Leanganook Loops Mount Alexander Regional Park

Leanganook Loops

Mount Alexander Regional Park

Directions - From the centre of Castlemaine take the Pyrenees Hwy east until you reach Golden Point Rd. Follow this all the way to Harmony Hwy, turn left and then right onto Faraday-Sutton Grange Rd. Follow this until you reach Joseph Young Dr. Turn left and go past the campsite to the small car park near the Goldfields track sign.

The Hike - With the family-in-law Christmas in Daylesford this year, it was an opportunity to once again head out in Central Victoria and find a hike to do on my own. Having previously done the Tipperary Track and Werribee Gorge, I set my sights on the area around Daylesford for an enjoyable summer hike of a semi-decent length. My original thoughts were somewhere around Wombat State Forest and a number of interesting hikes came up in my search. In the end I was perusing Uncle Hal's library and found a few guide books on day walks in Victoria. Flicking through there were a few that peaked my interest but after it was announced that the rest of family were headed to Castlemaine for morning tea on the day of my hike, I decided on the Leanganook Loops hike as it's located right outside of Castlemaine.

Getting out to the hike was an experience in itself as Uncle Hal had kindly lent me his new (to him) Jaguar XK for the drive as our hire car was more practical for transporting multiple people in comfort. With a 4.2L V8 and a pretty coupe body, this was the most stylish way I've ever rocked up to a hike but given the early departure time it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience. Dodging kangaroos and rabbits on the highway as I drove the 45 minutes it took to get to the start, I was very cautious not to wreck Hal's new toy. The bark of the engine was a smile inducing sensation every time I had to accelerate away and was a lovely way to start the experience. As I got closer to Mount Alexander, there was a spot on the side of the road where the profile of the hill could be seen so I stopped for an early morning photo. Finally reaching the park, there is a winding road leading past the Leanganook Campsite and over the top of Mount Alexander. The start point for the walk in the guide was a small gravel area just off the road where the sign for the Goldfields Track is. Comprised of two separate loops, I had a bit of a guess as to which way to tackle it and decided in the end to do it as a figure 8, doing the smaller loop to the south first in an anti-clockwise direction and then the longer northern loop in a clockwise direction. 

One of the reasons for this was a place called Dog Rocks was right near the car park and in the direction of the southern loop. The morning light was looking good in that direction and I was keen to start exploring the rocks. A jumble of massive boulders set among the smooth barked eucalyptus trees, it's a very cool spot to walk through and admire. Joining the Goldfields Track, a 211km walking track running between Ballarat and Bendigo, this will be home for a while as you head towards the Leanganook Campsite. Walking up the hill, you enter the maze of boulders that form Dog Rocks and the trail becomes a little haphazard. With this part of the track being dual use between hiking and mountain biking plus the easy access for car visitors, there are multiple lines weaving their way through the area. It's not really an issue, you just find a path that works for you and head in the direction of what you want to explore. Some of the bigger boulders are really imposing from the base but head up the hill a little more and you can climb on top of them for some cool views looking north towards the summit of Mount Alexander. After having a bit of fun scaling the boulders, I located the path again and headed off towards where the loop leaves the Goldfields Track and heads to the Leanganook Campsite.