WERRIBEE GORGE CIRCUIT WALK WITH IRONBARK GORGE ADDITION:
HIKE UPDATE 23/2/19: This hike can no longer be completed as a single circuit due to the trail from Falcons Lookout to the Werribee River being closed off as Private Property. As such, we recommend that for the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk you park and start the hike from Meikles Point Picnic Area. However, if you’d still like to walk to the very impressive Falcons Lookout, park and start the hike from Ironbark Gorge Car Park. More details on both below. (End update)
Looking for a challenging bushwalk close to Melbourne? This is it. At just an hours drive north west of Melbourne, the Werribee Gorge Circuit walk (with Ironbark Gorge addition) has it all; on-trail, off-trail, lookouts, descents, climbs, more descents, more climbs, river crossings, cable climbs, wildlife spotting & rock hopping. This tough walk gives you an awesome sense of adventure, that’s why it’s without a doubt our favourite hike within an hours drive of Melbourne.
- Start/Finish: Ironbark Gorge Car Park
- Distance: Approx. 12.5 km circuit.
- Time: 5 – 6 hrs
- Grade: Moderate/Difficult. Experienced hikers only.
- Attire: Hiking shoes/boots preferable (runners will do the job). Dress for conditions.
- Where: Werribee Gorge State Park
- Nearest Town: Bacchus Marsh (12km)
- Provisions: Approx. 2 L of water per person. Lunch + snacks. A fully charged mobile phone to help navigate & in case of emergency.
- Explored In: Mid Winter. Suitable for all seasons.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT WALKS AT WERRIBEE GORGE?
There are a couple of ways to tackle Werribee Gorge; the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk or an extended walk via Ironbark Gorge.
The Werribee Gorge Circuit is suitable for all levels of experience and can be started from a number of locations on the eastern side of the river. We recommend starting at Meikles Point Picnic Area. Here you can directly access the circuit trail and complete the walk in either direction. The trail is well marked, provides plenty of stunning scenery and includes challenging cable, rock and uphill sections.
The circuit walk with the Ironbark Gorge addition (which this article focuses on) is for experienced hikers only and starts from the Ironbark Gorge carpark to the west of Werribee Gorge. This addition adds a couple of hours onto the Werribee Gorge Circuit walk, including in a hefty off-trail descent to meet up with the circuit, a couple of (small) river crossings and an ascent from your river crossing point, back up to the starting point.
Werribee Gorge can be a tricky place to navigate at the best of times, so please take care if going off-trail and always put safety first. For more information about being safe out on the trails, please read our safety tips article.
SECTION ONE: IRONBARK GORGE CAR PARK TO FALCONS LOOKOUT
This section is approx 1.5 km along the Ironbark Gorge Track. It’s certainly the easiest section of the day and a great way to warm into the long challenging walk ahead.
The trail meanders through native bush before dropping into a gully. Following the path up and out of the gully, you reach a fork in the road. Left to Ingliston Granites or right to Falcons Lookout. Follow the path towards Falcons Lookout.
Arriving at Falcons Lookout the view is quite incredible considering it’s just a stones throw from Melbourne. A huge gorge, formed over 500 million years, cuts deep into otherwise flat Australian farmland.
Take a moment to get your bearings and visualise the remainder of this walk – importantly, you’re walking down to the river along the ridge going from right to left in the photo below. Do not attempt the direct route straight down towards the river, it’s very steep and dangerous.
SECTION TWO: FALCONS LOOKOUT TO WERRIBEE RIVER
HIKE UPDATE 23/2/19: This hike can no longer be completed as a single circuit due to this section of the trail (Falcons Lookout to the Werribee River) being closed off as Private Property. As such, we recommend that for the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk you park and start the hike from Meikles Point Picnic Area. However, if you’d still like to walk to the very impressive Falcons Lookout, park and start the hike from Ironbark Gorge Car Park. More details on both below. (End update)
Hike Now it’s time to get down to the river and meet up with the main Werribee Circuit Walk trail. On the right of the lookout there’s a lightly worn trail (well back from the edge) that follows the ridge all the way down to the river.
Note: Don’t take the wooden stairs down below the lookout, this is a very steep rock climbing area, an adventure for another day.
Stay on the ridge trail all the way down to the river, where it flattens out. Find a place to safely cross the river to join the main track on the other side. It can be a bit of fun when the water’s up, but you should be able to get across without getting wet feet.
SECTION THREE: WERRIBEE GORGE CIRCUIT WALK
Once on the beaten trail of the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk, head left to complete the circuit in a clockwise direction. Soon enough you’ll encounter the first big climb of the day… it’s a tough one, so stopping for a decent pit stop halfway up is a great idea. Take a break at one of the many amazing viewpoints and keep an eye out for Eagles soaring high above.
Continuing up and around this top section of the trail, views are limited but there’s still plenty to take it. The trail takes you out to a road at one point, then through a main access car park and via a toilet block before heading back down to the river.
This section runs directly parallel to the river and includes a fun cable assisted rock climb.
After getting past the rock climb, continue on to the point where you first crossed the river for the second big climb for the day!
SECTION FOUR: WERRIBEE RIVER TO FALCONS LOOKOUT
After crossing the river you at the point of your first crossing, walk back up the ridge the way you came down, keeping a safe distance back from the side that falls away to the river. Continue up to Falcons Lookout, then back to the carpark along the Ironbark Gorge track (i.e. the way you came).
HOW TO GET TO IRONBARK GORGE CAR PARK
To access the starting point of the Werribee Gorge Walk with the Ironbark Gorge addition, you need to get to Ironbark Gorge car park on the western side of Werribee Gorge. It’s a 70 km drive north west of Melbourne, and the easiest route is to take the M1 west before turning right onto the M8, or Western Freeway, and follow that out to Bacchus Marsh. If planning on walking the standard circuit, continue on the Western Freeway to reach the access roads on the eastern side, the rest of us need to turn off on Bacchus Marsh Rd. Ironbark Gorge car park is easy to find from this point using Google maps and there are no issues with reception. You will hit a dirt road as you near the car park, but it’s suitable for all vehicles. Enjoy!
Keen to see more of the best bushwalks in and around Melbourne? Check them out here. And remember, first and foremost, your safety is our number one concern, please refer to our safety guide for more.