Located in the rolling hills, forests and farmlands surrounding Daylesford are a number of lovely day walks that will provide a variety of different experiences if you’re looking for something to get the body moving. Below are some nice trails located within a 45-minute drive from the centre of Daylesford.
Lake Daylesford Loop (Click here for detailed description and map)
Start – The Boathouse, Lake Daylesford; Length – 2.8km (Loop); Difficulty – Easy. One of the most iconic locations around Daylesford, the man-made lake, created for recreational purposes back in the late 1920s, is well worth a relaxing meander along its edge. It’s a popular destination for people looking to stretch their legs, enjoy a meal at one of the lakeside cafes or sit on the edge of the lake with a picnic. The 2.8km loop is a great way to explore the area with many picturesque locations providing great photographic opportunities.
Sailors Falls (Click here for detailed description and map)
Start – Off Ballan-Daylesford Road; Length – 1.8km (Loop); Difficulty – Easy. A somewhat inconspicuous location that hides a thoroughly enjoyable walk through the lush forests and valleys of Hepburn Regional Park. The titular Sailors Falls is an impressive waterfall that drops down into the valley from the farmland above and feeds a fern-lined stream that winds its way along the forest floor. The walk trail takes you to the base of the falls and then up into the hills above before dropping back down to some old mineral springs that the area is famous for. Even at the end of summer this is a lush hideaway from the dryness of the Central Highlands.
Mount Franklin (Click here for detailed description and map)
Start – Mount Franklin Campground; Length – 1.9km (Loop); Difficulty – Easy. Mount Franklin or Lalgambook (smoking ground) is an old volcanic caldera located north of Daylesford just off the Midland Highway. A geologically and historically interesting place, the volcano is long dead but it has left an interesting mark on the landscape. Unfortunately, European settlement has left its mark on this place and instead of native forests covering the caldera, it has been shrouded in pines. The walking trail is still very enjoyable, taking you from the campgrounds in the centre of the caldera up to the edge of the crater and around to the telecommunications building that provides the best views. While not a natural looking place anymore, the pine forest has a certain mystique about it as you descend back down to the campsite.
Tipperary Track ( Click here for detailed description and map)
Start – Lake Daylesford, Finish – Hepburn Springs; Length – 17.6km (One Way); Difficulty – Moderate to Hard. The Tipperary Track is a section of the much longer Goldfields Track that runs between Ballarat and Bendigo. Starting on the edge of Lake Daylesford, you follow the trail as it winds through the forests west of Daylesford, passing several historical sites along the way. Broken up into smaller sections, the trail is easy to navigate and provides a nice glimpse into the gold mining history of the area. Finishing at Hepburn Springs, this is a great full-day walk exploring some lovely landscapes.
Werribee Gorge Circuit (Click here for detailed description and map)
Start – Quarry Road Picnic Area, Werribee Gorge State Park; Length – 7.6km (Loop); Difficulty – Moderate. Located a 40-minute drive from Daylesford, the Werribee Gorge Circuit is one of the best day hikes in the area thanks to some spectacular views, challenging terrain and an enjoyable walk along the river. Taking in the ridge line above the valley first, you get some sweeping views of the surrounding landscape before plummeting down to walk alongside the Werribee River. Snaking its way through the impressive gorge system, you pass a few relaxing beaches to rest at before coming across the famous railing section where you must use the metal railing to pull yourself along the edge of the cliff. Finish with a walk along the man-made irrigation channels towards Meikles Point Picnic Area and then it’s one final climb back to the car park.
Mark Pybus is a Perth-based author and blogger who recently visited Daylesford. See his blog at The Life of Py