Lerderderg Track Interpretive Signage
Welcome to the Lerderderg Track and the stories associated with it. Your journey will not just be one through beautiful and diverse country, but also one through time as you encounter interpretation signage along the route. These stories start at first contact between European colonists and the local Aboriginal people and feature encounters with people and places through to the present day.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that the track traverses – the Dja Dja Wurrung, Wadawurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples. We pay our respects to their elders past and present, and we hope that walking the track, experiencing the landscape and reading the stories will contribute to the emergence of a shared history of Australia and a commitment to preserving its unique environment.
The Lerderderg Track Interpretative Signage project consists of two parts – the 17 physical placards that are attached to posts approximately every 5km along your 87km route, as well as 17 related linked stories, which can be accessed on the web by scanning the QR code on the bottom right of each of the placards. The QR code leads you to a page on our Great Dividing Trail Association (GDTA) website related to each of the placards. Longer in content and imagery, the web stories delve into significant events, people or developments within a broader historical context. GDTA members have delved into archives, searched the literature and interviewed local people to elicit little known stories. They are diverse in subject matter from the ubiquitous miners and sawmillers through to the predominance of female licensees, the meaning of Aboriginal place names, as well as tales of ‘vanished’ military and refugee camps. They cover the last two centuries with a brief foray into deep geological time when glaciers scoured the land.
The sign locations and the stories they tell are listed briefly in the table below
The web stories can be accessed by clicking on the site names in the 1st column; and the actual site locations appear on a Google map when you click them in the 4th and final column. After opening a web story, you will observe a framed insert on the right – this consists of the background text and image for the linked placard that you would encounter screwed to a post out on the Lerderderg Track at this particular location.
|Lake Daylesford |
A lake designed to beautify and conceal
|Bridport St Lookout, Lake Daylesford||Lake Daylesford was built to beautify the town and to cover the scars of mining. But it also covered a Chinese market garden that once supplied fresh produce for the town.||Lookout|
Buried seams of gold lay hidden beneath Cornish Hill
|Cornish Hill||Once the alluvial gold had been exhausted, miners dug below the basalt rock of the Wombat Hill volcano to reach the ancient stream beds. An extensive network of shafts and tunnels now crisscrosses the Cornish Hill Reserve.||Argus Mine|
|Jubilee Rail Bridge|
Can you imagine a steam train overhead?
|Jubilee Rail Bridge, Jubilee Lake||Two train lines and over 20 trains per day served Daylesford in the 1890s, carrying tourists and transporting gold and timber. The advent of the motor car led to the eventual demise of these small country train services.||Jubilee Lake|
|Toe Rag Track|
A timber tramway terminus in this clearing
|Near Werribee River||The Anderson Bros timber tramway was once the longest in the Wombat Forest. As their wealth increased, they replaced horse-drawn carts with steam locomotives and the timber rails with steel.||Toerag Track|
|Balt Camp |
Once was a refugee camp
|Camp Rd||The gold rush era stripped the trees from Wombat Forest but by the late 1940s, dense regrowth required management. Refugees from the Second World War offered a ready source of cheap labour.||Balt Camp|
A forest cathedral under construction
|Stockyard track||John La Gerche lamented “the slaughter of trees” here and elsewhere that resulted from unregulated forestry. The forest is still recovering and protected gullies like this one are home to large Messmates and Blackwoods.||Stockyard Creek|
Splitters were a cut below sawmillers
|Nolans Creek picnic ground||In the 1860s, splitters cut shingles for roofing and carted them to Ballarat by bullock dray. Annie Biggs, a splitter’s daughter who lived near here in a bark and slab hut had fond memories of Wombat Forest.||Nolans Creek|
Can you see the wall of the Crown Dam?
|Crown Dam||Miners needed water to separate gold from the sand and gravel of creek beds. A French woman, Pauline Bonfond, built water races to service the miners’ needs.||Crown Dam|
|Blackwood Hotel |
Began business with a ball
|Blackwood township||The first two licensees of the Blackwood Hotel were women. Women were favourably considered to hold licenses because they could act as “moral guardians” and their “matronly spirit” added a sense of “calming domesticity.”||Blackwood Hotel|
Mud made for a comfortable dwelling
|Whalebone Road||Gweneth Wisewould was one of the first women to graduate from Melbourne University’s medical school, but her eccentric ways ruffled the feathers of Melbourne’s medical establishment. She found her way to Blackwood as a general practitioner where she became widely loved because of her devotion to the local people and even to their pets.||Log Cabins|
In the gold rush, Chinese were one-fifth of Blackwood’s population
|Blackwood N Road||Ah Chuck was one of the many Chinese in Blackwood during the gold rush. On his way to buy chickens and ducks, he was waylaid, robbed and left tied to a tree. He helped police capture the ruffians who served time for their treatment of Ah Chuck among other crimes.||Chinese Miners|
A spectacular valley and a hard climb
|Square Bottle Track||Whiskey Creek is one of many local creeks named after liquor of one sort or another. Although the temperance movement sought to change attitudes to liquor and laws relating to liquor, alcohol remained an important medicine used by doctors and promoted by liquor companies.||Whiskey Creek|
A landscape rich in Aboriginal place names
|Tower Track, Mt Blackwood||Aboriginal place names are important reminders that this land has been home to Indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years. Aboriginal Protectors battled in vain to prevent conflicts and Aboriginal people suffered greatly.||Wadawurrung Country|
Once glaciers extended to the horizon
|Blackwood Ranges Track||Once covered by sea, this area was lifted into mountain ranges and then exposed to long periods of erosion and to Ice Age glaciers. The Lerderderg Gorge is one of the few places in Victoria to show evidence of the Ice Age.||Gorge View|
|Darley Military Camp|
Training Camp for the heroes of Kokoda
|Swans Road, Darley||The 39th Battalion trained at the Darley Military Camp for a mere six weeks before being shipped to New Guinea. Nevertheless, they held off the hardened troops of the Japanese army on the Kokoda Plateau in July, 1942.||Darley View|
|Orchards & Market Gardens|
Deep soil has sustained dense human habitation for millennia
|1000 Steps Viewpoint, Bacchus Marsh||The rich soil of the Bacchus Marsh basin has fed people for eons. Initially settled for grazing, the land became suitable for fruit, vegetables and dairy operations with the development of irrigation systems.||Orchards View|
The settlers and their flocks of sheep take land
|PepperTree Park, Bacchus Marsh||Captain William Henry Bacchus was one of the first of many European settlers to arrive in this area and take Aboriginal land for grazing. Campbell and Wilsone settled on the ‘Upper Werrobie’ while Griffith and Moore settled in the Parwan Valley.||Pepper Tree|
This interpretive signage project is the second stage of a plan to refurbish the Lerderderg Track. Built by the GDTA as the final stage in Great Dividing Trail Network, the Track had fallen into disrepair. The GDTA obtained a substantial grant from Victorian Department of the Environment (currently DEECA) in 2018 to renew posts, signage and other infrastructure along the Track, a project which was completed in 2020. In 2022, additional funds were obtained from Moorabool and Hepburn Shire Councils and from the Bendigo Community Banks in Daylesford, Trentham and Bacchus Marsh to design and install interpretive signage and develop web-based resources to enhance the visitor experience for users of the Lerderderg Track.
We are pleased to acknowledge the contribution of local historical societies in providing information, images and inspiration. Special thanks to Gary Lawrence of the Daylesford & District Historical Society, Margot Hitchcock of the Blackwood and District Historical Society, Ian Braybrook biographer of Dr Gwenneth Wisewould, Barb McMillan, Bruce Carboon and John Spain of the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society. These societies are a font of knowledge about local history and operate interesting museums with helpful volunteers. They also stock many books on local history and are well worth visiting.
Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to our financial contributors: the Bendigo Community Banks of Bacchus Marsh, Daylesford and Trentham, Moorabool Shire Council, and Hepburn Shire Council. Through their support, we hope that a wide range of people will be able to access our local history and find even more reasons to enjoy walking through this wonderfully diverse area.