A bushwalk through nature and a historic gold mining town
Steiglitz Historic Park, west of Melbourne, was once home to the bustling gold mining town of Steiglitz. The town's heyday was back in the booming gold rush era of the 1850s, with the population growing to over 1000 people. Today, the park abuts the beautiful Brisbane Ranges National Park, and is a great place to go bushwalking, as well as exploring the remnants of the town itself.
The trail winding through the bushland of Steiglitz Historic Park
This walk is called the 'Steiglitz Circuit Walk' by Parks Victoria (pdf), and is also the same as the 'Yankee Gully' walk described in the excellent book Day Walks Victoria. Although the track is well-marked, it's a good idea to take along a decent map.
The walk is a 8.5 km loop, starting and ending at the small carpark off Meredith-Steiglitz Rd, right near the Steiglitz Courthouse. At the carpark, there is also an information board, as well as picnic tables.
Highlights of the walk include picturesque creek crossings, views across rocky gorges, beautiful native wildflowers in spring, lots of birdlife, and plenty of evidence of the area's historic gold mining past. It's a good mix of nature and history. The track alternates between narrow rocky trails and unsealed roads. There's a few short and steep rocky sections, particularly in the first half of the walk, but the walk overall is generally not too difficult, and the second half, in particular, is fairly flat, or downhill.
Starting from the Steiglitz Courthouse, the trailheads to the south-west, along 'Stawell Street'. It's now a small dirt walking track through lovely bushland, but once upon a time, it was a busy road lined with buildings. It's hard to imagine what it would have been like back then!
The trail then becomes Deadmans Track and is fairly well-marked. It follows the Sutherland Creek, crossing over the creek several times, which involves a bit of rock-hopping. At one point, the track climbs up high to reward walkers with spectacular views down the rocky gorge where the creek flows.
After 1.4 km the track leaves Sutherland Creek and heads sharply uphill – this is easy to miss so keep your eye out for markers up the hill on the opposite side of the creek. The track then leads steadily uphill to the Meredith-Steiglitz Road. Cross over carefully, then follow the unsealed Hut Road to Crossing Picnic Area – a good spot for a break. After this, follow the Hut Road for a short distance, before transferring onto the Burchell Trail. (For those that are keen, the entire Burchell Trail is a three-day hike through the Brisbane Ranges National Park).
This is a great section of the walk, passing through the lovely bushland of Yankee Gully, and past signposted remnants of the area's gold mining past. There is lots of history to learn! Look out for the spectacular grass trees among the rocky bushland. The track eventually comes out at another dirt road, Durdidwarrah Road. Turn right, and follow this road carefully (as cars can come along here) until the turn off to the left along Hay Track.
The Steiglitz Courthouse is open Sundays from 1pm to 4pm, and is staffed by volunteers. We fortuitously timed our walk on a Sunday to finish before closing time, so we had the chance to have a good look inside. There's lots of information about the history of the town, and it's really interesting to see inside the courthouse itself. The volunteer staff member was very happy to talk about the area's history and answer any questions we had. There are also some great books for sale, including Wildflowers of the Brisbane Ranges. Donations are also welcome.