Cathedral Range is a spectacular seven kilometer ridge of jutting rock in Victoria, Australia. The Cathedral Range National Park is about 100 kilometers, or about a 2 and a half hour drive from Melbourne.
The park has a large variety of walking tracks, incredible views from the various peaks along the ridge and opportunities for rick climbing and fishing. Rock climbing spots include the easy area called The Boulders near Sugarloaf Saddle and the challenging courses on North Jawbone.
There is a day use area for visitors to the park. Sugarloaf Saddle has a car park, toilet facilities, shelters and picnic tables. This is the starting point for many walking tracks, including the Canyon Track and Wells Cave Track. There also is a historic timber mill site at Cooks Mill Heritage Site, which is located a few kilometers from the Cooks Mill campground.
Walking Tracks at Cathedral Range
There are several walking tracks throughout the park. The difficulty of the tracks varies widely as do the estimated walking times. Little River Track is an easy trail that takes about 40 minutes and follows the river between Neds Gully and Cooks Mill camping areas. Another easy track is The Friends Nature Trail, which is about an hour circuit through Manna Gum forest and crosses footbridges over Storm Creek and Little River.
There are many medium grade tracks in Cathedral Range. Neds Gully Track starts near the campground and leads to several other tracks after an hour walk. Jawbone Creek Track starts at the Jawbone Carpark and is a steep one hour climb to the ridge. It then connects to several other tracks, including the North Jawbone Track and South Jawbone Track, which are very steep climbs up to peaks with incredible views of the park. North Jawbone takes about 20 minutes while South Jawbone is about 10 minutes.
The Ridge Track is a hard two hour climb along the rocky ridge of the range, crossing from the end of Jawbone Creek Track to Little Cathedral Peak in the north. Razorback Track is a hard two hour walk in the opposite direction, ending at Sugarloaf Peak. Canyon Track is another hard track that is a 30 minute climb up to Sugarloaf Peak from Sugarloaf Saddle. There is Wells Cave Track for the extreme hiker wanting to visit Sugarloaf Peak, which is the highest point in the range. The track is a very hard 30 minute ascent to the peak from Sugarloaf Saddle. I suggest only serious hikers tackle the hard trails, because they are tough.
The best way to decide on which tracks you’d like to walk is to consider where you’ll be in the park, what difficulty you are able to manage and how much time you have. Any of the walking tracks are a great option, but some will be more convenient than others. I walked the Jawbone Creek Track to North Jawbone Track and loved the view I was rewarded with: an incredible look at the forest and farmland in the valley below. But it was definitely a challenging walk. There are several steep parts, and when you get to the actually peak it becomes and absolute climb. It’s totally worth the trek, though.
Camping at Cathedral Range
The campsites are quite nice and level at the Cooks Mill campground, which is located near the center of the park. There are toilet facilities, fire pits, picnic tables and shelters. The camping area is near Little River and sites can accommodate tents, camper trailers, camper vans and small caravans.
There is another campground in the park called Neds Gully, which is also located by the river in the northern portion of the park. But this campsite is located about 50 meters from the car park and can only be entered on foot via a bridge, so all equipment must be carried in. This site also has pit toilets and fire pits, but no picnic tables or shelters. Only tents are allowed at these campsites.
A third campsite, called The Farmyard is accessible to hikers only. It is located off of the Razorback Ridge Track near the base of South Jawbone Peak. There are no fees or booking requirements, as campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no facilities at this campground, and only tents are allowed. Fires are not allowed at The Farmyard.
Campsites at both Cooks Mill and Neds Gully hold up to 6 people but do not allow pets. Cooks Mill has 30 campsites and Neds Gully has 15 campsites. There is no power provided at the campgrounds. Campsites are just under $30 per night. You need to reserve a site in either campground before visiting the park, but you cannot reserve an individual campsite in particular. Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water along with you. Note that firewood collection is prohibited in Cathedral Range State Park.
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