accommodation and camp grounds with full services.
Bush camping is permitted in most State Forest areas – though in most recent summers very few streams are running and water must be carried for walking on most parts of the four tracks. In drought years ALL rivers and lakes along the track are dry or unsuitable for drinking. Only the Lerderderg River (at Nolan’s Picnic Ground), Sailor’s Creek (at Sailors Falls) and the Loddon River (at Vaughan Springs, where overnight camping by walkers IS allowed) flow most (but not all or every) year and by mid-2009 most of these rivers had also stopped running. The Coliban Water Channel (and occasionally the Poverty Gully Water Channel) occasionally have water flowing. Always plan to carry water. As of early 2012 several of the larger streams still had some waterbut … the general safety rule is, carry your own water.
On the Lerderderg Track, there are some services at Jubilee Lake (including toilet, campground, fireplace, water and GDT shelter); at Nolan’s Picnic Ground (GDT shelter, fireplace, seasonally water but NO CAMPING: since mid 2005 camping has not been allowed at Nolans Picnic Ground itself) as well as a camp ground with all services at Blackwood Mineral Spring. There is a camping area at O’Briens Crossing on the Lerderderg River including toilets and fireplaces but no reliable water in recent years.
On the Wallaby Track: the only camp ground out of the main towns town with basic services is at Slaty Creek (toilets, fireplaces, GDT shelter). Some water is available in some very wet years or seasons at Mullins Dam for a bush camp without other services though it is not realiable and if present the water should be boiled. A GDT shelter is available at Wombat Station but there are no other services.
There is water, fireplaces and shelter for camping in the Mt Franklin crater though this is well off the main Dry Diggings Track and involves considerable roadside walking. There is water, fireplaces and places to camp at Vaughan Springs, conditional on being short stay camping and caravans are not permitted). In wetter months and years when the Loddon River IS flowing, Vaughan Springs is an excellent place to use as a base for walks north or south on the Dry Diggings Track though in mid 2009 even the Loddon River was dry.
A bush camping area is marked on the Leanganook Track map off the Coliban Channel north of Mt Alexander though there are no water services. There is a good camping area with toilets and fireplaces near the Mt Alexander summit but again – no water.
There are public toilets on or close to the track in Ballarat, Creswick, Slaty Creek & St Georges Lake , Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Blackwood, O’Briens Crossing, Bacchus Marsh, Vaughan Springs, Castlemaine, Chewton and Bendigo.
What towns (with services and shops) do I pass through?
Goldfield Track Sections
Lerderderg Track: other than Daylesford and Bacchus Marsh – Blackwood, with a general store and hotel only.
Wallaby Track (incorporating former Federation Track) Daylesford, Ballarat, Creswick and Buninyong (each with a wide range of shops and services). Please note the Dean Hotel is still SHUT in 2012.
Dry Diggings Track: other than Daylesford and Castlemaine, Vaughan Springs and Fryerstown only (no shops but public phones). Golden Spring (on the track) is only 1km from Hepburn Springs township.
Leanganook Track: no towns with services on the track between Castlemaine and Bendigo, though the track comes within 1km of the edge of Chewton (with Hotel and Post Office /Public Phone only).
Mobile Phone reception is patchy other than close to the main towns.
Are there guided tours?
Great Walks on the GDT with BothFeet offers a range of fully catered tours that include meals and excellent accommodation on the Federation Track and other parts of the GDT.
Do I have to take my own water?
In a word, Yes! other than in winter, autumn and after rain, when some of the main rivers and creeks are flowing. The Lerderderg River and Loddon Rivers run most months in most normal years but we have had no normal years for a decade …
During summer and other seasons in extreme droughts (as in the current extended drought), all rivers cease flowing and water is only available in towns or in serviced camping areas. A reminder that it is always dangerous to walk on days of Total Fire Ban!
The area along the top of the Great Dividing Range has high average annual rainfall, but by virtue of its location on a major watershed, has few permanent creeks streams. The area north of Hepburn Springs towards Bendigo has relatively low average annual rainfall, and all streams are unreliable.
Is there somewhere I can leave my car while walking, knowing it will be safe?
Leaving a car in populated areas with street lights in most of the main towns (Ballarat, Creswick, Daylesford, Castlemaine, Hepburn Springs, Bendigo, Blackwood, Bacchus Marsh) is likely to be relatively safe. Leaving a car overnight unattended in forest areas accessible to public roads is not recommended.
Where can I drive and park in order to easily sample short sections of the track by car for day walks and picnics?
On the Wallaby Track:, at Sailors Falls, Wombat Station, Dean, St Georges Lake, Slaty Creek or Nuggety Dam, Ballarat city and suburbs, Buninyong towship, Mount Buninyong summit.
On the Lerderderg Track, at Jubilee Lake, the Balt Camp, Nolan’s Picnic Ground, Garden of St Erth, Blackwood Store and township, Blackwood Mineral Spring, O’Briens Crossing, Mount Blackwood, Swans Road, Darley, Bacus Marsh township.
On the Dry Diggings Track, at Twin Bridges, Tipperary Spring, The Blowhole, Golden Spring, The Chocolate Factory (on the Midland Highway), Vaughan Springs, Fryerstown, Spring Gully or the Eureka Diggings (near the Monk).
On the Leanganook Track, at Garfield Waterwheel, at the Calder Highway (where Specimen Gully Road comes in), Mt Alexander summit, on the Harcourt -Sutton Grange Road, Sandhurst Reservoir or Diamond Hill.
Summer Walking Tips
- Let someone know of your intended route and when you expect to return.
- Plan your walk within your fitness level and take account of the extra stress of heat and steep terrain on your body.
- Definitely don’t walk on days of Total Fire Ban or in extreme weather conditions. Check the Bureau of Meteorology website http://www.bom.gov.au
- Don’t walk if there are fires, burnoffs or smoke. Check your preferred emergency radio station or your local radio: for example, 774 AM Melbourne, 91.1 FM Bendigo, 107.9 FM Ballarat.
- Check the following websites: DSE http://www.dse.vic.gov.au and/or the CFA website http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au and/or Parks Victoria http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Carry GDTA maps, Meridian publications or survey maps. Take a compass or GPS if you can operate it. Take a whistle in case you need to attract attention. Stay on the track.
- Take plenty of water: at least one, but preferably two litres for short walks. Much more water on hot days, for longer and overnight walks or mountain bike rides.
- Wear a hat, take sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Take your fully-charged mobile phone with you, but remember that it may not operate in all sections of the track. Try text if voice isn’tÂ possible, but don’t rely on it.
- Read Walksafe, on the Bushwalking Victoria website: http://www.bushwalkingvictoria.org.au/forms/walksafe_booklet.pdf or ask us to send you a copy (email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0467 017 068)
- In an emergency, dial 112 from your mobile phone. (112 can be dialled anywhere in the world with GSM coverage and is automatically translated to that country’s emergency number).
You are welcome to ask questions about the GDT or give feedback on the state of the track, GDT signs or infrastructure. Questions are regularly and personally answered.
Page last updated 12 September 2012