Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
If you're a keen day hiker then this 21km circuit provides a great challenge. Beautiful mountain scenery and plenty of wildlife to keep your mind off the continuous 5.5 km uphill battle to the Monda Rd, though it does level off after this for about 1 km near the top.
We had previously walked Donnelly's weir to Mt St Leonard via the National Trail (track 11) and noticed the circuit walk via Condons track, which was described as very steep and for experienced bush walkers only. So I guess this was our invitation to come back without a pram. With 2 of our oldest children at nan and pop's house for an overnight stay we saw this as a perfect opportunity to complete the walk.
We put the two smallest children in hiking child carriers and set off from the Donnelly's car park just outside of the Healesville township.
We started from the car park at around 11.45am which was not ideal as it gets dark early in the mountains. Knowing we didn't have time on our side we needed to complete the walk without wasting any time.
The track kicks up hill right from the beginning, and keeps going until you come out on the west side of Mt Monda 6.5 km later. The only saving grace is the scenery and views which are amazing with lyrebirds around many of the corners. It wasn't until we were nearly at the top that we realised we had taken the wrong track, with a sign at the top saying walkers aren't permitted with a tiny sign to the side reading Condon Track which was so overgrown it didn't look like a track at all, so be mindful when you go not to make the same mistake. The tracks obviously start and finish at the same point but one is not a legal walking track. Further along the track we met people that had the same problem and couldn't find the track and took Road 11 up instead.
About 3/4 the way up the hill it turned to fern forest
We were happy to come out at the top, but not to find it took 2 hours to complete the 6.5 km up hill section and we were questioning if we should return at this point, however I thought that since we were this far in, we decided to continue on.
We followed the Monda Road for approximately 6-7 km, it was nice to have a relatively flat stretch of road until we got to Mt St Leonard car park, where it becomes an easy uphill 1.2 km walk to Mt St Leonard viewing platform. At this stage the sun was going down and it was extremely cold and as a result we stopped to put snow clothes on the children, they were freezing and we were worried about making it back before it got dark. Although we came within a 200 metre walk to the platform we wanted to get back down the mountain where it was warmer and back to Donnelly's Weir car park as the darkness was closing in.
On the way down we were lucky enough to see some amazing sights with the sun's red glow on the mountain opposite us and a lovely glow through the trees. Wallabies and kangaroos were about, along with cockatoos and lyrebirds and other birds starting to settle.
I remember going to Donnellys weir when I was a child. It became an annual event...cant remember why, but we were always so excited to go there. We actually called it fairy land as it was such a beautiful, magical place. Thank you for reminding me of beautiful memories!